Today’s Prayer Focus
MOVIE REVIEW

Wonder Woman 1984

also known as “Wonder Woman 2,” “Wonder Woman 84,” “WW84,” “Čudesna Žena 1984,” “Femeia Minune 1984,” “Mo'jizakor ayol 1984,” “Mujer Maravilla 1984,” See more »
MPA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPA) for sequences of action and violence.

Reviewed by: Blake Wilson
CONTRIBUTOR

Average to Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
• Adults • Young-Adults • Teens
Genre:
Superhero Action Adventure Fantasy IMAX
Length:
2 hr. 31 min.
Year of Release:
2020
USA Release:
December 25, 2020 (wide release)
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

Director Patty Jenkins suggested that the major theme of this film is the idea of there being no other villain than humans themselves.

Lying is never without consequence.

“No true hero is born of lies,” young Diana is told. She later says, “Nothing good is born from lies.” What does God say about LYING and deception?

What is TRUTH? Answer

Courage to face the truth about one’s self

About the fall of mankind to worldwide depravity

What is SIN AND WICKEDNESS? Is it just “bad people” that are sinners, or are YOU a sinner? Answer

Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer

How good is good enough? Answer

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

Greed

Human wishes, desires and instant gratification can lead to terrible ramifications

Materialism and self-gratification— In the film, Max Lord says, “Welcome to the future. Life is good! But it can be better. And why shouldn't it be? All you need is to want it. Think about finally having everything you always wanted.”

The ways that power often corrupts people

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

Love and compassion

Sinful men who prey on women

Women’s rage against toxic masculinity

Women in the Bible

Biblical women with admirable character, include: Mrs. Noah, Mary (mother of Jesus), Esther, Deborah, and Milcah, daugher of Zelophehad

What are goodness and righteousness?

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company
Featuring: Gal GadotDiana Prince / Wonder Woman —an immortal demigoddess, Amazon princess and warrior, daughter of Hippolyta (the Amazonian queen of Themyscira) and Zeus (the king of the Olympian Gods)
Chris PineSteve Trevor —an American pilot and spy from World War I
Kristen WiigBarbara Minerva / Cheetah
Robin WrightAntiope
Pedro PascalMaxwell Lord —a deceitful charismatic businessman and entrepreneur famous for TV infomercials
Connie NielsenHippolyta —the queen of Themyscira and Diana’s mother
See all »
Director: Patty Jenkins
Producer: DC Comics
DC Entertainment
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures. Trademark logo.
Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

Prequel: “Wonder Woman” (2017)

Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company

The cons of being immortal are pretty interesting. Diana Prince (played by Gal Gadot) has lived 65 years on Earth, but has remained her youthful self through it all. That of course leads to challenging obstacles, including the decision to never love again. But at the same time, Diana also made this decision after her true love, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) sacrificed himself at the end of the first movie to help defeat the Greek War God, Ares.

Now, it’s 1984, and Diana (a.k.a. Wonder Woman) has gotten used to living a double life. She works at the Smithsonian and spends her spare time being a hero in the shadows. One day, an intelligent but insecure archaeologist/gemologist named Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) starts working alongside Diana in helping analyze some suspicious gems, including one known as a “Wishing Stone.” Not knowing that it is for real, Diana and Barbara make wishes for their heart’s desires.

Meanwhile, a struggling businessman named Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) desperately wants to make his son proud after divorcing his wife. Upon hearing about the wishing stone, he plots to take it for himself to get everything he wants. And to make things worse, the wishes surprisingly come true. Barbara wishes to be like Diana, and becomes someone different. And Steve Trevor mysteriously comes back and finds Diana, which leads to even more questions.

Entertainment Quality

With its 20-million dollar budget, “Wonder Woman 1984” has a lot working in its favor. One is the performances, which are terrific across the board. Gadot brings more emotional layers to Diana here in comparison to the last go round. Pine gets the chance to be a “fish out of water” as his astonishment at how America has advanced provides plenty of interesting moments. Pine and Gadot carry some strong chemistry as well. Pascal makes for an effective villain, with more complex, sophisticated and emotional layers than one might expect. And Wiig successfully steps up to the plate (especially in the third act) as supervillain Cheetah—though she and Gadot have a couple of strong friendship scenes in the first act also.

