Linda Cook review: ‘Wonder Woman 84’ flies into theaters, tablets, phones

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It’s not a “wonder,” but this “Woman” still is entertaining and fun.

“Wonder Woman 1984” will make history on Christmas Day when it opens on HBO Max and also opens in theaters.

This wasn’t the original plan, of course. The first “Wonder Woman” was a theatrical blockbuster, bringing in $820 million worldwide.

Who could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic would not only close theaters for a time but also productions, leaving theater chains worried about their futures and studios turning to streaming options?

On Christmas Day, you might watch “WW84” on the big screen or on your smartphone. Wherever you see it, you’ll be part of a quickly changing world – just as the heroine in this film is.

Before we see Gal Gadot return as Diana/Wonder Woman, we see a flashback of her as a girl in a competition (she’s played by Lily Aspell as a child.) On the island of Themyscira, Diana joins other women athletes and learns a lesson about truth she takes with her into adulthood.

The rest of the movie is set in 1984, where Diana woks with antiquities at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. It doesn’t take long for her to spring into action as Wonder Woman.

And right after that, the movie becomes a glamorized retelling of the short horror story “The Monkey’s Paw,” written by W. W. Jacobs and first published in 1902. (The story even is referenced by one of the characters.)

 Diana finds the Dreamstone, which can grant anyone who touches it a wish. But a TV con artist named Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal in the title character of the hit series “The Mandalorian.”)

Max touches the stone and goes mad with power. “Be careful what you wish for,” indeed.

Then there’s Kristen Wiig as Barbara, Diana’s coworker who wants to be as cool as Diana, and she uses the stone, too.

Director Patty Jenkins (“Monster”) brings out the female power here to enjoyable effect. The visuals are glorious, especially when chaos begins to erupt.  

Gadot is terrific as the strong, smart woman who is haunted by loss.

It’s not as original as the first movie, or as compelling, but it’s a solid segue into the next chapter of this franchise that will continue to lasso audiences for years to come.

3 out of 4 stars.

Running time: 2 ½ hours.

Rated: PG-13 for violence and other adult themes.

At Cinemark, Davenport; Palms 10, Muscatine; and other theaters; and streaming on HBO Max.

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