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4K Ultra HD Review: Wonder Woman 1984

March 30, 2021

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) returns in Wonder Woman 1984, a brightly coloured followup to her excellent 2017 solo film that updates the action from World War I to the Reagan era.

Where as the first Wonder Woman was a fairly grounded war movie, this one is a big, cheesy ’80s action movie. How you feel about this massive tonal shift will likely determine how much enjoyment you get out of this somewhat bloated but still easily watchable sequel, which sets itself apart by leaning into the aesthetic of America in the 1980s.

Patty Jenkins returns to direct Wonder Woman 1984, and while the storytelling itself is quite a bit messier this time around, she once again demonstrates her strong ability to craft large scale action sequences involving the iconic title character. The film opens with a pretty stirring sequence on Themyscira, where we follow along as a young Diana (Lilly Aspell) competes against the other Amazon warriors in a sort of Cirque du Soleil-inspired Olympic games involving a series of obstacle courses.

The action then shifts to Washington, D.C., where the adult Diana has now relocated, with Jenkins staging a super fun sequence that finds a fully costumed Wonder Woman chasing a gang of robbers through a gleaming 1980s shopping mall. It’s a massive set-piece that showcases this sequel’s brighter colours and more humorous action, recalling the big action comedies of the ’80s, while also showing off the fashion and hair-dos of the decade.

True to its time period, the sequence was also impressively pulled off mostly through practical effects, including real stunts and a lot of wire work, and it delivers in terms of grand spectacle. It also sets the plot in motion. We soon find out that the robbers were trying to get away with the mythic Dreamstone, which was being sold at an illegal antiques market at the mall. The magical citrine crystal, which has the power to grant any wish, ends up being sent to the Smithsonian, where Diana now works as a curator, for safe keeping. But things start to go wrong as the Dreamstone changes hands.

The new characters include Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a socially awkward gemologist who becomes both friend and foe to Diana, when she uses the powers of the stone to morph into the CGI Cheetah. The film’s main villain is Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a struggling oil magnate who wants to use the Dreamstone to enrich himself. Pascal really leans in to his role as a comic book villain, hamming it up every chance he gets and delivering an intentionally over the top, meme-generating performance that almost approaches Nicholas Cage levels of scenery-chewing. Let’s just say it’s an acting choice that sometimes works better than others.

One of the more awkward subplots involves the return of Diana’s late love interest, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Don’t get me wrong, it’s super enjoyable to see Pine back in the role, and he is as charming as ever. But it’s the way they go about bringing his character back that didn’t quite work for me, with a random man (Kristoffer Polaha) being unwittingly used as a vessel for him through the magic of the Dreamstone. I feel like there was probably a better way to bring him back that didn’t involve Diana commandeering some random dude’s body, and it’s hard to look past the weird and creepy sexual politics of her using someone else’s body for her own pleasure.

I really wanted to love Wonder Woman 1984, and there certainly are things to enjoy about it, including some solid action sequences and the enjoyable ‘80s setting. Gadot herself remains an inspired casting choice, perfectly embodying both the optimism and strength of the classic character, while showcasing her badass fighting skills. But the film also suffers from a bloated running time and a little too much of, well, everything, with a meandering story that lacks needed focus.

This is ultimately a classic example of bigger not always being better, and by the final stretch of the two-and-half-hour running time, it becomes a bit exhausting. It’s not bad, and it is consistently entertaining to watch, but Wonder Woman 1984 is also a marked step down from the first film, which remains one of the best films in the DCEU. With that said, there are still enough individual moments here to make this sequel worth a rental.

Bonus Features (4K Ultra HD):

Following its day-and-date release in selected theatres and on PVOD on Christmas, Wonder Woman 1984 is arriving on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD today. I was sent the 4K set for review, which comes with a regular Blu-ray disc that holds a number of bonus features. A digital copy code is also included in the package, which ships with a nice slipcover.

The Making of Wonder Woman 1984: Expanding the Wonder (36 minutes, 23 seconds): A decent overview of the film’s production, from developing the story based on different elements from the comic books, to staging the film’s action sequences.

Gal & Kristen: Friends Forever (5 minutes, 10 seconds): This featurette offers a closer look at the off-screen friendship that formed between Gadot and Wiig, with the two of them laughing and dancing together between takes.

Small But Mighty (10 minutes, 44 seconds): A closer look at the film’s opening sequence that introduces us to Aspell, the child actress who plays young Diana. We learn that the young star did all of her own stunts, which is a truly impressive feat.

Scene Study: The Open Road (6 minutes, 11 seconds): An in-depth look at a Middle East chase sequence that was impressively done using practical effects, including the flipping of a truck.

Scene Study: The Mall (5 minutes, 3 seconds): An in-depth look at the aforementioned mall chase, which was shot in a real old mall, with the production design team brilliantly recreating a full 65 stores complete with products from the 1980s. We also get a look at the practical stunts and intricate wire work that allowed Gadot to really fly through the air. It’s pretty incredible to see how they pulled it off, and it makes you appreciate the sequence even more.

Gal & Krissy Having Fun (1 minute, 12 seconds): A short music video that Gadot and Wiig shot together on set, presented on an old TV.

Meet the Amazons (21 minutes, 28 seconds): A virtual roundtable from last year’s DC FanDome event, featuring Jenkins and Aspell along with other members of the production team and supporting cast of Amazon warriors.

Black Gold Infomercial (1 minute, 38 seconds): A fake, vintage TV commercial for Maxwell Lord’s oil company.

Gag Reel (6 minutes, 26 seconds): A collection of clips of the actors cracking up, with Gadot and Pine amusing each other during flubbed takes.

Wonder Woman 1984 Retro Remix (1 minute, 40 seconds): A vintage trailer for the film, mixing live action clips and animation.

Wonder Woman 1984 is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release. It’s 151 minutes and rated PG.

Street Date: March 30th, 2021

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