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Wonder Woman (2009)

She’s a wonder, Wonder Woman… but when will we get a live-action feature?
Our Rating

Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Family

Director: Lauren Montgomery

Actors: Keri Russell, Oliver Platt, Virginia Madsen, Alfred Molina, Rosario Dawson

Year: 2009

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Country: USA

For some reason, a feature length Wonder Woman movie has floundered for decades. As Batman, Superman, and other super (and not so super) heroes got their big-screen treatment, the best Wonder Woman could do was a television series in the 1970s. Don’t get me wrong… I loved the Lynda Carter version of this Amazon warrior princess, but while other pop-culture ass-kicking women like Buffy and Xena have filled the void, fans are still waiting for Wonder Woman to get her own movie series.

In the meantime, we’ll have to settle for a feature-length animated film that went straight to DVD.

This is Wonder Woman’s origin story, explaining how the Amazons ended up on their man-less island sanctuary with Ares, God of War locked up in a cell. The real world dominated by men was too brutal and violent, so the women have retreated to hone and practice their skills, stay forever beautiful and youthful, and wait out the centuries.

But then Steve Trevor crash-lands his fighter jet on the Amazon island, and they have to figure out what to do with him. Princess Diana, daughter of the Amazon Queen Hippolyta wins the right to return him to his modern civilization, and in return she’ll learn about this man’s world and help fight for justice. Wonder Woman’s star-spangled, eagle-emblazoned superhero uniform is explained by the fact that she’ll wear the colors of the country she is visiting, to show that she comes in peace (Huh! I did not know that!). But she’ll come equipped with Amazon strength, as well as a few handy tools, like her invisible plane, the Lasso of Truth, her bullet-proof armbands, and her boomeranging headband which more than a little bit conjures up Xena’s chakram.

Once in New York city, Steve Trevor gets to show around this hot princess and make the moves on her (he is not very successful). “You may have the lasso of truth…” he exclaims, “But I have tequila!” (Turns out Diana doesn’t get drunk.)

Rather than getting busy, Diana and Steve have got huge demons to fight that have been unleashed due to Ares’ escape from the Amazon island. This all leads to a epic final showdown against Ares and his army of demons. In a nice touch, this battle takes place in Washington, DC, which allows the backdrop of all that Greek-classical style architecture of all of the national monuments. At one point, the head of Lincoln is ripped off of the Lincoln Memorial. Uh-oh… you don’t do that to Lincoln!

As this is Wonder Woman’s origin story, it is all set up for a sequel. But I have to admit, despite the often clever script and the A-list actors serving as voice talent (Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion as Diana and Steve, and Alfred Molina as Ares), it just didn’t feel that satisfying as a movie to me. Perhaps it is the animation style, which has that blocky, Saturday-morning cartoon style (minimal expression, very little movement except when required). When there is such great animation out there these days, from CGI, to hand-drawn, it just seems kind of lacking.

DVD NOTES

The two-disc Special Edition DVD has extras galore about the DC universe, and surprisingly, much of it is actually NOT Wonder Woman oriented. For instance, there are focuses about other DC animated features, like the Green Lantern, A New Frontier and Batman: Gotham Knight. Most fun, unsurprisingly, are the featurettes about Wonder Woman and the history of the comic. She was created in 1941, as men went off to work, and women became empowered and had to enter the workplace to take care of business while the men were off fighting. And count me surprised that Wonder Woman’s creator was one of the inventors of the lie detector in real life. Hello, Lasso of Truth!

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