'Wonder Woman 1984' is two movies: a fun one, and a bloated, grandiose one

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4 min read
fairly difficult
Sequel to the hit 2017 film pivots from light and playful to drearily overblown.
At least for a while, "Wonder Woman 1984" carries that groundbreaking realization with a lightness that was the first movie's secret all along. As the title suggests, "WW84" takes place in the 1980s, when the dress-for-success rules included commuter tennis shoes and linebacker-worthy shoulder pads. Throughout much of the film, women get hit on, harassed and assaulted with grim regularity, presumably to remind the #MeToo-era audience that, as Gloria Steinem famously observed, sexist depredations women routinely suffered were once just called "life."

That recurring motif is the closest thing to feminist polemic in a movie that's more interested in getting on with it — with humor, bravado and panache — than proving a point. "WW84" opens with a glorious set piece on the Amazonian island Themyscira, where a young Diana (Lilly Aspell) is participating in a contest of endurance, skill and physical derring-do. As she makes her way through the daunting obstacle course, it's clear that the only way out is through — by way of somersaults, pirouettes, impressive trick-riding and giant leaps for womankind.

Little Diana learns a life lesson that day at the hands of her elders (Connie Neilsen and Robin Wright), having to do with patience, diligence and honesty. At that point, "WW84" cuts to "present" day, when grown-up Diana (Gal Gadot) is working at the Smithsonian and Washington, D.C., is awash in such Eighties-tastic signifiers as inline skates, leg-warmers, popped collars, packed shopping malls and Reagan-era greed, personified by a TV scam artist named Maxwell Lord (Pedro…
Ann Hornaday
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