Second is the throwback vibe, which sadly does get a little lost in the second act. Director Patty Jenkins and her filmmaking crew create a film that feels like it’s right out of 1984. From practical effects, the costuming and production design, to throwback music, many will find it fun to watch.

Finally, the film succeeds in taking bold risks that (mostly) pay off. The action scenes, while impressive, are a bit more restrained in favor of character development and emotional gravitas. Meanwhile (doing my best to avoid spoilers here), the ending climax does not go the usual superhero movie route. Instead, it ends with an emotional payoff that does hit its intended target. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised that the film went the route that it did.

However, this leads to quite a few problems as well. First, the tone and feel are disjointed. The first act works as a fun throwback. But the second act drags its feet, with a little too much time spent on exposition as well as a couple of modern throw-ins that don’t gel (it’s 2 and a half hours long). The third act brings things back into focus, though it does push things over-the-top dramatically. Finally, a mid end-credits scene brings a surprise that I won’t spoil.

Also, while no fault of the actress, I felt that Cheetah was missing one or two scenes to help really solidify her “fall from grace.” She turns quite suddenly on Diana, and her reasoning for becoming villainous could have used a bit more development. 10 or 15 minutes of the second act could have been edited, re-written and replaced with a moment or two of personal reflection on Barbara’s part to help us better understand her thinking. It would have helped tighten the film’s overall investigations as well.

Finally, I thought the opening flashback scene on Themyscira was largely unnecessary. It’s an impressive scene with outstanding stunts and visuals. But, aside from a comment from Antiope (Robin Wright) on a theme that plays a big part of the film, there’s nothing here that connects to the film’s overall purpose. I think a quick flashback to a conversation with Antiope and Diana’s mother (Connie Nielsen) would have worked a lot better mid-way through the film to reinforce the theme.

Positive Messages

The strong themes of love and sacrifice continue in “Wonder Woman 1984,” but with more focus on the emotional struggles that come with it. The Wishing Stone comes with a warning that in order to get what you wish, you must give up something. I found this to be an interesting parallel to how life is not fair for any of us, and that sometimes selfless sacrifice is needed for the greater good of everyone. Diana models this by willingly sacrificing and renouncing her desires to save the world (while Barbara models the opposite). And Jesus ultimately modeled this to save sinners like us. This reminded me of Philippians 2, which illustrates how looking out for others over ourselves carries a greater impact.

“Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” —Phillippians 2:4

There’s also a strong message about the importance of truth. After taking a shortcut in the opening competition, Antiope tells a young Diana, “No true hero is born from lies.” Diana also warns Max later on that, “The truth is important, and it’s beautiful.” Lies are shown to be dangerous and deceiving to at least a couple of characters as well. The journey of Max’s character and Diana’s advice reminds me of how freeing truth is, an echo of John 8.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” —John 8:32

Diana and Steve willingly risk their lives to save others. Max’s ambitions are shown to not be totally out of villainous intentions, but simply to be the greatest he can be for his son (though he later learns that being honest and full of integrity carries far more worth than power).

Many times in this movie, I thought about the Spider-Man quote (I know, Marvel quotes in a DC movie might sound a little off), “With great power comes great responsibility.” The Wishing Stone gives various characters the power to control their future, which leads to the temptation to want and gain more. In many ways, we are warned about the dangers of greed and how sinful humanity will almost always misuse power given to them. And, at the same time, the film often shows that a simpler, humbler way of living ultimately brings greater reward. Through characters’ decisions and motivations (including Barbara sharing a meal with a homeless friend toward the beginning of the film), I was reminded of the importance of having a humble heart and spirit. Jesus mentioned the importance of “storing our treasures in Heaven,” while the book of Ecclesiastes warns of the dangers of having our hearts in the wrong place.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” —Matthew 6:19-21

“He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver;
Nor he who loves abundance, with increase.
This also is vanity.” —Ecclesiastes 5:10

“Better a handful with quietness. Than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.” —Ecclesiastes 4:6

Negative Content

Language: We hear one use each of the s-word, “b*tch” and “h*ll,” along with three interjections of God’s name. Elsewhere, we only hear “oh my gosh” and “Shoot.”

