The 400-Word Review: Wonder Woman 1984
By Sean Collier
December 23, 2020
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first — because, fortunately, there isn’t really much bad news. The following, however, must be immediately acknowledged in any evaluation of “Wonder Woman 1984.”
This whole movie is about a magic wishing rock. It is a very, very silly plot device.
The sequel to the smash hit from 2017 sacrifices a bit of credibility in favor of thematic resonance. The magic wishing rock is a nimble and germane metaphor — we’ll get back to that in a bit — but a deeply frivolous MacGuffin to hang a movie on.
In general, this is another excellently made superhero movie. A profoundly goofy rock, therefore, can only derail things a little bit.
Diana Prince (Gal Godot, still perfect) has remained a do-gooder in disguise while maintaining her cover as a high-ranking anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institute. When a new associate, awkward wallflower type Barbara (Kristen Wiig), gets a shipment of confiscated antiquities from the FBI, Diana notices a bizarre artifact among the loot. Simultaneously, a smarmy, wannabe oil baron, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), arrives, using a sizable donation as an excuse to poke around — in search of the same artifact.
As it turns out, the fancy doodad grants wishes — beginning with Diana’s heartfelt hope for the posthumous revival of her long-lost flame, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). That impossibility, along with profound changes in the fortunes of Barbara and Maxwell, alerts Diana to the fact that something is deeply wrong: as the surprisingly literary Steve immediately points out, they’re in a “Monkey’s Paw” scenario.
After that name-check, anyone who has read the iconic short story (or seen the equally iconic “Simpsons” riff on it) knows that the wishes are going to come at a dreadful cost, and someone is about to go mad with power. It’s a parable, you see, with a prologue in Diana’s homeland of Themyscira serving as the key: Using disinformation to achieve goals always backfires, while only the truth can unite.
It’s a message that lands — particularly with an ’80s-bred doofus (with terrible hair) serving as the primary deceiver.
It’s inelegant, but so what? Patty Jenkins has once again filled a dazzling, kaleidoscopic film with irresistible fun and perfect action sequences. And with Godot continuing to make her case as the best big-screen superhero in the history of the genre, a goofy wishing rock is certainly forgivable.
My Rating: 8/10