Wonder Woman 1984

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Action;
Box Office $46.1 million;
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 UHD BD;
$35.99 3D BD Warner Archive;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of action and violence.
Stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal.

The 2017 Wonder Woman movie is pretty commonly regarded as the best of the otherwise mediocre DC Comics shared movie universe. The sequel might have some fans wondering if the first one was a fluke.

Probably not. But while Wonder Woman 1984 unmistakably shares the DNA of the original, it certainly isn’t a retread.

Taking place in a stereotypical movie version of 1984, 65 years after the World War I setting of the first one, the film finds the ageless Diana (Gal Gadot) now working in the antiquities wing of the Smithsonian while going out as Wonder Woman on a lark to stop local crimes. One, a jewelry heist, uncovers a black market smuggling ring that brings Diana into contact with an ancient stone inscribed with the power to grant wishes by an ancient trickster god of lies (one who isn’t Loki, since he plays for the other team).

Diana’s wish is for the return of her lost love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and sure enough he pops up in a way that raises some questions the movie isn’t interested in answering.

However, the stone attracts the attention of Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), a con man selling shares in a phony oil company. He wants the power to wish himself into greatness, but as we are told in a flashback prologue set during Diana’s time as a young girl participating in the Amazonian sports of Themiscyra, “greatness is not what you think.”

Diana’s attempts to stop him put her at odds with a co-worker named Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a wallflower whose wish to be more like Diana inadvertently imbues her with superpowers she’s now unwilling to give up on her path to becoming the supervillain Cheetah. However, tying such a seminal Wonder Woman villain’s origins to this story almost seems like a waste.

On the flip side, Diana discovers the price of her wish is the gradual decline of her own abilities, and as the wishing power spreads, plunging the world into chaos, she is forced to make the difficult decision most movie superheroes have to make at some point: love or duty.

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The film is visually dazzling and offers some moments that will make any superhero movie fan smile, and Wonder Woman fans in particular. For example, the film finds a neat way to work in the invisible jet that isn’t just a transparent plastic model with a doll in it.

But the film runs a bit long at two-and-a-half hours, and the over-reliance on wishes as the central plot device gets rather tedious after a while.

Even in a universe where magic is already established — Diana is the daughter of the Greek god Zeus, after all — the presentation of the wishes being granted just seems a step beyond the plausible since the movie only pays the slightest lip-service to how they are supposed to work. In a screenplay underlined by progressive misunderstandings of Reagan-era politics, the wishes serve whatever basic story points the writers require, and stand up to little scrutiny beyond that.

Which is all a means of saying the individual elements of the story as assembled don’t quite result in a completely satisfying whole. The two-villain team up is practically a superhero sequel tradition at this point, even when their pairing doesn’t seem to make sense. Tonally this type of plot wouldn’t seem too out of place in the 1970s “Wonder Woman” TV show (which, fittingly, is teased in the Blu-ray bonus materials).

The 1980s setting would seem to suggest the story is intended as a screed against the kind of selfishness and greed that are often attributed to the ’80s but are pretty universally present in any time period. But, really, the film’s message of honest work over shortcuts to achievement, and not expecting everything you want to just be handed to you, is an easy one to embrace.

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Since we’ve seen present-day Diana in Batman v Superman and Justice League, a sequel set before those films could have been a story about what brought her back to dabble in superheroism before retreating from humanity’s problems again before BvS. As it stands, WW84 doesn’t necessarily knock against the established DC movie timeline per se, but the two “Wonder Woman” movies definitely stand on their own apart from the greater franchise.

It’s especially hard to reconcile the plot of WW84 with the 2017 Justice League team-up movie, particularly the theatrical cut. It fits in a bit more with Zack Snyder’s Justice League director’s cut, but not by much. (One can only imagine what a teenage Bruce Wayne would have wished for.)

While some of its logical issues are hard to ignore, Wonder Woman 1984 does play better on multiple viewings, mostly because it’s easy enough with Blu-ray and digital copies to just go to the few good scenes. And really, whatever problems the movie has are almost an afterthought to the pure joy of a mid-credits cameo that should serve as the basis of a third film.

