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Wonder Woman 1984: Gal Gadot is back to save the world, and with any luck Christmas too – contains mild spoilers | Ents & Arts News

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Wonder Woman 1984: Gal Gadot is back to save the world, and with any luck Christmas too - contains mild spoilers | Ents & Arts News

2020 is the year the world would like to forget, so the chance to escape into the eighties for a couple of hours with Wonder Woman 1984 is a tempting distraction – even if it does mean stepping back into the cinema…

While American fans of DC Comics’ flagship female superhero will have to wait until Christmas Day to watch the sequel, for those of us in the UK not in Tier 3 restrictions (bad luck London), we can watch it from Wednesday 16 December.

It’s the first blockbuster to be released on the big screen since Christopher Nolan’s time-bending sci-fi hit Tenet back in August and it’s not often we beat the US to the punch, so hopes are high.

Directed by Patty Jenkins, and with Gal Gadot reprising the lead role of Diana Prince, both women will be hoping the sequel repeats the success of the first movie.

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Wonder Woman 1984 travels back to the 1980s

It’s been three years since Wonder Woman’s first modern outing, which was met with both popular and critical acclaim, kickstarting a discussion about the representation of female action heroes and taking over $820m (£610m) at the box office.

So, what can fans of the franchise expect, and is it worth donning your mask and packing your hand gel for a rare trip out of the house (if COVID-19 rules allow)?

***Warning – this review, while not giving away any major plot points, does contain mild spoilers for Wonder Woman 1984. You have been warned***

Do we go back to Themyscira?

Yes, in fact we spend the first part of the movie re-visiting Wonder Woman’s childhood years on her home island. The flashback means we get to see briefly see Antiope again (played by Robin Wright), despite her demise in the first film.

The paradise island of Themyscira - Wonder Woman's home ground. Pic: Warner Bros
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The paradise island of Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s home turf. Pic: Warner Bros

It’s also a chance to enjoy Scottish actress Lilly Aspell’s impressive performance as young Diana, pitting her early talents against Amazonian warriors in a gladiatorial arena, and learning the key lesson that integrity is more important than greatness (it’s a moral we will be reminded of again at end of the film).

While much of the rest of the plot is New York bound, we also get to enjoy a flying visit to Cairo, Egypt for a little high-speed action later on in the movie.

Is Steve Trevor back and how?

The hero pilot, played by Chris Pine, sadly met his maker at the end of the first film. But that’s not going to stop him appearing in the sequel.

His name is third on the opening credits and you can’t miss him in the trailer, so this is a twist that fans will be expecting.

As we know from any good 80s power ballad, love will conquer all. Pic: Warner Bros
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As we know from any good 80s power ballad, love will conquer all. Pic: Warner Bros

While we don’t need to delve into the exact science of how (there’s mention of a storm helping his passage, and as fans of Back To The Future will know time can sometimes short circuit due to unusual weather phenomena), fans of the franchise will be pleased to know the old Pine/Gadot chemistry is back too.

Trevor’s slightly otherworldly re-appearance also means the film doesn’t have to worry about his lack of aging since 1918. If he was around 35 in the first film, that would now make him 101, and as Wonder Woman herself doesn’t age, the gap wouldn’t have been ideal for a rekindling of romance.

Additionally, his return allows for a nice role-reversal from the 2017 film in which a wide-eyed Wonder Woman is shown the ways of the human world by Trevor. Now it’s his turn to be introduced to 20th century inventions – including Pop Tarts, exercise bikes, and space travel.

Why the 1980s?

After the bleak trenches of World War One in the first film, the bright colours, loud fashion and iconic music of the eighties is an absolute treat.

What's better than a 1980s fashion montage starring Chris Pine? Pic: Warner Bros
Image:
What’s better than a 1980s fashion montage starring Chris Pine? Pic: Warner Bros

As one would hope, the screen spills over with tight perms, parachute pants, legwarmers, breakdancing and Walkman stereos.