Adult Content: There are a handful of moments that will give some families pause. First, Steve and Diana clearly sleep together upon reuniting. We see them wake up the next morning embracing and kissing in bed (he’s shirtless, she’s wearing a low-cut pajama shirt). In another scene, Max and Barbara kiss passionately and fondle each other in her office privately (but it’s clear that Max is really there to steal the Wishing Stone).

A homeless (and drunk) stranger attempts to accost a helpless Barbara early on. We hear about a televangelist who wants a scandalous sex tape to disappear. Barbara and Diana wear low-cut or curve-hugging outfits at times. At a party, they are both ogled by various men. In one other aside, older men are shown staring at women bending over in tight exercise clothes. Women in bikinis are shown in a TV commercial.

Violence: There are some action scenes that are too intense for younger viewers, but don’t necessarily push the envelope for superhero films. Early on, people in a mall are threatened by robbers with guns, and a little girl is held over a balcony threateningly. In another scene, Diana hurls a tank in the air and causes a couple of intense crashes. We see her shot in the shoulder a couple of times, leaving a bloody gash. Other punches and gunfire play a part here. We see a flashback to a warrior holding off several men attacking her.

A battle scene in the White House involves gunfire and hand-to-hand combat, and leaves Wonder Woman and Steve badly injured. We see images of nuclear warheads launched, along with images of worldwide panic as a result of selfish wishes being granted. Wonder Woman and Cheetah engage intense combat, leading to Cheetah being nearly being drowned to death.

A couple of potentially disturbing scenes might prove difficult for some. One involves Barbara getting revenge on her assaulter, which involves her brutally-kicking him repeatedly, leaving his bloodied body in the middle of a street. Another involves a look at Max’s past, which reveals verbal and physical abuse by his father. And speaking of Max, his granted magical abilities take a visible toll on his body, occasionally bleeding from his eye and mouth.

Drugs/Alcohol: Diana and Barbara sip on drinks at a meal together. A character is clearly drunk as he harasses Barbara. Other alcoholic beverages are seen a few times, too.

Other: Spiritually, the Wishing Stone has a Mayan/polytheistic relationship. We don’t see much in terms of magic on display, but it is implied there is an occultic history. Diana discusses how the stone was created by the “god of lies” and was used to destroy various ancient civilizations. The stone’s use always comes with a price. For every wish given the participant must give something significant in return.

Meanwhile, the effects of the Wishing Stone drives characters in selfish and evil directions. Some characters manipulate and lie to get what they want.

Conclusion

The original “Wonder Woman” was quite a (well) wonder when it came out in 2017. It was one of those movies that had a lot to think about. Not only was it a terrific origin story, it had something to say at the end that was meaningful and redemptive. That being said, it was interesting to hear that the ending of the film wasn’t the one director Patty Jenkins had in mind (the studio and producers exercised more control on how the film ended).

Giving Jenkins free reign and more control over this project, in comparison, carried positive and negative consequences. Her vision carried some very interesting risks for a superhero film. Risks that created a divided and occasionally polarizing response on social media and with critics. For me, I think her vision worked pretty well at times. But the final film itself, while ambitious, isn’t quite as enthralling as its predecessor. While the characters and emotional gravitas are strong, the overall plot, pacing, and tone are too all-over-the place to really work as a cohesive whole. And the 2½ hour runtime felt a bit like a drag, especially in the second act.

1984 is about the same as the original in terms of problematic content. There’s a bit of language (notably less than most superhero films go) and a handful of pretty violent situations. The only bit of content that stands to differ from its superhero movie brethren are a couple of suggestive scenes that will probably give parents with tweens some pause.

