Philosophy, Film, Politics, Etc.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Review: Wonder Woman 1984 - WITH SPOILERS

I would like to believe that early drafts of "Wonder Woman 1984" were quite good. They were edgy, with some irony and weight, and they had Diana Prince struggling with difficult decisions that any normal person would find insurmountable. In those imagined screenplays, Wonder Woman is an icon of truth, justice and compassion. In the movie we get, however, she is a bit less than all that.

In WW84, Wonder Woman is afraid to make things invisible because she once lost a cup--until Steve comes back and apparently restores her self-confidence. She is apparently a brilliant anthropologist, but thinks she can never understand how airplanes work. She cares for nothing more than to be with her long lost love, and would give up all of her powers to keep him alive, even if it means hijacking a strange man's body (and using that body for her own pleasure and advantage without its owner's consent--aka rape). When she finally renounces her wish, it's not an empowering moment. It's more of a, Finally! What the hell was wrong with her?!

Wonder Woman 1984 one week cume stands at ~$1.35M. Aiming for $2M total  grossing. : boxoffice

On the positive side, I think the cast was solid, given the material. I also think the film has a good point to make about politics in the era of Trump—that con artists peddling wish fulfillment can destroy the world, and that the greatest power against them is the truth—even if the script doesn’t make the point convincingly. (Are "particles" of '80s television broadcasts supposed to be a metaphor for 21st-century Tweets? I wish I could appreciate the poetry.) 

On the negative side, I feel like the filmmakers had a list of ingredients they wanted to fit into the movie, and that was given priority over any concerns about logic or common sense. The resulting mess does not establish a world that I could enjoy or appreciate. It's also surprisingly regressive from a feminist standpoint, as Jeva Lange points out at The Week.

What follows is a list of grievances (in the form of questions), some small, some big. 

The Shopping Mall 

  1. Does the mall robber think that people will let him go if he threatens to drop a girl off a balcony? Is he just insane? 
  2. Why was Wonder Woman on the roof? How did she get there so fast? Was she shopping in the mall already? Why not show us that? Otherwise, why would she be there at all? Was WW tapped into the mall's security system? Later we see that she has screens in her home so she can monitor the city. (This adds some unintentional irony to the Orwellian reference in the film's title. Max Lord may end up threatening people's freedoms with psychological manipulation and lies, but WW is operating a surveillance-based one-person police force in anonymity and outside any kind of democratic justice system.)
  3. Why does WW wink and “shhh” at the little girl she slid into the teddy bears, as if they were sharing a secret? Can’t dozens of other people in the mall see what WW is doing? Is she just gaslighting that poor kid? Does she really not want the little girl to talk about what she saw with anyone? 
  4. Does she always destroy surveillance cameras when she helps people? That’s not very nice. Also, why bother destroying them *after* you’ve swooped in and started helping? If she wants to keep her identity a secret, why not just wear a mask? 
Invisibility and the Jet
  1. How does Steve know how to operate a modern fighter jet?
  2. Did it suddenly become the 4th of July for five minutes? Why is this happening?
  3. And how slow are they flying through those fireworks? Ten miles an hour? Whatever speed, it's far slower than the minimum possible speed of a fighter jet. 
  4. How can they fly a fighter jet from the US to Cairo without refueling multiple times? It’s well over 5,000 miles away.
  5. How does invisibility mean invisible to radar? 
  6. Now that WW has an invisible jet, why doesn’t she want to learn how to fly it? 
  7. Why doesn’t she understand how flying works?
  8. What happens to the jet after they get to Cairo? 
  9. Why doesn’t WW make anything else invisible? 
Diana’s Wish
  1. Why does Steve get a new body? 
  2. Why does Steve get *that* body? 
  3. Why doesn’t anyone recognize the guy who Steve is possessing? Is his identity so unimportant? (How much more interesting would it have been if his identity was important, and if he wasn't so attractive and expendable?) 
  4. Why is it so easy for Diana to believe that the Dreamstone worked and brought Steve back in another man’s body? Wouldn’t it be easier to believe that a strange man was trying to trick her into thinking he’s Steve? Is she so desperate to believe it's really him that she loses all rational sense? 
  5. So WW has sex with a strange man’s body, and without the actual man’s consent. Isn’t that rape? And what if he has a disease? What if she gets pregnant with his child? How is any of this okay? 
  1. If Cheetah has all of WW’s powers, how is WW able to electrocute her without electrifying herself? 
  2. Why didn’t Diana offer to walk Barbara home after she was attacked? And why didn’t they call the police on the attacker?
  3. Why would Barbara want to be a human-cat hybrid? Was that her wish?
  4. She had already made her wish to become like Diana, so how does she get another wish? Or did Maxwell trick somebody else into wishing that Barbara had more cat-like powers? Who? When? How? 
Maxwell Lord
  1. Since Alistair wished his dad to be good, why doesn’t he become good?
  2. When Lord wishes to become the Dreamstone, why doesn't he just turn into stone? 
  3. Why does he want to touch millions of people all at once? If he just wants to be healthy, why not take one person’s health at a time? 
  4. If he’s taking life from people all over the world, shouldn’t they be dying? Or at least getting very sick? 
  5. What does all of that life energy give him? He gets healthier, and then what? All he seems to be doing is making things very windy around himself. What's his goal, beyond a vague "more"? 
  6. How is WW able to lasso Lord's foot when, a moment earlier, nothing could get near him? 
  7. How do “television particles” let people watching/hearing the TV actually touch him and, later, touch the lasso? Is TV just magic now? 
  8. How is Lord able to hear and respond to millions of people’s wishes all over the world? 
  9. Why does he renounce his wish? He wants to save his son, but there’s no reason to think renouncing his wish would help him do that. 
  10. When Lord renounces his wish, shouldn’t the Dreamstone materialize? Even if WW doesn’t see it, shouldn’t she assume it has rematerialized somewhere? Doesn’t she need to destroy it to get rid of the danger?
  11. Are we supposed to believe that everyone renounced their wishes? 

Flying and WW’s armor
  1. Can WW fly? She kinda does, but not really. Maybe she could fly really well with those wings, but we never see that, and now the wings are destroyed without ever serving a purpose. 
  2. Why is the new armor in the movie at all? It has no purpose, other than marketing and merchandizing.