WONDER WOMAN 1984
Genre: Superhero Action
Running Time: 151 mins.
Where Can You See It?: In Theaters and HBO Max
Premise: Diana Prince a/k/a Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is living in the ’80s, still pining after Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor while working at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. The arrival of a new artifact – the Dream Stone – which grants anyone’s wish who holds it, creates a new set of problems for our hero when it falls into the hands of a lonely, befuddled co-worker (Kristen Wiig) and a wannabe oil tycoon deep in debt (Pedro Pascal). Their two wishes cause mayhem and destruction, but not to worry – WW wished for Steve Trevor to be alive, so he’s back and along for the ride (in the body of a random dude).
Behind-the-Scenes: WB’s decision to send WW84 to HBO Max, after multiple release delays due to the pandemic, is perhaps the most significant movie development of 2020. When Universal sent Trolls World Tour to PVOD back in April, it was seen as a big move, but nothing compared to a blockbuster tentpole like WW84. Yeah, it’s still playing in theaters too (for the 55% of theaters in America that are still open – none here in Chicago), but if you already have HBO Max or subscribed in the wake of this news, most audiences are going to stream it there.
The Good: I really miss blockbuster movies. The opening 25 minutes – a flashback on WW’s homeland of Themyscira and a Richard Donner-Superman-flavored montage of WW rescues that ends in an ’80s fashion mall – are the best. Big, bold and GOING FOR IT. There’s a lot of money on the screen and it shows. Pedro Pascal is hamming it up as Maxwell Lord in an outrageously entertaining performance. He makes for one of the more colorful, fun villains to pop up in a DC film, even if his scheme is standard-issue world domination stuff.
The Bad: The script. This is a baffling movie. Nearly every story decision seems questionable, leaving viewers to wonder how the studio even greenlit it in the first place. The fact that Patty Jenkins is a co-writer stings. The Dream Stone is a pretty corny macguffin – like something out of the ’60s comic books – and seems a tad too basic for big screen treatment. Nice to have Chris Pine back, but the whole “soul of Steve Trevor in another man’s body” device is clunky and off-putting. If that’s the direction the filmmakers were going to take, they should have just left Pine out of this one. Wiig does what she can with her lame character, but by the time she becomes the “Cheetah”, all hope is lost. The character design is terrible, as is the dark, muddied CG fight she has with WW. Also, why is this movie set in 1984? Apart from a “greed is good” and marketing angle, there’s not much of an attempt at justifying the decision. And, if you’re going to go through the trouble of setting it then, how are you not going to give audiences any great needle drops from that era? At 151 minutes, it’s way too long (like most superhero movies), with the bad content easily outweighing what’s good.
Should You See It?: No. Probably best to just skip this entry, and hold out for the inevitable Wonder Woman 3. Hopefully, the studio brings back the first film’s writers for that one.
Star Rating: **1/2 out of 5 stars
Better Than: Justice League, Green Lantern
Worse Than: Wonder Woman, Shazam, Aquaman
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