Wonder Woman 1984 follows the beleaguered DC cinematic universe’s best movie to date. The original Wonder Woman, released in 2017, was everything that DC needed to be. It was joyful and exhilarating, unlike the dark and brooding tone of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Its attempts at comedy were successful, unlike Suicide Squad. And it was true to its character’s roots, unlike Man of Steel, as Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) exuded hope even in the worst of times: World War I. Too bad Warner Bros. pushed for a generic climactic sequence, against director Patty Jenkins’ wishes and to the film’s detriment. As such, Wonder Woman 1984 has huge boots to fill. Unfortunately, the sequel gets out of its makers’ hands, and no matter what Gadot does — and she can do a lot — she can’t save her next adventure from being a misfire.
As is the case with every superhero sequel, Wonder Woman 1984 must also be bigger and grander than its predecessor. Wonder Woman mostly took place during World War I, where do you go from there? The title of the sequel reveals it’s set in the ‘80s, and the decision to pick “1984” is especially interesting. It hints at some Orwellian connection, but weirdly, that’s nowhere to be found in Wonder Woman 1984. It doesn’t even use the excuse of its ‘80s setting to pepper in nostalgic music, as so many other movies and TV shows set in the ‘80s love to do. The only reason seems to be fears of a nuclear holocaust, but then Wonder Woman 1984 might as well have been set in the ‘60s. Why is it 1984? If the makers — the returning Jenkins co-wrote with Geoff Johns and Dave Callaham — know, they don’t care to tell us.
What time will the film be available?
Need a movie break after opening those morning gifts? You won’t have to wait until the evening. HBO Max tweeted that the film will be available beginning at 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET, so you can put it on while your holiday dinner cooks.
But the much bigger problem for the new Wonder Woman movie are the filmmaking basics. The pacing is just all over the place. Wonder Woman 1984 takes nearly 70 minutes to get going — very frustrating — but even once it actually kicks in, it routinely forgets that movies are built on momentum. You can easily paper over cracks in the script if you just plough through — just ask Christopher Nolan, he knows how to pull that off. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot going on — in fact if anything, Wonder Woman 1984 packs too much in, as we’ll discuss in a minute — but it all seems like busywork with little urgency or significance to any of it. It’s got two underdeveloped villains, one of whom isn’t served very well. It’s got a returning love interest whose return is ethically clumsy. And it never fully engages with the conundrums and seismic ideas involving the protagonist’s life.