This one’s gonna be a quick one, because 1) most folks who’ve been wanting to see this probably already hit HBOMAX hard, and 2) I already spent TWO AND A HALF HOURS on this. So I’m not dragging this out. Enjoy.
“Pace yourself and remember; greatness is not what you think.” (Subtlety, thy name ain’t WW84.)
Story: It’s 1984, and Diana Prince is in Washington, DC working at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. She meets meek, unassuming Barbara Minerva (MINERVA LIKE THE GODDESS GET IT), who only has one wish; to be as cool as Diana. Luckily, a new item hits Barbs desk courtesy of the FBI. It’s old, and can grant wishes, or so it says on the tin. Yay? Oh, and a narcissistic wannabe oil tycoon wants it. So that’ll be great.
Genre I’d put it in: Sequels That Try Very Hard And Almost Make It
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Sequel to Wonder Woman, and part of the DCEU.
Gotta say: As a MoCo native who spent a lot of her teen years in Georgetown doing all the shopping / looking in places like Commander Salamander? This Commander Salamander looks a lot more like Up Against The Wall. But I do applaud the neon they get for some of the costumes… Though nothing can touch my beloved CS.
I guess that they couldn’t turn back time on the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, but as someone who had that place memorized in the seventies and eighties? Little me remembers every detail. And it’s strange to see the difference in a movie that’s supposed to be in the 80s. Though I’m sure people that aren’t DC area natives won’t pick up on it, I can guarantee you the people that are, will. It’s those little things that pull me out of the narrative every time. But okay, enough about how WW84 doesn’t quite stick the art direction landing. It tried, so I’ll give it a passing grade. (Check out Diana’s wardrobe; holy shades of Lynda Carter, Batman! A+.)
How’s the movie itself? Well…it’s long. Like, really long. As if DC saw Infinity War, checked the run time, and figured it was the length that made that film a success. Um. Nope. It’s the story, and the fact that there was so much to say and do. Here in WW84, there’s very little story, yet the film clocks in at a hiccup over two and a half hours. It’s so devoid of actual plot in that runtime that this film is a perfect example to show newbie film students how editing makes the film. Because honey, judicious editing was definitely needed here. So many scenes feel like they’re being stretched way too thin, when a few sentences – or a mention earlier in another scene – could have done the work of five or ten minutes. With a competent editor that was allowed to do their job? This film could have packed more of an exciting punch. But as it stands, it drags. Example? An overly long Steve Trevor Tries On 80s Styles montage. It’s unecessary, though funny. But after several changes, it starts to get stale. One outfit, after pulling out a few 80s clunker pieces, could have done the job.
Then there’s basic story gaffes. There’s a drawn out Ninja Gladiator Warriors thingamajig opening scene with Diana at age…maybe 10? It’s a fun scene with lots of action, but also feels like padding, as it’s unnecessarily long, just to prove a point that “no true hero is born from lies”. That could have been stated in a brief comment during a similar (quicker) scene. But hitting us over the head with things is what WW84 is here to do, and dammit they’re gonna beat themes and Chekhov’s Gun character dialogue into our stupid clueless heads until even we can pick up on ’em. Hooray?
There’s also random stuff dropped into the story for the sake of “awww” moments. Steve and Diana are trying to get to [Spoilery Place] for [Spoilery Thing]. The film doesn’t even bother to say that it’s the Fourth of July until Diana and Steve see fireworks coming outta nowhere.The entire scene could be cut and the movie with miss nothing but a sappy “wuv” scene. Which is lovely – Gadot and Pine do work well together, and Diana + Steve is adorable. But it’s a chunk of time that drags the film’s energy down. Again. (And trust me; there’s no way DC has fireworks coming outta nowhere. Metro – which we see them in – is all but empty, and so’s the National Mall. Okay, my DC brain will stop now.)
As Barbara/Cheetah, Kristen Wiig does a great job with what she’s given, but most of her emotional and physical transformations happen off-screen. Kudos to the cinematographer for keeping her final form shrouded in darkness; while the makeup looks like something I’d draw on for Halloween, there’s minimum uncanny valley when the action starts. Pedro Pascal does scenery chewing well as Maxwell Lord, though he’s allowed sweet moments with Lord’s son Alistair that lets him channel his inner Mando. So that’s nice. But with Max and Cheetah, it feels like too much of a good thing. I understand why they both were introduced this way, but the film bounces from one Big Bad to another as if the screenwriters themselves don’t really know what to do with them.
TL;DR? You’re home. You’ve got HBOMAX? Go ahead and watch. What else are you doing? Okay, you could be watching Soul. But that’s another review for another time. WW84 will fill your need for new superhero content, but only because Gadot is magic on screen, and you’re not paying twenty bucks for popcorn. Definitely not because the movie is compelling in any way.
#Protip: Make sure you stick through the mid-credits at the end. There’s a small scene that’s well worth your time. Like, maybe not worth watching all of this, but close.