Patty Jenkins directs Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Pedro Pascal in this superhero sequel where the DC queen faces down a greedy society corrupted by a malevolent dreamstone while being reunited with her lost love.
Bad Boys For Life. Tenet. Mulan. Blockbusters were certainly rationed in 2020. With cinemas still closed in Scotland, we rented, downloaded, played WW84 twice hungrily this weekend. First time I was swept up with the magisterial populist stylings and storytelling. Second time I just wished we could be watching all this on the big screen. A near perfect afternoon devourer… as optimistic and bright and sincere as Richard Donner’s Superman. If you bought a ticket to see Gadot and Pine’s perfect romantic chemistry reignited this provides in spade. All their interactions are sweetly funny, the fish out water comedy dynamic reversed as this time the hunky old school star has to figure out the 65 years he missed. The always charming Pine is a self effacing treat. If you came for the titular wonder then we regularly harness the lightning, fly through the fireworks and shrug off shimmering golden wings like it ain’t no thing. Indulgent sequences of colourful visual splendour.
The one thing the film lacks is the instant gratification of Marvel movies. It isn’t a conveyor belt of wisecracks, teases and posturing. It actually delivers a plot, emotional character arcs, involving spectacle, resolution, hope. Lets it all play out at an absorbable, measured, pleasurable pace. Imagine being a small child taking in those opening tag team of action sequences. Child Diana competing in the super Themyscira olympics to the heavenly percussion of Hans Zimmer… followed by adult Wonder Woman saving the wide eyed shoppers of a mall from some incompetent armed thieves. Gadot may not be the finest actress in the world, her command of the English language may not be particularly nuanced, but she exudes a heroism that matches only Arnie or The Rock. She may be in a violent setting but you know the kids are safe with her, she’s unwaveringly on the side of good, conspiratorial that the tough stuff is all part of the adventure. She’s a truly family friendly cape. The fact she looks as glamorous and radiant as an Ava Gardner or a Claudia Cardinale is the cherry on top.
Jenkins seeds another half dozen rousing action sequences among her extensive take on the “be careful of what you wish for” narrative. Would I have preferred one extra face off between Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah? Of course – the comedy actress is great value in the serious villain role but does leave you craving more. Do we need quite so much focus on Pedro Pascal’s misguided Maxwell Lord in the third act? Probably not, but Jenkins admirably tries to give all four of her principles dramatic space to be human rather than mere counters on an ever shifting game board. It is a generous tale… ultimately more satisfying and rewatchable than the more slam bang, empty calories entertainments of recent years. Wonder Woman 84 feels like you’ve experienced a complete story rather than a mid chapter of an ongoing saga. And a really gleeful one at that. It even has a respectable moral… the selfish desires of individuals don’t necessarily work for the greater cohesion for all society. No wonder the whiny, entitled, self important echo chambers of Twitter instantly hated on it.
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