If you enjoy reading my Spoiler-Free reviews, please follow my blog @
The superhero genre has been growing exponentially during the last decade, so it's bizarre to go through an entire year with only Birds of Prey and The New Mutants instead of literally dozens of films from both Marvel and DC. Thankfully, Warner Bros. decided to release Wonder Woman 1984 before the year's end, but not without a catch. Most people will only have the possibility of watching one of the few blockbusters of 2020 through HBO Max, a streaming service only available in a couple of countries, while some incredibly lucky moviegoers might have the chance of seeing this visually epic film in theaters, depending on the country's pandemic rules.
Fortunately, I'm one of those lucky people who got the opportunity to end 2020 on a positively immersive note by watching Patty Jenkins' latest flick in an almost empty IMAX theater (paradise). If you've been following me for some time, you know I'm a firm believer and defender of the so-called "theater experience", and I can't hide the fact that I felt extremely emotional going into one of the best, biggest theaters in Portugal to witness one of my Most Anticipated Movies of 2020. Until 2017, DCEU struggled to deliver a massively loved installment, and Wonder Woman came to the rescue. It was one of my favorite films of the respective year, so I was obviously excited for its sequel, even more having in mind the circumstances we're all living in.
In my opinion, this sequel stands close to its predecessor. With a lengthy runtime known for being associated with absolutely epic movies, I was confident that WW84 could deliver a solid film with great villains for a change. Well, Kristen Wigg and Pedro Pascal are definitely two of the indisputable standouts. Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and David Callaham made the right decision in dedicating a significant portion of the screenplay to Barbara Minerva and Max Lord. Their arcs are far from being groundbreaking, but they're a thousand times more effective than the "CG punch bag" narrative.
Barbara follows the "lonely, insignificant, no one cares about me" archetype, and Wiig does a surprisingly remarkable job in portraying this character, but the script is what really makes her shine. At first, her comedic mannerisms left me a bit dubious about the eventual character's likeness. However, as time flies by, it's almost inevitable to feel sorry for Barbara, making her future motivations understandable and perfectly natural. On the other hand, Max Lord is apparently exploding with conviction, but his life is not as amazing as everyone might think. This time, it's Pedro Pascal who ends up elevating the character, delivering a brilliant performance with just the right amount of over-the-top expressions.
Even though these two are magnificent, Gal Gadot continues to prove that she's one of the best casting choices of the millennium, interpreting Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman. I seriously cannot imagine another actress wearing that costume, throwing that Lasso of Truth, incorporating the character's essence as seamless as Gadot. In this movie, she was able to perform highly emotional scenes, nailing every single one. Her chemistry with Chris Pine (Steve Trevor) is palpable on the other side of the world, and their interactions go through every zone of the emotion spectrum. Regarding Steve, I'm not going to spoil how he comes back or anything concerning his arc, but I can safely write that his presence in the film is both necessary and logical.
The biggest compliment I'll offer this sequel concerns its screenplay and direction. Finally, I can confidently write that the DCEU is capable of producing a well-structured, well-developed story with well-written characters. It doesn't have as much action as the original, but I still didn't feel the 151 minutes. WW84 flows incredibly well due to Jenkins' ability to fill up the runtime (almost) only with important scenes. There's a slight "over-persistence" in the attempt at sending a certain message (I'll get there), but story-wise, I sincerely wouldn't take a second out. Even the comic relief moments, particularly with Pine (who plays some sort of parallelism with the first movie's Diana), are welcome and timely.
The action scenes might be low on quantity, but the few that the audience gets are long, complex, and technically challenging to pull off. The opening sequence alone almost made me tear up due to its epicness. Hans Zimmer's powerful score, Richard Pearson's clean editing, and Matthew Jensen's camera work all work together to present a lengthy, grand, wide view of an Olympics-style obstacle course with young Diana. Throughout the entire film, the action is colorful, vibrant, fun, and entertaining… except for the (supposedly) climactic clash.
Well, to be fair, there are two climaxes during the last thirty minutes since WW84 owns two antagonists to play with. One of them is closed in perfect fashion, with the emotional stakes at their highest. Great job there, no complaints whatsoever. However, the main fight sequence inexplicably contrasts with the rest of the movie's action. The vibrant colors disappear and are replaced by a dull grey, which makes one of the characters involved (who shares the same color tone) hard to notice, transforming an epic final battle into an underwhelming, barely comprehensible collection of awkward cuts, punches, and screams. Gadot's golden suit is way less exciting (and poorly lit) than her original costume, and Barbara's arc ends without real closure.
In addition to this, Jenkins insists too much on passing to the audience that greed brings horrible consequences. "Be careful what you wish for", "money and power can't buy happiness", "be thankful for what you have", and messages along these lines are repeated continuously (implicitly and explicitly). I admit that it might be a nitpick of mine and that not many people will feel like I did, but I couldn't help but feel that some moments sounded and/or seemed a bit preachy and way too repetitive. Also, it's a bit weird how the official premise mentions Wiig as Cheetah, but this word is not mentioned once in the entire film… Nevertheless, don't be mistaken: I'm thrilled that WW84 is the last flick I watch at a theater this year!
All in all, Wonder Woman 1984 proves that DC continues on the track of success by delivering a well-structured, well-developed DCEU installment without an absurd amount of overwhelming CGI and/or forgettable villains. Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and David Callaham's impressively layered screenplay makes the lengthy runtime feel adequate not only by offering epic, exciting, technically superb action set pieces, but also due to the remarkably well-written heroes and antagonists. Gal Gadot and Chris Pine are outstanding together, but Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal steal the show as the newcomers. With two wonderful "villains", WW84 boasts a solid, elaborate narrative that I was lucky to witness on the big screen. Unfortunately, the climactic battle is disappointingly underwhelming and colorless, Barbara's arc ends abruptly without true closure, and Jenkins insists too much on the thematic message of the story. These issues may affect more viewers or not, but one thing's for sure: it's one of the most entertaining movies I've seen all year, worthy of being seen on a massive theater.