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Wonder Woman (3D Blu-ray Review)

15 Sep, 2017 By: John Latchem



Street 9/19/17
Warner
Action
Box Office $410.7 million
$28.98 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray, $44.95 3D BD, $44.95 UHD BD
Rated ‘PG-13’ for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content.
Stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya, Ewen Bremner, Lucy Davis, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Eugene Brave Rock, Saïd Taghmaoui.

Although Wonder Woman is considered one of the core characters of the DC Comics canon — linked with Superman and Batman as the company’s “Trinity” of top-tier superheroes — she has mostly been given short shrift on the big screen compared with her brethren. Until now.

Several efforts to bring the character to life in a movie adaptation have stalled out over the years, leaving Lynda Carter’s portrayal in the 1970s TV series as the most notable live-action depiction of the character, in addition to several animated adventures.

While the heroine first appeared in print in 1941, she wouldn’t make it into a live-action movie until 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — an appearance that whet fan appetites for her own standalone adventure. That anticipation has paid off in droves.

In the hands of director Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman is a testament to what happens when a filmmaker actually cares about the source material and makes an effort to use it to tell a meaningful story.

Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is evocative of the kind of epic adventure films comic book movies should be in telling their stories of larger-than-life characters. Jenkins has learned well the lesson of Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman — verisimilitude. You have to play the material straight for it to be taken seriously, no matter how fantastical it might seem.

Wonder Woman is very much in the spirit of the original Superman, even if its story might evoke the period sensibilities of Captain America: The First Avenger.

Diana, princess of the Amazons, saves the life of American Steve Trevor after he crashes on their hidden island paradise, Themyscira. He brings horrific tales of the first world war, leading her to conclude that the god Ares is behind the conflict, and that she must leave her people to venture into the world to destroy him and end the war.

Gal Gadot perfectly conveys Diana’s idealism and naiveté as her worldview is challenged by the realities of war. Chris Pine is equally effective as the battle-worn Steve Trevor, and the pair are electric together.

What makes the film work so well is the way it’s presented from Diana’s point-of-view. Her earnestness and matter-of-fact reactions to society point up absurdities and hypocrisies in ways that are both humorous and illuminating.

The action sequences are engaging and the film looks spectacular, especially the scenes on Themyscira. The 3D is a bit more subtle than one might expect from a comic book movie like this, providing some depth but not adding much to the viewing experience.

Wonder Woman is the fourth film in the DC Extended Universe, and, while technically a sequel to BvS, it plays completely as a standalone film. There are no distractions with gratuitous attempts to build up a larger shared universe or set up more movies, although viewers who have been paying attention to the DCEU will find a lot to appreciate. The reveal of Diana’s backstory here retroactively improves BvS in many ways, if only by offering some needed depth to her character and motivations in that film. Needless to say, Wonder Woman provides some important momentum leading into Justice League later this year.

The Blu-ray adds to the Justice League build-up with an exclusive epilogue, “Etta’s Mission” — a nearly three-minute short involving Diana’s allies re-uniting after the war.

An additional 10 minutes of extended and alternate scenes provide some good character moments.

The making of the film is covered extensively in more than an hour’s worth of featurettes. The most interesting are the five “A Director’s Vision” videos, totaling about 25 minutes. Perhaps the most fascinating detail revealed here is how the 100-year-old photograph that ties Diana to BvS was taken using real vintage equipment, and gives us a glimpse of BvS director Zack Snyder making a cameo as a WWI soldier.

“Warriors of Wonder Woman” is a 10-minute featurette about the casting and training of the actresses who played the Amazon army.

Beyond the production, the 16-minute “The Trinity” is interesting in that it examines Wonder Woman’s comic book history in relation to Batman and Superman, and how she evolved to become a character just as important as them in many ways.

A bit more superfluous is the 23-minute “Finding the Wonder Woman Within” — a collection of buzzwords and poetry inspired by the character. There’s also a five-and-a-half-minute blooper reel.


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