…it were a better movie. Or at least shorter by about an hour.
I’ve always been a believer that in the big Marvel vs. DC movies, the DC films get a bad rap; that they lack the bombast and grandiosity of the blockbusters featuring Iron Man, Cap, Thor, et. al. Indeed, there’s room in my comic book geeky heart for both film universes. My favoritest among the DC films contained equal parts action, comedy, spectacle, and a little bit of human interest to glue it all together. WW84 is disappointingly short on action, and there are many overlong chunks of movie when neither Wonder Woman, nor Diana, are even on the screen. I watched it on HBO Max at home, and, to be honest, if I were watching it in a big dark room with comfy reclining seats, I would have nodded off more than once. Bad DC films like Green Lantern and Suicide Squad may have been poorly-written, hammily-acted, and sloppily-directed, but at least they weren’t boring. WW84 slow burns and never catches fire.
How do you follow up a film where the hero helps to end World War I (or “the war,” as it was known then), then battles and defeats the Greek god of war? I dunno, how about a greedy wannabe tycoon and a mousy Catwoman knockoff? Um, how about not. And the questionable movie moments don’t stop there. An ancient stone that grants wishes (at a price, of course) becomes a guy who grants wishes, Diana’s long-deceased first love comes to inhabit the body of some nameless schlub, and demure Barbara Minerva transforms into a furry killing machine. As with all superhero flicks, there’s a certain amount of handwaving necessary to keep the viewer engaged. WW84 strains our suspension of disbelief to such uncomfortable extremes, that after a while you just roll your eyes, shrug and sigh, “Fine. Let’s move on.”
It starts off promisingly enough, with a flashback to preteen Diana kickin’ butt back on Themyscira, and learning a lesson about truth. Then it switches to a shopping mall in suburban D.C., where grownup Diana mops the floors with a gaggle of petty thieves. The momentum abruptly dies off after that. The title of the film, of course, alludes to the year in which the action is taking place: 1984. There’s big hair, shoulder pads, day-glo colors and Reaganomics everywhere. The only thing that doesn’t look period is Wonder Woman herself.
We first saw Diana as some sort of anthropologist in present-day in Batman v Superman and Justice League, but she’s doing the same gig here, so she must have gotten into it several decades ago? So, is this a prequel? Well, kinda. At the very least, we already know Diana won’t die in 1984 if she’s still around today, so her little encounter with mortality holds no tension at all.
Diana, despite being an Amazon demigod, still carries a torch for regular human Steve Trevor some sixty-plus years after his death, and she wishes he was back in her arms. So, no other stand-up guys crossed her path in all that time? Even newly-resurrected Steve has trouble believing that. Wishing Steve back almost costs Diana her life, so she’s even willing to sacrifice her mission on Earth for him. Will she come to her senses and unwish her wish (which is, apparently, something everyone can do)? Well like I said, this takes place 36 years ago, so…
The concept of the infamous Invisible Jet is thrown in strictly for fanservice, and does nothing to further the plot, and is quickly forgotten about when Diana realizes she can fly. No, she didn’t remember her mother telling her that she was given the gift of flight by the gods; she remembers some throwaway dialogue from Steve about taming the wind or something like that. Thank the gods for Steve, huh?
Besides Barbara/Cheetah, there’s another seemingly nonevil person letting power corrupt him: Maxwell Lord finds out about the Dreamstone um…somehow, and takes over it, then it takes over him. Then, the Dreamstone grants wishes to everyone on the planet, even without them touching it because…reasons? And Barbara becomes a half-human/half-animal because…more reasons. Sigh. Let’s just move on.
The golden armor and wings that’s been seen all over promotional posters and bags of Doritos makes a brief appearance, and is summarily dismissed almost as quickly as the Invisible Jet. The battle between Wonder Woman and Cheetah is so poorly lit, it might as well have been one of those robots-in-a-blender fights from the Transformers movies.
Bottom line: While the first movie was a four-star affair, WW84 only garners two out of five stars from this DC movie lover. I liked Green Lantern better (three stars), if that tells you anything.