(Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD/Blu-ray combo I reviewed in this article. The opinions I share are my own)
WARNING! SPOILERS WITHIN! WARNING!
I think it’s still common knowledge that Richard Donner/Christopher Reeve’s 1978 version of Superman is considered the benchmark on how to do a superhero origin story, well, now that I’ve seen Wonder Woman (2017) may I be so bold as to say the 21st century counterpart to that film is Patty Jenkins/Gal Gadot’s movie? And like the recognizable score Jerry Goldsmith did for that film, Wonder Woman also has her own theme that you’ll easily attach to the character the instant you hear it. Gadot’s Wonder Woman was seen for the first time in Superman V Batman: Dawn Of Justice (2016) and that score was there too! That’s not to say the themes for Tim Burton’s and Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies aren’t instantly recognizable either. They are. It’s just Gadot’s Wonder Woman has one that’s more on par with Goldsmith’s theme in how easily you’ll be able to place it with the character the moment you hear it.
I also found this period hero flick much more enjoyable and immersive than Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). The only other Wonder Woman origin movie we’ve had recently is the 2009 animated flick directed by Lauren Montgomery, and they do share some similarities in that the villain is the same—Ares, God of War (David Thewlis in the live action flick). In Jenkins’ flick there was a war between Zeus and Ares over mankind. Ares eventually lost and Zeus created the Amazons to protect mankind, he also gave them a “secret weapon,” in the form of Diana (Gal Gadot), the daughter of Zeus and Amazon queen, Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen). Her mother and the other Amazons know what she is, but Diana does not, and won’t until she confronts Ares in the last act. In the meantime Hippolyta reluctantly tasks Antiope (Robin Wright) with training her as hard as possible for when she’ll need to take out Ares.
The island of Themyscira the Amazons live on is hidden from the rest of the world, cloaked in a fog only those close to it to penetrate can see, and there hasn’t been anyone to do that in a long, long time. Meanwhile mankind evolved and started World War 1. Enter Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), an American spy who penetrates this barrier and crashes in the waters offshore in his stolen German plane. A German boat of soldiers wanting him dead follows and this is how the Amazons are introduced to the current state of man circa 1918!
A couple of Amazons die, including Antiope, on that beach fighting them, and it’s theorized this war man is having in the outside world is being caused by Ares, which means if they can take him out it’ll end. Diana decides she wants to do this, and her mother lets her go with Trevor. Of course she doesn’t leave until she gets her wonder woman armor, lasso of truth, shield and a sword called the “Godkiller.”
Who is Ares in human form? The movie does a fake out making you think it’s most likely General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston). He’s featured a lot in the movie and built up to be the bad guy, since he’s also allied himself with this chick called, Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya) whose specialty is lethal forms of gas, and her latest breakthrough is a gas no gas mask can protect you from, but Diana confronts him and actually manages to kill him. Nothing ends though. The war goes on and Trevor tries to give Diana a crash course in the nature of evil, the kind that men do, the kind that says, yeah, some men are evil and you don’t need a God to bring that out in them. I for one was almost believing she was a little “nuts” thinking this Ares was behind it all, but lo and behold someone shows up where he shouldn’t be, namely a Brit by the name of Sir Patrick (Thewlis) who’s suddenly acting, well, “evil,” and just like that we have our Ares front and center.
Like most superhero flicks there’s a beat down between hero and all powerful villain that always manages to level huge swaths of real estate, and this one takes place at an air field where Trevor and his gang are trying to stop a plane loaded with that deadly aforementioned gas. The destruction in this part of the movie is massive and when she finally does defeat him it looks like a meteor crashed into the earth where he stood. Like Steve Rogers’ end in Captain America where it was a self sacrifice in a plane, Trevor does the same, shooting the flammable gas in the back once he gets it airborne and exploding in mid-air. On the plus side, this was the catalyst for Diana to go apeshit on Ares and put him 1000-feet under.
Before the Incredible Hulk started his live action career in The Avengers (2012) he was in the animated movie, Ultimate Avengers (2006), and the ending battle he had with the other Avengers was significant for me because it was the first time I truly had a sense of how powerful the Hulk was. It was the first time too I had seen him battle other heroes and none of them could stop him, not even Giant Man, who, well, you know, turns into a giant man. Before Wonder Woman was finally done right in live action she was portrayed really well in the animated toons, Justice League (2001-2004) and Justice League Unlimited (2004-2006), and there was this one episode in the JLU toon that was similar to the ending in Ultimate Avengers, where Diana was forced to fight other heroes. It was called, “Grudge Match,” and villain Roulette mind-controlled some of the leaguers so she could profit off them in this fight club scenario. This was the first time where I truly had a sense of how powerful Wonder Woman was. In the final forced cage match, Hawkgirl, Vixen, Huntress and Black Canary take on a brainwashed Diana and right from the start they’re all nervous. If the fight hadn’t been stopped when it did, she would have killed all four of them. In Patty Jenkin’s film there are some scenes that had me flashing back to those animated movies and toons where you truly get a sense of how insanely powerful Wonder Woman is.
I’m not just talking the end battle with Ares, but before then, even though in that battle she picks up an armored vehicle and holds it over her head trying to decide if she wants to crush Doctor Poison with it (earlier in the movie she also flips one of those vehicles with her bare hands), but the first scene that made me truly do a double take was when she takes out a sniper from a church tower by leaping up into it, and not just killing the dude but taking down the entire top of the church when she crashes into it! Holy shit that was something to see! And just a few moments before there’s a scene I understand Jenkins had to fight to keep in the movie that has Diana on the front lines rushing at the German’s holing up in a trench. They hurl bullets at her she deflects with her bracelets, they then hurl artillery at her she deflects with her shield, then in a last ditch effort all of them concentrate their fire on her, and there’s this great shot from above showing Diana kneeling behind her shield as it’s getting pummeled by just about everything the Germans have in their arsenal—and it’s not even touching her! This scene really is the moment that makes the movie, taking it out, I’m not even confidant it would have been the hit that it was. That scene is “the rug that brings the whole room together,” if you ask me.
It’s also a great looking movie; the cinematography is colorful, expansive in some parts, and uber theatrical.
Own Wonder Woman on Ultra HD Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on September 19 or Own It Now on Digital HD!
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 2.40:1 high definition widescreen—English Dolby Atmos/7.1 English Dolby TrueHD, 5.1 French Dolby Digital, 5.1 Spanish Dolby Digital, 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital, 5.1 English Dolby Digital 5.1—English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish subs.
Extras included . . .
- Epilogue: Etta’s Mission (2:40)
- Crafting the Wonder (16:26)
- A Director’s Vision: Themyscira: The Hidden Island (4:56)
- A Director’s Vision: Beach Battle (4:56)
- A Director’s Vision: A Photograph Through Time (5:07)
- A Director’s Vision: Diana in the Modern World (4:39)
- A Director’s Vision: Wonder Woman at War (5:03)
- Warriors of Wonder Woman (9:53)
- The Trinity (16:05)
- The Wonder Behind the Camera (15:34)
- Finding the Wonder Woman Within (23:08)
- Extended Scenes (5 scenes/18:24)
- Alternate Scene: Walk To No Man’s Land (1:04)
- Blooper Reel (5:37)
Warner has already signed Patty Jenkins up for the sequel and I can’t wait to see what she’s got planned!