Fans must have felt they waited too long to see “Wonder Woman 1984.” They were more than open with their criticism, suggesting it lacked plenty and didn’t live up to the first film.
That may have held water had there not been a pandemic. But this was a superhero film confined to the small screen. It needed the sweep of a large cineplex. And those flaws? They were evident in “Captain America,” too, but no one was crying foul then.
As a return to the not-so-distant past, “WW84,” was a welcome bit of nostalgia, dressed up in wild ‘80s clothes. Now, on DVD, give it a second chance.
In a sweeping opening sequence, director Patty Jenkins offers a short course on the superhero’s world, then pushes her into 1984, where big shoulders, big hair and big opportunists lurk.
In the “new” world, Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is an anthropologist at the Smithsonian. She befriends a jittery co-worker, Barbara Ann Minerva (Kristen Wiig), who is a little too needy and willing. When Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), an aggressive businessman, visits the museum, he uses Barbara to get to a “dreamstone” that grants wishes.
In no time at all, you can see this isn’t going to go well.
The dreamstone, however, helps Diana bring back her old lover, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and, soon, he’s falling for ‘80s fashion, fanny packs and all.
Jenkins sprinkles plenty of humor throughout the film, allowing Gadot a chance to lasso a few of her own laughs. Pine, though, owns the lion’s share, largely because he’s so taken with this new world. How he helps her fight some of the baddies is one of the film’s most brilliant strokes and a nice way to justify worlds colliding.
In Wiig, Jenkins has an interesting villain. She’s gullible, funny and oh-so-jealous. Roll it all together and you can see a character arc just waiting to be completed. When she makes a transformation (an ‘80s transformation, mind you), she’s every makeover seen on afternoon TV.
The real question mark is Pascal’s Lord. He seems ambitious and paternal. But greed gets the best of him and gallops away with any semblance of fair play. Jenkins hints broadly at others with a similar bent but doesn’t offer any free passes. Indeed, Diana is like an oracle for 2020, suggesting what really matters most in life.
While Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth isn’t foolproof, it does let her rescue kids, hitch airplane rides and pull off one of the most harrowing desert chases in years. Pine figures into that Olympic display of luge work, too, and gets his own moments of derring-do without resorting to special effects. The way Jenkins keeps him rooted in the past makes this so much more than a superhero film.
It’s loud (thank you, Hans Zimmer for the score), it’s telling and it’s entertaining.