Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

[5.0]

Gal Gadot returns as Wonder Woman in Patty Jenkins’ more fanciful sequel, Wonder Woman 1984. The muddled plot introduces a mysterious ‘dreamstone’ that grants one wish to whoever holds it. Gadot’s Diana Prince wishes for the return of her one true love, played by returning co-star Chris Pine. An envious colleague played by Kristen Wiig wishes to be like Diana — not realizing the wish comes with superpowers. Also thrown into the mix is Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian) as a Trump-like celebrity con-man who steals the dreamstone to wreak havoc on the world in ways that aren’t just hard for me explain — but hard for me to understand.

Wonder Woman 1984 is a bit of a hot mess, but not a completely un-enjoyable one. Gadot, Pine, Wiig, and Pascal are all lively enough to keep me watching. Jenkins also delivers a handful of cool fight scenes and moments of visual splendor. But the sequel is markedly less grounded than the original film. There’s no proper lead-up to elements that strain our suspension of disbelief. The stone unceremoniously appears out of a mall jewelry store. Chris Pine returns in an equally innocuous fashion. Then there’s the invisible jet. And then there’s the fact that Kristen Wiig’s character suddenly manifests for the third act as a half-woman, half-cat creature without any explanation as to how or why. If she wanted to be a superhero, why one with fur and a tail? The film also suffers from having way too much faith in humanity to save themselves — this didn’t work for me in Ghostbusters II or The Dark Knight, and it doesn’t work for me here, either.

Jenkins, who co-authored the story, counts on a few big emotional scenes to work like gangbusters, with Hans Zimmer and temp music from Sunshine working overtime to sell the magic. But any dramatic weight is undercut by the film’s… well, silliness. Silliness doesn’t have to be a bad thing, either. Other franchises like Gremlins or The Texas Chain Saw Massacre spawned sillier but still satisfying sequels. The problem comes when you try to mix gravitas in with your silliness. It makes a mess. It makes a Wonder Woman 1984.

With cameos by Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen.

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