Costumes comply to the 1980s dress code of shoulder pads, Lycra and neon flashing, but somehow Diana Prince manages to tread the path between era-appropriate and elegantly modern.

There’s also a wonderful 80s Pine fashion montage (spoiler, it includes a bum bag) which is worth watching the film for alone.

Thanks to the era, there’s also a generous helping of “greed is good” ethos and plenty of casual sexism to get your teeth into too.

Who are the bad guys?

In the first film Wonder Woman had to contend with Ares, Ludendorff and Dr Maru, but now she has two brand new foes. And boy are they a treat.

Played by Pedro Pascal, Max Lord is an oil tycoon and TV personality channelling a young Donald Trump to perfection (early business ventures go awry, and he builds a giant wall – but such similarities could be purely co-incidental).

Pedro Pascal is gloriously evil as Max Lord. Pic: Warner Bros
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Pedro Pascal is gloriously evil as supervillain Max Lord. Pic: Warner Bros

The cocky entrepreneur – who heads up his own company Black Gold – boasts of an America with “no taxes, no rule of law and no limits”.

His business approach embodies the 1980s’ love of money and power to perfection – and even better than that, Lord promises you don’t even need to work hard to get it, “you just need to want it”.

He’s possibly the best supervillain since Gene Hackman’s Lex Luther in the classic 1978 Superman, playing opposite the ultimate hero Christopher Reeve.

And of course – there’s a new female supervillain too – Barbara Minerva/Cheetah played by Kristen Wiig.

Loose the glasses and the jumper, and you've got an arch villain. Pic: Warner Bros
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Lose the glasses and the jumper, and you’ve got the Cheetah. Pic: Warner Bros

An geologist, with Indiana Jones-style artefacts at her fingertips, she starts off lacking in confidence, but as soon as she ditches her glasses, learns to walk in heels and discovers animal print she becomes a force to be reckoned with.

Upgrading to her animal/human hybrid alter ego the Cheetah later in the film, Wonder Woman’s friend-turned-foe becomes “an apex predator”, making way for girl on girl fights across land, air and water.

Aside from the gloriously OTT nature of this pair of villains, we also get to see their human side, hinting at how they became so evil.

Lord is bullied and powerless as a child, and later as a businessman we see him belittled in front of his own son.

Minerva is a woman overlooked and undervalued, until she embraces her dark side, and steps out of the shadows.

However, it’s made clear that power without empathy is a dangerous tool. As in the first film we’re also reminded that everyone – however morally corrupt – also has the potential for redemption.

Any new weapons?

Our old friend the Lasso Of Truth makes a return (and we discover it has an additional power too).

The film will now release online and in the cinema on Christmas Day in the US. Pic: Warner Bros
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Wings of gold from an Amazonian warrior. Pic: Warner Bros

Wonder Woman learns the new trick of harnessing invisibility, and also slips into a shiny new superpower imbued costume – the impenetrable golden armour of an ancient Amazon warrior. It’s the first time audiences will see Wonder Woman in a different hero ensemble.

But the must-have weapon in this movie is the Dream Stone – a kind of Philosopher’s Stone from the land of the gods which “grants your deepest wish but takes your most valuable possession”.

Initially thought to be just a chunk of Citrine, the plot of the entire film hangs upon its power.

On a slightly more philosophical note, it warms your heart to be reminded that the power of truth, love and hope – when used in the right way – can trump the traditional superhero weapons hands down.

So, is it all about women power?

Sort of. The film embraces the “if you see it you can be it” mantra.

Gal Gadot will reprise her role as Wonder Woman in the new film. Pic: Warner Bros Pictures
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Gal Gadot kicks some bad guy ass. Pic: Warner Bros Pictures

Wonder Woman herself is the “mysterious female saviour” holding the bad guys to account and shaking them by their ankles as their small change falls from their pockets.

