By Dominic Messier, Founder, Editor and Fan of All Things Amazonian
Here it is, the much awaited, much delayed DC Extended Universe sequel we’d hoped to catch earlier in the year, before the Covid-19 pandemic created a rescheduling nightmare for the majority of film studios.
Gal Gadot is back in the titular role, this time in a flashback tale set in the 1980s, an age of materialistic excess which happens to fit the movie’s theme to a tee, also given the piece’s lengthy running time, bloated plot and ever-so-slow pace.
You may find yourself wishing it hadn’t been released at all, despite a handful of worthwhile action sequences. Read on.
Over sixty years have passed since the events of the first movie (which had been set during the First World War), and Diana, Princess of Themyscira (Gal Gadot), has been living in relative obscurity, hiding in plain sight working jobs where her considerable knowledge of history serves her well, while also saving lives and fighting crime as Wonder Woman.
Now working at the Smithsonian in 1984, and still mourning the loss of her true love Steve Trevor in the late 1910s, Diana stumbles upon an artifact being logged by a mousy gemologist named Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), both women unaware that the piece is actually an ancient device known as the Dreamstone, which may have the ability to grant one’s wishes – at a price.
It isn’t long before an industrious but failed businessman named Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) predictably seizes the item for his own nefarious ends, causing all manner of global strife. It’s up to Diana to try and stop Lord, while also dealing with the fact that her true love may be back from the dead (see: artifact) and her work colleague’s harmless wish may be making more powerful than she ever imagined.
Add to this a few hours’ worth of layer upon layer of subplots involving oil reserves, nukes, drunken louts, flashy 80s fashions and some questionable CGI shots, and you’ll get an idea of how much you’re getting out of this film.
Given the complex machine that is Hollywood’s release calendar on the PR level, one must wonder whether there had been unexpected script rewrites or reshoots at play, given that this was originally scheduled to be released over a year ago, well before the entire global pandemic could have been used as an excuse to wreak havoc on theatrical premieres dates.
That said, the film’s premise, while entertainingly shiny given the titular setting (neon colors and all) is incredibly uneven, with watered down villains that either barely register or attempt to fulfill their true potential wayyy too late in the game.
This leaves us with a whole lot of the considerable running time (2h30 plus) rejoicing at the mysterious reunion between Diana and Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor (did we mention there was a wish-granting element to the plot?), a pairing most of us had gladly praised in the 2017 film.
So why then does half of the villainous roster only comes to bear fruit as advertised, nearly 90 percent of the way through the film? That, along with whether Maxwell Lord was really the right pick for a sequel baddie, is a very good question we’ll never get the answer to. Instead, we’re given an interminable, snail’s pace tale that almost feels more at home on the 1970s live-action TV show, than in theaters and on demand this Christmas Day.
So, you may ask yourself, are there ANY redeeming qualities to this second chapter in the WW franchise, after Gadot’s introductory appearance in Wonder Woman and a previously strong supporting role in Justice League? Well, for one thing, much time is spent exploring how Diana has matured as a woman, despite being an ageless, immortal Amazon, which plays well for a while, without being a sufficient substitute for a worthwhile plot.
Now a seasoned member of humanity and its cultural richness, Diana’s story is no longer a fish out of water tale, but rather one of finding purpose in a world gone crazy with excess, war, greed and jealousy.
Sadly, it’s also an overly long affair, one that drags all too much, with some unexpected nuggets thrown in for good measure (please don’t get me started on a so-called invisible plane bit.)
Yes, this is a new addition to the DCEU, and yes, it introduces some characters from the storied library of heroes and villains from a hefty comic book catalogue. If only it had done so with tighter structure, better pacing and without a lopsided script, it might have made for a more enjoyable film, much like the first one.
Enjoy the opening five minutes: It’s about the only part of this project that will look at all familiar. The rest of it (except for a cute post-credit tribute) will feel like it’s been Scotch-taped together on a VCR splicer, without a clear idea of what the finished product was supposed to be in the first place.