WONDER WOMAN 1984 Movie Poster | ©2020 Warner Bros.

WONDER WOMAN 1984 movie poster | ©2020 Warner Bros.

Rating: PG-13
Stars: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Lilly Aspell, Lucian Perez
Writers: Patty Jenkins & Geoff Johns & Dave Callahan, story by Patty Jenkins & Geoff Johns, based on characters created by DC Comics and William Moulton Marston
Director: Patty Jenkins
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Release Date: December 25, 2020

WONDER WOMAN 1984 is enjoyable, but unpredictable in not always wondrous ways. Both Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins are back from the excellent 2017 WONDER WOMAN film, which explained how and why Gadot’s Amazon Princess Diana left her magical island home of Themyscira to try to put a stop to World War I in 1918.

In WONDER WOMAN 1984 (abbreviated as WW84, a title with a double meaning), we return to Themyscira to see Diana as a child (Lilly Aspell, another returnee from the 2017 edition) compete in a thrilling Amazon multi-discipline rite. It’s a glorious sequence that delights in physical prowess, and concludes with Diana learning a lesson she carries through the rest of her life.

Flash forward. It’s 1984. Wonder Woman is in Washington, D.C., stopping crime when she’s not, as Diana Prince, working at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Diana has never gotten over her first and only love, WWI U.S. Army pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). She refuses to even speak with men who make passes at her.

Female friendship, however, is another matter. When new gemologist Barbara Minerva (Kirsten Wiig) arrives at the Smithsonian, Diana is happy to bond with the charmingly geeky woman.

Barbara is both enthralled by and envious of Diana’s seemingly effortless state of perfection. Barbara is also very taken with TV personality and apparent oil magnate Max Lord (Pedro Pascal). Max turns out to know a lot more than he lets on about a seemingly worthless piece that turns up among many valuable antiques that Barbara has been asked to evaluate by the FBI.

The “imbued item” turns out to have the kind of powers from the classic horror story THE MONKEY’S PAW. It grants wishes, but also takes away something precious to the person making the wish.

WONDER WOMAN 1984 thereafter ping-pongs between being a Wonder Woman movie, a romance, a character study, and an interesting exponentially expanding version of the dangerous wish angle. It’s never dull, but it winds up partially sidelining the title character.

The screenplay by Jenkins & Geoff Johns & Dave Callahan, from a story by Jenkins & Johns, focuses so much on the journeys of Barbara and Max, a pair of surprisingly sympathetic antagonists, that we sometimes lose focus on Diana. She is of course heroic and moral (we can hardly blame her when she falters here), so what she’s going to do is never in doubt.

WONDER WOMAN 1984 movie poster | ©2020 Warner Bros.

WONDER WOMAN 1984 movie poster | ©2020 Warner Bros.

The suspense is with the two newcomers to the franchise. Wiig goes from appealingly disheveled to classically sexy to where those familiar with the comics will know. Pascal simply has a blast with every aspect of Max, from slick tele-pitchman to embarrassed father to dazzled near-mania. Lucian Perez is very good as Max’s loving little boy.

It’s all more or less good fun, though the mythology behind what’s going on gets murkier rather than clearer as our heroes investigate it.

Even though the stakes are as big or bigger than in the earlier WONDER WOMAN, WONDER WOMAN 1984 feels a little smaller. This may be because Wonder Woman herself isn’t clashing with her opponents here – she feels sorry for them rather than wrathful towards them. This makes for fine strength of character, but less than enormous comic book movie punch.

In the end, we’re pleased to spend time with Gadot, and watch some fine work from the other actors, but next time, it would be better to have more actual Wonder Woman.

Speaking of more, there is a mid-credits sequence that WONDER WOMAN fans won’t want to miss.

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Comments:

  1. I’m confident it’s not intentional on the part of the director, but did you factor in Diana blatantly ignoring that she’s taken over another man’s body and she’s using it for sexual pleasure while he’s unconscious/unable to know what’s happening to him when you evaluated the movie? It’s such a terrible message.

    KP

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