Minerva too – and note she’s a Dr not a Ms – can out lift the muscle men in the gym and track down a late-night attacker to teach him some hard lessons in respect.

However, our “strong, sexy, cool and special” Wonder Woman still wears a basque and thigh-high boots to go into battle, and both women wear heels throughout the majority of the film.

Additionally, even after saving the world, Wonder Woman’s eye liner is still on point. So all in all, not the strongest feminist message.

Will there be a Wonder Woman 3?

Patty Jenkins has previously said she has ideas for a third film, set in the modern day, and would love to work with Gal Gadot again. However, COVID-19 may have put any plans for a third instalment on hold for the time being.

Patty Jenkins has teased a third instalment. Pic. Warner Bros
Image:
Patty Jenkins has teased a third instalment. Pic. Warner Bros

One thing’s for sure, with a list of enemies as long as her arm (including Veronica Cale, Doctor Psycho and Circe), there will always be scope for Wonder Woman sequels, as long as the audience appetite is there.

Thanks to this action-packed second instalment – an antidote to a truly awful year – it’s safe to assume that it won’t be too long before Wonder Woman is back our screens again, doing her bit to save the world.

Wonder Woman 1984 is released in UK cinemas (those not in Tier 3) on Wednesday 16 December. The age rating is PG-13.

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Netflix: Bridgerton and The Crown help streaming service top 200m subscribers as lockdowns spur record growth | Business News

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Olivia Colman as the Queen in first-look pictures from the upcoming fourth series of The Crown. Pic: Netflix

Netflix has notched up more than 200 million subscribers after consumers staying at home during the pandemic helped it achieve a record year of growth in 2020.

The US company, which pioneered streaming in 2007, said it added a better-than-expected 8.5 million new paying customers in the final quarter of the year to reach a total 203.7 million.

For the year as a whole, Netflix added 37 million subscribers, including 15.8 million in the first quarter alone, while revenues rose 24% to $25bn and profits climbed 48% to $2.76bn.

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The latest series of The Crown was shown in 2020. Pic: Netflix

It was helped by the success of new dramas such as The Queen’s Gambit and Bridgerton, as well as the latest series of The Crown.

Netflix said that in an “incredibly difficult year” it had been “able to provide our members around the world with a source of escape, connection and joy while continuing to build our business”.

Most of the growth – 83% of new customers – came from outside its biggest market of the US and Canada. A further six million are projected to sign up in the current first quarter.

Shares rose nearly 13% in after-hours trading as the company projected that it will no longer need to borrow billions of dollars to finance its big-budget films and TV series, and said it would explore returning cash to shareholders.

Netflix faces stiff competition from the likes of Disney – whose Disney+ service managed to sign up 87 million subscribers in just under a year.

Meanwhile, Hollywood studio Warner Bros has departed from Hollywood convention by announcing that it would send all 2021 films straight to HBO Max alongside cinemas.

Netflix co-chief executive Reed Hastings described Disney’s performance as “super-impressive”, adding that its success “gets us fired up about increasing our membership, increasing our content budget”.

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Stars condemn government for failure to agree visa-free touring in Europe | Ents & Arts News

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Gary Numan says it is less well known musicians who will suffer the most Pic: Scott Gries/Invision/AP

Liam Gallagher and Sir Elton John are among dozens of music stars who are calling on the government to resolve the “gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be”.

In an open letter published in The Times newspaper, they call on the government “to urgently do what it said it would do and negotiate paperwork-free travel in Europe for British artists and their equipment”.

Since the UK left the European Union and free movement ended, performing artists hoping to tour in the EU must now seek separate permits to work in many of the 27 member states. They will also have to pay for expensive carnets (permits) to cross borders with their equipment and trucks carrying kit or they could have their journeys capped.

The letter, largely organised by the Incorporated Society of Musicians, warns touring will become “unviable” for many musicians in an industry that is already “on life support” because of closures forced by lockdown.

