The year 2020 has been an awful one for the Indian box office. Theatres remained shut for most part of the year and even after cinema halls resumed operations, the footfalls haven’t been as one would have expected. Thankfully, in the last weekend of the year which incidentally is also the beneficial Christmas period, an exciting Hollywood film, WONDER WOMAN 1984, has arrived in cinemas. The first part did well in India and has amassed a fan following. Even the lead actress [Gal Gadot] is a recognizable and a very popular face for the Indian audiences. As a result, the expectations from the sequel have been tremendous not just for the moviegoers but also for the exhibitors and the industry at large. So does WONDER WOMAN 1984 manage to be a great entertainer like the first part? Or does it fail to entice? Let’s analyse.
WONDER WOMAN 1984 is the story of a female superhero trying to stop a megalomaniac man who wants to conquer the world. The year is 1984. Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) now works as a senior anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. She still has not got over Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and misses him deeply. In the institute, a nerdy girl, Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) joins in and she specialises in many areas. She is insecure about her looks and shy behaviour and begins to look up to Diana. Meanwhile, Diana continues to be Wonder Woman and comes to the rescue whenever required. During one such stint, she saves a jewellery store from being robbed and gets the robbers arrested. When the police investigate the crime, they realise that the store was just a front and that the real business of the shop owners was to deal in black marketing of antiquities. The FBI sends these antiquities to the Smithsonian Institute so that they can understand its true value. Barbara is given the responsibility. Diana too joins her out of curiosity as she’s the one who foiled the robbery plan. Both stumble upon a Dreamstone. As per the inscription, this mysterious object grants wishes upon contact with any user. They try their luck. While Barbara wishes to become sexy and confident like Diana, Diana asks for Steve. The next day, Diana begins to gradually realise that her wish is becoming true. The same day, aspiring businessman and TV personality Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) visits the Smithsonian Institute. He expresses interest to become a partner in the institute. He gets a tour of the place and becomes smitten with Barbara. Barbara, too, is floored by the interest shown by such a rich, pleasing personality. Soon, it comes to light that Maxwell is deep in debt and has been conning investors with a fake ponzi scheme. To get out of the mess, he needs access to the Dreamstone. It is because of this reason that he befriends Barbara. Soon enough, he steals the stone from Barbara under the pretext of having the writings deciphered from an expert friend. Instead of making a normal wish, Maxwell wishes to become the stone and get the power to grant wishes to others. On the other hand, Diana can’t stop being happy as even her wish gets fulfilled and Steve returns from the dead. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
Patty Jenkins and Geoff Johns’s story is impressive and more importantly, it is not connected to any other films of the DC Universe. If one has seen the first WONDER WOMAN movie, one would easily be able to understand the goings-on. Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns and Dave Callaham’s screenplay is entertaining and even escapist. DC films tend to be dark but this one is written unabashedly as a complete commercial entertainer. The dialogues are simple and sharp as required. In the scenes of Maxwell, the one-liners are far-fetched but that’s as per the character’s personality.
Patty Jenkins’ direction yet again is very impressive. The first part was also lengthy at 141 minutes but it didn’t feel like it as there was a lot happening every minute. The sequel is no exception. This one is 2.31 hours in length and yet, the film doesn’t bore or drag. Some viewers might miss action bits in the first half. But Patty makes it evident that she’s setting up things in the first half for a grand, action-packed second half. However, the narrative is a lot more than just action. The romance between Diana and Steve is beautifully treated and also the mad side of Maxwell. On the flipside, the finale is gripping but is also quite preachy. And it’s also a bit lengthy. One wishes if the makers had kept this bit in check. Also, the flashback of Maxwell adds to the film’s duration. It was an important part of the story without doubt. But it comes at a juncture when one expects fireworks and a fast-paced narrative.
WONDER WOMAN 1984 has a thrilling beginning showcasing a young Diana competing in a very difficult athletic competition in her kingdom of Themyscira. An important aspect of the story is inserted at the end of this track and one understands that it’ll have some importance in the narrative later on. The entry sequence of the adult Diana is straight out of a Salman Khan movie and is sure to be greeted with whistles and claps. Barbara’s introduction in the narrative and her bond with Diana is sweet. One might get a bit restless as action mostly takes a backseat in this hour. But no complaint as there’s lots happening in the film. The revival of Steve Trevor takes the cake in this hour. Also watch out for the scene when Steve flies the airplane through fireworks. It has a lovely Disney-like touch and would be lapped up. Post-interval, the action finally comes to the fore and goes on another level. It’s not just about Diana trying to save Maxwell for destroying the world; the track of Barbara also plays an important part and enhances the tension levels. The climax, though preachy, makes an impact. The mid-credit scene is quite a surprise.
Speaking of performances, Gal Gadot yet again performs incredibly in the lead role. She is a pro at action scenes. But she rocks the most in the romantic scenes and sequences that require her to be vulnerable. She also carries off her various outfits like a queen, and that’s also praiseworthy. Chris Pine is adorable as always. He is sure to leave viewers smiling, especially in scenes where he gets amazed with the advancement of technology in the 1980s. Kristen Wiig is a surprise of the film. Her role is very well written and she does total justice. Pedro Pascal is quite over the top but handles the part very well. Some of his acts might also remind one of Trump. Connie Nielsen (Hippolyta; Diana’s mother) and Robin Wright (Antiope) are fine, as expected, in their cameo appearances. Amr Waked (Emir Said Bin Abydos) overacts a bit. Ravi Patel (Babajide) gives a fine performance but his character is shown in a hurried manner and no time is spent in establishing him properly. Lucian Perez (Alistair) is cute as Maxwell’s son. Stuart Milligan (US President) is fair. Gabriella Wilde (Raquel) and Shane Attwooll (Dangerous, drunk man) are passable. Kristoffer Polaha (Handsome man) is lovely. Lynda Carter (Asteria), who played Wonder Woman in the 1970s television series, has a memorable special appearance.
Hans Zimmer’s music is cinematic and enhances the impact. In a few action scenes, however, it overpowers the impact. Matthew Jensen’s cinematography is splendid. The opening shot of Themyscira is breathtakingly shot. Aline Bonetto’s production design is rich and she tries her best to make the film look as authentically 80s as possible. Lindy Hemming’s costumes are quite glamorous, especially the clothes worn by Gal Gadot and Kristen Wiig. Action is a highpoint and visually superior. Thankfully, it’s not gory. VFX is top-class. Richard Pearson’s editing could have been crisper, especially in the end portions.
On the whole, WONDER WOMAN 1984 is a complete entertainer that is sure to give you your money’s worth. It is treated in a commercial manner and hence, has a lot of mass appeal. At the box office, it faces several roadblocks like the scare of certain moviegoers over going to cinemas, night curfew in the state of Maharashtra and the fear of the spread of the HD pirated prints once it’s out on HBO Max on Friday December 25. On the plus side, the film has tremendous hype and moreover, there’s a lot of pent up demand among audiences. It releases in the beneficial Christmas weekend sans any competition. Also, WONDER WOMAN series and Gal Gadot have a following in India and hence, its box office outcome can be very healthy.