With its big heart and palpable sense of empowerment, 2017's mostly World War One era Wonder Woman stood miles ahead of its fellow DC Comics adaptations. This welcome 80s-set sequel benefits from the association, but it's a very strange film, plot-wise.
The story centres around a magical stone that grants anyone a single wish. The primary villain here, Tony Robbins-esque TV motivational speaker/would-be petrol magnate Max Lord (The Mandalorian's Pedro Pascal), manages to execute a version of the "I wish for infinity wishes" gambit we all theorised about on the playground, and proceeds to wreak havoc around the world.
Semi-immortal Amazonian warrior Diana Prince (Gal Gadot), now working at the Smithsonian, teams up with Chris Pine's sorta-resurrected pilot Steve Trevor (did I mention the wishing stone?) to take down Lord, who aligns himself with Diana's newly-powerful co-worker Barbara (Kristen Wigg).
Although entertaining throughout, the magic-driven central thread involves such massive leaps of faith it makes the film hard to take seriously. It's a plot device that seems like it might be more at home in a TV series, or even...a comic book. So I probably shouldn't complain.
Gadot remains a captivating, inspirational lead, Pascal has fun hamming it up, and Wigg continues to reveal layers. Director co-writer Patty Jenkins stages the action scenes with verve (the opening set-piece is a stunner), and the aesthetics presented are rarely less than dazzling. The film makes a meal of its '80s setting early on, but the time period's relevance to the proceedings diminishes as it progresses.
As one of the few places in the world where we get to this on the big screen, I'd rather not nitpick, and there's definitely a welcome joy in seeing a giant blockbuster with other people, but the contradictions presented by the story never stopped being distracting.
Cast: Gal Gadot, Kristen Wigg, Chris Pine
Director: Patty Jenkins
Running time: 151minutes
Rating: M (Violence)
Release date: Wednesday, 23 December.
Verdict: A fun, colourful, bombastic and frankly bonkers blockbuster.