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WONDER WOMAN 84 (2020) (Read 1132 times)
Dec 29th, 2020 at 9:52pm

L.A. Connection   Offline
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Patty Jenkins' WONDER WOMAN (2017) was a breath of fresh air in the Superhero sweepstakes, not just for its breakthrough of a successful female driven entry (something which got over-analyzed by both sides), but because of its sincere take to the character. It took the situation realistically without sacrificing a bit of fun with its comic book origins. Gal Gadot's star-making performance was earnest while still maintaining a spontaneity.
WW84 maintains that mood in a flashback prologue to young Diana on her native island of Themyscira, but, that is all tossed away once the film proper begins. The 1910's setting is similarly dispatched and we are dropped in an 80s VALLEY GIRL-like mall with Wonder Woman thwarting what seems like a small-time store robbery. Her alter ego, Diana Prince, works at a museum alongside  needy nerdy co-worker Barbara (Kristen Wiig). Wiig is fun here early on, but the character gets progressively more sour.  DC villain Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) is a Trump like shyster seen in Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous type commercials.
The McGuffin is a variation of a Magic Genie's lamp, here in the form of gemstones. Lord wants fame and power (natch). Wiig wants to be Wonder Woman and Diana wants her man back. Faster than you can say “Big” or “Somewhere In Time”...voila! Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) is back. The plot gets real messy from there with big set-pieces in the Middle East, The White House (the Reaganesque President is played by Stuart Milligan) and the USA and Soviet Union are on the brink of all out nuclear war.
All of this could have worked but the tone is literally all over the map. Returning Director Jenkins (who also co-wrote) wanted to bring Wonder Woman into the 'modern world' but the creative team really doesn't exploit the time period for either fun or symbolism. Yes, the girls have big shoulder pads and big hair and the guys wear parachute pants and pouches around their waists, but the period setting never truly pays off. The Reagan era did heighten Cold War tensions, but the chaotic ending blunts any insight.
The effects are variable but not bad,. Zimmer's score is pretty good (and a huge upgrade over Rupert Gregson-Williams' blather in the original) and Matthew Jensen's cinematography has just the right amount of authentic 80s grain (shot on film; too bad most won't be able to see it on the big screen, nor on celluloid prints).
The final act is some saving grace. Gadot's performance in the climactic scenes (especially those with Pine) finally restores some of the gravitas evident in the original picture. Unfortunately, Wiig's character morphs into Cheetah (another DC standby character) who here looks like a rejected feline from CATS (couldn't tell if there was a butt-hole). As with the rest of WW84, for every decent bit, there seems to be two that are off-key.
The superhero elephant in the room is Superman - in particular, the first pair of Christopher Reeve films of the 70s/80s. The flying, a magical romance, a night-time 'Can You Read My Mind' style sequence and the end credits etc. etc.. Superhero crossovers are the rage today (the Marvel universe is especially dependent on them), but, it's a mistake to try and graft the elements which made those films work 40 years ago upon a character of today. Jenkins et al. may have wanted to evoke the magic of SUPERMAN II -- but this one ends up more in SUPERMAN III territory (and lest we forget, III took place in 1983!).!).
« Last Edit: Jan 4th, 2021 at 7:37pm by L.A. Connection »  
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