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One last disaster in 2020: ‘Wonder Woman 1984’

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One last disaster in 2020: ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ 1

It’s the single question that haunts all Americans as they turn the page on a dreadful year: Why is “Wonder Woman 1984” so bad?

Why did this eagerly anticipated follow-up to the delightful 1917 “Wonder Woman” — starring the same stunning Gal Gadot and ­directed by the same Patty Jenkins and released for our homebound viewing on HBO Max as a Christmas Day gift to its subscribers — have to stink up the joint like no comic-book movie has since “Howard the Duck” in 1986?

You know things are going wrong at the outset, when we find Diana Prince, Wonder Woman’s alter ego, working at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington in 1984.

In the comics and on TV, Diana worked for the Department of ­Defense, which made sense, ­because she is supposed to be the world’s greatest warrior.

But in 2020 Hollywood, with President Trump in the White House, no movie with its heart in the right — by which I mean the left — place could possibly install our heroine in proximity to US militarism. Because, of course, Pentagon bad! Guns bad! (“I hate guns,” says Wonder Woman as she crumples one, which is generous of her, since she has magic bracelets that deflect bullets.) Oh, and since this is 1984, every third scene features someone walking around with a “No Nukes” sign.

Ronald Reagan bad!

Yes, the Gipper is in this movie, although weirdly; the actor who plays the 40th president doesn’t really look like him but has his hairline and suits. And because this one is the Reagan of Hollywood’s berserk fantasies, he wants more nukes.

No matter that in point of fact, Reagan hated nuclear weapons and proposed their complete abolition in his first face-to-face meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev. The Reagan of “Wonder Woman 1984” wishes for hundreds of new ­nuclear weapons in the presence of an overleveraged reality-TV businessman — guess who he is supposed to remind you of — who has turned into an evil genie.

No, I’m not kidding.

There is a stone that grants wishes. It ends up in the back room of a mall jewelry store — who the hell knows why. The Trumpy guy wishes to become the stone, and all of a sudden he’s Barbara Eden giving Reagan nuclear missiles Reagan didn’t actually want.

Look, I know 1984 was 36 years ago, and I know that Hollywood is full of illiterate, know-nothing, self-infatuated morons who can happily spend $250 million on a film so awful it makes the “Cats” movie look like “The Marriage of Figaro,” but, um, maybe do a Google search, Patty Jenkins?

Would that have been so hard to do on one of your breaks from swimming in your Scrooge McDuck pool full of the $10 million you were paid for co-writing and directing this atrocity?

Can I tell you about more dumbfounding stuff? Wonder Woman wishes for her dead boyfriend to come back to life, and he does, in the person of Chris Pine, who’s the best thing in the movie. He’s been gone since World War I, and so the world of 1984 fills him with awe — especially when she takes him into the subway and he marvels at the train coming through.

Hey, Patty Jenkins? Your first “Wonder Woman” movie took place in Europe in 1917. There were subways on the Continent then. In fact, the London Underground made its debut in 1863. It’s probably fair to say if a man from 1917 suddenly woke up in 1984, the one thing that wouldn’t blow his mind would be . . . a subway.

And how about the amazing and brazen plagiarism here? Kristen Wiig does a turn as a mousy and awkward lonely person who undergoes a transformation into a feline supervillain named Cheetah. If this sounds familiar, that’s because you saw it, beat for beat, in 1991’s “Batman Returns” — in which ­Michelle Pfeiffer did a turn as a mousy and awkward lonely person who undergoes a transformation into a feline supervillain named Catwoman.

To sum up, “Wonder Woman 1984” is just awful. And yet . . . I kind of loved it.

jpodhoretz@gmail.com

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