[Screen It]


(2020) (Gal Gadot, Chris Pine) (PG-13)

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Action: A superhero magically gets back the love of her life, but must contend with others who are taking advantage of the same wish-giving spell.

Nearly seventy years after the events of the first "Wonder Woman" movie, the immortal Diana Prince (GAL GADOT) has a day job as a researcher at the Smithsonian Museum but moonlights all hours of the day saving people from harm as the superhero Wonder Woman. Yet, despite the passage of time, she's yet to find romance after the sacrificial death of her beloved Steve Trevor (CHRIS PINE) at the end of WWI.

But she gets a second shot with him when mousey Smithsonian gemologist Barbara Minerva (KRISTEN WIIG) has a black-market stone arrive on her desk. She doesn't think anything of it, nor does Diana, but it's not long before they realize that it has the power to grant anyone one wish. That results in Steve showing up in another man's body -- but seen in his original form by Diana -- while Barbara wishes to be like Diana, resulting in her gaining great powers...and a desire for more.

That also holds true for Maxwell Lord (PEDRO PASCAL), a would-be oil baron who's faking it until he makes it and wants his young son, Alistair (LUCIAN PEREZ), to be proud of him. Once he gets his hands on that stone, his dreams start coming true, as do those of others he grants wishes for. With that resulting in growing amounts of chaos, as well as serious side effects for those who've had their wishes granted, Diana must figure out what to do before it's too late.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10

In general, and much like in real life, actors don't like it when their characters die. Yes, a few grow tired of playing the same persona or fear being typecast as that fictional person, but the vast majority seem to enjoy doing so, especially when the paychecks keep coming in.

But in certain movies, such deaths sometimes end up giving the characters, their efforts, and the film in which they exist greater resonance, especially if a grand sacrifice is made for the greater good. Or as Spock said in "The Wrath of Khan" before his death -- and resurrection in the next film -- "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one."

Some viewers like that, and some don't, but the bean counters at studios know when they have a good thing going, so they and the powers that be often put pressure on the creative types to somehow bring back such characters.

I have no idea if that's what occurred regarding "Wonder Woman 1984," if it was originally planned during the making of its 2017 origins story predecessor, of if writer/director Patty Jenkins and co-scribes Geoff Johns and David Callaham had the light bulb moment and suddenly proclaimed "You know, Steve Trever doesn't have to remain dead despite what happened at the end of the first film."

Sorry if that's a spoiler, but it's clearly not regarding this sequel as fans of the original film have been speculating how Chris Pine's character shows up in "the present" (that being, natch, 1984) looking pretty much like he did seventy years hence.

Has the creative team utilized time travel back to pull him from that plane moments before it exploded? Did Wonder Woman (or perhaps the new villain) manage to keep some of Trever's DNA and thus clone him a decade before Dolly the sheep grabbed all the headlines and dinosaurs made a mess of a theme park? Or maybe all involved are going for the fateful romance across realms la Patrick Swayze in "Ghost."

No, the element here is the old make-a-wish story element plot but Diana/Wonder Woman (a still delightfully radiant Gal Gadot inhabiting the role and then some) doesn't find a trapped genie in a bottle. Instead, it's an ancient stone that has wish-giving powers and Diana first learns of it through her mousey Smithsonian Museum colleague, gemologist Barbara Minerva (Kristin Wiig).

When a coworker mentions wishing for coffee, it's suddenly there, and with Diana stating she knows what she'd wish for, it's not long before Steve shows up, all fish out of watery in amazement at the advances (ranging from Pop-Tarts to an escalator to space rockets) that have come around since he last was on terra firma.

To no one's surprise in the audience, such wish-granting powers lure in the film's villain, the fake it till you make it oil tycoon wannabe, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal). At the same time, Barbara wishes to be more like the sexy and cool Diana, all of which means she's going to groove on suddenly being noticed by others and being powerful, with a growing appetite for more of the latter.

With unrest, chaos, and bedlam then arising because of too many people having their wishes granted, it's up to Wonder Woman to save the day, albeit in a progressively weakened state thanks to the side effects of having one's wish fulfilled.

Much like last time around, the film's third act is the weakest, mainly because the villains and their agendas simply aren't that interesting, all of which gives the last part of this offering sort of a fourth or fifth season vibe of a Wonder Woman TV show once the ideas started drying up.

That said, it's still a blast watching Gadot portray the character, the action scenes involving her are handled well, and the chemistry with Pine is still spot on, as are the bits of interspersed humor.

My only wish -- beyond editor Richard Pearson removing at least 30 minutes from the two-and-a-half-hour runtime -- would have been that the rest of the flick was just as fun and engaging. It's not bad by any means, but it really needed to be better if they're going to somehow bring back the WWI era flyboy yet again. "Wonder Woman 1984" rates as a 6 out of 10.

Reviewed December 18, 2020 / Posted December 25, 2020

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