Wonder Woman 1984 released in theaters and on HBO Max on Christmas day. (Photo courtesy of Sydney Kaelin)
The film follows Wonder Woman, aka Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) in early 1980’s Washington, D.C. While the sequel’s time period and setting is a far cry from WWI-era Europe, the movie bridges the divide with the original through flashbacks, pictures, and a glimpse into Diana’s normal life.
The film begins with a flashback to the island Themyscira, where young Diana (Lilly Aspell) competes alongside grown Amazon warriors.
Throughout the entire scene, I was struck by the imagery of an entire cast of powerful women unafraid to be fierce in their pursuit of glory. It was extremely empowering to watch; I only wish the Amazons had more screen-time so that there were more scenes like it.
After the opening scene, the rest of the movie takes place in 1984. The action begins with Wonder Woman stopping a shopping-mall jewelry heist, resulting in the recovery of the Dreamstone, an ancient artifact created by the God of Lies.
The stone is the true cause of conflict throughout the film. Though it grants wishes, every wish comes with a catch.
Though the stone was an integral part of the plot, I felt the stone’s origin and explanation of it’s powers was rushed and unsatisfactory. Besides a brief reference to The Monkey’s Paw (a short story about the price of wishes) and mention of how to defeat the stone from a suspiciously opportune Mayan descendent, the stone is hardly explored.
Following the failed robbery, Diana meets co-worker Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (their workplace). The two become fast and unlikely friends.
Barbara is funny, kind, and personable. However, she is also clumsy and socially awkward, causing her to become insecure when comparing herself to Diana.
Later, the stone is transferred to the Museum for further study. After touching the stone while wishing to reunite with her old flame, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), Diana unknowingly resurrects him in another person’s body. Unfortunately, the wish costs Diana to slowly lose her powers, leading her to later recant her wish in order to stop the stone.
I liked Steve’s return, as it allowed Diana to grow and provided closure for his death in the first film.
Barbara also makes a wish: to be like Diana. The emergence of superpowers and a confident personality costs Barbara her kindness and empathy. Later, Barbara receives a second wish, causing her to become the Cheetah, Wonder Woman’s archenemy in the Comics.
The other antagonist of the movie, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), an opportunistic television personality and wannabe oil tycoon, searched for the stone deliberately. When he finally gets his hands on it, he wishes to be the stone himself. This allows him to take whatever he wants from people who make a wish to him, to choose the cost of a wish to his benefit.
Lord causes chaos in his flippant use of his newfound powers, throwing countries into disarray by granting unreasonable wishes and taking vital resources in return. When Diana tries to stop him, Barbara opposes her in order to keep her newfound powers.
Utilizing top secret U.S. satellite technology, Lord reaches out to the entire world, asking for their wishes. In his quest for more power and influence, Lord almost causes a world war and threatens the future of the entire human race.
In the climax, Diana uses the same satellite technology to implore everyone to recant their wishes, since it is the only way to stop the stone. In a remarkable display of the good qualities of humanity, they all recant their wishes, restoring world order.
I thought the climax was slightly unrealistic, as I found it hard to believe that every person who made a wish (nearly the entire human race) was willing to give it up for the good of all. Maybe that’s just the cynic in me, in which case, the film’s resolution is a hopeful view of human nature.
Overall, I thought the movie was a wonderful and well-conceived continuation of Wonder Woman’s story with a strong cast, well-choreographed fight scenes, and an emotional love story.
For anyone unsure about whether to watch the movie, I 100% recommend it. Even if you find issues with a few parts of the film, Wonder Woman 1984 provides the perfect escape from every-day life.