The Dark Herald Does Not Recommend Wonder Woman 1984The Dark Herald
It’s finally here!
All the suckage you were expecting from the first Wonder Woman movie has finally arrived!
This was a very difficult film for me to review. Because I kept falling asleep.
I can give it this much. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I thought it was going to be a Woke fest of ungodly proportions and while the mental illness is present, it isn’t all-consuming. What this movie also isn’t, is entertaining.
I do understand that when it comes to film production, past a certain point when the train leaves the station the only thing you can do is be on it. But this whole concept was deeply flawed. If it becomes obvious that a train is going to go into a river because the bridge is out, not leaving the depot is a pretty good idea.
What I’m saying is this script should have burned early on.
In the first movie, Steve Trevor got a heroic death. It was touching and affecting. Particularly as Gal Gadot and Chris Pines had good on-screen chemistry and played well off of each other. Unfortunately, this led to a commitment to a really bad idea; bringing back Steve Trevor. Making the return of Chris Pines the centerpiece of the movie reeks of clueless upper management decision-making. Aside, from some look-alike grandson (ala Lyle Wagoner in the WW TV show), there is no way to do this without wrecking a franchise. When you make death an optional extra, everyone suddenly has impregnable plot armor. When you remove the Ultimate Reality, then there are no stakes because your characters are never going to be in danger again.
Oh no! Green Arrow is dead! I guess we’ll have to wait for him to get back from spawn.
I’ll give Patty Jenkins credit where it’s due, she did manage to minimize this problem to the extent that she could. But then we are left with the other problem of this film being set in 1984 and we’ve already seen three films where Steve Trevor isn’t in the present. This means the audience goes into this one knowing that Steve is going to be gone again by the end of the movie. There is only so much dramatic tension that can be squeezed out of “what happens to Trevor this time around?”
(Future Dark Herald here; Yeah, I was wrong. All of the worst elements in this movie were all on Jenkins. It was ALL her fault. She is an utterly incompetent writer and refuses to believe it.)
Okay, let’s take a look at the movie.
The film starts on the island of Themyscira and the Amazon Olympics are underway. Diana is a little girl and she almost wins but then cheats and gets caught. She then receives a lecture about truth and that’s it for Paradise Island.
Opening credits and it’s the Eighties!
Stranger things got the Eighties right, Wonder Woman 1984 got them wrong. The vibe isn’t there at all. This film is a mosh-pit of Eighties fashion. Everyone is dressed like they stepped out of a Sears catalog. The people that Axel Foley was laughing at when he was driving through Beverly Hills are peppered throughout the background of this film. Nobody dressed like that! I never once saw anyone dressed entirely in day-glow leather at any time from 1980 to 1990, it just didn’t happen. It feels more like a parody of that era. The totally bitchin Eighties stuff is so in your face it takes you, like, right out of the story, grody to the max! Like, ohmagawd! What’s your damage? Barf out! Gag me with a spoon!
We get to see Wonder Woman secretly performing minor acts of heroism around some mall in Georgetown. This culminates in the foiling of a jewelry store heist. Except the jewelry store is a front for the sale of illegal antiquities. As extreme luck would have it there is MacGuffin located among the loot!
A magic rock that grants every person who holds it one wish. That’s right it’s a Monkey’s Paw. A freaking Monkey’s Paw. That’s the plot device.
The next scene is an establishing shot of Diana’s very well-to-do apartment. She lives completely by herself, not even a cat. Next, we see The Amazon Princess having dinner all by herself to show how lonely she is.
When you are doing a superhero story, the storyteller has to pick his/her battles carefully. The audience will grant you a higher degree of suspension of disbelief. “You will believe a man can fly,” was the tagline for Superman (1978), that audience went into the theaters wanting to believe in that but what they would not have believed was Superman conveniently finding a full-size phonebooth to change in because by 1978 they were getting kind of rare.
Obviously, any audience watching a Wonder Woman movie has expectations that have to be met. However, if she has stayed in the “Man’s World” since 1918 the filmgoers are going to have some equally obvious questions that need answering. What has she been doing for sixty-six years? Has she really been mourning Steve Trevor since 1918? Seriously?!? I mean, sure, nice guy and all but past a certain point you’ve started a death-cult. Has she worked at the Smithsonian the whole time? Hasn’t anyone noticed that the strikingly beautiful ninety-one-year-old brunette never ages? Has she really used the same name since 1918? And how the hell does she manage to do her Wonder Woman things in secret despite wearing her costume when she does them?
These are the questions that start bubbling up in the viewer’s mind when Diana makes her wish on the Monkey’s Paw, I mean Magic Rock.
Time to meet our first antagonist. It’s Kristin Wiig who wears glasses and stutters a lot, this shows she’s awkward and unattractive. Men don’t pay any attention to her at all.
She’s an Invisible Woman.
