THE MALL — "Wonder Woman 1984" has had an overall rough journey.
Warner Bros. initially announced the sequel would hit theaters on Dec. 13, 2019. That date was then moved up to Nov. 1, 2019. But then Warner Bros. pushed it back to June 5, 2020. Then COVID-19 hit the U.S. hard in March and the date was pushed to Aug. 14, 2020, only to be pushed again to Oct. 2, 2020. When that didn't come to fruition, "WW84" was finally released in theaters and on Warner's streaming service HBO Max on Christmas Day.
Many have been eagerly waiting for this sequel and had to endure disappointment after each release date change, but now you can finally see the movie.
But after all of that, is "WW84" worth a trip to the theater with a mask on or a subscription to HBO Max?
While "WW84" was fun it was lacking when put up against its predecessor. Here is why "Wonder Woman 1984" is a fun superhero movie that's disappointing overall.
What makes it superior
Gal Gadot is great
There have been some really great casting choices over the years for superheroes. Robert Downey Jr. is Tony Stark/Iron Man at this point and Christian Bale was a brilliant choice for Bruce Wayne/Batman.
But for my money, Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman is one of the best superhero castings of all time.
Gadot brings an intensity, grace and vulnerability to Diana that is a perfect fit. Her talents are on display in "WW84" and I feel like I could watch multiple movies with her as Wonder Woman even if the rest of the film falls flat. Thankfully, that's not quite the case here, but she carries the film and she is an inspired choice for Diana Prince.
The emotional impact of Steve Trevor and Diana Prince
I don't want to spoil anything, but if you have seen one trailer for "Wonder Woman 1984" then you know Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) pops back up at some point. I won't give anything away about how that happens or how it plays out, but I will say the chemistry between Gadot and Pine is tangible.
The crux of this story really lies in this relationship and it's a joy to watch it play out. There are other relationships director and co-writer Patty Jenkins tries to emotionally connect you to, but they all pale in comparison to the bond between Diana and Steve.
It's (mostly) entertaining
For the most part, "WW84" is a fun movie. The action sequences play out well being face paced and well shot. The fight choreography is impressive and the physicality of Gadot was obvious, but that of franchise newbie Kristen Wiig was a pleasant surprise.
I say it's mostly entertaining here and you'll find out why in the next section, but the majority of the movie is filled with enough action sequences, jokes and drama to keep you entertained for the long run time.
What makes it inferior
It has pacing issues
I'm fine if a movie gets slow at times or if the entire thing is a slow-burn and just lets that tension build for a majority of the movie. I'm also OK when a movie puts the pedal to the metal from the first frame and doesn't let up until the credits roll.
What I'm not OK with is when the ride halts, jerks and sputters along the way.
I'll give it to "WW84" filmmakers that they really want to set up the characters and where their psyches are at, but they take an incredibly long time to do it. It takes the movie a bit too long to get going and then when it finally does, it starts and stops and then finishes fast.
The film has a run time of two hours and 31 minutes and there are times when you really feel it. There were obvious places they could have cut things down.
One such place is in the beginning when we see Diana as a young girl. The scene is actually a lot of fun and is visually engaging, but it didn't need to be as long as it was especially when you consider how long the entire film is.
There are a few moments like that where it felt unnecessarily long and cutting those down could have helped with the overall pacing.
Motivations aren't always earned
I will make sure not to give anything away here when it comes to plot or surprises, but many characters make drastic personality changes and they don't always feel earned.
It's interesting considering how much time the movie spends setting up characters and their backstories that when some critical moments arise that require massive decisions to move the story in new directions, they're rushed or out of place.
Some of the personality changes were set up well, but others felt like they happened just because it was the right time for the movie to hit a plot point.
It lacks the charm of the first film
"Wonder Woman" is a fun and immersive film. The characters are interesting and carry great chemistry. The World War I setting envelops you and Diana's fish-out-of-water approach to the world around her is charming, to say the least.
It feels like "WW84" is missing a lot of that.
The year 1984 doesn't offer the same alluring backdrop as 1918 and the overall cast doesn't channel the same chemistry, which is disappointing. And while they flip the script and make Steve the fish out of water in 1984, it didn't bear the same innocence and fun as the original.
For me, one of the greatest scenes in any superhero film I've ever seen is the "No Man's Land" scene in the first "Wonder Woman" film. The filmmakers tried to get a similar scene in this movie, but it fell flat in comparison and this film needed that kind of "No Man's Land" moment.
It's not fair to expect the same movie in a sequel, but you can hope to feel enchanted again, and "WW84" unfortunately missed on delivering that magic.
Is it worth watching?
Overall, the movie is a fun distraction, but if you're expecting something on the level as 2017's "Wonder Woman," I'm afraid you'll be disappointed.
So is it worth the money of a subscription service or the money and risk of heading to a theater? I think it's on the border and depends on how badly you'd like to see the movie.
If you liked the first film, I don't think you'll hate this one, but you probably won't love it. If you hated the first one, then I don't think you'll be changing your mind for the second.
What parents should know
"Wonder Woman 1984" is rated PG-13 and it earns the rating.
It's much like the first film when it comes to content. Language and violence are about the same as is the sexuality factor. However, you don't see Steve Trevor's naked rear end in this movie. You do see two characters in bed together in the morning suggesting they were intimate the night before, but there is no nudity and other than a kiss, nothing happens between them.
The mayhem and chaos taking place in the film, as well as some of the villains, could be scary for younger audiences. But if the first film was OK for you, this should be fine as well.
"Wonder Woman 1984" is rated PG-13 for sequences of action and violence and is currently playing in theaters and on HBO Max.