Again directed by Patty Jenkins (who shares script credit with veteran DC Geoff Johns and “The Expendables” writer David Callaham), the film begins with a beautifully shot flashback sequence, depicting young Diana on Themyscira. , which, given the platform, becomes an island in the stream.
After that, however, the 2.5-hour story spends far too much time setting up its premises and villains, which sadly carve out towards the campy “Superman 3” quadrant of DC / Warner Bros. filmography. (These companies are units of WarnerMedia, just like CNN.)
The project finds a reasonably clever way to incorporate Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, who ostensibly died at the end of “Wonder Woman.” Even so, this could be a case where it would have been wiser – both for the main character (Gal Gadot) and for the movie – to go forward instead of looking back.
The ageless Diana, instead, has been carrying a torch for over 65 years when we find her in 1984, hiding in plain sight working at the Smithsonian. It’s there that she meets a smiling, self-aware new colleague (Kristen Wiig) and encounters a mysterious artifact that sets the plot in motion, including the means of Steve’s unlikely return.
The plot bites off more than the movie can adequately chew on, initially feeling a little too much like an individual comic book story exceeding its weight to meet the demands of a blockbuster movie.
The stakes end up being pretty high, but the antagonists represent a huge comedown of the god of war and the German military, and despite the best efforts of Gadot and Pine – who make the most of his anachronistic presence in the ’80s – the the film cannot overcome these obstacles.
“Wonder Woman 1984” falls victim to a common setback with sequels, struggling to fill the void left by an origin story. While there are some visually striking action sequences as Diana and her new, super powerful foe go head-to-head – and Gadot remains extremely appealing to humanize the character – the final act turns into a bit of a mess.
The first “Wonder Woman” remains a shining beacon in the modern era of DC superhero movies – no small feat, since the fantastic arsenal and outfit of the 1940s creation didn’t translate into reality. not easily nowadays. The magic lasso, in particular, has become a wonderful weapon, used in all kinds of inventive ways.
Still, this lasso makes you tell the truth, and speaking plainly, “Wonder Woman 1984” is disappointing. That judgment doesn’t take anything away from the first film, but in terms of the franchise, it dulls enthusiasm for the prospect of “Wonder Woman 3,” regardless of what year he – and she – might appear.
“Wonder Woman 1984” premieres December 25 on HBO Max and in theaters. It is classified PG-13.