‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Reviews Are In: ‘Cheesy’ Sequel Offers ‘Much-Needed Balm for 2020’

Director Patty Jenkins “digs her heels even further into that promise of cheesy superhero goodness, to the point of it being a potential health hazard,” one critic said

Last Updated: December 15, 2020 @ 11:43 AM

It’s good to have superhero movies back. The first reviews for Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot’s “Wonder Woman 1984” are in, and while some critics are calling it “cheesy,” others are heralding the blockbuster as a welcome distraction in a depressing year.

Most critics agreed that, like the original “Wonder Woman” from 2017, the new film balances corny heroics and fish-out-of-water comedy with busy action sequences that sometimes detract from the more human charms of Gadot’s titular character.

“With ‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ the highly anticipated follow-up to Jenkins’ mega-hit, the filmmaker digs her heels even further into that promise of cheesy superhero goodness, to the point of it being a potential health hazard,” Hoai-Tran Bui wrote in /Film. “But the cartoonishly optimistic charms of “Wonder Woman 1984’ feel like a direct rebuke of the current political and cultural landscape in a way that is unquestionably ham-fisted, but is — as trite as it sounds to repeat this far-too repeated phrase –a much-needed balm for 2020.”

TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde agreed that the film has a “wickedly pungent social satire” as it dives into the 1980s and casts Pedro Pascal as a Trumpian, Reagan-era businessman styled off of “Wall Street’s” Gordon Gekko.

“‘Wonder Woman 1984’ certainly doesn’t suffer from a lack of ideas or incidents or ingenuity,” Duralde wrote. “Jenkins and co-writers Geoff Johns and Dave Callaham have fun with 1980s accessories (fanny packs, legwarmers and parachute pants, to name a few) before digging into the decade’s dark side, the all-encompassing greed (for more oil, more nukes, more sovereignty over women) that paved the way to the current catastrophes of capitalism and wealth inequality.”

And while Pascal is a stand-out in the film, Kristen Wiig’s turn as one of the film’s villains, Cheetah, was singled out, with many critics comparing her performance to Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance as Catwoman in Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns.”

“Wiig gets to dig into her screen presence in new and exciting ways here,” Duralde wrote. “Clumsy, ignored Barbara is right in the comedian’s wheelhouse of dorky characters, but her transformation, first into a powerful woman and then into the villainous Cheetah, is no joke. She gives us one of the most fleshed-out transformations from vulnerable to deadly since Michelle Pfeiffer in ‘Batman Returns.'”

Below, check out more excerpts of “Wonder Woman 1984” reviews from around the web.

TheWrap, Alonso Duralde

The film’s wickedly pungent social satire must occasionally step aside for superheroics, of course. And while the reteaming of Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins provides the expected thrills and excitement, this sequel shares the significant flaw of its predecessor: Both films graft an unwieldy and effects-heavy finale onto a movie that had managed to create relatable characters and situations, even when both are larger than life. Jenkins’ two “Wonder Woman” movies are two of the best superhero sagas of the current wave, but they both give way to the verge-of-destruction light show that is so often the go-to third act for films like this.

/Film, Hoai-Tran Bui

With “Wonder Woman 1984,” the highly anticipated follow-up to Jenkins’ mega-hit, the filmmaker digs her heels even further into that promise of cheesy superhero goodness, to the point of it being a potential health hazard. But the cartoonishly optimistic charms of Wonder Woman 1984 feel like a direct rebuke of the current political and cultural landscape in a way that is unquestionably ham-fisted, but is — as trite as it sounds to repeat this far-too repeated phrase –a much-needed balm for 2020.

Uproxx, Mike Ryan

“Wonder Woman 1984” is like eating dessert. There’s really nothing here that’s particularly healthy or substantial — even for a superhero movie. There’s no secret green bean hidden under all the gooey, colorful, and brightly lit frosting… I just gave myself over to the whole thing. I just stuck my head right in that delicious, sweet morsel … and I ate the whole thing. And then after my sugar rush was over, I slept well that night.

Vox, Alex Abad-Santos

The best moments of Jenkins’s ambitious and hefty sequel, “WW1984,” engages with Wonder Woman’s very human problem. Diana is a goddess — in appearance, morality, strength, invulnerability — living among mortals, but she is otherwise alone. But superhero movies, even those with the emotional promise of Wonder Woman, are unfortunately never fully about the emotional fragility our characters can’t punch their way through. Superhero movies are supposed to be big, expensive, loud, and fun. And “WW1984” is stuffed to its cinematic seams, sometimes to its detriment.

THR, David Rooney

There’s still a lot to love. Gadot remains a charismatic presence who wields the lasso with authority, even tethering lightning bolts in some arresting moments. However, I missed the more hand-to-hand gladiatorial aspect of so many fight scenes in the first movie. There’s a disarming romantic touch in Diana acquiring the ability of flight through Steve’s explanation of its rudimentary principles. But watching her soar through the air — while consistent with later editions of the comic — also detracts from the athletic leaps that make the character distinctive, turning her into an ersatz Superman with a cuter outfit.

Variety, Peter DeBruge

I suppose “Wonder Woman 1984” can achieve some of those things, but mostly it reminds us how badly we could use a superhero right now — a fantasy turn-back-time and fix-the-situation savior — and in that sense, it’s at once a fizzy pop-art distraction and a major downer.

IGN, Matt Purslow

This is the best Diana Prince has ever looked in action. Be it swinging from literal lightning bolts or sliding through the corridors of the White House, Gal Gadot’s physical embodiment of Wonder Woman is in top form. Much like with the Russo brothers’ treatment of Captain America, the choreography team working with Gadot understands how to apply a physical language to all of Wonder Woman’s movements, ensuring every slide, whip, and strike are wholly unique to the character.

Little White Lies, Hannah Woodhead

What is “Wonder Woman 1984” trying to be, exactly? A poppy capitalist critique? A love story? A missive against comparing yourself to other women? The film doesn’t seem to know, throwing so many ideas at the wall in the hope one of them sticks. It’s a shame, because Jenkins is clearly a gifted director, and the cast has a lot of talent in it between Pine, Pascal and Wiig, but they feel wasted in a muddled narrative which does nothing in the way of world-building or character development.