And the letter requests the arrangement be reciprocal so that British venues can book, and British fans can see, European artists perform here.

Concert violinist Tasmin Little OBE, who signed the letter, said the government needed to “understand the nature of a touring musician’s life”.

“Touring is a complicated business with a huge amount of admin attached,” she added. “You’re often on the road for days on end, criss-crossing borders and playing in many countries within a very short span of time.”

“We need to be able to travel around in order to pick up work… The government has let this industry down very, very badly.”

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Gary Numan says it is less well known musicians who will suffer the most Pic: Scott Gries/Invision/AP

Fellow signatory Gary Numan told Sky News it was “demoralising” and “disappointing” that government hadn’t secured an agreement, warning it’s the smaller artists and crew who will lose out.

“I’ll be ok. I will be able to carry on touring. But it will have an effect… But people down the ladder, it’s going to be horrible for them.

“The majority of people think of touring bands as being well off, earning lots of money… But the truth is very different to that. The vast majority of bands do not make a lot of money from touring.

“And it’s not just the bands themselves. It’s the crew that go with them, it’s the merch people, your trucks, your vans.”

The industry has long warned that leaving the European Union without a specific deal for the creative industries would make touring prohibitively expensive and complicated for many artists.

But the issue has gathered momentum in recent weeks. A petition demanding a free cultural work permit garnered more than 250,000 signatures is expected soon to be debated in parliament.

The UK government has insisted the EU “repeatedly rejected” the UK’s proposal”, which was “based on feedback from the music sector, that would have allowed musicians to tour”.

A spokesperson said: “The EU’s offer in the negotiations would not have worked for touring musicians: it did not deal with work permits at all, and would not have allowed support staff to tour with artists.”

But in parliament on Tuesday culture minister Caroline Dinenage said that the EU’s proposals – which would have enshrined permanent visa-free short stays for EU citizens in the agreement – would have not have been “compatible with our manifesto commitment to take back control of our borders”.

The Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden will today host a roundtable discussion with representatives from across the cultural and creative industries to discuss ways the government can support the sector moving forwards.

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Dua Lipa denies she is pregnant after ‘cryptic’ emoji message speculation | Ents & Arts News

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Anwar Hadid and Dua Lipa attend the 2019 American Music Awards, AMAs, at Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, USA, on 25 November 2019. Pic: Hubert Boesl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Dua Lipa has denied she is pregnant after speculation over a “cryptic message” in her emoji use on social media.

The chart-topping singer said she wanted to clear up any confusion during a TV appearance, saying her use of “random” digital icons had “come to bite me in the arse”.

Rumours started when Lipa, 25, shared a picture of herself wearing a green tartan dress on Instagram earlier in January.

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The pop star is in a relationship with model Anwar Hadid. Pic: Hubert Boesl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images


In her caption, the British star, who is in a relationship with model Anwar Hadid, included a baby’s bottle emoji alongside sparkles and an angel, leading to speculation she was pregnant.

But during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, she dismissed the rumours.

“I like finding little random emojis, like a little baby bottle or angels and sparkles,” she said. “Random. I really didn’t think this through and I posted it and then I look at the comments and somebody says, ‘is she pregnant?’

“And I look at the picture, I look at the comment, I look at the picture, I look at the comment, and I’m like, ‘surely I don’t look pregnant?’

“And then I see that people have been writing stories saying that I posted some cryptic message that I might be announcing my pregnancy. And I’m just like, ‘oh my God, these emojis have come to bite me in the arse’.”

Lipa, who appeared on the show virtually, added: “I’m not pregnant, just to clear it up.”

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Asked by Kimmel if she will announce any future pregnancy through emojis, she replied: “No, because now I’d be the boy who cried wolf.”

Lipa, who is nominated for six Grammys this year, said she “occasionally” reads the comments on social media, saying that “sometimes it’s nice stuff, sometimes it’s not so nice stuff”.

“It doesn’t bother me too much,” she added.

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