Man, why can’t DC make their live action movies as good as their animated ones. I know it is a pipe dream but it would still be nice. Anyways, in 2005, DC started a line of animated movies, separate from the earlier movies that were all related to the animated cartoons started by Bruce Timm. Today’s movie was the 4th one in the series and the first animated movie to really focus on the female member of DC’s leading trio. So, let’s see how good of a job that they did with today’s movie, Wonder Woman (2009).
The plot: In Ancient Greece, Queen Hippolyta leads the Amazons against the forces of Ares, God of War. As Hippolyta faces off against Ares on her own, Artemis and Persephone help keep Artemis’s sister Alexa safe, as she is more of a scholar than a warrior, but Persephone loses an eye in the process. Hippolyta continues to fight Ares but knowing that he only grows stronger as the fighting continues, she changes targets and goes after Thrax, the demigod son of Ares and Hippolyta, who is leading his father’s army. Hippolyta decapitates Thrax and when Ares tries to attack her, she gets the upper hand and is prepared to kill him as well. Suddenly, Zeus appears and tells her to spare Ares life and Hippolyta refuses at first but Hera then appears and calms Hippolyta down. She has Ares bound in bracers that disconnect him from his ability to feed off the aura of violence and death that gives him strength. She then offers Hippolyta the island of Themyscira for her and the Amazons to live in peace forever, as guards of Ares prison. As time passes, Hippolyta, feeling the loss of her child, molds one out of clay on the beach and holds it up to the Gods, where a bolt of life strikes it and brings it to life. Years pass and the baby has grown into a woman named Diana, who questions why they are always training when they never fight in any wars. Hippolyta leads her to the prison, and shows her Ares, still bound in chains, and tells her that they must always be vigilant to prevent him from escaping, as mankind has no doubt continued it’s warring ways. In the outside world, USAF Colonel Steve Trevor is on a mission with two other pilots when they are attacked by 6 enemy planes. As the planes fight in the air, all 6 enemy planes are killed but both of Steve’s wingmen are killed and Steve’s plane is damaged causing him to fall towards the sea. Suddenly, Steve sees the Themyscira before him, as someone had punched the mirror that allows it to interact with the real world, and he manages to crash his plane in a lake on the island. After swimming to shore, Steve comes across some Amazons bathing by a waterfall but he is soon attacked by Artemis and some other Amazons before eventually being captured by Diana. Steve is brought before Hippolyta, who uses the lasso of truth to determine how much he knows about Themyscira. Realizing that neither he, nor his government, knows anything about them, Hippolyta decides to send him back to his world. Diana offers to escort him but Hippolyta tells her she doesn’t have the experience necessary for such an undertaking and says they will hold a tournament to determine a worthy emissary. When Diana continues to argue that she will never gain experience if her mother keeps her from doing anything, Persephone suggest she help her guard Ares and Hippolyta agrees with her. As the Amazons prepare for the tournament, Alexa goes to prison and offers to take Diana’s place, telling Diana to keep her identity hidden underneath her warrior’s helmet. As the tournament commences, Persephone express displeasure in Diana shirking her duty and as Alexa tries to console her, Persephone stabs her in the back. As Alexa falls to the floor and lays dying, she sees Persephone open the cell and kiss Ares, who says he has been seducing her for 100 years, then finishes off Alexa. Back at the tournament, Diana ends up winning and when she approaches her mother, she takes off her helmet and Hippolyta says she will make them proud. Suddenly, a guard informs Artemis of Alexa’s death and as Artemis, Hippolyta, Diana, and some other Amazons head there, they find Ares and Persephone have both fled. Diana weeps over her friend’s body and Hippolyta says that she now has a second task to accomplish in man’s world. Diana dons the armor and lasso of truth and flies off with Steve in her invisible jet and takes Steve to New York. When they arrive in New York, Diana is amazed by some of the sights she sees, especially the sight of children playing, but is also upset at how women are treated as inferior to men. Steve tries to get her to focus on the mission of finding Ares, while continuously flirting with her, and notices an uptick in violent crimes all over the world. Setting the computer to hunt for a pattern in the events, Steve takes Diana to a bar for some drinks, attempting to get her drunk, but she easily out drinks him, then storms out of the bar. When Steve tries to follow, Diana yells at him for proving that her mother was right and showing her the worst out of men, just as a group of muggers appear and try to mug them. Diana easily defeats the muggers and when another figure approaches, Steve tries to take it on only to be knocked aside as it is a servant of Ares from the underworld. Diana starts battling the creature and manages to get the upper hand but it kills itself before it can be forced to talk. Steve searches among the ashes and finds an disk with a symbol on it and Diana recognizes it as the sign of Tartarus. They fly to a mountain in Greece and discover a rebel group that Diana says is the modern incarnation of the Cult of Ares. Working together, they dispatch the guards and head inside the temple, where they find Ares preparing