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Film Review: 'Wonder Woman 1984' a worthy sequel

Bill Choy
Siskiyou Daily News
Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) practices some ropin’ in a White House corridor.

"Wonder Woman 1984" is a wonderfully entertaining sequel to the blockbuster 2017 film. WW84 has heart and a poignant human center, which adds a grounded layer around a fantastical comic book movie. 

With a terrific performance by Gal Gadot as Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, "Wonder Woman 1984" is a solid sequel that delivers the goods for the most part. WW84 features excellent performances, gorgeous cinematography, and most importantly, takes the time for character development.  The villains are not just cookie cutters figures whose sole purpose is to be thwarted by the hero or hero's.  

Bill Choy is the sports editor for the Siskiyou Daily News and Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers.

In WW84,  the bad guys are damaged, needy human beings who get caught up in their own desires, thanks to a powerful stone that grants wishes and corrupts them.

After originally being set to be released in the Summer and being delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic,  WW84 premiered on Christmas Day on HBO Max and at movie theatres, although none close to Siskiyou County. 

The film takes to heart the old adage, be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. 

I like what director Patty Jenkins has done with WW84. While there are a number of exciting and well done action sequences and fights that you expect from a movie like this, what truly works best is the character development that powers the action. 

The main character's hopes and desires are a key theme of this film. The way in which Diana has to put aside her own wants, needs and wishes for the common good and for once would like what she has wanted for so many years  -  is a central theme that resonates throughout.  

Gal Gadot (with Chris Pine) is back in action in Patty Jenkins' superhero sequel "Wonder Woman 1984."

The film opens with a breathtaking opening of young Diana as a child competing against her fellow older Amazons in an intense Olympic decathlon like event.  

This sequence is a wonderful set-up for the rest of the film that features dramatic action sequences along with stunning visuals. 

By the end of the event, young Diana learns a valuable lesson that "no hero is born from lies." 

Fast forward to 1984, where Diana works as a senior anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., specializing in the culture of ancient Mediterranean civilizations. 

These opening scenes have a nostalgic and light tone to them, reminding me a bit of Superman II in the way that it’s a throwback in the opening scene to that iconic film. The bright 80’s fashions and culture, from video game arcades, to the mall, with a Walden Books to boot, a staple of malls when I was a kid in the 80's, adds  to the colorful and bright bit of 80’s cheer the film provides. 

Diana still grieves over the death of her love Steve Trevor, (Chris Pine), who died at the end of the first Wonder Woman film back in World War I. 

 At work, she meets the milquetoast  Barbara Ann Minerva, (Kristen Wiig) a new co-worker who, while kind and sweet, is socially awkward and eager to please. Even her boss can't remember that they met before, although she started work the week before. She becomes fascinated with Diana and the two form a friendship. 

At the museum is an ancient and powerful artifact, the: "Dreamstone” which is wanted by slimy failing businessman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal).  

Accidentally, Diana uses the “Dreamstone,” and wishes Steve to return. This causes a fish out of water scenario where Steve marvels at the future. Diana’s dream of her long-dead love returning is fulfilled, but at what cost? And, if she renounces her wish, he will leave once again. 

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Barbara also make s a wishes, and wishes to be strong and beautiful like Diana. Of course, you can’t get something for nothing, as Barbara's kindness and warmth melt away, and a cold and dangerous predator emerges, as Diana begins to lose her powers gradually. 

Lord , like Barbara, is a sad figure at first, constantly in debt and trying to scam money from people, and wanting to prove he is special, especially to his young son, who, in his quest for power, Max ignores. Eventually, he obtains the stone, and wishes to be the one that grants washes, which cause the world to go into chaos, with Wonder Woman attempting to save the day.  

Gadot brings  warmth and soul to the part. She is quite simply the perfect Wonder Woman and brings sincerity and gravitas to the role. Gadot has terrific chemistry with Pine, as they form a charming on-screen couple. 

I really like Wigg as Barbara, who comic fans know becomes the formidable Cheetah. Wiig deftly handless the early scenes where we meet Barbara as a sky bookish woman and is convincing when Barbra transforms into something much more sinister. 

There is a battle between Wonder Woman at Cheetah at the climax of the film that has added power due to the relationship set up throughout the film between Barbara and Diana. 

While I really like WW84,  this is not a perfect film. It is about 20 minutes too long and lags a bit in parts, especially in the middle portion of the film. A more prudent edit of the movie would have helped smooth the rough patches a bit. 

While I do like the extra screen time to delve a bit further into the characters, I do wish some scenes, especially in the middle portions of the film, were paced a bit better. While I liked aspects of the performances by Pascal as Max Lord, there are one too many scenes I felt where the performance is a bit ham-handed and takes away a bit of the emotional punch that is needed. The problem is he plays things a bit too broad and borderline campy, which takes away from his performance a bit too much for my liking.  

Overall, Wonder Woman 1984 is a worthy addition to comic book film genre. It is a terrific entertainment and an enjoyable journey I was glad to take. It’s definitely worth watching, for sure.

Wonder Woman 1984 can now be streamed on HBO Max. 

Grade: B+ 

Wonder Woman 1984 is rated PG-13 for comic-book violence. Running time: 2 hours 31 minutes.