Directed again by Patty Jenkins (who shares screenplay credits with DC veteran Geoff Johns and “The Expendables” author David Callaham), the film begins with a wonderfully shot flashback sequence, showing the young Diana on Themyscira, who, given the platform , becomes an island in the brook.
After that, however, the 2.-Hour story spends far too much time setting up its premise and villains, who unfortunately chop against the campy “Superman 3” quadrant in the DC / Warner Bros. filmography. (These companies are devices in WarnerMedia, as well as CNN.)
The project finds a pretty clever way to incorporate Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, who remarkably died at the end of “Wonder Woman”. Still, this may be a case where it would have been wiser – for both the title character (Gal Gadot) and the film – to push on instead of looking back.
The ageless Diana has rather carried a torch for more than 65 years when we find her in 1984 and hide in plain sight of the Smithsonian. This is where she meets a mousy, self-conscious new colleague (Kristen Wiig) and meets a mysterious artifact that sets the plot in motion, including the way Steve is unlikely to return.
The said object is also sought after by an oil speculator, Max Lord (Pedro Pascal), who has his own nasty goals in mind. The underlying warning – watch out for men striving for power – is one of the messages that seems to be woven into the film.
The plot bites more than the film can chew enough, and at first feels a little too much like an individual comic book story that extends beyond its weight to meet the demands of a big movie.
The stakes end up being high enough, but the antagonists represent a huge decline from the god of war and the German army, and despite the efforts of Gadot and Pine – who take advantage of their anachronistic presence in the 80s – the film can not overcome these obstacles.
“Wonder Woman 1984” falls victim to a common failure with sequels, which work to fill the void left by an original story. While there are some visually striking action sequences when Diana and her new super-driven enemy drop – and Gadot remains extremely appealing when it comes to humanizing the character – the last act turns into a bit of a mess.
Still, that lasson makes you tell the truth, and when you speak clearly, “Wonder Woman 1984” feels disappointing. That verdict does not detract from the first film, but in franchise numbers, it stunts the enthusiasm for the prospect of “Wonder Woman 3”, whatever year it – and she – may appear.
“Wonder Woman 1984” premieres December 25 on HBO Max and in theaters. It has been classified as PG-13.