This is the first major studio release that I watched from home. That's of course because of the COVID19 pandemic. Sad to say, I didn't enjoy it.
This review will have spoilers, so stop if that concerns you. Personally, I feel there is little to spoil.
The movie starts, bizarrely enough with Dianna looking to be about eleven years old, on her home island, competing in some kind of warrior competition. There is a vast arena with stadium seating. It reminded me strongly of the Harry Potter movies' rendering of Quidditch matches.
The first problem is that this isn't simply 'young Dianna', this is a Dianna so young as to be a child. It's a problem to me because, as young as she is, it doesn't play as background on her adult character. You might as well show me her crying in diapers. Nevertheless, they persist in showing us much of this contest. A handful of beautiful Amazon women go through one long take of a series of physical challenges. Dianna starts winning. She exceeds the other Amazons until she gets unhorsed. Then she cheats to get back onto the course. When she tries to finish the course, her mentor, played by Robin Wright, restrains her, calling her a cheater. A petulant Dianna does what you'd expect a spoiled child to do: she has a fit. All the while, Connie Nielsen playing Dianna's mom looks on. Watching, I didn't care a bit. Yes, the child Dianna had a hissy fit when she wasn't allowed to cheat. And…what? I was immediately enraged that they wasted Neilsen and Wright on this insipid sequence. Even if I set aside creative differences and allow that there is some narratalogical merit to it, it simply went on forever. It felt like a solid ten minutes. Again, I didn't care. That little girl had nothing to do with the adult Dianna. It was long and boring and a waste of two strong performers.
After that bizarre start to the movie, you'd think we'd maybe get a touch of plot. We do, sort of. Some clownish guys assault a mall to steal an artifact. In comes Wonder Woman to save the day with cheeky, good-natured frivolity. She slides a young girl to safety along the floor so she lands in the embrace of a giant Teddy Bear and winks to her. The tone is way too cheeky. They try to weave in serious moments as one of the clowns tries to hold a girl hostage. The emotional dissonance is strong. They've already established that we're in a family friendly movie where the good Gal will save the day with a flourish of her whip. And she does. If you're wondering where the plot is, it's in the thing they were stealing. It's an artifact that ends up at the museum. And did I mention its set in 1984? So the mall is riddled with '80s references. Apparently they wanted to mine some of the Ready Player One nostalgia. It's a theme for this movie; they work very hard on the visuals while they ignore plot and character.
So, twenty minutes into the movie we've gotten two insipid action sequences that set a childish, nothing bad will happen tone, and do just about nothing for plot or character. It turns out the artifact is a wishing stone. Cue up every cliché Djinn story you've ever heard. If you're young enough not to have heard any, then maybe you'll get a thrill out of this tired plot: careful what you wish for.
The bad fellow is played by the Mandalorian without his mask: Pedro Pascal. He plays a Ponzi-scheme director, promising oil well payoffs to idiot investors. He's come to that magical point in the scheme where it starts to fall over. He's also neglectful of his young boy who he tries to pawn off on his secretary when it's his weekend to look after him.
Long story short, bad guy uses the wishing stone to solve his financial problems. The twist that this story introduces is that instead of simply wishing for what he wants, he wishes to become the stone. So now he is the wish grantor--essentially a Djinn. He gets to take whatever compensation he desires for granting wishes. Kristin Wiig's character wishes to be like Dianna. Oops. Now we have a super-villain, sort of. I mean, she's powerful, but what drives her is this diffuse anger at the world for not treating her better before she became the new hotness. They try to explain her burgeoning evil attitude as part of what was taken from her by the wish-grantor. Apparently she lost her humanity and compassion. That sort of mechanical construction of a super villain was unaffecting to me.
It's worth mentioning that they dress Gal Gadot amazingly in this film. It's almost worth watching the movie just to look at her. She's got so much presence, beauty, and charisma that she can almost carry the movie on her looks, but not quite. Seeing this, was why Kristen Wiig wished to be like Dianna.
The one cool world-building thing they introduce is that the stone was wrapped by a steel band engraved in 'the language of the gods' according to Dianna. Apparently the thing was manufactured by one of the more evil of 'the gods'. It sounded to me like the band was a kind of magical binding for the stone. I was convinced that it would be used to stop the bad guy, but instead of building on this interesting cosmology, they leave it, literally, on the table.
Oh, I forgot to tell you that Dianna wishes for Steve Trevor. Rather than have him simply manifest like the rest of the wishes, they pull a Quantum Leap on us. He inhabits some guy's body, but they film him as Steve (Chris Pine). Why they chose that, I'll never understand. It just loads the plot with an awful contrivance that makes things ethically foul. Steve is using this guy's body. Dianna is having sex with it, and wants to keep it indefinitely. That stupid way to get Steve into 1984 just undermines whatever emotion their reunion should have.
The plot gets dumber and dumber until we get to a climax that involves the bad guy going meta with communications technology. He will do his Djinn thing through satellite and reap the evil of millions of simultaneous wishes, destroying the world. Meanwhile, a laughable Wiig--as Cheetah--has a stupid fight with Dianna who dons the super Amazonian armor of whatever. I stopped caring. Wiig looks like an extra from Cats. It was painful to watch.
Oooh, I left out the most ridiculous plot conveniences. They steal a plane, and WWI Steve can magically handle flying a jet. But since they're on radar, Dianna decides to try and turn it invisible. She literally gives herself a new power to solve a plot problem. That stolen plane also flies from DC to Cairo without refueling…just saying.
Double oooh, the second ridiculousness. Dianna decides she can fly, superman style, complete with her fist forward. They show her cracking her lasso in the sky as if she's pulling some kind of Thor's-hammer flight. It's pretty stupid and very inconsistent with the original cartoon character.
I'll leave out the ending. I think you get the point by now.
This movie is a bloated, boring, full of plot holes and conveniences, making it the biggest cinematic disappointment I've had in a very long time. Every time they try to build tension, its spoiled by some tone-shattering comedy set piece like Steve dressing in '80s regalia. I struggle to conceive of how they got such an insipid script funded.
As a writer, I don't know if I should be encouraged because the bar has been set so low by this film, or depressed because they're clearly not seeking out strong writing for these movies.
Do not watch it, at least not sober. Intoxicated, it might be so bad its good.