Blu-ray Review: Wonder Woman 1984

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The bottom line with director Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman 1984, the fourth film to feature the titular character in the DC Extended Universe (but the first standalone sequel), is that it is overlong, poorly paced, and corny. It's also retro in ways that go beyond the time period in which it's set. It feels like an '80-era superhero movie—far more Superman III than the best of the DCEU (slim pickings, if we're being honest) thus far.

That said, there's a way to put a potentially more positive spin on WW '84. Think of it as a children's movie. Young kids are likely to enjoy this F/X extravaganza far more than adults, unless you happen to be super easy to please. Gal Gadot is back, of course, and she's likeable as usual. But Jenkins doesn't give her anything particularly interesting to do this time around. Actually, making her so hung up on Steve Trevor, her deceased love from the original film, is really a step backwards for the character. She's been pining away for him since World War I, to the point where she doesn't seem to perform all that many superheroics these days.

Actually, it should be said that Jenkins' first Wonder Woman was not all it was cracked up to be in the first place. It was basically Captain America: The First Avenger, set in WWI instead of WWII. And as for the much ballyhooed "feminist" angle, it's interesting that Chris Pine's doomed Steve Trevor was essential the tragic hero of the piece. Not Gadot's Diana Prince. If you were hoping for the "girl power," hardsold by in the marketing of the first <i>Wonder Woman</i>, James Cameron was entirely correct. His Ripley and Sarah Connor didn't need to rely on a short skirt and cute banter to dish out serious badassery.

Anyway, what really befell Jenkins here in '84 was the same curse that afflicted Joss Whedon with his first two Avengers movies. After single-handedly infusing the DCEU with much-needed critical approval (however undeserved), Jenkins was apparently overindulged, given way too long a leash. Just like Whedon, who bowled everyone over with the spectacular first Avengers before delivering the overstuffed trash-heap that is Age of Ultron, Jenkins was apparently allowed to throw in everything but the kitchen sink.

The basic story involves the discovery of a "dream stone," which is basically a genie in a bottle. It grants wishes. Diana's Smithsonian coworker (that's fight, Wonder Woman works at a museum, only occasionally stepping out in-costume to foil would-be robbers, etc) Barbara (Kristen Wiig) uses the stone to become like Diana, getting far more than the confidence and sex appeal she was initially seeking. Meanwhile local business tycoon Maxwell Lorenzano (Pedro Pascal) essentially plays the ol' "wishing for infinite wishes" routine by using the dream stone to acquire the powers of the stone itself. Between these two supervillains, all sorts of expected world-threatening havoc ensues.

If any of that sounds vaguely silly, trust me—it's a lot sillier than it even sounds. Which is to say, WW '84 is a great way for young kids to spend 2.5 hours. In all honesty, it will probably take them more like four hours to get through, because even the most undemanding youngsters will have their attention spans tested by this one. Note the film does open quite strongly with a flashback to young Diana in Themyscira, competing in a decathlon of sorts. It's exciting and visually-inspired in a way the rest of the movie is not. Too bad the entire movie didn't focus on young Diana in her homeland.

The brand-new Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Blu-ray includes about an hour and a half of special features. The best of the bunch is Expanding the Wonder, a pretty cool look inside the creation of the film that is just the right length (at just over a half-hour, it's informative without wearing out its welcome). "Meet the Amazons" is another worthwhile piece, a multi-participant interview taped at the DC FanDome from 2020. Shorter, bite-sized pieces round out the package with a gag reel and a bunch of mostly-lighthearted featurettes.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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