Review Round-Up: Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984
Wonder Woman 1984 is, without a doubt, one of 2020’s most anticipated movies — which, given the love shown to the first Wonder Woman movie (including by yours truly), shouldn’t be surprising at all. But in this pandemic-riddled year, there’s something about Wonder Woman 1984’s upcoming release that feels… special.
But, to use a tired old cliché, will it really be the movie we need right now?
Critics’ reviews have begun pouring in and most of them are pretty positive so far, praising Gal Gadot’s performance as the Amazonian princess as well as the movie’s earnest, un-cheesy, and optimistic tone. But even those singing the movie’s praises seem to wonder if it’s too much of a good thing. Meanwhile, a handful of critics have found Wonder Woman 1984’s flaws to outweigh its ambitions.
Read on for a sampling of Wonder Woman 1984 reviews (positive, negative, and somewhere in-between).
Alex Abad-Santos, “Feels like three Wonder Woman movies wrapped into one”
WW1984 is three movies rolled into one: It’s at once a romance about lost love; a tale about the jealousy in our friendships; and the story of a sad, broken man desperate to take over the world. And it’s only the first two of these that truly take us somewhere wonderful.
Justin Chang, “[A] gloriously overstuffed sequel”
The lessons of Wonder Woman 1984 are a bit like the movie itself: familiar, direct and winningly sincere. “No true hero is born from lies.” “Greatness is not what you think.” “Beware what you wish for.” There’s a prosaic quality to these cautionary statements, which might have elicited an eye-roll in less assured hands. But here, as in the enormously successful Wonder Woman (2017), the director Patty Jenkins and her star, Gal Gadot, have mastered the art of cornball conviction. If what you wish for this season is high spirits, earnest emotions and the unironically delightful sight of Chris Pine in a fanny pack, well, consider it granted.
Molly Freeman, “[F]illed with hope, love & wonder”
At its heart, Wonder Woman 1984 tells a very human story about love and loss that feels especially prescient in 2020, but the film never loses hope or faith in the ultimate goodness of the world and those who live in it. Gadot’s Diana embodies that hope and optimism in every way — sometimes to the point that it feels far too unrealistic in a year filled with so much loss, but that blind idealism is also comforting in its steadfastness. Gadot again brings an equal amount of vulnerability and strength to the role of Diana that gives Wonder Woman a uniquely dynamic screen presence. Wonder Woman 1984 is further buoyed by Pine’s turn as Steve Trevor, working well to ground Diana in a humanity that could be tough for an Amazonian princess. Their dynamic is as effortlessly charming as in the first film, with Pine bringing plenty of humor to his role. Gadot and Pine are juxtaposed well by Wiig and Pascal, who have their own arcs that work to showcase other sides of humanity.
Germain Lussier, “There’s so much going on… it’s almost ridiculous”
The first 10 minutes of Wonder Woman 1984 moved me to tears. Part of it was the long-awaited return to Themyscira, seeing a young Diana (Lilly Aspell) battle her fellow Amazons in an epic action scene set to an incredible new score by Hans Zimmer. But another part was just that after a year of delays and uncertainty, the movie was finally here. Watching a big blockbuster again just felt really, really good. So I was emotional — don’t judge me, it’s been a year.
Clarisse Loughrey, “[A] piece of hopeful, uncynical filmmaking”
Director Patty Jenkins has here built on the achievements of 2017’s Wonder Woman — a hit with audiences and critics, marking a sea change in DC’s then creatively inert “Extended Universe”. Her sequel is an opportunity to dig a little deeper into the superhero phenomenon, to look around and see a world bristling with pain and fear, where fantasies of godly saviours coming down from the skies provide the most direct and simplest of comforts. This may be another $200m film, belched out of the studio production line, but Jenkins’s gift as a filmmaker is her unwavering sense of humanity.
Seanan McGuire, “[A] tricky take on DC’s heroine”
Diana’s lack of investment in her surroundings makes this film a sadder, darker take on Wonder Woman. Compassion is her strength, but it’s hard to feel like she cares about a world she’s completely disconnected from. It’s still not enough to steal the joy from the few moments where we get to see her really let loose with her powers, but a Wonder Woman story in 2020 could be uplifting and inspiring, and this film is neither.
Scott Mendelson, “A fiercely feminized superhero sequel”
While Patty Jenkins’ first Wonder Woman was (by design, considering its bombed-out European locales) the least colorful movie in the DC Films library and filled with grim war violence, this follow-up offers candy-colored imagery and relentless optimism. It is also arguably the first big-budget comic book superhero movie since maybe Superman III which isn’t a rough-and-tumble action movie. Warts and all, DC Films’ first conventional sequel is a fascinating attempt to reclaim the superhero comic book movie (and maybe the entire genre of blockbuster fantasies) from the grips of conventional masculine machismo.
Rodrigo Perez, “Fails to attain the engaging and inspirational greatness it seeks”
[W]elcome to Wonder Woman 1984, a movie that is fundamentally ill-conceived, poorly written, and missing most of the basic charms that made the original Wonder Woman such a delight (minus the last act). Directed again by Patty Jenkins, the film is also something of a nonsensical mess narratively, even by the most lenient and forgiving standards of superhero movies where fantastical, impossible things routinely occur. Suspension of disbelief is crucial to this genre, but WW84 is constantly breaking or conveniently upgrading its rules in ways that definitely break or at least always test your suspension of disbelief.
Brian Truitt, “[T]he action-packed, heartwarming flick hits more than it misses”
Much of 1984 is, to use the period vernacular, pretty rad. Gadot and Pine’s chemistry was one of the best aspects of the first Wonder Woman and they bring so much life to the new one, as a buoyant Diana introduces fish-out-of-water Steve to fanny packs and parachute pants. Throw in a soaring Hans Zimmer score and together the two lovebirds give the film an exciting, earnest vibe that’s the closest recent DC superhero projects have come to Christopher Reeve’s original Superman.
Esther Zuckerman, “A fun sequel that loses some of the original’s glory”
What happens when a movie about ’80s excess gets bogged down in, well, too much excess? The answer can be found in Wonder Woman 1984, a fun, but messy follow-up to the Amazonian superhero’s 2017 re-introduction starring Gal Gadot and directed by Patty Jenkins. There’s a lot to love in WW84: bold performances from a delightful cast, fantastic costumes, Jenkins’ fast-paced direction. But it’s in service of a plot that loses sight of what makes the character so great in the first place.
Wonder Woman 1984 arrives in theaters and on HBO Max on December 25. Watch the most recent trailer below.