REVIEW: Wonder Woman – Commemorative Edition
Warner Home Entertainment is commemorating Wonder Woman’s 75th Anniversary leading up to the June 2 release of Patty Jenkins’ feature film. Joining in on the fun is this week’s rerelease of 2009’s animated film, directed by Lauren Montgomery.
This new edition, out as a Combo Pack with Bu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD, comes with just one new extra (the old ones remain): What Makes a Wonder Woman with a nice assortment of people chatting about her cultural significance, including Jenkins, Montgomery, Phil Jimenez, William Moulton Marston biographer Jill Lepore, and a few others for good measure.
Here’s our original review, which remains unchanged:
The DC Universe series of animated features got off to a rocky start with the Superman vs. Doomsday offering but has gotten steadily better. New Frontier was pretty amazing and now they offer up Wonder Woman, which may be the closest we get to a feature about the Amazon Princess for quite some time.
And I’m pretty okay with that, given how good this direct-to-DVD offering is. It’s not perfect, but it’s entertaining and a great introduction to the character. If you’ve been following the interviews we’ve been posting here at ComicMix, you know that it comes from the usual suspects behind the animated DCU along with a very strong voice cast.
The movie posits that Wonder Woman exists in a world of her own and there are no references to the greater DCU, allowing you to dwell on the mythological background that spawned the character. Created by William Moulton Marston, his grasp of the Greek mythology he predicated the character on was shaky at best and frankly, it wasn’t until the George Perez-driven version of 1987 before anyone explored the Greek gods and their role in the Amazons’ world.
This is an extended origin story hewing fairly closely to the familiar canonical tale although there are several different interpretations of characters and events to make this another flavor of the origin.
We get to learn of the Amazons and how they arrived on Themyscira and how their queen, Hippolyta, longed for a child, fashioning one from clay and given life by the gods she worshipped. Life in paradise was fine for some, not for others but the island also served as a prison for Zeus’ son Ares, god of war. His scheme for freedom coincides with the accidental arrival of Steve Trevor, an Air Force pilot and the decision to hold a contest to allow the winner the right to bring the man back to his world.
The look of the island and its inhabitants is nicely designed and many of the familiar characters are given more personality and wit than their comic book templates. Steve Trevor, voiced by Nathan Fillion, has more charm and unique characteristics than in any previous interpretation and makes you understand what Wonder Woman eventually sees in him.
Once Diana wins the contest and takes Steve back to “man’s world”, the story begins developing logic problems which are never resolved (or even explored in the accompanying commentary). She’s given the invisible robot plane with no explanation or training in its use and then they go to America. The Air Force doesn’t seem remotely interested in his whereabouts so he’s never debriefed but remains free to use their equipment. He then says that Ares, now freed, is leaving a trail of destruction and a pattern will form and he can be followed, a logical point but never followed through.
Instead, Ares finds an ancient cult that remains active, and uses them to gain access to Tartarus where Hades aids his cause. Let me say that the look and handling of Hades wildly varies form the comics but works perfectly here and I applaud the design.
Ares, now more powerful, summons an army from…somewhere…and launches his campaign of war against mankind from Washington D.C. which, from his point of view, makes no sense. He makes a pretty speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial which also makes little sense. But it does kick off the climactic fight which is well handled throughout. The arrival of the Amazons, though, makes it appear the Potomac River is as large as an ocean and is a little too reminiscent of moments from Troy and Lord of the Rings.
While the story doesn’t hang together as well as one would like, it also is filled with deft little moments and great bits of dialogue so kudos to WW scribe Gail Simone and Michael Jelenic for the overall story and Jelenic’s script. The voice cast, led by Keri Russell, Alfred Molina, Rosario Dawson, and Fillion, is also strong, letting the animated people feel more than two-dimensional.
The score is a generic animation score and in that regard is like wallpaper but could have done more.
The disc comes with a 10-minute background to their next offering, the just announced Green Lantern feature due in July. There are other background features to several other DCU animated projects and trailers for related product from Warner Home Video. The commentary from the production team could have been more focused but does provide some interesting insight into what made it to a storyboard and what made it to the final cut. The two-disc set comes with several Justice League episodes as does the Blu-ray.