Wonder Woman 1984: Spoiler-Free Movie Review

By Russ Milheim Posted:
Wonder Woman, Maxwell Lord

Originally intended to premiere last December, Wonder Woman 1984 is finally set to be released to the masses—albeit differently than expected. Yes, as of December 25, you can still go to the theaters and watch Diana’s new adventure. Or, like most, you’ll be watching it from the comfort level of your own couch suring the Christmas season thanks to HBO Max.

Wonder Woman 1984 , or just WW84 as the title card would call it, takes place quite some time after we last saw Diana. Sixty-six years after defeating Ares, Diana is now living a low-key life working at the Smithsonian. Her Wonder Woman persona is all but a legend at this point—with the few times she moonlights as a hero being out of the public spotlight. Diana lives a lonely life, purposely secluded away from the world and any possible social life.

Personally, I have never quite connected with Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman. I never actively disliked the character, or Gal’s performance—but she just never truly reached me. However, for everyone that does love the character and the actress bringing her to life, WW84 will continue to make you fall in love with your favorite Amazonian. Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot bring everything and more to the table. One thing in particular that I found with this film, is that Gal Gadot gets more time to flex her acting chops than that of her previous films.

When it comes to her iconic outfits, well, those are at an all-time high. Her classic outfit is now bright and vivid—something that should have been the case from the get go. I certainly won’t miss the washed out colors of her Snyder days, or even that of the first Wonder Woman film. Then, there is her new golden armor outfit. While not my favorite look, it still shines on camera. It’s a nice change of pace, even if the story reasons for it existing and being used in the first place are flimsy at best.

The golden armor might be one of the only true callbacks to the comics in the film—besides the existence of key characters in the film. It’s important that you don’t go into WW84 expecting countless references to the wider DC Universe. There seemed to be a pointed effort to avoid addressing any of that—even to the point of including little to no Easter eggs from the comics.

While that may be a bummer for sure, at least the film features not one, but two iconic DC villains - villains who are easily the strongest aspect of the piece. Both Maxwell Lord and Minerva/Cheetah, played by Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wigg respectively, knock it out of the park.

Let’s start with Maxwell Lord. Pedro Pascal hams it up hardcore, but in all the best possible ways. This behavior is more than just a stylistic choice though--it is also fully backed by whom the character is. The film gives Maxwell Lord a really smart and empathetic set-up, and provides the story some clever twists and turns along the way to up the ante.

Then there’s Kristen Wigg’s Barbara Minerva, who goes on to transform into Wonder Woman’s classic adversary: Cheetah. Just like Maxwell, the journey and development of the character is stellar. Her arc and path to eventually transforming into the apex predator is very well done. The journey getting to that point is very well paced, and features an empathetic approach just like that of Maxwell Lord. Cheetah’s design is also fantastic, and is something that could have easily been botched.

Enough about the bad guys though, let’s talk about one of the good ones. As you are likely fully aware at this point, Chris Pine makes his return as Steve Trevor. The love of Diana’s life was last seen perishing as a sacrificial act in the finale of the first film. So how does he return? Well, I’ll leave that for the film to tell you. What I can say however, is that the return is justified and done in an intriguing manner.

Steve rejoining the fray doesn’t feel cheap in any way, and more importantly, his return does not take away from the impact that his sacrifice had in the first film. Chris Pine’s performance is once again top-notch, and he brings some of the best laughs to the film. On top of that, Steve Trevor was responsible for the most emotional moment of the film for me.

One place where the film does suffer is the action sequences. Going into it, you should not expect a lot of action set pieces. In fact, there are very few of them—but the lack of them isn’t the problem. In actuality, the character work and slower moments are the strongest part of the movie. The problem comes with how the action scenes that we do get look on screen.

Wonder Woman looks extremely awkward at least half of the time that she’s in action, and 100% of the time in all of her lasso swinging scenes (they really do not look good—especially in slow motion). I don’t understand how we can get a web slinging Spider-Man near perfect in today’s age, but somehow Wonder Woman still doesn’t look great in action. At the very least, her iconic showdown with Cheetah is the best looking of the bunch—so that’s at least a small victory on that front.

Once the film gets past the very rough opening twenty minutes or so, including a flashback sequence in Themyscira that could have easily been cut, you’ll be treated to a highly enjoyable and fun ride. While it may not be the best of the genre, it’s still one of DC’s best recent offerings. It’s funny, heartwarming, and thoroughly entertaining—something that makes for the perfect holiday feature.

Final Score: 7.5

- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.