It’s hard to capture lightning in a bottle, two times in a row. When Warner Bros. announced the sequel to Wonder Woman, I was interested to see if Patty Jenkins and Gal Godoy could pull it off – come up with a second film that would meet or exceed how great the first one was. There were high expectations for this one – the first WW movie was also the first in the DC character universe since the Christian Bale Batman trilogy to seem like anything but a dreary sodden mess. Then, the coronavirus happened, and suddenly, going to the movies was not something most people would be able to do. When Warners announced they would release WW84 on HBO, December 25th, they admitted that the movie would lose money without a theatrical release. In fact, they agreed to compensate Jenkins, Gadot, and the others with a piece of the profits, in order to take it to streaming right away.
As I write this, we’re slogging through the movie, streaming on HBO today. Warners shouldn’t have worried. I doubt this movie would have broken even, if it had debuted in movie theaters across the world. To put it in perspective, it’s not as bad as Schumacher’s disastrous “Batman and Robin,” but it’s worse, by an order of magnitude, than “Justice League,” “Superman V. Batman,” and “Suicide Squad.”
I’ve not sat through this kind of overwrought, under-thought, and over-produced dreck for some time. The question is, why?
I don’t know much about the production of the movie, but if IMDb is to be believed, we’re likely talking about director/producer/writer Patty Jenkins at ground zero of this crap fest. This has all the tells of someone who fell into the trap of thinking her excrement doesn’t stink. And she likely was told at every opportunity, to load the script up with “messages.” I remember when the message of an action/adventure movie was no more complicated than “good guys win/bad guys lose.” In this movie, there were a series of Leftist talking points they used to hit us over the head. Female empowerment? Check. Make President Reagan a warmongering nut? Check. Make all the men weak and ineffective? Check. But along the way, they forgot the main thing one needs to create a successful movie: The story’s the thing. Yep. Things haven’t changed much since the days of Will Shakespeare. No story = no movie. And the story here is something of an afterthought. In a GOOD movie (like the first Wonder Woman), the story would work without CGI, killer sets, and such. In the sequel/sorta-prequel, the effects aren’t the star of the show, but they might as well be. Character arcs are more like flat lines. I pity all the hard work Gadot, Kristen Wiig and Chris Pine put into this, as it was for naught. And while Pedro Pascal made for an interesting anti-hero in “Game of Thrones,” here, he’s reduced to a scenery-chewing huckster without a clear reason to be the heavy of the piece.
The curse of the DC movies is in full swing here. I don’t know how you fix a train wreck like this. I’m sure WB will put a brave face on it, or if it gets universally panned, they’ll claim it was the ‘rona. But the if there’s a solution here, it’s to stop anointing directors as wunderkinds and stop throwing money at them.
If you have an HBO Max subscription, you can safely miss this. Better yet, go back and watch the first Wonder Woman movie. You won’t miss a thing by skipping the sequel, other than a desire to have two hours and thirty-some-odd minutes of your life back. And if you were thinking of signing up for HBO Max, don’t bother to do it for this one.