Saturday, April 3, 2021

WONDER WOMAN 1984 (2020) (4K UHD Review)

WONDER WOMAN 1984 (2020) 

Label: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Region Code: Region-Free
Rating: PG-13 
Duration: 151 Minutes 
Audio: English Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD with Optional English SDH, Spanish, French, Portugue
Video: 2160p UHD Widescreen (2.39:1 & 1.90:1), 1080p HD Widescreen (2.39:1 & 1.90:1) 
Director: Patty Jenkins
Cast: Chris Pine,  Steve Trevor, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen 

Set in 1984 the sequel Wonder Woman 1984 finds Diana Prince (Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman) living among we mortals in the Nation's Capitol D.C. where she works at the Smithsonian, curating ancient artifacts. The film opens with a flashback to her as a child (played again by Lilly Aspell) on the hidden island of Themyscira where she partakes in a athletic event, the only child among a group of adults. It's an action packed and well staged spectacle that teaches young Diana a life lesson about winning and losing. We then come back to '84 where Diana as her alter-ego Wonder Woman stops a botched heist at a jewelry store at a mall, that most 80's of monuments to excess culture and greed, god I miss it, the arcade and record stores anyway.

It turns out that the jewelry store was a front for stolen antiquities operation, and some of the the gems from the heist are sent to the Smithsonian to be verified by the museums resident gemologist Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids). Intrigued by the ancient artifacts Diana befriends the mousy Barbara and offers to help her identify the gems. Diana takes a sincere liking to shy Barbara, and while assisting her in identifying the gems takes notice of a relic called the Dreamstone, with a Latin inscription claiming to bestow the holder of it to a singular wish. Barbara secretly wishes to be more like her new friend Diana, while Diana herself dreams of being reunited with her lost love, pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine, Wonder Woman). 

Diana plans to remove the stone from museum, realizing that it was created by a god of mischief and lies, and that no mortal should have access to it, but before she can reclaim it a benefactor of the museum, con artist Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian), borrows it, having long searched for the stone to fulfill his dreams of success and power. 

Meanwhile, Barbara begins to take on some surprising new attributes, these include the ability to walk in heels, more self confidence, and she gets a huge uptick in strength, tearing the door off her fridge while looking for a midnight snack. Diana on the other hand begins to feel her strength wane, and magically Steve is returned to her, though somehow he has taken over the body of a completely different man, which is problematic to say the least if you think about, which I assure you I did not. 

Lord becomes the big baddie of the film, a character that is meant to symbolize the greed of the 80's, his wishes upon the Dreamstone to become the embodiment of the Dreamstone, which leads to him granting wishes to a lot of people, but as he is now the Dreamstone personified he is able to request something in return, which allows to to amass oil, wealth and power in very short order. All this wishes-granting however leads to the world teetering on the brink of nuclear war.

The other minor baddie is Barbara Minerva who with her newfound strength has teamed-up with Lord, who grants her the wish of becoming an apex predator. She is more fully transformed into Wonder Woman's comic book nemesis Cheetah, though she is never called that in the film.

That's the film in a nutshell, with Diana and Steve attempting to thwart Lord before the world self-destructs  in a mushroom cloud of greed and pettiness. It's all a bit sillier than the first film, and I think setting it in the 80's is an appropriate venue for such a goofy comic book sort of premise. Thankfully, I am down with silly comic adaptations, it might be a bit of a shock to the system after the dour DC run of films, and the tone is a bit all over the place, but I had fun with WW84, the same way I had fun with Godzilla vs. Kong, it's a big dumb fantasy film and on that level I was entertained, 'nuff said.

I can see how goofy it is, I am clear-eyed about that, but I can sit back and enjoy the spectacle of it, munching on my popcorn and having a good time without having a tantrum about how stupid or dumb it all is, I mean it's not that much more cartoonish than Batman Returns and it's nowhere near as mind-numbing as Batman & Robin. Some of the sillier stuff would be that this film is Diana still grieving for Steve to a ridiculous degree seventy-years later, or that she swings around on that lasso at the mall like she's DC's answer Spider-Man, and that stuff actually looks great. I though Lord was a lazy caricature of an 80's villain, and how Steve was returned is just plain weird. Then there's her lassoing a jet, and even an RPG a, both of which she hitches a ride on it, but that is no more silly than what I read in the comics  as a kid. As a fan of the Super Friends TV serie I was happy to see the introduction of the Invisible Jet, but again, the introduction of it and how that was achieved is pretty silly, but there is no denying that the ride through a fireworks event in the invisible jet looks stunning. 

