Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wonder Woman review

After years of taking a back seat to Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman finally gets her own spotlight in the animated DC Universe. But will her film stand tall against the work of her fellow heroes?

As a first note, I'm reviewing the two-disc DVD edition of the film; which is the same as the Blu-ray, but not in HD. The standard edition of the film only contains the movie, and few special features. On with the film shall we? The film opens up with a very 300-esque battle, which is actually in the past, setting up as to how the island of Themyscira came to be. Though unlike the previous DC outings, the battle lacks the blood we're used to seeing, despite overly brutal violence. And yes, I mean brutal, like beheadings, and axes to the face; don't let the title fool you.

It is soon after that the tale of Princess Diana (voiced by Keri Russell) is told. It's all here, from pilot Steve Trevor (voiced by Nathan Fillion) crash landing, to the famed contest to become Themyscira's emissary to the United States, even the invisible jet comes along; oh, and let's not forget Ares, the God of War (voiced by Alfred Molina), has escaped from his imprisonment. It is after this that Diana and Steve fly to New York, where Diana learns just how different man's world is from her own; and soon learns of Ares' plot to unleash Hell. And, as usual I'll have to stop there for spoiler reasons, but I assure you, the story will keep you engaged till the last frame.

As with previous DC Universe releases, Wonder Woman is not without a myriad of special features. On the first disc (same as the standard edition) you'll find audio commentary, and a new featurette on the next DC animated film Green Lantern: First Flight; the disc also includes rehashes of Wonder Woman, New Frontier, and Gotham Knight featurettes, as well as some trailers for other Warner Bros. films; a.k a. if you get the standard edition, sorry you.

However, the second disc is a whole other story, as it's specifically for special features (as well as the bonus Digital Copy). First on the disc is a 25 minute documentary, "Wonder Woman: A Subversive Dream," which focuses on Wonder Woman's creator, Dr. William Moulton Marston, and Wonder Woman as an iconic symbol. It's actually a really interesting documented, and one to watch for those that are interested in the character's upbringing. Next on the disc is another documentary, "Wonder Woman: Daughter of Myth," which focuses on the character's fictional origins, and is just as informative as the former. Lastly on the disc are two episodes from Justice League Unlimited, which focus on Wonder Woman's character, and are decent episodes in their own right.

Overall, Wonder Woman is not only a great addition to the animated DC Universe films, it's the best yet. The film excels in its storytelling in that it's straight forward and keeps you interested till the very end. In a sense, it work's better than the previous films, Superman Doomsday and Justice League: The New Frontier, in that the creative team isn't worrying about adapting a known story arc, they keep to the mythos of the character, but yet are able to do it, in a sense, without a boundary. But it's not just the story that does justice, the cast works really well too. Kari Russell sounds great as a serious Princess Diana, while Nathan Fillion counters that with his Captain Hammer-like charm and comedic sass that he channels into Steve Rodgers, and last but not least is Alfred Molina, who does just as menacing and foreboding a job as Ares as he did as Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2. This movie stands well enough on its own, that I feel if a live action film of the character ever comes to fruition, this is the film to beat, hands down.

Overall Score: 9.6/10

I'll be honest, I didn't care much for Wonder Woman prior to this, but the film, as well as the two documentaries have given me a renewed respect for the character. However, I don't think I can explain enough how much higher the bar has been set for future DC animated films because of this. And the funny thing is, I actually planned to not purchase this, because of my disinterest, but I bought it anyways because I have the previous DC Universe films and felt it would be unfair to skip one. Sure, as an animated film, I've seen better visually, but it works for what it is, and excels everywhere else. Not to mention, we failed to give out a VFH Seal of Approval for February; so we'll just call this belated, but much deserved.

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