Arts & Leisure

Gal’s great, “WW84” is just good

GAL GADOT as Wonder Woman in “WW84,” released on Friday both in cinemas and on HBO Max.

By Jim Tortolano

One of the most likable female stars in film today is Gal Gadot, but not all her movies are as wonderful as she is. Even when she’s playing Wonder Woman.

“WW84” is the sequel to the 2017 smash hit superhero film about the Amazon princess (Diana Prince) who leaves her island to visit Man’s World to smash bad guys and break some hearts.

When we last saw her – discounting Diana’s roles in “Batman vs. Superman” and “Justice League” – she had just ended World War One, fallen in love and then saw her man die.

But being immortal, she is still alive and looking stunning almost 60 years later. Her status as a female version of Superman is very much on the down-low, despite the fact that she does a fair amount of rescuing people in what amounts to a red-gold-and-blue bathing suit.

Patty Jenkins, who directed the first film, drew elaborate praise for crafting a story that hit the sweet spot between a physically and morally admirable warrior and a lady with a weakness for babies and true love.

However, “WW84” heads off in a different direction. The film starts with a stirring athletic contest nearly won by young Diana (Lilly Aspell), and then segues into a too-long tour of Eighties America. It’s leg warmers, techno music and Walkmans from sea to shining sea.

Her chief antagonist is Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a TV reality star and huckster who turns out to be all hat and no cattle. However, he does come upon a magic artifact that grants wishes, but at a price.

The moral theme of the film is clearly that anything achieved unfairly can backfire, or – to put it another way – be careful what you wish for.

In the course of this, Diana’s long-lost love – Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) – reappears from the dead. Much fun ensues with him dressing in all the ugliest Eighties fashions, including a fanny pack, which he amusingly wears in front.

The second villain – sort of – is Kristen Wiig as a klutzy scientist whose own wish to be popular and powerful goes sideways as she turns into “Cheetah.”  The inevitable battle ensues between two pretty women in skintight costumes. You can almost hear the unenlightened men in the audience hissing “Catfight! Meoooww!”

Lord pursues his own greedy, oily path that ends up with him in The White House. Lord’s unruly hair and craving of approval set up an obvious attempt to parallel him with the present occupant of the Oval Office.

There are some nice moments here, with a touch of Indiana Jones, but it goes on too long and too much is left unexplained. At two hours and 35 minutes, there’s too much Spandex and not enough of the heart that made “Wonder Woman” so, well, wonderful.

P.S. Stick around after credits roll for a fun cameo.

“WW84” is rated PG-13 for superhero violence and a child in peril.





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