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iReview | WONDER WOMAN 1984

The Amazing Amazon is back! And in the follow-up to the blockbuster hit, Gal Gadot returns as the DC Comics heroine, facing off against one of her most ferocious adversaries, and confronting the loss of her one true love in Wonder Woman 84 directed by Patty Jenkins.

In the opening moments of Wonder Woman 1984, we’re reintroduced to the paradise island home of Princess Diana, experienced through the youthful vigor of a still-emerging girl determined to prove her self-worth and completely unaware of the greater destiny that awaits her. This Amazon princess (deliciously played by Lilly Aspell, reprising her role from the 2017 film) is eager to prove to everyone, especially her mother and her aunt, Antiope (Robin Wright) the general of the Amazon armies, that she’s every bit as capable as any of her Amazon sisters, competing in the island’s highest competitive match.

As the prologue unravels, Little Diana is angling herself into Themyscira’s gladiatorial games. For the uninitiated, “Themyscira” is the proper name for the Paradise Island home of the Amazon; hidden from the outside world, and especially the prying eyes of man, it is a society of women dedicated solely to the pursuits of harmony through the arts, philosophy, and feats of unparalleled physical supremacy, marking the Amazons among the mythological world’s most able warriors on the field. Diana (Aspell) is the only child born and raised on the island, the daughter of Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), who watches closely from above the arena.

Diana throws herself into the relay race, sprinting like a gazelle; her Amazonian sisters competing vigorously and aggressively, not showing the princess any favoritism. She leaps through the air with the grace of a goddess, she jumps through hoops and dives from a dizzying height into the blue seas surrounding the island. Her skills on horseback and archery put her surprisingly in the lead until she stumbles — her overconfidence getting the better of her. Losing her advantage, Diana has seconds to get back in the race and she quickly assesses the situation finding a shortcut. Now back in the race, she makes her climactic final dash to the finish line…

Nearing her final challenge, the young princess steadies her arm and takes aim at the bullseye and just as she prepares to take that final shot, her victory is snagged out from under her! Antiope (Wright) removes her from the race and offers her some very important advice: you took the short path. Diana had cheated and that was the truth. “You cannot be the winner, because you are not ready to win. No true hero is born from lies.” A true warrior is born of patience and diligence, and the courage to face the truth. The Queen consoles her daughter who like any child in the same position would require coddling so close to winning.

On Paradise Island not everyone is handed a trophy just for participating; victories are earned. IN the sequel to director Patty Jenkins franchise hit, the film transcends on the theme: everything worth having in life, is earned — and it’s earned truthfully. That Wonder Woman 1984 is finally available for public appreciation is in itself a feat almost as impressive as any challenge in the gladiator games in its open. The pandemic prevented the film, which would have been this season’s first box office blockbuster from premiering properly in theaters; instead, the studio Warner Bros opted for a limited run over the holidays, and a showing on HBO Max.

Fans who were hoping to see it on the big screen settled for the newly launched subscriber streaming service and tuned in at noon on December 25th when the film premiered; the first offering on HBO Max to be presented in 4K Ultra HD. At the same time, Warner Bros studio announced that due to the concerns over the pandemic, its entire line-up of 2021 releases would get simultaneous releases on HBO Max, so there’s a lot riding on how well WW84 performs. For the record: the film is not at all “bad” — you may have heard contrary to belief across the world wide web. It is exactly what WB and DC had promised to deliver: a superhero movie!

At the center of it is Gal Gadot returning in the titular role as the iconic DC Comics character, the brainchild of William Moulton Marston, the same guy who is responsible for giving us the lie detector. It’s not a coincidence that one of Wonder Woman’s gifts is a magical lasso that when used to ensnare her adversary, forces the individual to tell the truth! The truth is WW84 is dependent on the audience dispelling every preconceived notion that they may have had about the blockbuster. Sure, we’ve been waiting forever for this film, and it’s the fourth outing for Gadot as the heroine, but the success of the first was groundbreakingly elevating the film’s expectations.

Flashing Back!

Set against the backdrop of 1984, an era often categorized by its need for greed and the epitome of the “me” culture, which drove everyone to mine Wall Street and dive into every get rich quick scheme imaginable, Diana has now lived an island onto herself, protecting the innocent and evading recognition, while mourning the loss of her one true love, WWI pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). After foiling a jewelry store heist, amidst the items is a totem of considerable power, a precious stone that lands in the hands of an expert Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) who is unaware of its ability to grant to bearer their greatest wish.

Maxwell Lord, a scheming con man played by Pedro Pascal wants to control the totem’s power and turn his fortunes around. Through his Blackgold Cooperative, Lord has convinced millions: all you need to win is to want it! Both Diana and Barbara become susceptible to the power of the totem! It grants Barbara her greatest wish: to become more powerful and self-reliant…more like Wonder Woman. And for Diana, it restores her one true love: Steve Trevor, who reincarnates through a poor, innocent man (whom we are left to believe his own life is inconsequential as he carries on the adventure with Diana). Maxwell Lord will stop at nothing to become the stone!

The plot of Wonder Woman 1984, becomes a cat and mouse game as she circles the world to find Lord and prevent him from using his newly derived “influence” to take over the world, at the cost of everything that Diana holds dear. Barbara Minerva evolves into the feral fatale known to comic book fans as The Cheetah, and in order to stop Lord, Diana must “let go” of Trevor. As inconsistent and as confusing as some plot points are to follow (mainly our villains’ motivations), Gadot is able to stay true to form, and Jenkins is determined to steer the ship on course, and the plot holes get quickly swallowed up by the amazing set pieces of the film.

Everyone has been looking forward to seeing the fabled Golden Armor fully realized on the big screen, and it doesn’t disappoint, the battle between a fully cat-like Cheetah and Diana is to dark and lost in the shadows to be appreciated, but Wiig is more than a match and is fun to watch as she declines into the dark side. Pine is wonderfully irreverent as Steve Trevor, and although Pascal has been elevated due to his role on The Mandalorian he doesn’t really bring the gravitas to Maxwell Lord that marks him as one of Wonder Woman’s most dangerous enemies. Wonder Woman 1984 is everything WW fans will want it to be and is a fun romp.

If it’s true that it is the “filling” of a trilogy for this story arc, then it’s next chapter has to be a crowning achievement worthy of the Wonder Woman legacy…and that’s the truth!

Wonder Woman 84 | starring Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, and Pedro Pascal | directed by Patty Jenkins is in theaters now and also available to watch on HBO Max in a 4K presentation.

Note | This is “Part 1” in a 3-part feature.


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