Wonder Woman 1984 played in theaters and streamed on HBO Max through Jan. 24, after which it was available exclusively in theaters until hitting PVOD a month before its traditional home video run.

The Blu-ray edition of Warner’s latest “Wonder Woman” adventure includes more than 90 minutes of bonus materials, consisting of a number of detailed behind-the-scenes featurettes and a few fun extras for the fans.

The best is the aforementioned 1970s tie-in, presenting footage from WW84 in the style of the 1970s “Wonder Woman” TV series, complete with the original theme song and animated transitions — and it’s also the first time we get to see Gadot do the classic “Wonder Woman spin.”

Among the other amusing extras are a six-and-a-half-minute gag reel and the raw minute-and-a-half footage from Max Lord’s in-movie “Black Gold” infomercial.

A couple more focus on the teaming of Gadot and Wiig: There’s a five-minute video about them starring together, which leads to a minute-long clip of the pair goofing around on set in the form of a “Saturday Night Live”-style video sketch (no doubt Wiig’s comedy background contributed to this one).

The primary making-of documentary runs 36 minutes and gives a good overview of the production. Tying into this are two “Scene Study” featurettes: a five-minute video focused on the opening mall rescue scene and six-minutes exploring the Middle East truck chase. The most notable aspect to these videos is how dedicated the crew was to re-creating the 1980s — building out several levels of a vintage mall with fully stocked stores, and using old-school practical stunt-work with a minimal reliance on CGI.

The rest of the footage deals with the making of the scenes at the amazonian island. There’s a 21-minute “Meet the Amazons” virtual panel from DC Fandome featuring discussions with director Patty Jenkins and a number of the women and stunt performers who played Amazonian warriors participating in the elaborate games sequences that open the film. Rounding out the presentation is an 11-minute profile of actress Lilly Aspell, who reprises her role as the pre-teen Diana from the 2017 film. The featurette includes some cute audition footage of the enthusiastic Aspell from 2015, showing off how well she makes for a younger version of Gadot.

Originally published as a streaming review Dec. 28, 2020.

Warner Sets Dates for ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ PVOD, Digital Sellthrough and Disc Release

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will bow Wonder Woman 1984 as a 48-hour premium VOD rental for $19.99 starting Feb. 12, prior to making the superhero sequel available through digital retailers March 16, and on Blu-ray, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray March 30.

The film was famously released Christmas Day concurrently in theaters and on streaming service HBO Max, the first in WarnerMedia’s pandemic strategy for its entire theatrical slate through 2021. It earned $40.3 million at the domestic box office while also being available to watch at home by HBO Max subscribers for a month.

For the first time, Warner is creating a PVOD window after the streaming release of a first-run film, perhaps indicating a change in release strategy.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, the follow-up to 2017’s Wonder Woman sees Gal Gadot returning to the title role, updating the setting from World War I Europe to Washington D.C. in the mid 1980s. The latest adventure finds the Amazonian heroine battling a megalomaniacal businessman (Pedro Pascal) who comes into possession of a magical stone that grants wishes. As the world descends into chaos as a result, she must also deal with a co-worker (Kristen Wiig) who becomes the villainous Cheetah, as well as the return of her long-dead boyfriend, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine).

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The Blu-ray and 4K combo packs will include the featurettes “The Making of Wonder Woman 1984: Expanding the Wonder,” “Gal & Kristen: Friends Forever,” “Small But Mighty,” “Gal & Krissy Having Fun” and “Meet the Amazons,” as well as “Scene Study: The Open Road” and “Scene Study: The Mall.” Other extras include a gag reel, the Black Gold Infomercial seen in the film, and a “Wonder Woman 1984 Retro Remix.”

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of Wonder Woman 1984 will feature DolbyVision HDR, which dramatically expands the color palette and contrast range, and uses dynamic metadata to automatically optimize the picture for every screen, frame by frame, as well as HDR10+, a new HDR technology that optimizes brightness levels and contrast for each scene, making bright areas brighter and dark areas darker to deliver a lifelike viewing experience. It will also feature a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

 

Warner Bros. Pictures Fast-Tracks Development on ‘Wonder Woman 3’

On the heels of a pandemic-record weekend box office for Wonder Woman 1984, Warner Bros. Pictures announced that it would fast-track development on the third installment of the “Wonder Woman” franchise to be written by Patty Jenkins, who is also attached to direct, and starring Gal Gadot.

