reDirector Patty Jenkins’ reunion with Gal Gadot after her smash hit in 2017 Wonder Woman has brought high expectations, but as the first comic book movie of the Covid era, as well as its many date changes, the anticipation can hardly be contained. . Now that Wonder Woman 1984 is in theaters (and on HBO Max in the US), it’s time to stop yelling “Go away, Gal!” and talk about some details.
Acceptable in the 80s
Jenkins, along with production designer Aline Bonetto, costume Lindy Hemming, and everyone on their teams should feel free to take a celebratory spin on their work, bringing back the look of the era. From the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am to the multi-story mall with a Walden Books (RIP) branch, the details are as luscious as Diana Prince’s hair.
One of the best sequences is an old comic book mainstay: the crazy outfit change montage. But unlike the last movie, when its subject was the visiting Amazon warrior in WWI Britain, this time it’s Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor storming a Washington DC bachelor’s wardrobe, star fanny pack and all. (Naturally, this pilot loves parachute pants.)
Yet despite the tremendous clothing (especially Kristen Wiig’s visit to the gym) and early computer technology, did you find that the movie didn’t take advantage of the music of the time? Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Welcome to the Pleasure Dome, played in 42 minutes, is a tremendous choice (popular but not as well popular), but one wonders why Jenkins left it that way, especially when the epiphanic sequence of “soaring” reuses the old Adiago in D minor, the John Murphy piece originally composed for Danny Boyle’s Sunshine and used dozens of times since.
Let’s go back to Chris Pine for a moment. In order not to delve too deeply into the philosophy (this is a children’s movie after all), but Steve Trevor Really Steve Trevor? The plot hinges on wishes coming true, and Wonder Woman wishes for Trevor to return. Then wham! – your soul or essence inhabits the body of any kind. We have no idea if that guy got fired for not showing up for work, because once Trevor owns it, he runs around stealing planes and goes to museums.
In an effort to keep Trevor in the present different from the unfrozen Captain America of previous Marvel movies, Wonder Woman 1984 makes his awakening extremely vague. But could we have finished with a few more answers? This was Really The spirit of the same Trevor who died decades before or some kind of projection, or echo, of Diana’s mind?
Lord of things
Pedro Pascal’s turn as Maxwell Lord, the fraudulent businessman who stumbles on wealth, is another highlight. At the time when his ill-gotten wealth is rotting him from the inside thanks to the hastily spelled Monkey’s Paw rules, Pascal’s acting upset is rare for something so common. His arc makes sense broadly – he’s greedy, like many famous capitalists of the time, one of whom eventually became president, but is it ever clear what exactly he wants? And would a sermon on the arrogance of a butt-struck Diana really make him change his ways?
Kristen Wiig’s character, the clumsy Barbara Minerva, has a much simpler narrative. He sees the confident and radiant Diana Prince and wishes he could be like her, not knowing that this implies access to an arsenal of superpowers that he does not know how to control. Could the movie have benefited from more Minerva (and her eventual evolution into Cheetah) rather than scenes of Maxwell Lord running around the world granting wishes?
The headlines made headlines in 2017 when Lebanon banned Wonder Woman because Gadot is an Israeli citizen. Knowing this, one has to wonder about choosing to set a major action sequence in Egypt, in which our heroine, shown in her disguise for the first time in the movie, stops fighting bad guys to rescue children in distress. to get caught up in the conflict. (Yes, Maxwell Lord wants oil, but he could have gone to Texas or Edmonton for that!)
Gadot not only saves young soccer players from raging military jeeps, but comforts them in Arabic while hugging them. Whether this should be taken as a vision of coexistence or a moment of international complacency is up for discussion.
And on the subject of complacency, how about that post-credits scene? On the one hand, the film is to be applauded for resisting making more connections to DC’s increasingly disorienting Extended Universe. The gag at the end, in which Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman on television in the 1970s, is just that: a gag. We see her from behind, thinking she is Gadot (that hair!), But it turns out that she is Asteria, a goddess mentioned earlier in the movie.
His line about having a lot of experience with superhero facts is cute, but the literal nod to the camera could bet on a nostalgia factor that not everyone understands. Most viewers under 40 are probably wondering who she is. With that said, if he comes back for a bigger role in part three, I’ll be up and cheering.
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