This film was definitely made by and for women. And truth be said there is a very deep drive in women to attract male attention for the simple reason that the woman who does not attract the male gaze will not reproduce. The men in this movie either ignore women in the most offensive way possible OR pay attention to them in the creepiest way possible. Often as not it’s the same men doing both.
Okay, so Doctor Minerva (Kirsten Wigg) accidentally drops her papers on the floor and no MAN will stop and help her. But Diana does because she’s a woman and she’s helping another woman, (you go girl!). Minerva instantly develops a girl-crush on Diana. They talk about her work and she shows Diana some of the artifacts from the attempted robbery. Including the Monkey’s Paw. Diana at this point makes a drive-by wish on it. She’s been an Alpha widow for 66 years so it’s pretty obvious what that wish is.
Diana invites Minerva to dinner because she’s pathetic, (you go girl!). Friendship is established and then they go their separate ways for the night. At that point, Minerva is almost raped by a drunk in the park but naturally, Diana saves her. Minerva goes home and casually wishes that she was like Diana. Dun. Dun. Dun.
In the morning we meet the real antagonist, Max Lord, and despite the hype surrounding the movie this guy doesn’t appear to be a Donald Trump clone at all (or at least that wasn’t the vibe I got). He’s more like Carlton Sheets or Tom Vu. An Eighties infomercial guy who will tell the secret of getting rich quick, if you give him lots of money. (Personal note: I worked out their secret pretty early on). However, instead of zero money down real estate, Max Lord does oil. Which I honestly don’t remember anybody doing that in the 80s but moving on. Anyway, it was Lord that had been trying to buy the Monkey’s Paw. And now he has discovered that Doctor Minerva has it. So, he invites her out on the town in order to steal it.
The audience discovers that Max Lord is a total fraud when we get to his office and it’s almost entirely empty. This is confirmed when Simon Stagg shows up… Whoa wait a minute, Simon Stagg is in this!? Is this about to get good? Are we going to see Metamorpho? What about his henchman, Java?
The answer to all of these questions is, sadly, no. Simon isn’t there to do anything cool, he’s just there to tell the audience that Max Lord’s business is just another Eighties Ponzi racket. And Stagg does this in front of Lord’s son. This lets us know that Lord is a slightly sympathetic character because he loves his son but frankly, I could have done it better in my sleep.
Diana becomes very suspicious of Max Lord because…honestly, this was one of the parts where I nodded off so I’m not sure why she was suspicious of him. But she is suspicious of him, that’s important, and follows him to some shindig the Smithsonian is throwing. And there she meets a Handsome Man who, by the power of her wish, has been possessed by Steve Trevor. So not a literal resurrection. I’ll give points to Patty Jenkins for that anyway. It’s still a bad idea but I’m pretty sure it was a bad idea that was imposed on her from the top. And she did what she could with it. (Future Herald; I’m still wrong about that.)
Lord seduces Minerva and steals the magic rock /Monkey’s Paw. He then wishes to become the Monkey’s Paw. Anybody who makes a wish on him gets that wish granted. it’s not the worst twist in the world but frankly, an infinite wish spell is always bad.
In the meantime, Diana takes Steve back to the apartment that belongs to the guy he has possessed and she proceeds to rape him
Seriously, what if this had been the reverse?
What if it had been Diana possessing the body of another woman and Steve Trevor had sex with that unconsenting woman’s body? What would the SJWs say about that?
But it’s OK because she’s a woman and she’s hot. So why would any man object to being possessed if he was allowed to bang Gal Gadot? It just stands to reason.
In the next scene, we discover that not only is Minerva becoming pretty hot in her own right, but she is also developing super strength. Lord for his part has started distributing wish spells. Also, they are rewriting the Monkey’s Paw rules in mid-movie. Now, Lord can grant whatever wish, but he gets to claim whatever he wants in return for it.
Diana becomes concerned about the monkey’s paw and figures out that it was probably created by a trickster deity. So, using it will always be bad news in the end. I was awake for this part so, I know the writers didn’t come with a decent explanation for her suspicions.
Diana goes to see Minerva and then chews her out for having taken that particular artifact home with her. Rightfully so, the Monkey’s Paw was not owned by the Smithsonian. It was evidence in an FBI case that hadn’t gone to trial yet and Doctor Minerva broke chain of custody by taking it home with her. But Minerva gets all butthurt about her new BFF having sharp words with her.
Diana and Steve now take off in pursuit of Max Lord. In an invisible jet. The invisible jet was a bit of obsolete fan service. It was a holdover from the 1940s when Diana’s island was more like Wakanda. I don’t know why they bothered since she’s had the magic of aeromancy for some time now. The plane is actually an F-111 that Diana turns invisible. This is quite a lot more believable than a pilot from 1918 being able to fly a jet from the 1970s. But Steve needed to be given things to do… Because he had no reason to be there.