Wonder Woman 1984 easily conquered the holiday weekend, exceeding box office projections as the top post-pandemic domestic opening weekend for any feature film this year, with $16.7 million in box office. Wonder Woman 1984 took in an estimated $36.1 million globally from 42 markets in release this weekend (including U.S. and Canada). This takes the international running total to $68.3 million, and the worldwide tally to $85 million.

“As fans around the world continue to embrace [returning to the theater], driving the strong opening weekend performance of Wonder Woman 1984, we are excited to be able continue her story with our real life Wonder Women — Gal and Patty — who will return to conclude the long-planned theatrical trilogy,” Toby Emmerich, chairman, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, said in a statement.

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Private watch parties and large-format screens (Imax, Dolby, PLF) drove ticket sales and were the most popular option among consumers. Over the weekend, over 10,000 private rentals were booked, an innovative and popular way for audiences to feel comfortable watching the film in their own social bubbles. In the U.S., only 39% of U.S. cinemas (representing 56% of the box office) are currently open at limited capacity, with closures in top markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Philadelphia, among others. WW84 is playing in more than 2,100 theaters nationwide with limited capacity. This represents about half of the locations and, in these theaters, half of the available seating compared to a pre-pandemic environment. The first Wonder Woman film was available at 4,165 theaters in 2017 at 100% seating. In Canada, only 5% of theaters (representing 3% of the total Canadian box-office) are open. The Canadian theatrical market was supplemented with a PVOD day and date release which yielded an additional estimated $4 million. 40 markets internationally opened Wonder Woman 1984  in the first two weeks representing 68% of total box office, compared to 2017 with 58 markets representing 77% of total box office for Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman 1984 was released via a unique, consumer-focused distribution model in which Warner Bros. exhibited the film theatrically worldwide, while adding an exclusive one-month access period on the HBO Max streaming platform in the U.S. concurrent with the film’s domestic release. This hybrid model was created as a strategic response to the impact of the ongoing global pandemic, particularly in the U.S. Following the one-month HBO Max access period domestically, Wonder Woman 1984 will leave the platform and continue theatrically in the U.S. and international territories, with all customary distribution windows applying to the title.

The film was released in theaters internationally beginning Dec. 16, and in the U.S. in theaters and on Max on Dec. 25.

‘Wonder Woman 1984’ to Bow on HBO Max Simultaneously With Dec. 25 Theatrical Release

In an unprecedented move for a major tentpole title, Warner Bros.’s highly anticipated Wonder Woman 1984 will debut in theaters and on streaming service HBO Max on the very same day, Dec. 25.

After a series of delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, Warner Bros. had finally set Wonder Woman 1984 for a Christmas Day theatrical release. Following tepid box office response to Warner’s Tenet over the summer, and with a surge in coronavirus cases nationwide, industry observers had been speculating whether Warner would again push back the release of the big-budget comic book blockbuster into 2021, as many other studios have done with their tentpole titles.

Instead, Warner on Nov. 18 announced that instead of moving Wonder Woman 1984 off its theatrical date, it would instead release the film on HBO Max as well.

HBO Max subscribers in the United States will be able to access the film for a month with no additional cost to the $14.99 monthly fee (HBO Max offers a seven-day free trial for new members). International markets without HBO Max access, the film will open Dec. 16.

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A sequel to 2017’s Wonder Woman, which grossed $821.8 million worldwide, the follow-up reunites director Patty Jenkins with star Gal Gadot and moves the setting from World War I to 1980s America, where the DC Comics heroine confronts the challenges of the Cold War. The budget of the sequel is estimated at around $200 million.

Warner Rolls Out New ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Poster

With the planned June 5 theatrical launch of Wonder Woman 1984 delayed to Aug. 14, Warner Bros. has updated the movie poster and also is issuing an animated digital poster.

In a social media post, the movie’s star, Gal Gadot, said she is looking forward to a brighter future for people, society and the power of cinema.

