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‘Wonder Woman 1984’ – Review

‘Wonder Woman 1984’ – Review

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2020 has been a year for the history books, and it’s been some time since we’ve had the energy, fun and enjoyment of big-screen, blockbuster entertainment. But now Patty Jenkins and her amazing cast including Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal are ready to bring the rush of blockbuster entertainment back to the big screen in Wonder Woman 1984….and this is truly the movie audiences have been waiting for.

In 1984, during the Cold War, Diana (Gal Gadot) comes into conflict with two formidable foes — media businessman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and friend-turned-enemy Barbara Minerva/Cheetah (Kristen Wiig), while reuniting with her love interest Steve Trevor (Steve Trevor).

Returning hot on the heels of her ground-breaking work with 2017’s Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins now helms its much watch sequel in Wonder Woman 1984. And she really takes the character of Wonder Woman up a notch. Free from the necessity of establishing the character’s origins and abilities, Jenkins lets Diana of Themyscira truly fly in this one, and Wonder Woman 1984 is a superhero film that completely comes together on every single level. Narrative, character, casting, production, cinematography, hair and make-up, all of it comes together under Jenkins direction and the result is a perfect blockbuster for a cinema landscape that’s really been needing one. Wonder Woman 1984 is the complete package on Jenkins behalf and is a very fun watch.

In watching Wonder Woman 1984 it’s clear to the audience that Jenkins had a blast making this movie as she got to explore Diana’s character in a whole new era . The 1980s were a time of excess and extravagance, and Jenkins really pulls her audience into them with a film that supercharges the era with more flash, more color and plenty of funk. From T-Birds roaring down Washington, DC to jazzercise classes to massive shoulder pads and loud hair, Jenkins fully brings her audience into the decade. Playing with ideas of rampant capitalism and the Cold War also raises the stakes higher for Diana this time around and gives the picture a sense of urgency to its narrative.

The experience of watching Wonder Woman 1984 is one of pure joy for the audience, and Jenkins and her team go all out with the visuals on screen. It’s awash with bright and radiant colour in a hyper-real portrait of 1984, and audiences will feel like they will have gone back in time to another decade. Jenkins pulls from a range of references in bringing her story to life including Wall Street, Dynasty, and Dallas, with all of the glamour of the area captured in one of the film’s larger set pieces in its lavish Smithsonian Gala sequence. She also captures the energy of the original Wonder Woman TV series starring Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman 1984 with Diana as an active modern-day superheroine. The experience of watching this film is similar in my mind to James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day, where the first film is good, but the sequel is even better, as it builds out its world and characters further.

Returning to handle the lasso of truth and save the world one more time is Gal Gadot as Diana/Wonder Woman and this narrative brings a considerable change to our heroine this time around. Having now lived in the real world for more than 60 years, Diana has secretly been living a double life and doing her best to help others in need. However the loss of Steve Trevor has affected her deeply and she begins our story as a far more closed off, and lonely individual, who in some ways has given up on the possibilities of the modern world. But soon the world is threatened and she must once again rise to save it. In Wonder Woman 1984 Diana has to undergo a very strong sense of character growth and there’s plenty of tests and challenges for her to overcome.

In terms of her performance, Gadot has to handle a range of broad emotions with this one, and she once again proves why she was the perfect choice for the role. While in the first film she was an almost ingenue type of character, in its sequel she has much more perspective, and a truer understanding of justice and her mission. And in Wonder Woman 1984 Diana faces some tough choices that take Gadot’s performance to a new level. Like Jenkins, she has an absolute blast returning to the character, and the film’s 1980s setting benefits Gadot’s performance even further thanks to its music, fashion and hair and make-up that help her shine even more as the world’s favourite superheroine.

