Wonder Woman 1984

When Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) begins her new job as a gemologist at the Smithsonian Institution, the socially awkward wallflower is wowed by her chic and confident colleague Diana Prince (Gal Gadot).  She’ll get a chance to work with her when a stolen cash of artifacts includes a citrine crystal which the F.B.I. asks her to investigate.  But someone else who understands its power, oil shares con man and self professed television personality Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal, HBO's 'Game of Thrones'), steals the Dreamstone with devastating consequences in “Wonder Woman 1984.”

Laura's Review: C-

Cowriter (with "Aquaman's" Geoff Johns and "Godzilla's" Dave Callahan)/director Patty Jenkins (“Monster”) follows up her ground breaking femme centric Super Hero movie with a limp sequel which is a bloated, muddled endurance test.  As Diana is no longer an innocent to the ways of the world, Gadot has less of a charm offensive at her disposal and, ironically, the film only perks up whenever Chris Pine shares her scenes, the WWI pilot astonished in this new world.  Jenkins and her cowriters have lifted so much material from other films (one action sequence plagiarizes “Raiders of the Lost Ark’s” truck stunt while the clichéd wardrobe montage is amusing because Pine is the subject), that even the parts that do make sense feel tired.

Take the opening prologue flashback where the young Diana (Lilly Aspell) competes against adult Amazons.  The sequence uses so much CGI, very little of it looks real, with Connie Nielsen in a mere cameo as Hippolyta while Robin Wright’s General Antiope delivers a lesson in fair play and experience when Diana pulls a Rosie Ruiz, a lesson which fails to be incorporated in the 1984 action.  Pascal sounds so much like Ricardo Montalban, we keep waiting to hear him incorporate ‘Corinthian leather’ into his ‘Black Gold’ pitches, but while he is clearly based on POTUS45 (he stands before a White House podium during the film’s climax), his late breaking concern for his young son Alistair (Lucian Perez) doesn’t jibe with prior action.  And just try to make sense of the Dreamstone, the concept which allows Diana to bring Steve Trevor back and turns Barbara into an ‘apex predator,’ but which becomes increasingly convoluted in Lord’s hands, the film’s message about acting upon the lies of the man who wields it notwithstanding.  Nonsense isn’t restricted to the film’s MacGuffin either as we’re treated to children playing ball on a highway running through a remote desert, Trevor’s ability to hop into a plane a half century removed from his experience and fly it and his astonishment at fireworks which existed centuries before he ever did.

Jenkins revels in 1980’s cheesiness with day glo spandex, big hair and ‘Miami Vice’ menswear (thankfully costume designer Lindy Hemming clothes Gadot more classically as well as contributing Asteria’s golden armor for the film’s climax).  That aspect is reflected in the film’s score as well, initially grating, composer Hans Zimmer gradually adding tinges of 80’s pop references before settling for generic background music.

I can’t say I missed all the Super Hero movies that got pushed out of 2020’s release calendar and “Wonder Woman 1984” is a good example why.  Even the surprise celebrity appearance in the closing credits stinger is underwhelming.

Robin's Review: C

Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is a senior anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institute studying ancient Mediterranean cultures. A visitor to the institute, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), is in search of the mystical Dreamstone which grants any wish made by the holder. Lord’s plan is to use the crystal to get own dream of ultimate power and it pits him against the Amazon princess in “Wonder Woman 1984.”

I think I saw “Wonder Woman (2017)” but, truthfully, I honestly do not remember. If I saw it, it was on cable and I may have seen it in total or in many parts. So, in prep for “WW84,” I read a synopsis of the first film – it still did not jog my memory – in preparation for this sequel. I need not have bothered.

Director Patty Jenkins, who also co-wrote the script with Geoff Jones and David Callahan, tries to reprise the success of her first round with the DC franchise four years ago. Well, there is story setup in the beginning to remind the fans and initiate the uninitiated (of which I am apparently a member) that we are watching the WW story. Then, it jumps to 1984 Washington DC and the Smithsonian.

Enter Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a newly-hired and somewhat bumbling archaeologist at the institute and who is instantly in awe when she meets the beautiful, assured Diana. They become friends and Barbara is asked by the FBI for her expert opinion on a large stash of black market items, including the above-named bauble, the Dreamstone.

The conniving Max uses his smarmy, snake-oil salesman skills to gain the confidence of the naïve and vulnerable Barbara and is able to sneak the stone away. But, not before Barbara makes her own wish to be like Diana. Meanwhile, Max sets in play his plans of world dominance and ultimate power. Of course, it is up to Wonder Woman to set the world right.

As I watched “WW84” I was whelmed by a number of thoughts. First, at about 30 minutes of mostly bombastic music and CGI and the fact that I do not drink during the day, I lamented my will power. I should have drunk heavily. Then, the Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) character from the first – he was dead – reappears and I had the thought, “thank the gods for Pine and his much needed comic relief.”

At two hours and thirty one minutes – I write it out instead of using 2:31 – of run time, the movie is as long as “two hours and thirty one minutes” sounds. Most of the bombast, cheesy look and near total CGI comes down to moral lessons, like “you cannot put the genie back in the bottle after it is free” and “be careful what you wish for, you might get it.” OK, I get, but still….

"Wonder Woman 1984" will premiere on HBO Max on Christmas Day.