“In these dark and scary times, I am looking forward to a brighter future ahead,” Gadot tweeted. “Where we can share the power of cinema together again. Excited to re-date our WW84 film to August 14, 2020. I hope everyone is safe. Sending my love to you all.”

In a separate tweet, the film’s director, Patty Jenkins, reiterated the studio’s support for a theatrical debut rather than offloading the title to retail channels, including transactional VOD and SVOD.

“Wonder Woman 1984 was made for the big screen and I believe in the power of cinema. In these terrible times, when theater owners are struggling as so many are, we are excited to re-date our film … in a theater near you, and pray for better times for all by then.”

The new Wonder Woman poster (courtesy Warner Bros.)

‘Wonder Woman 1984’ Theatrical Release Delayed to August

Warner Bros.’ tentpole title Wonder Woman 1984 has had its theatrical release pushed back from June 5 to Aug. 14, the studio disclosed on March 25.

With theaters shuttered and interest in home entertainment spiking due to quarantine measures taken to thwart the spread of the coronavirus, the sequel to the 2017 box office and home entertainment hit Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot, had been speculated as a possible marquee title when WarnerMedia launches the HBO Max streaming service in May.

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But studio executives pushed back on idea considering the film’s reported $200 million production budget and high-profile traction among moviegoers.

“When we greenlit [Wonder Woman 1984] it was with every intention to be viewed on the big screen and are excited to announce that Warner Bros. Pictures will be bringing the film to theaters on Aug. 14th,”  Toby Emmerich,  Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group chairman, said in a statement. “We hope the world will be in a safer and healthier place by then.”

Warner, which has released several theatrical titles early into retail channels, said it was also delaying the theatrical releases of Lin-Manuel Miranda musical In the Heights, animated feature Scoob!, and horror movie Malignant from their original box office debuts.

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Netflix Signs ‘Wonder Woman’ Director Patty Jenkins to Multiyear Series Production Deal

Netflix has signed award-winning writer, director, and producer Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman, Monster, I Am the Night) to a multiyear overall deal to produce exclusive new series for the SVOD pioneer.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Jenkins is best known for directing Warner Bros. Pictures’ and DC’s 2017 blockbuster Wonder Woman and Oscar-winning feature Monster.

Patty Jenkins

Jenkins became the first woman in history to helm a film with a budget over $100 million with Wonder Woman.

The film opened to rave reviews and became one of Rotten Tomatoes’ highest-rated superhero films of all time. Additionally, it smashed box office records, becoming the highest-grossing film of the summer and third-highest-grossing film of the year domestically, and the highest-grossing live-action film directed solo by a woman – domestic and worldwide.

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Jenkins is also responsible for casting, building and helming the pilot and finale episodes of AMC’s hit show “The Killing,” garnering her the 2012 DGA Award for Best Director of the Year along with a Primetime Emmy nomination.

Up next for Jenkins is the highly anticipated sequel Wonder Woman 1984, which she is directing, producing and co-writing. The film is currently in post-production and slated for a June 2020 release.

“[Jenkins’] trailblazing work has pushed boundaries and she confidently tells stories that leave an unforgettable mark,” Channing Dungey, VP of  original series at Netflix, said in a statement. “We look forward to fostering her many ideas and helping them come to life.”

TNT’s ‘I Am the Night’ Coming to DVD June 11

TNT’s six-episode miniseries I Am the Night will arrive on DVD June 11 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The finale airs on TNT March 5.

Inspired by true events, ​​I Am the Night​ tells the story of Fauna Hodel (India Eisley), a teenage girl who is given away at birth, and grows up outside of Reno, Nevada. One day, makes a discovery that leads her to question her origins, and during her investigation she meets a disgraced reporter (Chris Pine), and together they uncover a sinister trail leading them to an infamous Los Angeles gynecologist (Jefferson Mays), who may be involved with Hollywood’s most infamous unsolved crime.

The miniseries was directed by Patty Jenkins and written by Sam Sheridan.

The DVD will include the documentary “Myths from Inside the Sowden House,” an 18-minute look into The Black Dahlia killings and the house where it all began.