Monday, March 2, 2009
Warner Premiere continues its line of direct-to-video animated releases this week with the release of its fourth film, Wonder Woman. As usual, no shortcuts have been taken here. This is a fresh take on the Amazon Princess that still pays homage to her recent comic book run. As seems to be the case with most animated movies of this ilk, the movie lays the foundation for a future live-action property by summing up the protagonist's history for a new audience. Gone is the World War II-era canon established by the 1970s Lynda Carter TV series, and its comic book progenitor. Instead, the story relies on the 1985 George Perez relaunch, a modern retelling with underpinnings from Greek mythology. In this version it is her people's enmity with the god Ares (Alfred Molina), and their fear of the war-mongering "Man's World," that necessitates the debut of Princess Diana (Keri Russell) in America, hopefully not as an Amazon warrior but as an emissary of peace. Despite the character's popularity in pop culture, and easily identifiable persona from Cartoon Network fare such as Justice League Unlimited, her look and attitude has been subtly modified to befit her Greek heritage. This Wonder Woman is a little thicker, more full-lipped, and exotic looking, a nice counterpoint to the impossibly proportioned Barbie-doll often depicted in the past. Cowriters Gail Simone, wildly popular and masterful as a writer of female protagonists in DC Comics (including the current run of Wonder Woman), and Michael Jelenic perfectly capture the right attitude of this piece. Here's a look at a promotional video (courtesy of Warner Home Video) that gives you a taste: Simone and Jelenic subvert traditional adolescent male fantasies about the character by setting them up through Princess Diana's paramour, Steve Trevor (Nathan Fillion), and his failed attempts to seduce the avowed feminist raised outside the sphere of male-dominated sexual politics. Particularly funny is a scene in which he tries to get her drunk on tequila, and she manages to drink him under the table. Yes, this is a PG-13 cartoon. It is aimed at the same audience Warner hopes to capitalize on once they manage to get their Wonder Woman project underway after years of being stalled for one reason or another. The rating allows for some realistic violence and a darker tone that would be in keeping with the villain of the piece, the god of war. It also lures some A-list talent to contribute their voices to the project, elevating DC's direct-to-video animated fare over Marvel's. In addition to Russell, Fillion, and Molina, other actors include Virgina Madsen (Queen Hippolyta), Rosario Dawson (Artemis), David McCallum (Zeus), Oliver Platt (Hades), and Marg Helgenberger (Hera). The disc includes a first look at the next animated project they will tackle for release in July, DC's Green Lantern, which MTV recently announced is slated for a live-action debut in December 2010. From the looks of this project, fans have reason to be excited. Wonder Woman is available tomorrow on Blu-ray and Standard DVD. Still and video provided courtesy of Warner Home Entertainment.