Fresh on 4K: ‘WONDER WOMAN 1984’ a visual delight if lacking in the story department

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Connor Bynum // Film Critic

WONDER WOMAN 1984

Rated PG-13, 151 minutes.
Director: Patty Jenkins
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, and Pedro Pascal

When we reviewed WONDER WOMAN 1984 in December of 2020, we called it a “lighter-hearted, yet no less meaningful sequel.” Many people may have already seen this film from the comfort of their own home (thanks to HBO Max). However, those who prefer to own their movies on physical media will be pleased to know that WW84 is a mostly solid 4K UHD Blu-ray experience.

Movie Grade: B

From our Theatrical/Streaming Review:

“Overall, this sequel is tonally reminiscent of the Richard Donner/Richard Lester helmed SUPERMAN series. Not only does the narrative pull inspiration from SUPERMAN II, but it also recalls the buoyancy of SUPERMAN III, with breezier, comedic-skewing action sequences that show Wonder Woman foiling a band of thieves or rescuing DC denizens. Wiig and Pascal both hit pay dirt, occasionally going broad with their performances in a few key scenes, each individually channeling some of the blessedly bonkers notes captured in Lester’s films. The difference being the pair also root their characters’ insecurities in the sense of understandable authenticity.

The real impressive magic of the sequel lies in Diana’s further maturation into the heroine humankind deserves. The underlying message the film subtly sends – that all it takes is one person to inspire change in a cynical world – is resoundingly poignant. It’s an empowering thing to see Diana put this lesson into action when called upon. Gadot explores the shining facets of her character’s human and superhuman yearnings with formidable ease and grace. 

She shares an undeniable chemistry with Pine, who returns as Diana’s unspoken heart wishes to reunite with Steve. Their characters’ romance grounds the feature, giving it a tangible, propulsive sense of emotional drive. Their gender-flipped “fish out of water” scenes, this time with Steve being the one needing acclimation to a strange new world, are super charming and endearing.

That said, there are a few bumps in the road. The straightforward premise doesn’t fully justify the elongated run time, which distracts from its admirable aims. This adds further complications and convolution to the rules of the world the filmmakers have set up. It leaves us to extrapolate a few missing details and question some of the clearly stated ones and demonstrated.

Nevertheless, the picture’s hugely entertaining qualities outweigh any blights. It takes risks and big swings that are missing from many modern sequels. Better yet, it doesn’t forget to further flesh out its portrait of the heroic woman who delivers wonder.”

Courtesy of Blu-ray.com

Video/Audio Grade: A-

As said before, WW84 is a mostly solid 4K UHD presentation. Having been captured in a combination of digital, 35mm film, and IMAX for some sequences, the visual clarity is certainly impressive, albeit somewhat inconsistent. The opening action set-piece where a young Diana (Lilly Aspell) competes in an Amazonian obstacle course is presented in IMAX, complete with the taller 1.90:1 aspect ratio and this sequence is absolutely stunning. Everything is crystal clear, from grains of sand on the beach to strands of hair across Diana’s forehead. However, once we move on to the rest of the film, which was mostly shot on 35mm film, a heavy amount of grain populates the screen with daytime sequences, in particular, looking the most distracting. Of course, this is likely an artistic decision to give the 1980s setting a bit of visual authenticity. Again, the 35mm sections of the film do not look necessarily bad. It’s just that they don’t look nearly as good as the IMAX scenes.

The inclusion of HDR10+ and Dolby Vision is definitely the main selling point for this disc. Darker scenes like when Diana (Gal Gadot) and Steve (Chris Pine) fly an invisible jet through a 4th of July fireworks show or the climactic showdown with Cheetah (Kristin Wigg) are greatly improved by the added color depth and contrast range. With the latter of these scenes being particularly hard to follow in the theater, it’s a huge relief to see the darker images with much more visual fidelity.

Additionally, this disc comes with a stellar Dolby Atmos audio track and a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 MA mix. Action sequences are obviously when this presentation is at its most enjoyable, with cars whooshing in and out of the side channels, fireworks and gunfire piercing the overhead speakers, and Hans Zimmer’s scorekeeping the tension high while never overpowering the dialogue. Viewers without an Atmos setup will still find much to enjoy out of the 7.1 mix, but it’s releases like these that continue to make a strong case for those looking for a reason to upgrade their setup.

Courtesy of Blu-ray.com

Extras Grade: B

While no special features are on the 4K disc, the extras found on the included 1080p Blu-ray are definitely worth a look. A roughly half-hour-long documentary with the rather straightforward title: “The Making of Wonderwoman 1984” is a standout feature. It is highly evident that this documentary’s people put in far more care and attention than they had to. The pacing is fun and energetic. Interview segments are exceptionally well lit, and no expense is spared to showcase the female talent behind multiple film departments. Warner Bros. is undoubtedly proud of Wonder Woman’s success as a franchise, and you can’t help but smile when seeing so many people talk about why they loved being a part of this movie so much.

A full list of special features is listed below:

  • The Making of Wonder Woman 1984: Expanding the Wonder (36:21) 
  • Gal & Kristen: Friends Forever (5:10) 
  • Small But Mighty (10:44)
  • Scene Studies 
    • The Open Road (6:11)
    • The Mall (5:04)
  • Gal & Krissy Having Fun (1:10) – A fun little dance number, presumably sung by the two actors.
  • Meet the Amazons (21:28) 
  • Black Gold Infomercial (1:38)
  • Gag Reel (6:26)
  • Wonder Woman 1984 Retro Remix (1:36)

Final Grade: B+

WONDER WOMAN 1984 may suffer from not quite being able to live up to its predecessor’s success. Still, it is an enjoyable film in its own right all the same. With anrily impressive visual presentation combined with a fantastic audio mix, this should be an easy decision for DC fans.

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