It is January 2021 and I am about to review Wonder Woman 1984. This review feels like a long time coming. Truth is, my review for Wonder Woman 1984 *is* a long time coming, because this movie has had a drawn-out and somewhat problematic release.
To put things into context, Wonder Woman 1984 began filming in June 2018 and was originally due to hit cinema screens in December 2019. For industry-related reasons, the film was then shifted around the 2019 schedules, before being pushed to June 2020.
With a new release date locked in, the film was heavily marketed (trailers, posters, banners etc), and we should have all been able to watch Wonder Woman 1984 in cinemas in mid-2020 as intended. But of course, COVID-19 happened and Warner Bros. Pictures pulled the film from release.
It was then rescheduled to August to allow time for the pandemic to disappear. When that didn’t happen, Wonder Woman 1984 was moved to October, and then to December, where after what seemed like an eternity, it finally made its debut.
In the UK (where I live), Wonder Woman 1984 opened in select cinemas on December 16th 2020. However, at this point in time, due to a rise in COVID-19 cases, many parts of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland were in lockdown, meaning cinemas were largely closed.
In short, although we were very keen to watch Wonder Woman 1984, for the vast majority of the UK there was barely anywhere playing it. And unlike many of the movies of 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 was not given a video-on-demand (VOD) release over here, so its presence in the UK largely hit a brick wall.
This was a similar situation for other areas of the world too, including various parts of Europe. A rise in corona virus cases saw countries implementing mass lockdowns just as Wonder Woman 1984 was about to open in cinemas, making it pretty much dead on arrival in those territories too.
In the US, things were somewhat different, as the film was granted a simultaneous cinema and streaming release. Wonder Woman 1984 opened on Christmas Day in cinemas, and also appeared on subscription-based service, HBO Max, giving audiences access to the movie from the comfort of their homes.
So, depending on where you live in the world, how you access movies, and whether your cinemas are closed due to the pandemic, you may or may not have watched Wonder Woman 1984 by now. And depending on whether you have been able to avoid spoilers (of which, there have been many since the film debuted in the US), your excitement level may have also been impacted by the uneven release of this picture.
But, if you are very keen to watch Wonder Woman 1984, and you live in the UK, then today I have great news: Wonder Woman 1984 is now available to stream! Yep, you can now rent the movie via all of the major streaming platforms (Amazon, iTunes, Sky Store etc) for the princely sum of £15.99.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I can finally talk about the movie, which as mentioned above I have been wanting to watch for sometime now. I can’t even begin to tell you how often I saw the trailer for Wonder Woman 1984 during 2019 and 2020 – but trust me, if you watch as many movies as I do (and therefore go to the cinema quite frequently), it was a lot.
If you caught that trailer – which I’m guessing you probably did – then you will know the basics about this movie. The film is set during 1984, sees the return of Wonder Woman’s old flame, Steve Trevor, and also sees the introduction of two new villains: Maxwell Lord, played by The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal, and Barbara Minerva, played by Kristen Wiig.
As for the story, the film picks up decades after the main events of 2017’s Wonder Woman, with Diana Prince still mourning the loss of Steve Trevor. Diana works at the Smithsonian Institute and is largely living a solitary existence, but every once in a while, when the need arises, she assumes the identity of Wonder Woman to help those in need.
All is ticking along as it should until Diana and her new work colleague, Barbara Minerva, encounter a mysterious artefact. The artefact contains a great deal of power, which changes the lives of Diana, Barbara, and Maxwell Lord – a smarmy television personality, who has been searching for the artefact for some time.
From here, the trio find their lives changing in different ways, with Minerva and Lord becoming worryingly more powerful. And before long, Diana finds herself having to square-off against two new adversaries, with the fate of the world resting in her hands.
The first thing I must say about Wonder Woman 1984 is that I enjoyed this movie. I feel it is important to say this now, because the movie has received mixed reviews, and I don’t feel that some of the negativity is warranted.