There’s plenty of mystery in Wonder Woman 1984 and one of the biggest is the reincarnation of Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor. While I won’t go into anything that could run the risk of spoilers its very fun to see his return to the big screen and audiences will love seeing Pine and Gadot back together. Pine gets to indulge in his ultimate Top Gun fantasy in Wonder Woman 1984 and the jet-setting age of the 1980s absolutely appeals to his character. There are also some great comedic moments on behalf of Pine thanks to his ‘fish out of water’ presence, and it’s fun to see a reversal from the first film where Steve is now introduced to a brand new world. The chemistry and love are very present between Pine and Gadot in their romance and their time shared on screen is sure to cause your heart to flutter.

Bringing plenty of surprise and energy to Wonder Woman 1984 is Kristen Wiig in the role of Barbara Ann Minerva/Cheetah and she has plenty of scene-stealing moments in this one. Starting off as an overlooked nerd girl, Barbara soon transforms into a glamourous and sexy alpha female, becoming the best possible version of herself, but not before she unleashes her inner bad girl and soon it’s on between Diana and Barbara in the big screens ultimate girl fight. While we’ve become accustomed to seeing Wiig as a comedian and comic relief, it’s exceptionally cool to see her as a full-on villainess in Wonder Woman 1984 and she has a lot of fun as this very bad girl!

Like Gadot, Wiig has a lot of heavy drama to handle throughout the film and her portrayal of Barbara Ann Minerva makes for an exceptionally well-rounded character. What’s interesting is seeing how she embraces her bad girl style and soon she steps into this sexed-up Madonna that showcases bold confidence and some predatory animal instincts that set her up for a fight with Gadot’s Diana. Wiig was inspired casting on behalf of Jenkins and her dark mirror image reflection of Gadot’s Diana makes Wonder Woman 1984 more exciting and interesting as a viewer as these two characters have to battle one another on-screen.

Finally, bringing some much-needed menace to Wonder Woman 1984 is Pedro Pascal’s Maxwell Lord, a bold ‘master of the universe’ who is intent on world domination no matter the cost. Brazenly arrogant and embodying the 1980s excessive wealth and success, Pascal’s Maxwell Lord is a character who wears many different faces throughout the film. And as his plan for world domination comes into the forefront things get all the more dangerous for Diana’s mission to stop him. Like his co-stars, Pascal revels in the fun he gets to have as this all-out villain, and he really takes on the status of an all money, oil man thanks to a rotating wardrobe of double-breasted power suits that help cement his character’s representation of the era’s greed and excess. Pascal has a lot of fun on screen, and he’s the final part of the cast that brings the whole film together.

If you’re seeking blockbuster action, well, you’ll get it in Wonder Woman 1984. And being that it’s been some time since we’ve had the fun and energy of some blockbuster thrills up on the big screen, it’s very fun to witness the energy and action of Wonder Woman 1984. Jenkins throws all of her cast into the action of her film, and she doubles the scope and intensity of the set pieces from the first film that will have your adrenaline pumping. From an intense car chase on the freeways of Cairo to a super-powered brawl through the White House between Diana and Barbara, Wonder Woman 1984 grips you with its intensity and action junkies will have a blast with this one. The film’s climactic showdown between Diana and Barbara is my favourite action set piece of the film, and long time fans of both characters will love this long-expected showdown!

But alongside its blockbuster thrills and bold visuals, Wonder Woman 1984 also explores some very big themes related to notions of time, wish fulfilment and desire and this makes for a much more affecting and deeper narrative film. While I won’t go into specifics of the film’s themes, given the film’s secretive narrative, Jenkins uses the sequel to explore new possibilities with the character of Diana, and it’s extremely emotional and poignant seeing Diana’s character growth on a thematic level. Wonder Woman 1984 is a film that opens itself up to new possibilities and the key to this is the growth of its central character.

2020 has been an exceptionally long year for cinema fans and Wonder Woman 1984 is the film we’ve needed. It’s energy, action and fun is sure to lift up audiences across the world and you can’t help but feel joyful, energized and hopeful when watching it. Its layered narrative, flamboyant characters and intense action makes it an extraordinary blockbuster for extraordinary times, and it’s films like these which call out to the strength of the cinema and why we need them.

Image: Roadshow