Ultimately, WW84 is a solid, imperfect, messy film. Where it works, it practically soars. Where it stumbles, it does so noticeably. At the same time; where it inspires with its fairly Biblical messaging, it merits applause. Yet, where it has an out-of-place content issue, it encourages caution as well.

For adults and teens who can navigate the content issues, the film may be of interest. Just don’t expect a classic like the first film. The content is not appropriate for youngsters and will likely lose their attention.

  • Violence: Very Heavy (some blood, but not gory)
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Moderate
  • Profane language: Moderate
  • Nudity: Mild to Moderate— • women in bikinis • woman in provocatively high-slit dress • women in leotards • cleavage
  • Sex: Mild to Moderate— • mention of a televangelist’s incriminating sex tape • couple in bed • couple beginning to make out in office • kisses
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Mild
  • Occult: Mild— • Greek mythology about their gods and their powers
Article Version: December 28, 2020

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative
Negative—I did watch 2 hours of it but this was SO disappointing! I really liked the first one, it was awesome! But I don’t know what they were thinking with this! It was SO boring. Way too much talking in normal life, then the weird TV infomercial guy was a huge focus of the movie. I watched TWO hours of this and got so bored, I didn’t even stay till the end, I figured I would watch just the end another day. I have NEVER done this in a movie!

And her boyfriend coming back from the dead as a spirit in another man’s body?! They don’t show that in the previews. So the whole time she is running around with another man that has her previous boyfriend’s spirit? So bizarre. Of course there is always weird powers in these movies but this one took it to a totally different bizarre and boring anti-climatic level. I am totally surprised they went this idea with this movie.

It was a total waste of time, and I wish I wouldn’t have even gone. Which is sad because I loved the first one, and I really think she is amazing in the role; I was really looking forward to it. Quite surprising. The first 15 minutes is the best part!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
Stephanie, age 46 (USA)
Negative—I was very disappointed with this movie. The first one was so much better. I would explain my objections, but everyone has a personal option, it was just too far off for me. The gratuitous bedroom scene didn’t help. The final message given by Wonder Woman was a good positive one, but it didn’t erase my frustration with the rest of the movie. Frankly I was surprised the actors would have gone with this script.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Paul, age 74 (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

Secular Movie Critics
…a refreshingly silly and airy adventure focused on the emotions of one character…
David Sims, The Atlantic
…fundamentally ill-conceived, poorly written, and missing most of the basic charms that made the original “Wonder Woman” such a delight (minus the last act)… Suspension of disbelief is crucial to this genre, but ‘WW84’ is constantly breaking or conveniently upgrading its rules in ways that definitely break or at least always test your suspension of disbelief. …
Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist
…full of humour, spectacle and optimism. … [4/5]
Jamie Graham, Total Film
…a throwback piece of pure pop entertainment… [3½]
Richard Roeper, chicago Sun-Times
…a film about wretched excess, about getting what you want and realizing that maybe you were better off without it… [4]
Bill Goodykoontz, The Arizona Republic
…empty spectacle… disappointing sequel highlights not only the dire state of the live-action superhero genre in film, but the dire state of Hollywood filmmaking as a whole… With the full might of the modern Hollywood apparatus and an ungodly amount of money, is this really the best we can get? The movie insults by offering scraps and making us pretend it’s a meal. …
Angelica Jade Bastien, Vulture (New York)
…The sensibility of the earlier production has been transformed… Wit has been replaced by feverish caricature, feeling by sentimentality, and Wonder Woman is left with almost nothing to do for long stretches of a very long and disjointed story. …
Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
…an absurd version of the 1980s, and most especially of D.C. (the city, not the publisher) at the time. It’s insultingly lazy, like sticking a fanny pack over an Ariana Grande T-shirt. The script – a toothless attack on “believe in yourself” culture, the power of positive thinking, and other such The Secret tripe… [2/5]
Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle
…The sequel isn’t a disaster, but it’s a dud. …
Ty Burr, The Boston Globe
…the quality that made the original film such a delight has been squashed almost entirely. …
Christy Lemire, Roger Ebert.com