Gal Gadot doesn’t got this!
“Wonder Woman 1984” is the movie where we find out that this whole Wonder Woman gig should not be a long-term feature of Gal Gadot’s career. “Wonder Woman” made Gadot famous in 2017, so she owed them another one. And apparently there’s going to be a “Justice League” miniseries next year, and she’ll appear in that.
But enough. End it. End it now.
To say that Gadot is the best thing in “Wonder Woman 1984” isn’t enough. She was the best thing in the first installment, too, but that was an excellent movie. This one isn’t. “Wonder Woman 1984,” which fans can watch on Christmas Day at select theaters and through HBO Max, is clunky, elaborate and bloviating. It’s a grand bogus mess passing itself off as a philosophical statement. It has its moments, but they’re few. Often, it’s a beautiful-looking film — but it’s beauty without substance.
What it does have is Gadot, whose timeless quality would make her an ideal classical lead. She has presence and inner gravitas, and it’s a modern irony that an actress of these gifts should be asked to expend them in a cartoon. Her performance here has dignity and earned emotion. She doesn’t push, but she never withholds. Whenever she’s in close-up, you can almost believe the movie is better than it is.
That’s why the new installment should have been about Wonder Woman herself. At its best, the first film was that: it concentrated on her adjustment to a cruel world run by men. That was in 1918. Now 66 years later, Diana (Gadot) looks maybe two years older and is apparently on a different clock than everyone else. She is still mourning Steve (Chris Pine), the great love of her life, and her home is filled with artifacts from many decades before, like that of a very old person.
Something in Gadot’s manner suggests that she is deliberately keeping herself apart from real contact with other people, for the same reason that some people don’t want to get a hamster: They’re going to be dead soon, and then she’ll be depressed. Yet something about one of her colleagues (Diana works at the Smithsonian) touches and amuses her. She develops a friendship with Barbara (“Saturday Night Live” alum Kristen Wiig), who is funny and nice and unaccountably insecure.