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DC Animated Original Movie DVD Review

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An Origin Story Worthy of the Character Being Examined

  • Sep 25, 2009

Save for a single exception (Superman Doomsday), I’ve feverishly preordered and relished in each and every DCAU animated motion picture production that has come from Warner Brothers (yes that means the Superman/ Batman Public Enemies official countdown has already begun).  Wonder Woman had the distinction of being one of two full-length feature films released within a relatively short period of time (the other being Green Lantern First Flight which was released July 28th after WW’s March 3rd release date).  As such I waited for GL to drop before ordering both films and had the unique experience of viewing them literally back-to-back.

In extreme summation, the tale is basically Wonder Woman’s origin story retold and fit to include a very modern-day interpretation of Washington DC.  Contained within are both the very earliest origins of the title character (which at some points predate her birth) and then her transformation from Amazon Princess to American super heroine.

Plot Spoilers Ahead:

The opening battle comes to a violent and graphic conclusion when Hippolyta (Diana’s mother) beheads her own son, Thrax, who was conceived by none other than Ares.  Shocked at the fall of their son, Ares is caught off guard and falls to Hippolyta’s sword as well.  Fueled with anger and hatred, Hippolyta is poised to slay Ares as well when Zeus intervenes and prevents her from taking Ares’ life.

Zeus’ companionate wife Hera offers to instead bind Ares’ powers with gauntlets so that he would be no more of a threat than a mere mortal. In compensation for their cooperation, the Amazons are granted the mystical island of Themyscira (which is cloaked from the eyes of man), where besides remaining forever young and beautiful, they are to hold the shackled Ares prisoner for all time.

Life for the Amazons on Themyscira would potentially remain blissfully isolated from the rest of the world if not for the American fighter pilot Steve Trevor who crash lands on the all-female (save for Ares) hidden island.  The task then becomes one of finding an Amazon warrior up to the task of returning the pilot to his homeland of the United States.

End of Spoilers

The film is really quite beautiful to behold with a nice large color pallet and sweeping sense of scope.  Voice work is typical of the type of stuff Andrea Romano puts out in all of the DC animated productions.  Kerri Russell nails the role of Diana/ WW and Firefly’s Nathan Fillion is equally well cast as the energetic/ optimistic Steve Trevor.

Keeping in mind that this is the first animated feature devoted specifically to Wonder Woman, the film’s production crew did a fantastic job ensuring that the material did her justice (no pun intended).  Much of this is credited to the direction of Lauren Montgomery; a storyboard artist on Justice League Unlimited and Justice League: New Frontier as well as one of three directors on the animated film, Superman: Doomsday.

About the biggest complaint that I can partially sympathize with regarding Wonder Woman is that the entire story arc maintains its massive scope/ mythological influence without devoting much time to the Wonder Woman superhero character so beloved in both comic incarnations and in shows like Justice League/ JL Unlimited.  This was most certainly due to the 74-minute runtime and the restrictions involved therein.  Without providing direct spoilers, I will say that the material sets up the characters for a perfect sequel (or even television-based animated series) opportunity in the final moments of the movie.  Should either come to fruition, this animated film will likely be credited as flawlessly presenting the source material for another hit DCAU franchise.  Here’s hoping!

As it stands however, it’s very easy to recommend this film to anyone who has enjoyed the DCAU’s past animated efforts, has even the slightest interest in the Wonder Woman mythos, or just plain enjoys fine storytelling in the animated medium.  My only warning is to take the PG-13 rating seriously as the violence may be a bit harsh on younger viewers.  The special features contained within the two-disc special edition are informative, entertaining, and quite thorough.  Make a big bowl of popcorn and settle in for 74 minutes of DC animated goodness that serves as a reminder of the type of quality material that Bruce Timm and company have made so popular throughout the years.

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September 26, 2009
Great review, JRider! You know they actually have a supposed R-rated version of this movie still to be released. I liked the way this mixed in the classic Silver Age Wonder Woman with the mythos of the current one. My only complaint is that her power levels appear to be a tad incinsistent (Steve giving her a good fight and all) but all in all this was real good.
About the reviewer

Ranked #14
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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