Our last Movie Night, in May, was a Girls’ Power Night. We loved the first Wonder Woman movie and were eager to see “Wonder Woman 1984”. About “Birds of Prey” and “Charlie’s Angels”, I’d heard mostly good things on Facebook so we were eager to see those, too. A good movie night was had by all, with some disappointment along the way.

The first Wonder Woman was helmed by writer-director Patty Jenkins and WW84 was, too. The first WW was fresh and action-packed with the gorgeous Gal Gadot.

This time Patty Jenkins is listed first as the screenwriter, on the next line Geoff Johns, and on the next line Dave Callaham, joined by “&”. When you have a screen collaboration by two (or more) writers, you will see the names on one line joined by an “and”. The separate lines for the names and the “&” means the subsequent writers added enough, or changed the first script enough, to warrant screen credit.

In other words, there were three iterations of the screenplay. Jenkins should have hired a fourth writer, a strict script doctor, for a fourth iteration to kill some of her darlings.

Because after the dynamic opening—a past-history sequence showing Diana in a competition as a child, and a present sequence, showing glimpses of Wonder Woman taking care of a present-day crisis—the film slows to a crawl (like “Tenet” in my previous film review).

As usual, you can read the whole plot on Wikipedia—I won’t reprise it here—but the problem is too many subplots. Unconvincing subplots. The main premise focuses on the Dreamstone, an ancient artifact with the power to grant one person one wish. Many critics have pointed out this is a cliché, but I was willing to consider the premise. (A missed opportunity: when Maxwell steals the Dreamstone, there is a large ring that once held the stone with writing inside. WW should have slipped on the ring as a bracelet and gotten more powers. That didn’t happen.)

Sadly, the twists and turns of the premise turn out to be not so twisty. Diana (WW) wishes for a deceased lover. The romance premise keeps her in civilian clothes and passive for most of the movie. And presents one controversial problem—her dead lover reincarnates into a presently living man. Some critics point out that the scene of Diana having sex with her dead lover is rape of the living man. That doesn’t bother me so much (sorry, guys) as the trope of body-switching. I wish it had been done better.

The subplot of the “cheetah woman” left me queasy.

Tom said he didn’t like seeing Diana cry or Wonder Woman beaten up.

The scenes of the failed entrepreneur, Maxwell, wanting his young son’s love were unconvincing. The son doesn’t resemble Maxwell—with the mother lacking, a serious casting mistake.

We (correctly) guessed the ending about half an hour to forty-five minutes before the film finished. I shouted at the screen, “Get on with it! Don’t drag it out!” The director didn’t get on with it, she dragged it out. Sigh.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, WW84 “underperformed” in the international BO, even considering the pandemic. THR also reports that a third WW movie is underway. Let’s hope Patty Jenkins hires that script doctor this time.

Recommended only for fans of Wonder Woman. The nice homage to a Wonder Woman Past midway through the credits was a nice touch.

Next up, “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) with Margot Robbie as the title character showing off a zany side of her acting that didn’t manifest in “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood”.

The film is based on a cartoon and, probably appropriately, is cartoonish, gangsterish, and super-violent. As usual, you can look up the full plot on Wikipedia. Midway through the plot, though, the story gets serious and involves some bonding friendship, much to the film’s credit. The story pretty much stays focused on the main plot.

The “Birds of Prey” vigilante group of kick-ass women is formed at the very end, opening the way to a sequel.

Some critics loved it, some hated it. The film underperformed at the international BO, not earning back its budget.

Recommended only for fans of super-violent cartoon movies. We sort of liked it.

Last up, “Charlie’s Angels” (2019). This is another vigilante women’s group pioneered on television in the late Sixties and Seventies.

In this iteration, the three leads are very appealing and the main thriller plot stays on focus. The film has described as an “action-comedy”.

As usual, you can read the entire plot on Wikipedia. I won’t reprise it here.

There is plenty of female braininess, female physical power, and female bonding.

There is even a huge surprise twist at the end, which WW84 and Birds of Prey lacked.

Of the three films, this was the best.

Recommended for fans of female-centered, action films.

So there you have it, my friends. An enjoyable Movie Night was had by all.

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