Photo | “Wonder Woman 1984” – Warner Bros.
There is plenty of action in “Wonder Woman 1984,” but it is not the memorable delight the origin story was. Wonder was the key to what made the 2017 “Wonder Woman” so special and endearing; Gal Godot’s Diana Prince was an unstoppable superhero who fell in love with the world she came to save. The 1980s setting cannot help but be fun and amusing, and no one was happier than me to see Chris Pine back from the dead as Steve Trevor, but a world-weary Wonder Woman is, to use an ’80s term, kind of a bummer. Especially for two and a half hours.
There is nothing as sweet and adorable in the new “Wonder Woman” as the moment in the original when Diana first tastes ice cream and tells the vendor, “You must be so proud!” The sequel finds her living in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s, fighting crime in malls and working at the Smithsonian. In the decades since her true love died in World War I, Diana has not found anyone else with whom to pass the time, until she strikes up a friendship with the shy Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) and the two research an artifact that grants wishes.
Soon, Wonder Woman, Barbara, and a cheesy, fake television millionaire named Maxwell Lord (“The Mandalorian” star Pedro Pascal) are ignoring the advice “be careful what you wish for.” Barbara wishes to be more sexy and confident like Diana, while the dear, departed Steve comes back to life and into the arms of his beloved. These miracles exact terrible personal costs, while Maxwell’s wishes create chaos on a global scale.
“Wonder Woman 1984” had plenty of exciting sequences, like a glorious opening scene of Diana as a child competing in some aerial Olympics on the all-female island of Themyscira, the much-anticipated arrival of Wonder Woman’s invisible airplane, and a delightful montage of Chris Pine trying on various ’80s menswear outfits. As in this movie and its predecessor, the CGI-heavy final battles lost me, particularly coming past the two-hour mark. Between these touchstone moments, however, the plot is somehow misshapen, pulling in international politics, cultural stereotypes and frustrating inconsistencies in the magical device that is driving the whole thing. It’s all made up! There’s no reason for it not to make sense.
Pedro Pascal was a terrific superhero villain — cartoonish and over the top. Kristen Wiig’s transformation from nerdy to sexy to evil was fun, but also felt completely beside the point, a weird subplot shoehorned into an already bloated running time. She was actually one of the best characters, but her arc was ultimately pointless.
“Wonder Woman 1984” was good looking and exciting, but also busy and confusing. It felt difficult to determine and focus on what the most important part of the film was supposed to be and, although Gal Godot remains a warm and statuesque goddess, her presence simply didn’t fill this film as it should have. After her murky cartoon battle with the supervillain Cheetah, she has to literally sit in a corner to save the world from Pedro Pascal and his convoluted plot to take over all of humanity’s reckless and ill-conceived wishes.
The whole thing ties back to not taking the easy route to get what you want, a lesson Diana learned as a child, even though she is a goddess with limitless powers. I dunno. The lesson aspect was a bit of a drag for me. If it’s not going to make a ton of sense, then let it be tons of fun. And, in case I have not complained enough about how long this movie was, let me complain once more that it was excessive in length. For all those accumulated minutes, I think they could have squeezed in more wonder.
“Wonder Woman 1984” is now playing at all listed multiplex theaters and Nexus Cinema Dining, and streaming on HBO Max.
New This Week:
“The Devil’s Light”: A 25-year-old nun named Sister Ann performs exorcisms and wards off demons while also combating a sexist church that believes only priests should be allowed to perform exorcisms. All listed multiplex theaters.
“Redemption Day”: Having just returned home, decorated U.S. Marine Captain Brad Paxton’s (Gary Dourdan of “CSI” fame) wife, Kate, is kidnapped by a terrorist group while working in Morocco. He is forced back into action for a daring and deadly operation to save the woman he loves. All listed multiplex theaters.
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