The often-delayed sequel Wonder Woman 1984 arrives on 4K UHD Blu-ray after its brief HBOMax and theatrical run, with director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot returning.
The Production: 2.5/5
I was a major fan of 2017’s Wonder Woman, and had been looking forward to its sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, so much so that I used the two week free trial code that came with my 4K UHD Blu-ray copy of The Goonies to watch it on HBOMax over the Christmas holidays. I am glad I was able to use the free trial to watch it, along with several other movies I had been wanting to watch, to get my money’s worth out of that trial. I say that because Wonder Woman 1984 was a bit of a letdown.
It is the year 1984 in our nation’s capitol, and Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) is working at the Smithsonian in the antiquities department, as her alter-ego Wonder Woman battles crime and saves citizens, both on the busy streets and in a major shopping mall. The jewelry heist that she stops in the mall turns out to be a black market shop for stolen antiquities, and the confiscated goods end up (surprise) at the Smithsonian for newcomer Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig), a rather mousy and forgettable yet highly intelligent individual. Diana and Barbara quickly become friends, but when they discover that one of the artifacts is actually a legendary wishing stone, they both unknowingly wish for something they long for. Diana wishes for her true love Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), who sacrificed himself at the end of the first film, to return. Barbara wishes to be more like Diana. The next day, Barbara awakens to find men being attracted to her, including con artist Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), who wants the wishing stone to himself. Barbara is so enamored to have what appears to be a wealthy, charming, and attractive man pay attention to her that she allows Lord to “borrow” the stone. That evening, Diana gets a surprise visit from a gentleman whom she eventually recognizes as her Steve, and when they awaken together the next morning, decide to investigate how this all happened and what has happened to the stone: Max Lord has made his one wish – to become the wishing stone himself and thus begins his thirst for control of everything by granting wishes but taking something back in return. And that is the curse of the wising stone, which has destroyed countless civilizations over the years, and Max Lord is on a path to destroy the world while Diana loses her powers and Barbara turns into a much darker soul.
There are so many things wrong with Wonder Woman 1984, which is hard to believe considering how much director Patty Jenkins reportedly fought with studio executives to even be considered being hired for the sequel. Much of the blame, though, goes to the script (which Jenkins co-wrote with Geoff Johns and Dave Callaham), which is often unfocused, going places it didn’t have to (Steve Trevor taking over an innocent man’s body with Diana willfully going along with it), forgetting key character plot points of the prior film in the opening prologue flashback (a young Diana competes in a triathlon while her mother looks on with pride, despite the fact her mother forbid any training or competing until she was much older in the first film), and two rather dull villains. Gal Gadot is terrific as Diana/WonderWoman, Chris Pine has some fun moments as Steve, Kristen Wiig does make a convincing transition from mousy to menacing, and Pedro Pascal is fine as the scene-chewing con man Max. But the movie on a whole is overly long (151 minutes) and for me has this bad Superman III vibe, and I really do mean that in a bad way. The only thing I can think of is that perhaps Jenkins was trying to emulate super hero movies from the mid 1980s?
3D Rating: NA
Wonder Woman 1984, according to IMDB, was captured by various means, utilizing 65mm for the opening and closing IMAX sequences, 35mm using the Super 35 process for most of the film, with additional sequences shot in Panavision Super 70, and digitally in 3.4K and 6.5K resolution on Arri Alexa 65 and XT cameras, then completed as a 4K digital intermediate in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio (except for IMAX sequences, which appear on this disc in the 1.9:1 aspect ratio). My first two screenings of this film were on the HBOMax streaming service back in December of last year, and although they were supposedly in 4K, there was a lot of noticeable compression artifacts. I am happy to say that is not the case with Warner’s 2160p HEVC-encoded transfer on this disc, which includes Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HDR10 high dynamic range options. This is a highly detailed transfer, from fabric textures, facial features, the shimmering of Wonder Woman’s main costume and her gold armor. Colors are vivid and 1980s hyper-real. Black levels are excellent, with deep shadow details particularly during the battle sequence between Wonder Woman and Cheetah. To top it all off, there were no compression artifacts or banding issues.
The default Dolby Atmos track is thrilling and very demo-worthy. From the moment the film begins, the viewer is immersed in sound from all directions during the opening prologue on Themyscira through the to the Christmas-set epilogue and mid-credit sequence. Surrounds and heights are pretty much active throughout, allowing sounds to travel seamlessly around the room. LFE is strong throughout, adding emphasis to crashes and explosions without being too boomy. Hans Zimmer’s score is clear and recognizable throughout, as is dialogue. For some odd reason, Warner has included a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix as well.
Special Features: 3.5/5
As is typical of Warner 4K releases, the UHD disc is movie-only, while all of the special features can be found on the Blu-ray disc.
The Making of “Wonder Woman 1984:” Expanding the Wonder (1080p; 36:23): A fairly in-depth look at the making of the film, including interviews with key members of the cast and crew.
Gal & Kristen: Friends Forever (1080p; 5:10): Gal Gadot and Kristen Wiig discuss their charactersd as well as the off-screen friendship.
Small But Mighty (1080p; 10:44): A look at the opening prologue sequence.
Scene Study: The Open Road (1080p; 6:11): A behind the scenes look at the Egyptian truck chase sequence.
Scene Study: The Mall (1080p; 5:03): A behind the scenes look at the opening mall sequence.
Gal & Krissy Having Fun (1080p; 1:12): Gal Gadot and Kristen Wiig goof off behind the scenes.
Meet the Amazons (1080p; 21:28): Tiffany Smith moderates a virtual discussion panel with director Patty Jenkins, actress Lily Aspell, costume designer Lindy Hemming, production designer Aline Bonetto, and the actresses who played many of the Amazons in the opening sequence.
Black Gold Infomercial (1080p; 1:38): The full infomercial from the movie, intentionally upscaled from a standard definition source.
Gag Reel (1080p; 6:26)
“Wonder Woman 1984” Retro Remix (1080p; 1:36): A fun re-creation of the opening credits sequence from the classic 1980s TV show using clips from Wonder Woman 1984.
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy in UHD on Movies Anywhere. For those who are wondering, the IMAX sequences appear on the digital version in the 1.9:1 aspect ratio.
Wonder Woman 1984 was a major disappointment, yet not quite the misstep to derail the franchise entirely. Considering the several release date changes made even before the pandemic, one has to wonder (no pun intended) if Warner knew they had a turkey on their hands.
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