‘Wonder Woman 1984,’ plot fails to outshine enhanced visuals (4K Ultra HD movie review)
The latest big-budgeted, live-action movie starring DC Comics’ famed Amazonian princess and Justice League founding member moves from select theaters and HBO Max to ultra-high-definition home theaters in Wonder Woman 1984 (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Rated: PG-13, 2.39:1 and 1.90:1 aspect ratio, 151 minutes, $44.95).
What perhaps might go down as the “Heaven’s Gates” (remember that one Cimino fan) of superhero movies for its bloated budget and indulgent run time offers director Patty Jenkins’ vision of a hero in search of truth within a simplistic plot that’s more exhausting than entertaining.
The story finds Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), haunted by the loss of her beloved Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) from roughly 65 years earlier.
She now works at a Smithsonian Museum and lives a lonely existent, when her alter ego is not stopping criminals.
After petty thieves unsuccessfully try to steal a powerful artifact called the Dreamstone (granting the owner one wish), she and two others come into contact with it and are profoundly affected by the stone’s effects.
First, a bumbling co-worker Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) becomes super-powered and a supervillain and, more dangerous, an oil tycoon megalomaniac named Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) wields its power at its most extreme while looking to control the world.
Diana’s stone encounter and wish oddly reunites her with Steve as his essence takes control of another man’s body, and she falls right back in love with him barely questioning the dead hero’s return.
Of course, she’ll need to resolve her dilemma with Steve as well as stop the evil Max Lord and his new minion, the Cheetah.
Miss Gadot continues to be the perfect choice for Wonder Woman
But she spends more time as Diana directing the labored, extended plot rather than being an onscreen wonder.
And, as with the last film, the chemistry between her and Mr. Pine is the best part of the movies.
That’s also a bad sign knowing the fate of her beloved, meaning the next movie will sorely miss that spark between the two actors.
Additionally, the film suffers from multiple villain-itis with familiar focus issues, playing out like a bland “Batman Forever” and never spending enough time exploring Miss Wiig’s transformation into the furry and clawed Cheetah.
In total, Miss Jenkins was unable to replicate the wondrous magic of her 2017 “Wonder Woman” film but still delivers a standard-issue superhero comic movie for fans, though in dire need of an editor.
Wonder Woman 1984 4K in action:
Culled from a mixture of film, 2K and IMAX 4K sources from the digital intermediate, the presentation comes to visually dynamic life through its costuming and overboard special effects sequences.
Moments such as Diana wearing a flowing white dress while walking with Steve on the National Mall in front of the Washington Monument as well as a Fourth of July fireworks show flown through by Steve and Diana in an invisible jet both take full advantage of the high dynamic range color and lighting variations as well as intense clarity afforded in a UHD experience.
Details captured such as Wonder Woman grabbing bullet mid-air with her golden lasso or admiring Wonder Woman flying above the clouds as well as wearing a legendary Amazonian winged suit of golden armor worn are all reference quality moments.
Especially clarified was watching the athletic challenge on Themyscira in a nearly screen-filling, IMAX aspect ratio. Although, I am still scratching my head at why the ending scene of Diana enjoying the winter holidays was also in the IMAX ratio.
Suffice it to report, it’s a great-looking transfer of a not-so-great movie.
Wonder Woman 1984 Best extras:
An included Blu-ray disc contains a 36-minute overview of the product covering the story, the villains, casting, character motivations, costuming, sets, practical stunts, shooting at D.C. landmarks, bringing the 1980s back, and the appearance of Linda Carter (the 1970s TV “Wonder Woman”).
All are often explained by Miss Jenkins, Miss Gadot, Miss Wiig, producer and co-writer Geoff Johns (acting as comic book historian), Mr. Pascal, Mr. Pine, production designer Aline Bonetto, costume designer Lindy Hemming — each offering multiple rounds of back-patting and gushing over each other’s work.
Next, take 21 minutes to watch a social distanced, virtual roundtable discussion with roughly a dozen folks recorded at last year’s DC FanDome focused on the opening scene of the film that explored the physical Olympic-style challenge on Themyscira island (a crucial part of Wonder Woman’s origin story in comics).
Moderated by actor Tiffany Smith, it features Miss Jenkins, Miss Hemming, Miss Bonetto, trainer Jenny Pacey and cast members that played some of the athletic Amazons, including Lilly Aspell (young Diana), Briony Scarlett, Jade Johnson, and Miranda Chambers.
Next, and great companion piece to the roundtable, is a 10-minute further exploration on the production of the Themyscira games focused on the fearless performance of Miss Aspell
that includes her audition tape from 2015 as well as stunt work and horse riding.
Round out the extras with five minutes of Miss Gadot and Miss Wiig explaining the relationship of their characters and watching their hijinks on the set; and a gag reel that is actually funny. We get six minutes of Miss Gadot loving to laugh while being charming and silly.
And, perhaps my favorite of the generous bunch, is a remix of the opening credits from the 1970s’ “Wonder Woman” television with the new cast including using that awesome theme song.
Those who use the included streaming code to watch the film on iTunes will also find an exclusive, six-minute motion comic called “Museum Mayhem” featuring the art of Bret Belvins.
Acting as a prologue to the events of the movie, the slightly animated illustrations have Wonder Woman and some young friends stopping terrorists from stealing the Noble Diamond from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
• This story originally appeared in The Washington Times.