REVIEW: ‘Wonder Woman’ sequel mostly falls flat

Before fighting Doomsday and Steppenwolf, Wonder Woman emerged in the 80s to battle corporate greed.

“Wonder Woman 1984” opens with the Amazon warrior now fighting crime while also working at the Smithsonian. At her job, where she goes by Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), she meets a researcher named Barbara (Kristen Wiig). Early in the movie, Barbara comes across a stone that supposedly grants wishes.

Barbara, who’s rather insecure, wishes to be just like Diana. Diana, meanwhile, wishes for her lost love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) to be resurrected. Despite thinking it’s just a legend, it turns out the stone actually works for the two. It also works for a desperate businessman named Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) who has aspirations of more power. These three wishes end up bringing the characters into conflict.

The first “Wonder Woman” was a very strong superhero film, which makes this installment a real let down. Where the last movie excelled thanks to how it carefully balanced an origin story with a war epic, this sequel stretches a single concept far beyond its limits.

“WW84” is basically a ‘be careful what you wish for’ tale, similar to the classic “Monkey’s Paw” story. Something like this would be fine for a TV show, like the DC programs on the CW, but it just doesn’t lend the story infrastructure for a two and a half hour picture.

As a result, the movie’s resolution ultimately becomes apparent rather early on, offering few compelling story developments. As the film approaches its predictable resolution, it sort of meanders, most noticeably during a portion of the picture taking place in Egypt.

One area where the movie is somewhat salvaged is the dynamic with the two leads. Once again, Diana and Steve’s relationship is the highlight here and the role reversal with Trevor being the fish out of water this time instead was fun.

Courtesy Warner Bros. and HBOMax.

Gadot and Pine continue to have a good on screen chemistry. Additionally, the way their relationship plays into the larger story is the only thing for viewers to really latch on to.

Rather forgettable, meanwhile, are the film’s villains. In one of the episodes of “Futurama,” there was a character who was a sleezy 80s businessman. That’s basically Maxwell Lord here, he is more or less a caricature, despite attempts to humanize him by showing how he has a son.

Barbara Minerva, on the other hand, is basically a retread of Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian from “Iron Man 3,” who was a retread of Jim Carrey’s Edward Nygma in “Batman Forever.” The outcast, socially inept character who becomes a villain and rival to the hero just feels recycled at this point.

On top of that, Wiig isn’t too convincing as a villain and her character’s final scenes in the picture are poor.

Even the action is somewhat of a let down in “WW84.” There’s nothing here that compares to the No Man’s Land in the original picture. There’s an alright chase sequence mid way through, but the final climactic moments are a mess. Wonder Woman’s last confrontation with Barbara is especially rough as it’s hard to see what happens and lacks good choreography.

“Wonder Woman 1984” is a major step down from the 2017 feature. The movie has some entertainment value and the main relationship gives some enjoyment, but for the most part this is a loss. 2.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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