ENTER-WONDERWOMAN-1984-MOVIE-REVIEW-SE

Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth comes in handy in "WW84" as she comes up against two formidable opponents.

I should start by saying I didn’t like “Wonder Woman,” so my expectations were low for “Wonder Woman 1984.” The villains felt weak and had lame motivations, and Wonder Woman seemed unstoppable.

“WW84” takes two classic Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) villains and makes both compelling while balancing their time and ability to battle her. Action scenes are greatly improved upon from the first film, and it doubles down on comic book aspects that make the film look flashy and fantastic while embracing the weirdness of the source material.

The movie follows Wonder Woman aka Diana Prince as she protects innocent people while trying to keep her existence a secret. This becomes an interesting part of the film as Prince uses clever tactics such as destroying cameras with her tiara and swearing those she saves to secrecy. Along the way, she must get more creative in dealing with bigger enemies that make it impossible to remain low-key.

At the same time, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) is searching for an ancient artifact known as the Dreamstone — which grants each user a single wish. Lord’s hunt causes Wonder Woman problems as he wreaks havoc everywhere he goes. This includes endangering Barbara Minerva (Kristin Wiig) — a coworker of Prince who was tasked to discover the origin of the Dreamstone. 

As the Dreamstone is moved around, it corrupts people through their wishes, leading to disastrous results as Lord abuses its power. While chaos ensues, Wonder Woman struggles to find the Dreamstone while miraculously running into the presumed-dead Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). 

Lord and Minerva make for interesting villains as the Dreamstone changes them. Lord desires to become the most powerful man in the world to impress his son and leave a strong legacy in his wake. This makes his presence unsettling due to the nefarious prices Lord will ask to fulfill people’s wishes with the Dreamstone.

Minerva’s transformation into the Cheetah is equal parts odd and understandable. After being practically invisible all her life, the Dreamstone gives her a chance to be someone much like Wonder Woman. The desperation and ferocity makes Cheetah a freaky and formidable foe that the audience can still relate to. Her physical appearance is also fantastic, doing exactly what “Cats” hoped to do while keeping Minerva intimidating rather than laughable. 

“WW84’s” action scenes are a spectacle and inventive. New uses are found for the Lasso of Truth beyond the casual use of it to swing around buildings or catch onto vehicles. It also catches or blocks bullets along with splitting its end to tie up multiple gunmen, showing Wonder Woman’s evolution of combat to keep damage to a minimum and keep herself a secret.

Although startling in the trailers, Trevor’s appearance does make sense. His resurgence allows Wonder Woman the opportunity to have closure with him from World War I. His sense of wonder at all the technological advancements is comedic at times, like when he learns about fashion. His astonishment also allows for more tender moments as he adjusts to life and attempts to understand how the world has changed, such as planes now being able to fly to Egypt without the need for refueling.

The film’s only major flaw is the first 10 to 15 minutes where Prince has a childhood flashback scene. While the message is clear, it could’ve also been said in about 30 seconds rather than showing the Amazons of Themyscira participate in their version of the Olympics. 

The games weren’t necessarily boring, but they were eccentric and poorly explained given the events weren’t similar to anything seen in the Olympics before. The whole scene felt like filler to get the movie to a two-and-a-half-hour runtime, but it could’ve been skipped over with no loss to the overall story.

“WW84” has great action, captivating villains and solid character development. The film embraces the weirdness of comics, giving it some room to breathe and be creative rather than trying to remain realistic. Beyond a weak beginning, there are no problems in the movie. After this movie’s blast from the past, I hope there’s more to come for everyone’s favorite Amazon.

Contact Caleb Barbachem at barbaccf@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and  lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.