Diana Prince, better known as Wonder Woman, returns to the big screen in Warner Bros. Wonder Woman 1984. Directed once again by Patty Jenkins, the sequel opens up with an exciting sequence where a young Diana (Lilly Aspell) competes in a multi-stage athletic competition on Themyscira against older Amazons.
We soon jump to 1984 Washington, D.C., where we find Diana (Gal Gadot), the warrior, Amazon Princess, and immortal demigoddess living. Still holding on to memories and grieving for Steve Trever (Chris Pine), Diana doesn't really have a social life and spends her days working as a senior anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institute specializing in the culture of ancient Mediterranean civilizations. If needed, Diana will jump into action as Wonder Woman to take down the occasional evil-doer, including thieves who steal an artifact known as the Dreamstone.
Before long, Diana meets her new co-worker, the meek Barbara (Kristen Wig), who has been given the task of researching the Dreamstone. Diana and Barbara don't know that evil businessman Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) knows the power of the stone. You see, the Dreamatone is a powerful item that allows the wielder to see dreams and bringing them into reality, along with reshaping reality itself. Both Diana and Barbara unknowingly use the stone to fulfill their own desires. Diana wishes for her deceased lover, Steve Trevor, to return, and while I won't reveal how he fully does, but the angle works.
Barbara wishes to become strong and beautiful, like Diana. During a gala night at the Smithsonian, Maxwell manipulates Barbara to acquire the stone. He wishes to become the embodiment of the stone. He gains its power to grant wishes while also able to take whatever he desires in return. When Steve & Diana realize what Maxwell has done, they set up out to stop him. However, the new and improved Barbara won't give up her newfound beauty and strength and teams with Maxwell to ensure things stay the same.
Wonder Woman finally graced the big screen in 2017, after years of being stuck in development hell. Patty Jenkins, who directed Charlize Theron back in 2003's Monster, was a great choice to kick start the Wonder Woman franchise on the big screen. Gal Gadot, who brought the character to life for the first time in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, was also the right choice, in my opinion. She displays not only beauty but great athleticism, as shown in the Fast & Furious franchise.
For the sequel, director Patty Jenkins & her star somewhat go the stand-alone sequel route instead of a direct sequel. I didn't find an issue with this, as I'm sure at some point in the D.C. cinematic universe, everything will connect. Gal Gadot is still good in the role, and Jenkins can still direct an action sequence. One of the film's highlights occurs in Alexandria, VA's Landmark Mall, one of the first malls I visited when I moved to the area.
Chris Pine brings his usual All American movie star persona to Steve once again and has great chemistry with Gal. There's a great scene with Wonder Woman's mode of transportation, and Steve's reaction to it is my favorite moment of the film. However, per the usual, the villains steal the movie. Known primarily for her comedic work, Wig is having a ball portraying a bad guy. At the same time, Pascal continues his booming trend of bad guy performances while avoiding overplaying the role.
While I did generally enjoy the film, I must point out the bad. Clocking in at 2 ½ hours, Wonder Woman 1984 is overlong when it doesn't need to be. I respect Jenkins's storytelling style and her love of the character, but she could have trimmed off a ½ hour of the film for a tighter pace. Action junkies will also be disappointed as there isn't a ton of action. Still, in hindsight, I don't feel like that's the story that Patty Jenkins wanted to tell. Instead, she chose to focus on the drama aspect and love story angle.
I also noticed the tonal shift in the film, and for me, it appears that the studio and director couldn't agree, so they made a compromise that doesn't mix well. The first half of Wonder Woman 84 is a throwback to popcorn movies of the eighties, then the second half is more drama focused until the big climax.
Nevertheless, while Wonder Woman 1984 isn't as strong as the first film, I look forward to the next adventure with director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot.
Final Grade B-
Wonder Woman 1984 is streaming exclusively on HBO MAX and showing in theaters as well.