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Wonder Woman 1984

Wonder Woman 1984 – In theaters December 25, 2020

 

Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics

Starring:  Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, and Robin Wright.

The lessons of “Wonder Woman 1984” are a bit like the movie itself: familiar, direct and winningly sincere. “No true hero is born from lies.” “Greatness is not what you think.” “Beware what you wish for.” There’s a prosaic quality to these cautionary statements, which might have elicited an eye-roll in less assured hands. But here, as in the enormously successful “Wonder Woman” (2017), the director Patty Jenkins and her star, Gal Gadot, have mastered the art of cornball conviction. If what you wish for this season is high spirits, earnest emotions and the unironically delightful sight of Chris Pine in a fanny pack, well, consider it granted.

This extravagant, genially overstuffed sequel may be a product of 2020, but its spirit feels gratifyingly in sync with 1984 — a year that, for all its Orwellian associations, predates the chaos and cynicism of our pandemic-stricken, politically deranged moment. And our comic-book movie craze, too: Jenkins (who wrote the script with Geoff Johns and Dave Callaham) channels a moment when blockbuster imperatives, while hardly absent, had not yet pummeled the industry into submission. In 1984, while the likes of Indiana Jones, the Ghostbusters and Gremlins were dominating the box office, one of the few superhero pictures of any note was the ill-fated “Supergirl.”

As it happens, “Wonder Woman 1984” is one of the few superhero pictures of any note this year, albeit for very different reasons. On Dec. 25, kicking off a new Warner Bros. strategy that has angered many in the industry, the movie will be released simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. (In the interests of public safety, Wonder Woman herself would urge you toward the latter.) The pandemic’s toll on moviegoing, and the temporary suspension of our collective blockbuster fatigue, may account in part for why this picture makes such welcome company. But it also has something to do with Gadot’s Old Hollywood glamour, Pine’s second-banana appeal and the serio-comic elasticity of Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal in key supporting roles. They’re all distinctive parts in a smooth-running narrative engine that channels the buoyancy and big-hearted spectacle of the Richard Donner “Superman” movies, with a few period-appropriate nods to body-swap comedies for good measure.

*Available on HBO Max in the US only at no extra cost to subscribers.

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