the NORWALK REFLECTOR newspaper website where I mostly wrote op-eds and reviews on the Grissom era of the CBS TV series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." That part of the site went kaput after a series of supposed upgrades, so just in time for Wonder Woman Weekend in celebration of Patty Jenkins' masterful live-action movie, here's that review here on CCC for the first time …
March 2009 — Imagine pitching an action-adventure piece based loosely on mythology wrapped around elements of a romantic comedy as your project to feature one of the most well-known superheroes ever.
OK, that might not be what Warner Bros. Animation intended, but that's what director Lauren Montgomery has done with "Wonder Woman" (rated PG-13 for good reason).
Sound weird? Absolutely. But, guess what? It works — in spades.
DC Comics, together with parent company Warner Bros., has been giving fans a regular diet of DC Universe Animated Original Movies starting with the Sept. 18, 2007 release of "Superman Doomsday." Last summer, Warner Home Video released "Batman: Gotham Knight" to tie into Christopher Nolan's live-action film "The Dark Knight."
Now it's time for the final third of DC's Big Three of heroes.
And "Wonder Woman" is arguably the best of the lot.
(2017 addendum: Ten years later, it remains one of my favorite DC animated movies and in my top five. And I've seen them all!)
|The gorgeous Keri Russell|
Princess Diana is gorgeous, heroic warrior who embodies athleticism and sexiness. She stands up for women's rights in "man's world," yet kicks some serious behind. How can you not dig a woman who can keep with doing shots at a bar and kicks off her high heels to go kick the a** of a monster?
Actress Keri Russell (now in the FX series "The Americans") would not have been my first choice to voice Wonder Woman.
But her young, breathy voice gives the heroine a subdued sexiness and nicely characterizes how Princess Diana is a young woman who has been thrown into the deep end in being the first Amazon to leave Paradise Island.
Russell also gives the Amazon princess authority. In short, she is great.
Actor Nathan Fillion (best known for his roles in "Castle" and "Firefly") is a treat as pilot Col. Steve Trevor. His delivery is so good it's hard not to like the womanizer when Trevor is saying some sexist things. A huge casting asset, as pointed out in the very interesting audio commentary, is Fillion had befriended Russell when they costarred in the movie "Waitress."
While there are plenty of lighter moments, not everything is levity.
The color palette is breathtaking, making "Wonder Woman" the best looking animated project by WB. The story stays close to her December 1941 origin, but unlike, say the first third of "Superman: The Movie," the momentum doesn't slow down in "Wonder Woman" or get bogged down in the details.
Grade: (the very rare) A+
Another 2017 addendum: At some point the Powers That Be promised never to make another animated film starring a solo female. Sadly, while Wonder Woman has been in many "Justice League" movies in the last decade, DC Entertainment and WB has kept to its promise. I said at the time that was an awfully short-sighted — not to mention sexist — business decision.
I can only hope the critical success and exuberant response from fans about the live-action "Wonder Woman" might change producers' minds. If that happens, I hope next original animated flick follows up on the 2009 one and isn't set in the New 52 animated continuity.
|Wonder Woman as seen in the "Justice League Unlimited" animated series|
Also included are animated producer extraordinaire Bruce Timm's "bonus episode picks" — actually two "Justice League Unlimited" shows featuring Wonder Woman. One was included in the "Justice League: New Frontier" DVD. Most promising is the preview for "Green Lantern: First Flight."
And if I were WB I'd be working hand-in-hand with the DC Universe Animation Original Movies team, using those DVD features to get the public primed for (and the studio ready to write, schedule and cast) live-action launches for the Fastest Man Alive and of course, Wonder Woman. Hint! Hint! HINT!
A final 2017 addendum: My assertions/hopes and predictions about seeing live-action takes on Wonder Woman and the Flash took a while to become reality after this 2009 review.
"The Flash" ended its third season on The CW two weeks ago and Gal Gadot as comicdom's greatest leading lady will be on the big screen three times in 20 months by the time "Justice League" is released Nov. 17.