Photo Courtesy of Caleb Gierke
By Caleb Gierke
Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman 1984 could have used a few more months in the writing room to iron out the wrinkles before it saw the light of day. The visuals of Wonder Woman 1984 give us a good 80s atmosphere that is not utilized enough aside from the political climate of that time and for the fashion of the time (if fashion is circular, then we’re in for an interesting time whenever we loop back around). Steve’s reintroduction gives us most of the appeal to 80s nostalgia and is one of the best moments of the film, but after that the Dreamstone comes into play and creates a mess of the plot and opens up many inconsistencies.
The Dreamstone is a Monkey’s Paw, meaning that you get your wish, but something is taken from you in exchange. For Diana, she gets Steve back but her powers get weaker (although how much weaker is inconsistent). For Max Lord, he grants the wishes but can take whatever he wants in return. It’s all meant to show how greedy people are, but ends up playing into the world politics of the time via nuclear weapons (because nothing shows chaos like mutually assured destruction). How this all loops back into Steve is that this Dreamstone shows that it is capable of creating things out of thin air, so I don’t think it’s in any way unreasonable to think that Steve couldn’t just come back as himself.
The rest of the Dreamstone’s inconsistencies come up in the climax of the film, but for the sake of not spoiling you, I’ll try to dance around them while indulging myself in trying to make some semblance of a magical device. The Dreamstone is something that can grant any wish, but how would the wishes work when two rub against each other? If I say I want to rule the world and then someone else does, who rules the world? If someone wishes to not be abused anymore, what can you take from them that their abuser hasn’t already taken? In the grand scheme of things these are nitpicks, but Steve’s entrance triggered my suspension of disbelief which led to my disillusionment with the Dreamstone as a concept. I imagine to many audience members, everything I’m bringing up is something they either don’t care about or didn’t notice, but I figure it’s worth at least noting. You can still enjoy Wonder Woman 1984 without thinking too deeply about its magical powers, but sometimes we as viewers can get taken out of a work because of something that our shirts get stuck on and can’t seem to get free from.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t good things about Wonder Woman 1984. Hans Zimmer is doing the music, which means it at least sounds pretty good. I don’t think it’s his best work, but it’s Hans Zimmer, so it’s not that bad. There’s also Steve being amazed by the 80s, which are fun moments (although I’m pretty sure there were trains when he was actually alive) that bring me joy. Pedro Pascal is having an absolute blast as Max Lord, which made me really like him (arguably more than Diana) and get invested in his struggles. Pascal is cranking Max Lord up to eleven and I have nothing but respect for that.
All in all, the mileage of your enjoyment with Wonder Woman 1984 is probably going to depend on how deep into the weeds you get about the Dreamstone. It’s a fine time to watch, but once I was snagged, the two and a half hour runtime started to eat at me.