I see all that, and I still had a fun time with this movie, though I readily admit it's a severely stupid film, I don't care. I love Gadot as Wonder Woman and her alter-ego Diana Prince, and while Pine's return strains reason he's a charming cat and I loved having him back, plus we get some fun 80's fish-out-water shenanigans, including an 80's fashion montage that includes parachute pants and fanny-pack. I thought Pascal as Lord was also a good time, he's vamping it up like an 80's era Trump by way of the Wishmaster, he goes big with it. That Wiig plays the mousey girl who suddenly turns heads that we've seen a thousand times before is a bit lame, and that her boss battle with Wonder Woman is so dark that  it seemed like they were trying to hide her Cheetah transformation, the look of which was not awful, but was a mixed bag. That we never see her in the light of day really felt like they did not believe in the look of the character. 

The overall feel of the film is that of a fun, light-hearted, one-off, that would seem to have little to no consequence for the character or the larger DC franchise, and I found it interesting that Wonder Woman can ride the lightning, swing like Spider-Man on her lasso, and can actually fly, but none of that has ever been duplicated in Batman V. Superman or Justice League which came later. 

I had expected something a bit more epic for this sequel, and while it wasn't what I was expecting I was not altogether butt-hurt about the silly spectacle that we got, Wonder Woman is still a bad-ass and the action sequences at the mall and in the Middle East are fun, epic and well-made, and at the end of the day I was still entertained after seeing this for the fourth time, those action set-pieces are well designed, it might be silly but it is not boring. 

WW84 arrives on 4K UHD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, presented in 2160p UHD and framed in 2.39:1 along with some eye-popping 1.90:1 IMAX sequences. The UHD is finely detailed and the HDR10+ Dolby Vision color grading punches up the primaries, the colors are vibrant throughout, contrast is fantastic, and the Lasso of Truth, which looks magnificent. 
The film which is set in '84 has a colorful, robust color palette, which sets it apart from the other desaturated looking DC films, which I certainly appreciated.

The Dolby Atmos audio is fantastic, a thunderous and deep-sounding presentation that is fully immersive, making wonderful use of the surrounds for the more subtle atmospherics, the Hans Zimmer score, and the action sequences are filled with piercing gunfire, fireworks,  numerous explosion and a terrific armored vehicle car chase that has plenty of a deep bass. 

Extras include a very good half-hour making of featurette , and a variety of shorter featurettes exploring the opening scene, the mall sequence, the armored vehicle chase, the relationship between Gadot and Wigg and how much fun they had on-set together. Some of the extras have cool behind-the-scenes footage, animatics, and storyboards, it was very cool to see how much of this was shot on a real location and not digitally rendered, including a ton of harness and wire work from Gadot.  

We also get a 6-minute gag reel, a Black Gold Informercial, a 22-min Zoom panel with the Amazon warriors in the film, a fun 2-minute Wonder Woman 1984 Retro Remix and a 2-minute promo for The Suicide Squad. 

The 2-disc Blu-ray/UHD combo arrives in a Viva Elite black keepcase with a single sided sleeve of artwork which is replicated in the slipcover. Inside we get the discs plus a Movies Anywhere digital redemption code for a UHD copy of the film complete with extras. 

Special Features: 
- The Making of Wonder Woman 1984: Expanding the Wonder (36 min) HD 
- Gal & Kristen: Friends Forever (5 min) HD 
- Small But Mighty (11 min) HD
- Scene Study: The Open Road (6 min) HD
- Scene Study: The Mall (5 min) HD
- Gal & Krissy Having Fun (1 min) HD 
- Meet the Amazons (21 min) HD
- Black Gold Infomercial (2 min) HD 
- Gag Reel (6 min) HD 
- Wonder Woman 1984 Retro Remix (2 min) HD
- Trailers: The Suicide Squad (2 min) HD 

The film seems to have split fans but I had a good time it, the often light-hearted film offering plenty of bombastic spectacle as well a few cornball comic book moments brought to life on the big screen. Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) gets a fantastic 4K UHD presentation from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, plus we get a decent assortment of extras. Regardless of how you feel about the film the A/V presentation is top-notch. 

Screenshots from the Blu-ray: