#REVIEW: Wonder Woman 1984

I LiveTweeted my way through this last night– I’m going to say a lot of the same things in the review so I’m not going to include them, but feel free to go look— and it takes a certain type of movie for me to do that for: the movie must be either entertaining and kind of dumb, or I have to hate it. And Wonder Woman 1984 has been receiving some seriously mixed reviews, so I had a little bit of worry going into this– the original Wonder Woman is still easily my favorite DC movie since Christopher Reeve was playing Superman, and I was worried they’d fucked it all up.

Spoiler alert: they did not, in fact, fuck it all up.

I mean, there’s some fuckery afoot, don’t get me wrong. But they did not fuck it all up.

Now, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here: while Wonder Woman 1984 never gets close to the heights of gloriously dumb that Aquaman reached, there is nonetheless quite a bit of glorious dumb in this movie, and really it has a lot more tonally in common with Aquaman than it does with the first Wonder Woman movie. That said, heart goes a long way with me, and this movie has heart to spare, and I am officially elevating Patty Jenkins to the best superhero-movie director working today, because once again she has demonstrated that she remembers her main character is a superhero and there are a number of places in this movie where crazy shit like saving people and– wait for it, this will startle you– stopping crime is Wonder Woman’s priority.

This is, in a lot of ways, a yeah, but type of movie, where everything that is wrong with it also leads to at least one thing that is good about it, and so ultimately your takeaway from it will depend on whether the bad things annoy you more than the good things made you happy. Some examples? Sure!

Steve Trevor did not belong in this movie! Yeah, but that scene with the flying, and the other scene with the flying, and the way he leaves the movie?

Pedro Pascal is about twelve times as much actor as this role needed, and spent most of the film blissfully gobbling up scenery! Yeah, but he sells the hell out of the last fifteen minutes of the movie, and when was the last time you saw a movie where the villain was defeated by reminding him that he loves his son?

Hey, did you hear that this movie was set in 1984? Because it’s totally set in 1984! Yeah, but … okay, they leaned into that one a little harder than they really needed to.

I don’t understand why movie people can write a film set in the 1930s or for that matter the freaking 840s without pounding you over the head that their movie is a period piece, but every movie set in a decade I remember has to constantly beat you over the head with time period references.

There’s a couple of exceptions, of course: Kristen Wiig didn’t really have a lot to do, and should have had her own movie. There are bits and pieces of her performance that I really liked, but her character bounces off of Steve Trevor in a really weird way (it is obvious, to the point where it could not have been an accident, that Barbara Minerva and Diana Prince have a hell of a lot of chemistry together, in a way that Diana and Trevor really don’t) and I felt like she deserved a stronger arc than she got, particularly at the end of the movie. And a lot of people really seem to have enjoyed the bit at the beginning of the film set on Themiscyra; I am not among them. They should have used that time to give us more of an indication of what Diana has actually been doing with herself other than spending 70 years pining over the first dude she’d ever met, who she knew for a week.

(I knew intellectually that there was no way they’d do this, but there was a bit in the film where I felt like Steve Trevor was about to remind Diana that they’d only known each other for a week, and whoa, lady, let’s pump the brakes here on the eternal love thing just a lil’ bit.)

(Trevor’s entire thing in this movie, from start to finish, is kind of a problem, but it’s a problem that’s mostly outside the movie, if that makes any sense.)

So, yeah: I have some gripes. I loved Wonder Woman, and I wanted to love this movie, and I didn’t. But it’s not a bad movie; it’s a solid B or B+ type of film, for me, mostly on the strength of Gadot’s performance and Jenkins’ story decisions. The DC Murderverse films’ biggest flaw is that they forget who their characters are, and they have a thing called the Justice League that has no concern with “justice” as a concept whatsoever and that the characters they’ve written would never have named their organization in the first place. Wonder Woman 1984 remains defiantly outside the Murderverse, out there with Shazam! and Aquaman and making fun of the Supr Srs murples and throwing popcorn at them. Go ahead and pay the $14.95 to join HBO Max for a month; you’d have paid more than that to see this in theaters anyway and it’s well worth that amount of money and an evening of your time.

On predictions

I did not watch the debate last night, and I have, I think, more experience with Mike Pence’s peculiar brand of affectless sophistry than most, but not in a million years did I think insects would compose a substantial portion of the discourse the day afterward. And if it wasn’t the insects, it was what appeared to be pinkeye, a twin to his boss’s nearly swollen shut eye in his drug-induced, semicoherent frenzy video from yesterday.

I have no idea if this dude has Covid or not. He was supposed to be in Indiana tomorrow to vote; that’s been abruptly cancelled and he’s been recalled to DC. I am refraining from guessing what that might be about, as I suspect there are plenty of utterly boring reasons why the Vice-President might have to cancel a purely optional trip to attend to something else in DC. There are a bunch that aren’t boring, too, but I’m utterly done trying to predict what is coming next, ever.

I had a brief text conversation with my brother earlier today about Nate Silver, who is currently predicting that Biden wins the election. Frankly, everyone is predicting that Biden wins the election, and we are at least edging into “but by how much?” territory. I saw a poll today that had Biden up by sixteen points. This is what an eighteen-point win looks like:

… so, good news, right? Nah. I’m not predicting a god damn thing. I still haven’t voted, but I’ll attend to that as soon as I can; it’s only a suddenly somewhat more complicated schedule that has kept me from doing it already, since my wife for various reasons isn’t able to work from home as much as she has been recently. That’s what I can control. I’m going to vote, and I’m going to make sure everyone I have even the slightest influence over also votes, and then I’m going to do my best to stop worrying about it. I’m making no predictions of any kind. I’m barely even allowing myself to be hopeful. I’m gonna vote. I’m gonna tell you to vote. And I’m probably going to take the day after the election off, no matter what, and I’m gonna make sure I’ve got a supply of emergency brain meds laid in.

And that’s all I can do right now.