Is Wonder Woman 1984 perfect? No. It suffers greatly from pacing issues, and this is a problem throughout this two-and-a-half-hour film.
If you are making a super hero movie (or any movie for that matter) and it runs for two-and-a-half-hours, then it needs to move at a sharp pace. Wonder Woman 1984 doesn’t move at a sharp pace, and at times, it is slow.
A bit of editing here and there would have greatly improved things. In particular, the opening sequence could have easily been removed, and minor cuts would have helped too.
But putting the pacing to one side, there is a lot of good stuff in this picture, beginning with the tone of the film. DC movies are forever being criticised for being too dark, too grim, and too morbid – and that is simply not the case here.
Returning director, Patty Jenkins continues to imbue the world of Wonder Woman with life, positivity, and likeability, but this time around she has also managed to create a call back to two of the best DC movies of the past: Superman: The Movie (1978) and Superman II (1980). In fact, at times Wonder Woman 1984 felt so much like it had been plucked from this particular era of DC movies, that I almost expected Christopher Reeve to pop-up in some kind of digital cameo.
Of course, he didn’t and this movie is not related to those films at all, but that was the vibe I got while watching the film play out. It was also helped along by Pedro Pascal’s portrayal of Maxwell Lord, who felt like he was cut from similar cloth to Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor.
And speaking of Pascal, he gives a standout performance in this picture, playing a slimy villain who is just as important to the story as Wonder Woman. This is a great role, and one which Pascal grabs by the horns and runs with.
The same can be said for Kristen Wiig who is perfect in the role of Barbara Minerva – a mild-mannered geologist and crypto-zoologist, who turns nasty. She becomes a real force to be reckoned with, and is a strong, powerful woman reminiscent of Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman in Batman Returns (1992), albeit not as crazy.
Wiig’s character goes on a huge journey throughout the movie, and with the exception of some CGI nonsense towards the end of the movie (which is out of Wiig’s control), she is superb, and brings to life another fantastic villain.
Yep, this movie has two fantastic villains, and that is a rarity in super hero movies. The general rule of thumb is that the more villains you add to a picture, the less effective they become, but they are both fully developed antagonists which is another win-win for Wonder Woman 1984.
Of course, the biggest win is Gal Gadot who continues to delight in the role of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. Gadot was great in 2017’s Wonder Woman, was the best thing about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017), and once again shines in this latest offering.
I’m largely indifferent about the vast majority of the recent DC movies, but one thing I am consistent about is how much I like Gadot in this role. If Warner Bros./DC Entertainment decided to reboot all of these films tomorrow, I wouldn’t be too fussed about jettisoning Justice League or Aquaman etc, but I would miss seeing this version of Wonder Woman.
I would also miss Patty Jenkins in the director’s chair, because she has now delivered two Wonder Woman movies that I have enjoyed. Neither have been perfect, but on both occasions, I have only found minor issues which haven’t stopped me from liking what is on offer.
And there really is a lot on offer in this movie; from exciting action scenes and eye-popping set pieces, to references to the wider Wonder Woman mythology and a fun mid-credit scene that long-time fans will get a real kick out of. This is a picture which has taken forever to arrive, and has had one heck of a journey along the way, but has clearly been created by people who care for the character and want to deliver the best movie possible.
I understand that some audiences have not enjoyed this one as much as they had hoped they would, and have pointed out something rather questionable regarding Steve Trevor, but personally I found myself having a good time. The strengths far outweigh the weaknesses, and this is a great blockbuster to kick-off 2021 (or end 2020 if you were lucky enough to catch it in December).
Wonder Woman 1984 is a strong picture, which is visually impressive, boasts excellent performances, has an important and inspirational message, is suitably comic book-y, and recalls some of the best DC material of the past. In a gloomy, wet and windy January, at the worst point in the lifespan of this pandemic, and when crazy has become the new norm, this film is the escapism we all need right now.