Wonder Woman 1984

‘Wonder Woman’ first appeared in 1941. Created by American psychologist William Moulton Marston, who also invented the lie detector, his character has become iconic. Comic books, novels, films and TV series, including the famous series starring Lynda Carter from the 1970’s, have cemented ‘Wonder Woman’s enduring appeal. ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ is her second big screen epic with her golden lasso working overtime in capturing dastardly evildoers.

Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gail Gadot) is ready to face her toughest test. It’s 1984, the height of the Cold War where America and Russia are at deadly loggerheads. Amongst this fray enters mysterious media baron Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and former friend now enemy, powerful super-human Barbara (Kristen Wiig). With Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) helping, Wonder Woman fights for everyone’s rights while still wearing the old red, white and blue.

Patty Jenkins returns to direct ‘Wonder Woman 1984’. She knows the character well as does Gadot, who successfully embodies the character’s nobility and vulnerabilities. Hers isn’t a perfect hero, easily making mistakes but pushing forward in correcting them. The sequel’s central theme of ‘being careful what you wish for’ is a somewhat cliched and flimsy vehicle in which to hang the story and one that almost sinks it into boring drudgery.

It’s disappointing ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ fails to reach its potential, even with a good cast. Unfortunately the new characters of Maxwell Lord and Barbara are written in very broad strokes, robbing them of any believability, even for a comic-book film. The action sequences save ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ from being terminally uninteresting, with excitingly staged scenes. The photography is also a bonus, adding vibrant colour to an overlong and frequently dull screenplay.

‘Wonder Woman 1984’ drags when it should soar. The central character is still intriguing but the story she’s given this time is less than she deserves. But in an era of endless sequels, her third entry should hopefully correct the mistakes of this one with a faster pace sure to see Wonder Woman reach the top of cinematic success.

Rating out of 10: 6


The Laundromat

Based on Jake Bernstein’s book ‘Secrecy World’, ‘The Laundromat’ is highly topical. Exploring the 2016 Panama Papers scandal where high flyers were caught in money laundering scams, it presents relatable issues. Being caught out by smooth talking conmen who know how to pilfer cash can be seen on TV news almost daily. Director Steven Soderbergh excels at tackling an issue like this. Whilst tonally ‘The Laundromat’ is a bit all over the place, it has enough of his directorial flair to make it consistently interesting.

While enjoying a wonderful vacation with her husband, Ellen (Meryl Streep) receives a nasty shock. Ellen discovers she has a fake insurance policy rendering any claims worthless. Her investigations point to a law firm in Panama City whose primary business is helping the world’s wealthy elite to amass larger fortunes. Owned by partners Jurgen (Gary Oldman) and Ramon (Antonio Banderas), the firm’s shady dealings are in Ellen’s sights as a global conspiracy slowly unravels.

‘The Laundromat’ is akin to a very entertaining financial lesson. The ins and outs of finance can be extremely complex but Soderbergh presents such facts in an easy to follow manner. By understanding how shonky money schemes work are you able to become involved in Ellen’s plight. She isn’t the only victim of Jurgen and Ramon’s sleazy ways but represents the every-person who has to deal with people who hide behind corporate interests.

Although ‘The Laundromat’ isn’t Soderbergh at his best, even his worst is still strong viewing. Much of its success is down to an absorbing script and the performances. Streep, Oldman and Banderas are masters of their craft and it’s always pleasure seeing them in action. Whilst ‘The Laundromat’ is tonally inconsistent, it’s never dull due to solid acting and the often striking cinematography.

Steven Soderbergh has been quite prolific in recent years with a slew of movies. Some have been better than others but they’re always unique and have something to say. ‘The Laundromat’ follows this path with the supposedly attractive world of the almighty dollar as unattractive as the crooked people misusing it for their own needs.

Rating out of 10: 7