Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman 1984 (Photo: Warner)

★★½ (out of four)
DIRECTED BY Patty Jenkins
STARS Gal Gadot, Chris Pine

Given the standing of 2017’s Wonder Woman as one of the best superhero movies ever made (Top 15, for sure), there’s no getting around the fact that the highly anticipated Wonder Woman 1984 registers as a massive disappointment.

In this outing, Diana Prince / Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is forced to square off against a pair of villains in the avaricious Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal) and the bold Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) while also coping with the mysterious return of the presumably deceased Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). Steve now finds himself in another man’s body, and the fact that both he and Diana are OK with this usurping of another person’s life is just one of the nagging details hanging around throughout the film. There’s also far too much Maxwell Lord — he’s an underdeveloped villain with a rather ludicrous endgame — and turning Wiig’s human character into a CGI creature is also a mistake, considering the potency of Wiig’s performance and the shakiness of the visual effects.

Still, there are some saving graces, enough to rescue the film from complete irrelevance. The lengthy opening sequence, a flashback set on Diana’s home turf of Themyscira, is a blast, and Steve’s clothing montage is amusing and about the only time the film takes advantage of its 1980s setting.

Mostly, there’s Gadot, who again perfectly embodies all of the wholesome qualities we would like in our superheroes. As with Christopher Reeve as Superman and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, she was seemingly born to play this role, and her presence provides a strong through line even when the movie surrounding her weakens.

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