ESP’s film critic Gavin Miller got to see Wonder Woman just before the new Tier 3 announcements for Peterborough. Is this new blockbuster worth seeing, let’s find out…
It looks like Wonder Woman was going to save the cinematic period at Peterborough’s Showcase – that was until it was announced on Thursday that the city was moving into a Tier 3.
That means until the government sees fit to move the city back into Tier 2, you’ve literally got one day – Friday December 18 – to lasso this solid DC Comics sequel.
The good news is that if you can’t, the first major release since Tenet in August will be waiting for you when Covid infections in the area decrease.
Gal Gadot returns as Amazonian Princess Diana Prince in this retro 1984-set follow-up to 2017’s much-loved original – and why it’s not quite as good as the first film, it’s a competently vibrant superhero entry that will be welcomed by movie fans yearning for their big-budget blockbuster fix.
Keeping a low profile nearly 70 years after losing her true love – Chris Pine’s (Star Trek reboot) pilot Steve Trevor in the First World War – Prince works as a senior anthropologist at Washington DC’s Smithsonian Institute, while sporadically popping up to fight crime across the city, albeit trying to maintain as much anonymity as possible in the process.
But when a mysterious artefact ends up at her workplace, it changes the life of Prince’s dowdy and insecure colleague Barbara Minerva (Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig) – when it grants anyone in its vicinity one wish. And Barbara’s wish is to be as ‘special’ as the woman she idolises, Diana Prince – eventually being imbued with super-strength and cat-like agility as Wonder Woman’s arch-nemesis Cheetah.
But things are made more complex when struggling entrepreneur Maxwell Lord (The Mandalorian star Pedro ‘Din Djarin’ Pascal) gets his hands on the treasure, and wishes to become the ‘Dreamstone’ itself. Granting him power for endless wishes – and he quickly builds his oil empire and status worldwide as a consequence.
To throw another spanner in the works, Prince also inadvertently made a wish as her ex-lover Trevor literally returns from the dead – in the body of a different man in the present day. Which is undoubtedly one of the more obscure ways to have brought a character back for a sequel.
This sends the lasso-wielding Prince and Trevor globe-trotting – even using her power to turn a fighter jet invisible with a nod to comic-book lore – to bring Lord to justice as his chaotic power grows, bringing the world to the brink of nuclear catastrophe.
The only problem is that if the psychopathic Lord is taken out, both Prince – who is becoming weaker due to her wish – will lose her man forever, and Cheetah will stop at nothing to protect him, as she has no intentions to give up her new-found power that has led to her becoming ‘someone’ for the first time in her life.
This leads to a finale that betters a clutch of standalone Marvel films – with a Wonder Woman/Cheetah battle that is refreshingly less formulaic than some MCU universe endings – as 1984 really comes into its own in the final third.
But at two and a half hours it is remarkably bloated with far too much padding – particularly for the character development of Pascal’s Max Lord (who coincidentally still makes for an interesting main villain) – and does take a little while to get into full swing.
Thankfully acclaimed female director Patty Jenkins – who’s just got the Stars Wars Rogue Squadron film gig at Disney – seems to have used Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman as a template, and as soon we get through the middle-third lulls, a truly worthy blockbuster kicks in.
1984 was a very good year – and it proves to be a very good one for the First Lady of Justice League too.
ESP Rating: 3.5/5
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Pedro Pascal, Kristen Wiig, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Ravi Patel, Oliver Cotton, Kristoffer Polaha & Lynda Carter
Running Time: 2 Hrs 31 Mins
Director: Patty Jenkins
Go to www.showcasecinemas.co.uk to keep up to date on the latest film information and future showtimes at Peterborough’s Showcase Cinema de Lux.