REVIEW: Poignant, personal, and powerful, Wonder Woman 1984 is a (slightly long) breath of fresh air

Marcus Goh
·Contributor
·5-min read
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)

Rating: PG
Length: 151 minutes
Director: Patty Jenkins
Writers: Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, and David Callaham
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Connie Nielsen, with a cameo by Lynda Carter

Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Diana (Gal Gadot) and Steve (Chris Pine) in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Diana (Gal Gadot) and Steve (Chris Pine) in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)

It's said that good sequels don't have to bigger and grander in scope than the original, but the stakes have to be more personal and emotional for the protagonist. And that's exactly where Wonder Woman 1984 succeeds, because the challenges she faces are far more intimate than in her first outing. For all her vast power and resource, the very emotion that makes her such an admirable character is the one emotion she has to overcome in this film.

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)

Wonder Woman 1984 is the sequel to 2017's Wonder Woman. The superhero film is the ninth instalment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), and follows the adventures of the title character in 1984, about 66 years after the first film. It sees Wonder Woman having to grapple with her deepest desires, even as she squares off against new and unexpected foes. With the fate of the world at stake, Wonder Woman's only chance at victory might come at great personal cost.

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)

It's a wonderful, beautiful film that brings so much hope (sorely needed in a year like this). It's not the naive, innocent type of hope that it espouses, but the type of optimism that perseveres despite trials and tribulations, which is what underpins the film. It might seem a little corny, or too magical girl anime-esque in flavour, but the message is sincere and intent is pure. The movie is unabashed about what it is, and sets out to deliver a tale of a character whose greatest strength is not physical, but emotional in nature.

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)

With the emotional core being so central to the film, it's understandable that certain heavy moments are required for the central character's choices to have a significant impact later on. However, this does come at the expense of length (the film already weighs in at a little bit more than a hefty two-and-a-half hours), which can get a little draggy at times.

For viewers who haven't watched the first movie, this is a necessary beat to lend weight to Wonder Woman's actions; but for viewers who've caught the previous movie, the emotional scenes can seem a little... too much. In any case, there is already enough exposition to imply just how much certain relationships mean to Wonder Woman, so the film could have been trimmed by a significant amount.

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)

On the physical front, the main character does face some nerfing in the film, which is a significant plot point. Personally, this reviewer doesn't like plots where superheroes have their powers curtailed or negated in some way (like Kryptonite stories for Superman) because the entire point of watching a superhero film is to see larger-than-life characters dealing with larger-than-life obstacles. While it isn't so severe as to render her powerless, it does pose a significant obstacle to her and impacts the action sequences in the movie.

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)

The action in the film isn't huge and flashy — and it can't be, as the story will show. On the one hand, it does allow for more complex choreography and adds tension back into the film, since our heroine isn't trouncing everything in sight. On the other hand, it is a bit of a letdown from Wonder Woman's feats in other films, since she's hardly invincible anymore. But overall, the scenes do still put the 'Wonder' in Wonder Woman, even if they aren't as epic as before.

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)

But all these are relatively minor flaws compared to the sum of its parts. You can see where the movie is coming from, depicting the superheroine's capacity for love and kindness as being the power that truly saves the day. And thematically, this is echoed throughout the film — even the villains don't meet the usual fatal and gruesome endings that other superhero films (including the previous one) usually give to their bad guys. They aren't necessarily redeemed, of course, but the mercy shown to them is what makes this resonate so strongly.

Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)

Wonder Woman 1984 is truly the embodiment of hope in whatever remains of the DCEU. It could do with more polish and trimming, but it's such a sweet and poignant attempt at making a superhero film that you really can't help but like it for that vision. It's an endearing, if slightly saccharine, movie, and a wonderful way to take the edge off 2020. Remember to stay behind for a cute little mid-credits scene.

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)

Read also:

Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)

Wonder Woman 1984 opens in cinemas:
- 17 December, 2020 (Singapore)
- 17 December, 2020 (Malaysia)
- 8 January, 2021 (Philippines)

Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) vs Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) in Wonder Woman 1984 (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) vs Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) in Wonder Woman 1984 (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)
Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) in Wonder Woman 1984. (PHOTO: Warner Bros Pictures)