The DC Universe (DCU), the studio behind the Batman and Superman franchise, has arguably played second fiddle to the phenomenally successful Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). That was until the original “Wonder Woman” was released, receiving rave reviews and generating great business, proving a female lead character could mix it up with the boys.
Fast forward three years and director Patty Jenkins has decided to place the story back in time, 1984 to be precise, with brightly coloured outfits, fanny packs, break-dancing and wide shoulder pads all the rage.
Following an interesting albeit heavily CGI augmented opening sequence with a young Diana (Lilly Aspell) performing super hero feats in a games arena back on her world Themyscira, we catch up with “Diana” (Gal Gadot), working as an anthropologist at the Smithsonian back on earth.
Being beautiful with superpowers has meant she remains lonely without her previous love of her life “Steve” (Chris Pine) and slowly befriends shy newcomer “Barbara Minerva” (Kristen Wiig), who remains envious of Diana’s beauty and confidence.
Enter walking Ponzi scheme “Maxwell Lord” (Pedro Pascal), a smooth fast talking oil tycoon, keen to become a benefactor of the museum, disguising his real interest in a “Dreamstone” aka Movie McGuffin to drive the story. The dreamstone of course can make any wish come true, although Lord goes one step further in his desire to “become” the dreamstone.
The 80’s was all about guilt free excess and conspicuous consumption, exemplified by “Gordon Gekko’s” famous speech “Greed is good” from the famous “Wall Street” movie. The moral of the story being, be careful what you wish for and any desire may and likely will, detrimentally impact someone else, like a worldwide domino effect.
Despite some impressively staged action sequences the movie is not as coherent as the first film, which remains better in every aspect. The chemistry between Pine (no spoiler, it’s in the trailer) and Gadot feels more strained this time around and the film runs long with sequences, cue fireworks, that appear to act as undeniably pretty padding.
Gadot makes for an engaging and undeniably beautiful presence and Wiig is very effective in early scenes where her comedic talents are on full display. As her character develops and becomes ultimately a CGI “Cats” (Cheeta) gone wrong caricature, her ability to act lessens and becomes ineffective.
It’s good to see Pascal finally unmasked after his hugely successful turns in “The Mandalorian” but has little to work with here, assigned a cartoonish character which unbalances the film.
The ending is somewhat trite and really makes little sense and yet again has no real place in what should be a colourful, escapist piece of entertainment.
A disappointing sequel to one of the best superhero films and despite a few high points remains messy and fails to fulfill the promise of the earlier film, despite a great “Blue Monday” backed initial trailer.
Another film caught in the COVID cinematic black out, albeit arguably avoiding steep “second week” box office drops once the mixed reviews came in.