'Wonder Woman 84' can't decide between camp and art
by Jacob Henry
Dec 29, 2020 | 6096 views | 0 0 comments | 771 771 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. (Photo: Warner Bros.)
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. (Photo: Warner Bros.)
Diana Prince is back as the titular Amazonian Goddess in Wonder Woman 1984, and while there are many fun moments to be had in the film, it ultimately falls victim to the same superhero tropes we’ve seen over and over again.

Gal Gadot reprises the leading role, bringing her charm and beauty from the first film back for more action.

The problem is not with her or the other actors, as the cast is one of the main draws to watch this film.

Joining Gadot is Kristen Wiig from "Saturday Night Live" as Cheetah and Pedro Pascal, now famous for never showing his face in The Mandalorian, as Maxwell Lord, a businessman who is seeking a little too much power.

Have you ever heard of a character like that before?

Those two actors come together to bring to the film a villain powerhouse spectacle that is undeniably exciting to watch.

Both are squeezing the most they can out of their performances, with Wiig leaning into her comedy awkwardness and Pascal giving a melodramatic flair to the character that feels like something out of the 1960s Adam West Batman era.

But, this leaves the audience confused, as the movie is not sure if it’s a cheesy romp through the camp era of the superhero genre, or if it’s a serious film with a message that is important for people to hear.

The film is set in 1984, and yet it has no bearing to the surveillance and dystopian themes of George Orwell’s novel.

In fact, it went the complete opposite, choosing to show off flashy colors over gray undertones, including a yawn-inducing set-piece where Diana and her love interest, played again by Chris Pine, fly through some fireworks because it just so happens to be the Fourth of July.

Pine and Gadot brighten up the screen with their chemistry, but throughout the film the audience is forced to suspend disbelief so much at the writing choices, that the main story beats become more of a joke than a threat.

When nuclear warfare is threatened, as it so often does in any superhero flick, it doesn’t feel that serious, even as bombs are flying through the air and whole cities are in disarray.

It is a stark contrast to previous superhero films in this DC Universe, where darkness and emotionally heavy themes were the main choice for Superman and Batman films.

Director Patty Jenkins hit the middle ground of that tone well in the first Wonder Woman film, yet this new one feels like it is written more for a cartoon series rather than a live-action experience.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for audiences who have grown up with Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, and even Avengers: Endgame, this might feel like a bit too much campiness to bear.

It’s important to note that this is the first movie in the Warner Bros. deal with HBO Max, where huge tentpole releases will be available to stream instead of being released in the theater.

I’m a huge fan of the theater experience, but in this pandemic era, it’s nice to have some new form of media available at home.

Still, I can’t help but think that if I had seen this movie in the theaters, many moments would have left me cheering rather than checking the time on my phone.

There is a lot of spectacle within this film, but it’s not something that will knock viewers off their feet, and that’s not the impression that Wonder Woman should be leaving on people.

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