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  • Writer's pictureS.J.

Quick Reviews: 'Wonder Woman 1984', 'Monster Hunter' | DCEU, Gal Gadot, Milla Jovovich

Gal Gadot in a golden suit, Milla Jovovich and Tony Jaa running with weapons
Wonder Woman 1984 (L), Monster Hunter (R)


Step aside world wars and battlegrounds, it's time for the eighties' vibes and parachute pants now. Following up the success of 2017's 'Wonder Woman', director and co-writer Patty Jenkins brings along Wonder Woman 1984 a.k.a. WW84, which—a massive spoiler ahead—shows the titular character living her life in 1984 as you'd suspect. Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) faces a double threat this time as her work friend Barbara (Kristen Wiig) discovers an antique stone, which falls into the hands of greedy businessman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) who finds out that it grants wishes to anyone who comes into contact with it. Diana's wish happens to be the return of her lover Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and the sum of everyone's wishes is leading the world to insupportable destruction.

Let's start the year with the good stuff though. Much of what made the first two thirds of the previous film work is still working here. Good news is that the film stays rather consistent for the whole runtime, even if the opening sequence is the peak in terms of vision, action and just pure fun; a great mix of practical and digital, using an outstanding cue from composer Hans Zimmer and a lovely outing from Lilly Aspell as young Diana to kick things off. Supporting actors are all solid otherwise too; it's frankly the lead Gadot who could use vocal lessons since she is stuck with monotonous monologues throughout the film that become tiresome. Pascal is the one who saves a bunch of the movie as his performance is a perfect mix of an over-the-top 80's villain and unpredictable physical act. Lindy Hemming's costume design is also once again superb, from lavish party dresses and gold warrior suits to those aforementioned parachute pants.

Efforts of three writers—Jenkins, Geoff Johns and Dave Callaham—and perhaps a few too many studio executives in addition to them clumsily clash in the story department and that is the reason why this sequel pales in comparison to what came before. There is too much noise considering that there is only one person in the title whose journey we should be most invested in. Everything about the section in Egypt does not work whatsoever, from the characters to exposition, while Wiig doesn't get anything to do as Barbara (later becoming the villain known as Cheetah) other than to look like she's in a slightly better version of the film 'Cats'.

Challenging for the title of the movie's biggest problem is the unnecessary inclusion of Steve, whether that's due to the nonconsensual use of someone credited as ''Handsome Man'' or his clunky inclusion just so Diana has one selfish reason to stop Lord. It's honestly a bit sad that it requires so many technical aspects (sound, VFX, sets, cinematography etc.) to be decent in order to make the whole thing seem watchable because the writing is so unfocused. The title spells out the main character as well as the year for you and still somehow all these confusing side quests are driving this machine.

Smileys: Costume design, Pedro Pascal

Frowneys: Pacing, story, Gal Gadot

Might want to rename that lasso Ted because it makes you believe more than it makes you tell the truth.


Gal Gadot rocking a golden superhero suit
Warner Bros. Pictures


Brought to you by filmmakers behind, uh, other film adaptations of video games and a slate of effects-heavy action, Monster Hunter stomps its way to screens that are near your eyeballs and nowhere near your turned-on brains. Just like with the video game franchise, you're promised hunters and monsters, both of which you do get at least, so kudos for that.

Paul W.S. Anderson directed and wrote the movie while his wife Milla Jovovich stars as Artemis alongside Tony Jaa who plays Hunter, which could be the character's name or profession, who knows really. Artemis is an Army Captain who gets sucked into a portal with her team, leading them into a world where colossal monsters lurk while Hunter has been there for a while before they cross paths. For what its worth, the film thankfully doesn't take itself too seriously for a hot minute but even that doesn't cover for the fact that the filmmaking present is dreadful, smothering even some of the talent behind it.

Whenever you work on something that has big CGI monsters and over-the-top stunts as your building blocks, you just need to lean into them as much as you can. Some kicks are to be had since Jovovich and Jaa certainly know what they are making here, they genuinely look like action stars that Monster Hunter desperately needs in order to be successful. Beyond just commitment, some creativity comes from the sound department too as the mix is solid, the roars are powerful and the world around characters is enhanced. You'd only wish that those mixers had a great musical score to work with but that part of the movie is just poor, timing makes it sound like a temp track and even some melodies seem to be an octave or two higher than they should be, considering the action on the screen. Perhaps it all was an afterthought or just rushed. Again, who knows really.

Setting our sights back to the plot and characters however, it must be noted that Anderson's work also lets Jovovich and Jaa down which is a shame. The dialogue is full of nuisances and jokes that just don't land, dramatic shift later on where we meet Ron Perlman's character comes from a different movie altogether and only the last 20 minutes deliver the monster hunting that's more than only solid. Too bad that during those 20 minutes, the film opts to set up sequels so this movie doesn't really have an ending.

Perhaps the most perplexing part of the whole thing is what goes down in the editing room with Anderson and editor Doobie White. Jovovich is a decent action star and Jaa is superbly talented when it comes to martial arts and stunts, despite that the editing makes every action scene truly incomprehensible. We as viewers have no idea where the characters are situated, what they are hitting and what the speed is. It doesn't even matter what you think about the script you're working with, it's no excuse to drag your actors' performances down to that same level.

Smileys: Sound design

Frowneys: Editing, score, story, screenplay

Ron Perlman is in this? More like Ron Purr Lion Man. You'll get it if you see him.


Milla Jovovich and Tony Jaa running on white sand
Sony Pictures

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