‘Wonder Woman 1984’ soars as one of the most original comic book movies of the last few years
By Craig Allan, Business Manager
These qualities make Lord the movie’s most interesting character, and hands down the best villain in all the DCEU.
When it comes to the DC Extended Universe (DCEU), the Warner Brothers connected universe of DC Comics movies, the Universe has never organized itself properly. But, it has always had one shining star in Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, and her successful first film directed by Patty Jenkins. Jenkins returns to the director chair for the sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, and while it fails to capture the same magic that the first film had, Wonder Woman 1984 still provides many thrills, top notch performances, and even some tear-jerking moments.
Set in 1984, Wonder Woman must save the world from destruction caused by villain Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a TV pitchman who wishes to grant people their deepest desires, while also furthering his own ambitions. There are many great performances in this film, including Gadot and Chris Pine’s reincarnated Steve Trevor, but the true standout of this film is Pascal. He takes off the Mandalorian mask for a transcendent performance as Max Lord. Pascal brings one of the most best villain portrayals in recent comic book memory. He is complex and selfish, but in a way human. He represents the embodiment of human ambition. These qualities make Lord the movie’s most interesting character, and hands down the best villain in all the DCEU.
Throughout the movie, Jenkins shows how well she understands the characters, and how to sculpt big moments. She knows how to bring out the “wow” in the film. It’s unfortunate that most people will likely only be able to view this through a TV set and not at a big screen surround sound cinema due to the coronavirus pandemic shutting down theatres around the world. For British Columbia, a video-on-demand release is the only way to watch the movie due to every theatre in the province being ordered to shut down.
The plot of the movie is original and fits with the story themes established in Jenkins 2017 film. Wonder Woman is tasked with defending mankind from evils like war, desire, and lies. While these do manifest in real villains they also manifest in the human condition. It is Wonder Woman’s duty to save people from these ills, but not with her power. Instead, she must use her belief in the good of all people. This theme is really felt in the third act. While the previous movie’s weakness was its third act, it is this movie’s strength, and considering what kind of year 2020 has been, with many people wishing the year was better, or that we could experience it with loved ones, the ending is quite prescient in today’s world.
While the film is well done it is not without its flaws. The film’s length is an issue. It runs two hours and 30 minutes, which does make the film feel bloated as there are many scenes that could have been cut out—the most glaring being Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah. Wiig does a serviceable job in the movie but if she were cut out entirely, nothing would be lost. Considering Cheetah is one of Wonder Woman’s greatest foes, it’s a bit perplexing that Jenkins would use the character in what feels like a C plot.
Another fault of the movie comes with its CGI. The DCEU has had some tough times with CGI, and Wonder Woman 1984 is no exception. All of the CGI in the film just has this sheen over it that feels artificial. The realization of Cheetah, while not Cats bad, still comes off looking like bad Island of Dr. Moreau cosplay. Considering this film had an extra six-and-a-half months in stasis waiting out the coronavirus, it’s disappointing that they couldn’t keep trying to make the CGI the best it could be, especially when Marvel movies over at Disney are usually very competent with their CGI.
While Wonder Woman 1984 does not fly as high as the first movie, it still provides thrills and a great movie spectacle that was missed from the entertainment landscape in 2020. The Wonder Womanfranchise is still the crown jewel of the DCEU and leads the way for engaging stories that will hopefully spread beyond the Wonder Woman section of the Extended Universe.