Off to the Mid-East to kill some time (and oh god, the bar isn’t at the half-way point. This movie isn’t even half over yet! Soldiering on for you my beloved Darklings).
So, sparing you a lot of what I have endured here, each wish makes things worse. Worse, for the wisher, for the world, and for Max Lord himself.
Diana finally discovers where the Monkey’s Paw came from. Every civilization that the Monkey’s Paw was in collapsed. Also, Steve Trevor blatantly calls the damn thing a “Monkeys Paw.” Sorry Jenkins, no, you don’t get credit for doing that. Minerva doesn’t want to give up her wish because she’s really starting to dig the whole beautiful and having superpowers thing. And Diana doesn’t want to renounce hers because she wants to keep raping this total stranger that Steve Trevor is still possessing.
New rule coming in! If you renounce your wish you make everything better. Total reset. It’s like it never happened.
Max Lord is having troubles, he can’t grant wishes fast enough. The impression you’re supposed to have is that he is like a wineskin with a hole in it. The wine is pouring out, so you have to keep pouring more wine in but the hole in the bag is getting wider each time you put more wine in the wineskin. Trust me, it makes more sense than anything else you’re going to see in this movie.
So, he goes off to see Not-President Reagan. In exchange for more nukes (because Hollywood still has to get in these little digs at Ronald Reagan) he gets all the president’s power and authority. To include the Emergency Broadcasting System.
Wonder Woman has yet another action scene, where she gets her ass kicked by Minerva. Hat tip to Jenkins, she can do a decent action scene it’s just that the rest of the movie is so boring the fight scene doesn’t really liven things up all that much. At the end of it, Minerva officially throws in her lot with Max Lord.
She hops on Marine One just as it’s taking off with Max Lord to take him to some super-secret emergency broadcast center. We get another rule change to the one wish rule. Minerva gets to have a second wish where she becomes even more powerful. It’s not really set up at all, but they needed to get Cheetah in the story somehow or another and this is how they do it.
Everything is getting ultra bad fast. Diana finally renounces her wish swearing she will continue her drastically unhealthy obsession with a man that died before the Treaty of Versailles was signed until the end of time. Or until Warner decides she should hook-up with Batman.
Wonder Woman gets her powers back and then some. She can fly now because sending your boyfriend back to the Great Beyond does that.
She has another action scene at the secret Emergency Broadcast System bunker while wearing the armor of Lynda Carter (trust me on this point). Sigh, fight scene with Cheetah who won’t renounce.
Then a showdown with Max Lord, who after a long-ass time, finally, eventually does (after a p-r-o-l-o-n-g-e-d build-up) renounces, ending the Curse of the Monkey’s Paw.
Epilogue: At an outdoor Christmas festival, Diana runs into the guy she raped, says, “Hi” to him, and doesn’t buy him dinner.
Post credit scene with Lynda Carter as the Asteria.
The freaking End.
It says a lot about the mindset of the women who made this film, that the body of the guy Steve possesses is only credited as Handsome Man. They never even gave their victim a name.
Wonder Woman is immortal, and realistically this presents a fairly serious problem so far as her love life is concerned. Of course, they can’t afford to be too realistic either. I mean big picture time; Diana was born before the fall of Troy and has lived on an island with a bunch of women who are the products of classical Greek culture. And Steve Trevor is the first romantic relationship she’s ever had? I mean first with a man sure but again realistically here, Themyscira is the ultimate women’s prison. It’s surprising given how Woke the comics are now that they have never gone there… Hmm, googling now…(sigh), never mind, they did.
But getting back to my point, Diana’s refusal to even consider starting another relationship after the death of Steve Trevor feels like she is living an extremely cloistered existence. It’s as if she can’t come out of a cave that she’s hiding in. What was the point in living in the “Man’s World” if she wasn’t going to live in it? I admit that comes with its own problems. Had Steve Trevor lived in the first movie she would probably have been burying him about the time the second movie started. Does she hook up with younger guys and just keep them on the road until the wheels fall off? Dump them after thirty years? Would an immortal woman prefer older men (the ones with money obviously)?
Did she really do nothing but hang out in a museum while the bloodiest century in human history was taking place.
Ultimately, you are left with the impression that aside from this movie and curb-stomping the occasional mugger, Wonder Woman sat out the entire twentieth century.
In conclusion: I was waffling between a Does Not Recommend rating and Recommends with Reservations. I won’t say it’s a terrible movie, it’s got a few moments here and there. The cinematography is pretty good. I’ve certainly seen much worse films but it really isn’t a very good one either. I went with the lower rating for the simple reason that I really cannot come up with a reason for anyone to see this movie. It’s low-level Woke. It doesn’t think things through. The climax is pretty dull, the pacing is pretty boring. It is w-a-y too long. And it is easily the worst of the 21st century DC movies.
The Dark Herald Does Not Recommend.