Film Review: Wonder Woman 1984
Oh, shit. I’m writing my opinion on a women-driven film. Some might even call it a feminist film. However more might say it’s just a superhero film. And some might think- it shouldn’t be called a film at all. I think when people went into the this movie, they forgot about the concept of suspension of disbelief. Everyone had different expectations about this movie instead of taking into consideration the production goals and limits- yes they had a huge budget, BUT they pushed to have as many scenes as they could be real- as in, the action stunts were mostly done by the real actors, including the young girl who is jumping off horses and climbing up 100 ft. high beautiful architecture. I mean, the entire second scene in the real vintage 1980s mall was actually done with Gal connected to cables. The scenes with her flying in the sky? She actually flew with cables- like actually gliding along the air- not static, with just some CGI in the background. Not to mention the overall vision of Patty Jenkins. The comedy in the film is not only cinematically satisfying, but also allows for entry into an adult superhero film in accessible ways for children, which is one of the most important themes appearing in the film by Jenkins. She starts the film with a child- and from then on, show how a little girl can become her own woman. It was also interesting how nearly every male role was either portrayed as childlike or menial- many of the men were secretary type roles- Diana at one point completely dismisses a man who is clearly making a very dedicated pass at her.
The beginning is one of the newer opportunities to see a young girl as inspiration to the young girls in the audience. The entire theme of the movie is that despite the ever enduring trend (which hopefully one day will be overturned or at least mitigated) is that the truth reveals the harsh realities of the world- most importantly the male-dominated, misogynistic, and demeaning portrayals, depiction, and treatment of women- and our youth. The truth that not only are our women mistreated, but so are our children. The truth is that both young girls and boys can have proper role models but don’t always in this film (Max Lorde and his son) nor do they in real life. In this film, there is a sense that it is not too late for adults to recognize their mistakes. That there is still hope.
What balance you are trying to find between a Hollywood blockbuster superhero movie and an indie film like Broken Flowers with Bill Murray (Great film btw)? If you have a problem with the dialogue- then consider the dialogue of ANY movie that was influential. Especially a Hollywood one. So, why would you go in expecting them to have indie film unique dialogue when the film is CLEARLY a Hollywood produced blockbuster? You knew this going in- don’t expect the dialogue to be too different- not even the plot points. But what is the director trying to convey?
The film is based on emotions, action, and most importantly- a symbol of hope and inspiration. I personally feel empowered and inspired to take action as a person when I see one of the new WW films. And I believe that it falls in that order. First, you are made to feel, and then you focus on the action. There is a reason for this. BTW, if you think the action was not great- then perhaps we didn’t see the same movie. It was all HEAVILY choregraphed many times, by stunt people, fight coordinators, Cirque de Soleil professionals, the actresses and actors had many fight, dress, and on set rehearsals- and at times even Patty Jenkins herself performed a simple stunt to convey her vision to the actresses/actors. The entire scene between Cheetah and WW was choreographed by Cirque. Nearly all fight and stunt scenes are heavily choreographed in Hollywood film, however, these scenes provided new takes on it. Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot went to see Cirque de Soleil before hiring them to help choreograph some of the scenes including the Cheetah-WW fight.
The concept of the plot in and of itself was not original. But which one is these days? Patty Jenkins herself said the basic plot about the stone was a Monkey Paw’s story. The reason for this is because the plot literally DOESN’T MATTER as much as the overall message, which I would venture to say is that women are powerful, independent, courageous, and do not need men to be that strong, determined, nor need them to be the hero that the world needs in a fictional sense- but these stories- just like stories have done for thousands of years- inspire other young women. It actually shows what young boys and girls need: their own sense of independence and power, but also a strong, reliable, loving parent who can guide them and show them the kind of care that will develop them into a respectful young adult in a misogynistic world. This is why they also pan focus on the relationship between Max Lorde and his young son, and also shows flashbacks to the traumatic childhood Max had. However, the Monkey Paw’s story is about wishes granted always with a catch- which reflects reality and the situations in this film.
As some storytellers have said- every story has already been told- it’s just now being told in a different way (hopefully). Some say- the sacrifice that Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) makes essentially removes the agency of Wonder Woman taking control of the situation. But she barely says any words when he says he must do this, because she firstly knows it’s true. But secondly, she doesn’t need to say a d*** thing to show she understands that this is true- and not for the salvation of humanity, it is to shed the male off and take control of her own power and destiny. The one she was naturally meant for- before the stone impacted their fates.
I know I am a man. Who am I to speak about women empowerment? Well, I have a wife and two daughters that I care deeply about despite my male dominant biases- and I would give up my entire manhood (whatever that is)- my life- to not only save them but to empower them and do what I can to ensure that they have the opportunities to be powerful, strong, confident women that won’t adhere to antiquated sexist behaviors. The closest way I can convey an example of this idea is through the story of how my entire family teared up when my son Noah saw Miguel (someone who looked like him) in Coco a few years back. Despite how he actually felt as a kid- little did he know that it consciously and unconsciously inspired him as a human being. For too long, film in the U.S. has been dominated by wealthy white male Americans, and now that it is changing it seems to be making white male people feel uncomfortable. Every single superhero film I’ve seen is fraught with unrealistic dialogue and action. Yes even all of the Marvel movies. That’s the name of the game. So why criticize it now with WW 1984? Perhaps people didn’t like the demonization of Max Lord (the antagonist) or perhaps they didn’t like the redemption of him (him coming to terms that what really mattered in life was his son) because WW showed him the truth with her Lasso. Maybe people didn’t like the plot holes. Well, you kind find tons of plot holes in any comic book movie. You know why? Because it’s a comic book movie. It’s not realistic. It’s entirely fantastical.
Perhaps what was a little off-putting was how Max Lord actually became the wish stone. Here, I can see some criticism seeping in, because they’ve immediately removed the object of destruction and turned in into a person- they artificially created a villain. However, Max Lord was a real character in the comics who influenced other people’s minds and thoughts, was a successful entrepreneur, and even convinced Superman to attack Wonder Woman. So, when someone says “oh, that guy’s so unrealistic.” Well, it’s true, he’s not- he’s a fictional character. He’s an actual character from DC comics. Does the film version actually depict the comic book version of the character? No. But no comic book film ever does. It is essentially an adaptation. How many biases were you able to set aside while you watched a superhero movie? It is after all a completely fictional film with fictional characters in fictional situations- and just like the comics- they sometimes have interesting dialogue, but mostly is predictable- and just like comic book plot points (along with any other story-telling method) is predictable and has been told in one way or another before. Well, we all have our biases. So, I suggest you go watch Wonder Woman 1984 and decide for yourself. And if you get the chance, watch the featurettes and interviews. They are very enlightening. Sometimes, when I read a negative review on a film I enjoyed, I wonder how much that reviewer really considered how much work it took to try and deliver that story to them.
It’s just like in theatre. There is SO much work that gets put into a play- and then to get a bad review is a punch in the gut. You put so much thought into not only the action, set, blocking, interpretation, but also to the overall message and reception of the audience. But probably the best approach for directors, so that they can keep moving on with their careers, is to just ignore the criticisms altogether and continue being their awesome selves.