Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Maybe it was the weight of heightened expectations after the extraordinarily well-received original that doomed this big-budget sequel, or maybe it was the movie’s many imperfections, or maybe it was simply that we were all psychologically worn out because of COVID, but it seems as though nobody cared much for “Wonder Woman 1984″… and I have to be honest, I’m glad I waited so long to finally watch it with no expectations because I thought it was an inferior-but-worthy-nevertheless addition to the growing franchise, and not worthy of the scorn that was heaped on it. That being said, there are definitely some major problems, beginning with the special effects. Sometimes it feels like it’s a video game and looks about as realistic as one (in particular in the tiresome, extraneous shopping mall opening scene), which has an unfortunate habit of zapping you right out of the experience. Additionally, the plot is pure ’80s pulp, which is appropriate given the time period but also feels aggressively “extra” from a modern perspective (not to mention that it’s often confusing, like the central “Wishmaster”-ish elements that set the story in motion, which are hard to lock down). I also wish Kristen Wiig’s Barbara was the main villain because her performance is much, much more effective than Pedro Pascal, who is just fine as the main antagonist but pales in comparison whenever Wiig shares the screen with him. However, part of what makes the movie so compelling is its messiness: It’s overstuffed but it’s exciting, it’s confusing but involving, it’s silly but entertaining, it’s overlong but effective. Gal Gadot is, of course, perfect as Diana, imbuing the role with sincerity and integrity that go a long way towards selling the movie’s convoluted developments, and her chemistry with Chris Pine is out of this world: Whenever they’re together, the movie positively beams with megawatt, superstar charisma and good will, like in a gorgeous, stunning, and achingly romantic fireworks sequence that’s worth the price of admission on its own. So, while it’s deeply flawed, I’m giving this 4 stars because its mistakes are, at the very least, well-intentioned, and there’s something deeply compelling about the finished product.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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