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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Wonder Woman 1984 Review: Superhero Splendour Amidst Pandemic Panic

The year 2020 has been challenging due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, it has been reassuring to see female filmmakers take centre stage telling stories of formidable women.

First, it was Niki Caro with Mulan and now Patty Jenkins returns to the director’s seat and Gal Gadot resumes the title role in Wonder Woman 1984.

The film is Warner Bros. Pictures’ follow up to the DC Super Hero’s first outing, 2017’s record-breaking Wonder Woman, which took in $822 million at the worldwide box office.

It has released simultaneously in cinema and on the HBO Max streaming platform in America on Christmas day.

Even though the movie is a sequel to the 2017 Blockbuster, there is no plot continuation whatsoever. This means that fresh audiences to the franchise can enjoy the film without the prior familiarity of its first instalment.

After Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) restores humanity after a period of conflict during World War I, in the first film, the narrative fast forwards to 1984.

Set amidst the backdrop of the Cold War, she comes into conflict with two formidable foes: media businessman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and friend-turned-enemy Barbara Ann Minerva (Kristen Wiig).

Things also take a drastic turn, when individuals have the power to ‘wish’ whatever they want, creating havoc and mishap in society.

As expected, the set creation and special effects are delightful. Whether it’s the re-creation of the 80s (which carries nostalgia) or the marvellous opening sequence Themyscira (which immediately grabs our attention), the outlook is a treat.

Whilst the action sequences may not be as full-throttle as the first part, it is nonetheless engaging.

But the real technical strength comes from Hans Zimmer’s enthralling background score. Be it the poignant or action parts, the music uplifts the scenes by several notches.

Since the emergence of The Dark Knight, there has been a significant change with the depiction of superheroes in Hollywood.

Gone are the days when a damsel is in distress or society is mellowed in grief and gloom. Wonder Woman, on that front, is a saviour.

Even though she has ‘super-powers’ her presence is more of a voice that awakens humankind to the importance of being human, whilst living as one.

Props to Gal Gadot (who is also the producer) for presenting such an iconic with such grace, dignity and charisma.

Despite playing a goddess-like superhero, the representation focuses more on the empathetic side to her character and not just about looking glamorous or boastfully brave.

Nor is the heroism of Wonder Woman driven by gender. There is no superiority nor is it gung-ho about powering one sex over another. It addresses the fundamental complexities of humans.

In fact, besides the sardonic laugh by Maxwell, the confrontational and battle scenes between hero and villain are not archetypal. There is a sense of realism and sensibility.

It is interesting how the movie addresses several complex issues faced by women (like sexual harassment) as well as the exploration of one’s self-esteem.

Throughout the movie, we see a parallel between the key female characters. Barbara aspires to be as visually attractive as Diana. Many times, it felt as though she might have even liked her, in a romantic way.

Although it was predictable to Barbara transitions on the journey which she does, the distinction between both characters is fascinating to watch.

There is a scene where both of them are at a restaurant and speak about each others’ lives. Such sequences set the camaraderie and contextual details between them well.

If there is anything that is ‘wrong’ with WW84, then perhaps it is the length of the movie and how it concludes is not as ‘magnum-opus’ in comparison to the gradual build-up or even the prequel. 

However, since the world is in a major crisis at the moment, watching a spectacle on a superhero adds a spirit of hope and optimism.

Furthermore, given that America too has gone through major changes – especially of recent – the movie seems all the more relevant and relatable. 

It’s been a while since we enjoyed a Hollywood blockbuster. Some came and tried to be engaging and spectacular, but sadly, fell flat for me.

Thankfully, Wonder Woman 1984 is here and it really is worth the wander!

⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5 stars) 

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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