My son and I stayed up to watch this movie on release day… that involved downloading a torrent and watching at home, and since we were both hyped to see it, we watched it after midnight, ending around 2:30AM. So I can’t emphasize enough… we both loved the first movie and were excited to watch it. I don’t normally watch movies until 2:30AM. We expected a good movie. We were wrong. I’m writing this because I see that despite being bad, the movie is doing well. Maybe someone can read this and know what they’re in for.
The very first action scene, in a shopping mall, is pure cheese. The dialog is shit, and that continues right through the movie, the action looks fake, and the movie is just… well.. bad. It’s like they recaptured the tone of the first movie, but without substance. And a terribly weak plot, in many ways. Spoilers ahead, so don’t read on if you don’t want to read spoilers.
They make several references to The Monkey’s Paw, which is the classic story about being granted wishes and the consequences of those wishes. So, since they fuck it up so badly, here is the basic Monkey’s Paw plot, the way it is meant to work: (paraphrased and based on a version I knew from when I was around ten years old, but this will do)
A couple comes into possession of the mystical Money’s Paw, which grants 3 wishes.
They use the first wish to wish for wealth. And they get it, but lose their son, who is a soldier recently gone to war. He dies, and they get the money from the insurance policy.
They use their second wish to wish for their son to come back. Again, they get their wish. But he doesn’t come back alive or human, or OK. In the story I know, this is left to the imagination. Think Pet Cemetery…
Thus they use the last wish to wish for his/their suffering to end. They undo the second wish, but their son is still dead.
The lesson, of course, is that wishes or shortcuts don’t get what you expect. There is a price, and that price cannot be undone. The Monkey’s paw story always ends in tragedy. But in Wonder Woman 1984, there is only one wish, except in one strange case where the second antagonist gets two, for no good reason. Max Lord becomes the dream stone, and finds a way to grant everybody’s wishes at once (where the dream stone is just the magical monkey’s paw as an artefact imbued by some kind of god in the Wonder Woman mythology).
But Wonder Woman saves the day by getting everybody to recant their wishes. Despite a set piece at the start of the movie with her as a child, presumably to teach that shortcuts are bad, the movie ends with everybody recanting their wishes and undoing the harm done. They botched the Monkey’s Paw story completely.
There are other problems with the movie. Kristen Wiig’s antagonist as Cheetah is poor. She starts out as a sympathetic character, and wishes to be like Diana, unknowingly wishing for super powers. The catch to her wish is that she loses her humanity – so she is no longer a character that cares for anyone else. And thus, she is no longer a villain we can sympathize with. They take away what we like about her, making her a caricature, a cardboard cut-out villain.
The battle at the end of the movie between Wonder Woman and Cheetah looks fake as fuck. Diana wears armour that looks like plastic, and the fight is reminiscent of the end of Black Panther, pure CGI cringe.
There are other issues with the movie (the pace, the motivations of Max Lord, Diana using her powers to make a jet invisible despite the wish apparently having removed her powers, Max being reunited with his son at the end, presumably indicating the son must have teleported or something), but that’s enough for me. It was still entertaining and a little enjoyable for me, although my 12 year old son hated it – he’s a harsher critic than I am. To reiterate, my main complaint is the movie is style over substance. It could have been so much better. Strong acting from Gal Gadot and Pedro Pascal, but nothing could fix the weak plot.
This movie was a major disappointment for us, and I think it will be for many. The gimmicky release both to movie theatres and streaming service worked, and the movie is a box office success… that concerns me too. They’re making another one, seemingly without having learned that they made some serious mistakes with this one.