A superhero movie leads the way with this week’s new entertainment options.
“Wonder Woman 1984” Grade 2 ½ stars: The odds were already against “Wonder Woman 1984” being as good as the 2017 “Wonder Woman” feature. That film brilliantly brought one of DC Comics iconic characters to life driven by a winning performance by Gal Gadot in the title role. Sequels tend to pale in comparison to the original.
It was up to director Patty Jenkins – a co-writer of the “Wonder Woman 1984” script with Geoff Johns and David Callahan – to find a way to get past the sophomore slump. She comes through when it comes to her directing duties but the script is a marvelous mess.
The only things memorable about “Wonder Woman 1984” are the work by Gadot and the secret scene at the end. Gadot joins that short list of actors – like Christopher Reeve as Superman, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man or Chris Evans as Captain America – who capture the qualities of their characters with such command they seem to have been born to play the super heroes.
Even when “Wonder Woman 1984” stumbles in all of the writing and acting potholes, Gadot is there to save the day.
“Our Friend” Grade 3 star: Dane (Jason Segel) is not the easiest person to be around and has no real control over his own life. But, he steps up when he learns his friend Matt (Casey Affleck) has become overwhelmed while trying to deal with his wife’s (Dakota Johnson) terminal cancer. Dane puts his life on hold to come to the aid of his friends.
The film by Gabriela Cowperthwaite based on Matthew Teague’s National Magazine Award winning article is more powerful and inspirational than the majority of weepy tales of love and death. That strength comes from how grounded the story remains. Dane’s not shown to be a saint but as a very relatable human being who just wants to help.
Power comes from the humanity of the characters and not from some manufactured emotional tripe. “Our Friend” doesn’t demand the viewer to become emotionally involved but reaches out with a light touch to the heart.
Also new on DVD and Blu-ray as of March 30
“The Projectionist”: Documentary looks at the history of film exhibition in New York through theater operator Nicolas “Nick” Nicolaou.
“American Experience: Voice of Freedom”: Documentary weaves together Marian Anderson’s rich life story with this landmark moment in history,
“Kingsglaive”: Magical kingdom of Lucis is home to the sacred Crystal, and the menacing empire of Niflheim is determined to steal it.
“55 Steps”: Lawyer’s fight for her client leads to a battle over mental health rights. Hilary Swank stars.
New on digital platforms
“Raya and the Last Dragon”: Young girl must find the means to stop sinister monsters from destroying all humanity. Will be released on DVD and Blu-ray May 18.
“Witness Infection”: Chaos is created when two rival mob families are transferred from the Witness Protection Program to the same city by mistake.
“Judas and the Black Messiah”: FBI informant William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party and must keep tabs on their leader, Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya).
“Senior Moment”: William Shatner plays a retired NASA test pilot who finds love in an unexpected way.
“Like a House on Fire”: Wife and mother who tries to reconnect with her family finds someone else has taken her place.
“Nina Wu”: Actress cracks under pressure from landing career-changing role.
“Chaos Walking”: Man and woman look to survive in a dangerous alien world. Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley star.