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[Critique] Will Wonder Woman 1984 Save the DCEU?

After a delightful first opus, Wonder-Woman returns to our screens. The iconic superheroine of the DCEU offers a second feature film under the leadership of Patty Jenkins. Wonder-Woman 1984 Will he save the DC Comics universe in theaters?

Credit: Warner Bros

It’s no secret that the first phase of the DCEU was not easy. After the strong criticisms leveled at Zack Snyder’s films, Patty Jenkins’ first feature film was an exception, reconciling both fans and neophytes. This second opus promised to do even better, offering a new adventure to the Amazon and exploring the 80s.

In 1984, Diana Prince worked for a museum in Washington. As she befriends one of her colleagues Barbara Ann Minerva, the heroine discovers an ancient relic capable of granting the wishes of whoever possesses it. But an oil tycoon gets his hands on the object and begins to use it to grow his business. Quickly, the world sinks into chaos and it is Wonder-Woman who will have the heavy task of saving it, to the detriment of her personal desires.

A film that does too much

On paper, the plot of Wonder-Woman 1984 has it all. In the tradition of adventure films, the feature film promised to reconnect with the lightness of the first opus and to register in opposition to the films of Zack Snyder. Halfway between Indiana Jones and Superman, this new Warner Bros film was already shaping up to be a box office hit. However, after a first part which is all in all quite effective (without revolutionizing the genre) the film wallows in a melodramatic escalation. If the first minutes do not take themselves too seriously, focusing on mechanics that are certainly worn out but still pleasing, the conclusion is clearly not up to the challenge. Chaining the script shortcuts, the film written by the director in collaboration with Geoff Johns (Aquaman) et Dave Callaham (Back to ZombieLand) is based on a wobbly construction. Invested in too high a stake, Wonder Woman 1984 gets lost along the way. It’s a bit the same observation that we could apply to almost the entire DCEU. Without revealing too much, the film does not manage to find a guideline, evidenced by the final scene which seems straight taken from a Christmas TV movie broadcast on M6.

Credit: Warner Bros

The CGI that stings the eyes

Patty Jenkins knows how to direct the action, or at least knew how to do it in the first opus. In this sequel, it’s a little more complicated. After a fairly well conducted first confrontation scene, although a little too cut out, the film does not succeed in effectively transcribing the fights on the screen. Wonder Woman distributes mandals all the time, but behind the screen, it is the spectator who suffers.

As for the first film, Patty Jenkins relies on a watered down and fresh graphic universe, a feeling reinforced by the costumes that stick to the time, and on this point, it is a success. Without falling into the escalation of garish colors yet symbol of this era, Wonder Woman 1984 offers beautiful moments on the screen especially when it comes to more intimate sequences. With a keen sense of framing, the filmmaker offers a few moments of grace, especially during exchanges between the different characters. But then come the digital effects that greatly affect the final rendering. The CGI for the character of Cheetah is reminiscent of the one used for the infamous Cats released in 2019. It’s rude, disarming and not really in good taste. We will also note the huge missed meeting that represents the scene of the final confrontation, which prefers to bet on a dark lighting to hide the misery.

Cartoon characters

Credit: Warner Bros

The first opus was quite successful and especially in the construction of its characters. The ingenuous side of Gal Gadot was successful in the first film, but fails to reinvent itself in this new opus. Despite all his good intentions, Gal Gadot sails blindly in this ocean of inconsistencies. His character fails to rise to the rank of hero, worse, it becomes ridiculous in the last part. The same applies to the yet promising Pedro Pascal, who here plays a cartoonish villain straight out of an episode of the Inspector Gadget. All that was missing was the feline installed on the seat to complete the picture. But the real mess of this sequel is undoubtedly the fate of the character played by Kristen Wiig. Its narrative arc takes up all the patterns already widely exploited by Hollywood. We follow a character who idealizes the hero, to the point of wanting to become like him, and who ends up forgetting himself as his powers grow. It’s the same soup that we had already served The Amazing Spider-Man with Electro. On the other hand, the bond between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine on the screen is intact and reminds us of the beautiful moments of the first film. The duo should have been the center of the film, but find themselves crushed by an overly ambitious plot. Without revealing too much, the film botches the conclusion of their common narrative arc, with a scene that deserves better treatment.

Finally, it should be noted that the original music of Hans Zimmer is successful and manages to underline the action with accuracy. The composer, to whom we also owe the magnificent scores ofInterstellar and Inception, definitely knows how to do it. On the other hand, all that was missing was the touch of Junkie XL which had already worked miracles on Batman V Superman with the theme of Wonder-Woman.

Despite all his good intentions, Wonder-Woman 1984 does not meet spectator expectations. Wanting to do too much, the feature film gets lost along the way, despite a promising opening act. The heroine deserved better and we will have to hope that the third opus, already in development at Warner Bros., saves the day. After all, in the continuity of the saga, the film is ultimately anecdotal. We therefore prefer to forget it. Finally, Wonder-Woman 1984 is the emblem of a cinematographic universe which seeks itself, between grandiloquent stakes and entertaining adventure. DC Comics has every interest in reviewing its copy and offering independent films with the vision of several directors. Faced with the very formatted MCU, Warner Bros. must establish itself as a house that trusts its creatives and frees them from the constraint of respecting specifications. We can bet that this is the path that the DCEU now wants to take, with The Batman figurehead Matt Reeves.

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