to sacrifice one of the cult members in order to open the gates to Tartarus. Diana tells Steve they have to stop Ares and goes to stop him but Ares casts a spell to bring the two giant harpy statues to life to attack them. Diana manages to kill one of them but the second one grabs her before she can kill Ares and flies off with her. Faced with the choice of saving Diana or stopping Ares, Steve decides to save Diana, managing to get on top of the harpy and throwing a grenade in it’s mouth, then rescuing Diana when it falls. Meanwhile, Ares makes the sacrifice and opens the gate and heads into the underworld with Persephone while Steve flies Diana to get treated for her injuries. In Tartarus, Hades leaves Persephone with Cerberus while he goes to see Hades alone and is shocked to find that Hades has made Thrax his slave but Hades agrees to free Ares from his bonds. At the hospital, Diana regains consciousness and when she learns that Steve chose to save her over stopping Ares, she slaps him and says she was prepared to die for her cause. When she accuses Steve of being willing to accomplish the mission if she was a man instead of a “damsel in distress”, Steve yells at her, saying that the Amazons aren’t perfect either, as he feels separating themselves from humanity was cowardly, and he saved her because he cared for her. The two get closer and seem about to kiss but Diana slaps him again and says they have work to do. In Washington D.C., Ares assembles his army and prepares to wage a war that will cause all of humanity to be slaughtered and allow him to challenge the Gods of Olympus, then sends them after the national guard, who have assembled to stop them. Diana and Steve arrive and begin working on stopping Ares army from destorying D.C. but Diana ends up being captured. Ares moves to behead her, much like Hippolyta beheaded his son but an arrow suddenly knocks the sword from his hand and he turns to find that the Amazons have left Themyscira and come to help Diana stop Ares. As Ares forces move to fight the Amazons, Diana frees herself and continues fighting Ares, getting the upper hand. Meanwhile, the President, feeling the influence of Ares in D.C. says that someone has to pay for this attack and when his intelligence agencies tell him of Themyscira appearing out of nowhere, he orders a nuclear missile to be fired at it. As Diana asks Ares how he will be able to challenge the Gods when he can’t beat her, he tells her of the nuclear missile and how it’s destructive power is like 1000 wars, allowing him to increase his size and strength. Steve sees the missile flying off and gets into Diana’s invisible jet and takes off after it, managing to shoot it down before it destroys Themyscira. As Ares continues to batter Diana, he uses his new found power to summon the spirits of the dead Amazons and sends them to fight the Amazon army, and as each Amazon falls, it rejoins the battle and fights against the remaining Amazons. Artemis ends up fighting against her dead sister Alexa, who continuous says a phrase to her. Realizing that Alexa wants her to say it, Artemis does so and the phrase is revealed to be a spell that removes Ares’s unnatural control over the Amazons. The dead Amazons move to attack Ares but he uses his powers to destroy the dead Amazons. Meanwhile, Hippolyta ends up fighting against Persephone and as Hippolyta kills her and says she betrayed the Amazons, Persephone said Hippolyta betrayed them by denying them the right to have a family or children. Diana and Ares continue fighting and Diana finally defeats him by using the Lasso of Truth to grab Ares and pull him into the path of a bolt of lightning he summoned, then cutting off his head. As Steve lands the plane and approaches Diana, the two embrace and kiss, while the Amazons cheer both them and their victory over Ares army. The Amazons return to Themyscira and Hippolyta comments on Artemis’s attempt at reading a book. She then notes Diana sitting sadly on a bench and, realizing that she misses Steve, hands her back the armor and lasso and tells Diana that she has a new mission, to reopen the lines of communication between man and woman. Diana returns to New York to be with Steve but when they see the super villain Cheetah robbing a bank, Diana quickly changes clothes to stop her, as the newly christened super hero Wonder Woman.
This was a pretty good movie and one of their better examples of their early movies. The voice acting was pretty good, with Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion doing a good job as Diana and Steve respectively. I also thought that Alfred Molina did a great job as Ares, putting a lot of emphasis into making him feel like he was truly evil. The plot was good, though it really was nothing more than an origin story for the most part. I did like how they showed how some of the Amazons, personified in Persephone, might have questioned being forever isolated from the rest of the world and, while not saying they wanted all of the physical things, did wish for a normal life and the chance to have a family as opposed to always training for battle like they do. I also thought they made a decent attempt at not making Diana more sexual but then they had to go and through in the scene with her putting on her uniform and you get the one bit where it is nothing more than a “Hey, check out my boobs” moment and it just shot that all to hell. I thought the animation was pretty good and the colors and shading done during the carious scenes, with the battle scenes and the scenes in Tartarus appearing darker to make it fit the dark mood in the scenes. A good animated movie and a good entry into DC’s library of animated works.
Rating: 4 out of 5