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Featured Blu-ray and DVD Review: Wonder Woman

October 8th, 2017

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Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is the fourth film in the DCEU and apparently it is one of the last. (Warner Bros. recently came out and said they would be focusing on individual stories and downplaying the overall continuity for a while. Smart move.) Wonder Woman broke a number of records during its box office run, including biggest box office hit for a female director, biggest super hero original movie, etc. and in the end, it was the biggest domestic hit of the summer. Did it deserve this success? Or was it only good compared to the previous installments in the DCEU?

The Movie

There’s a short prologue in the beginning set in the modern day. Diana Prince receives a package from Bruce Wayne containing a picture of her with several soldiers. This causes her to flashback to many, many years ago when she was a mere child on the island of Themyscira. Diana was an energetic child who didn’t want to study and would much rather train with the other warriors. This worries her mother, Queen Hippolyta, but her aunt, Antiope, disagrees and even begins training Diana in secret when she’s a little older. Hippolyta does catch them, but allows Antiope to continue training Diana, as long as Antiope promises to never tell Diana her true origin.

A training montage later, and the now adult Diana Prince is the strongest Amazon in Themyscira. Too strong to be just a regular Amazon. After Diana shows how powerful she can be, she goes off by herself, because she doesn’t know what to make of her powers. Just then, she sees a plane crash just off the island. She immediately dives into the water rescuing the pilot, Steve Trevor, and she’s surprised to see a man. Unfortunately, Steve was being chased by the Germans and before the pair of them can figure out what is happening, the island is under attack. The Amazons are some of the best trained warriors the world has ever known, but they are up against men with guns, so they take some heavy casualties. When the battle is over, some of the Amazons want to kill Steve Trevor immediately, because he wears the same uniform as the Germans. Cooler heads prevail and he’s interrogated with the Lasso of Hestia, which forces him to tell the truth.

And the truth is not pretty. Steve Trevor is an American working as a British Spy. He was behind enemy lines when he learned General Erich Ludendorff was using the Turks to build bombs, bombs designed by Isabel Maru, a.k.a. Doctor Poison. The chemical weapons they are making could prolong the war and kill untold millions. Steve Trevor was able to steal Maru’s notebook and destroy the factory in his escape, but if he can’t get the notebook to London, Ludendorff will be able to rebuild all that Steve destroyed. Diana immediately assumes Ares is behind this and insists on going with Steve so she can stop him. Her mother refuses, so Diana sneaks into their armory, steals armor, a shield, the lasso, and the Godkiller sword. Hippolyta catches them, but doesn’t stop her from going. She knows this is something Diana needs to do.

One magical boat ride later and the pair are in London. Steve Trevor meets up with his secretary, Etta, and they try to get Diana to blend in before he meets with the Imperial War Cabinet. Sadly, despite the information Steve has, the War Cabinet insists on peace, including Sir Patrick Morgan. They don’t think General Erich Ludendorff is a real threat. In fact, they think going after him could cost them their chance at peace, so they forbid Steve from going and Steve agrees to their order. At first Diana is furious at Steve, until he explains he lied to them and they are definitely going after Ludendorff. However, they will need some help to get there.

We know who the help is going to be. After all, we saw them in the picture at the beginning. That said, this is a good place to stop before we encounter too many spoilers.

I’m going to state a controversial opinion. DC Comics is older than Marvel Comics. No, it’s true. Furthermore, nearly every time there’s a similar character in both DC and Marvel, Marvel came second. There are a few times where Marvel came first, Namor vs. Aquaman, for example, but for the most part, DC came first. That can’t be said for the DCEU vs. the MCU When it comes to the movies, DC has been playing catch-up this whole time. Because of this, it is important for the DC to not look like they are copying Marvel too closely when it comes to the movies. Sadly, they’ve failed more than a few times. For example, Darkseid is playing the same role in the DCEU that Thanos is playing in the MCU. Darkseid debuted in the comics before Thanos did, but the average moviegoer is going to think the DCEU ripped off the MCU here.

So does Wonder Woman fall for the same pittrap? I’ve got some bad news. Wonder Woman is basically the first Thor movie and the first Captain America movies smushed together. It is based on real world Mythohlogy like Thor is, plus it has the fish-out-of-water elements that Thor had. Additionally, it is a period war movie similar to Captain America. Wonder Woman even has a group of soldiers she fights with, which are similar to the Howling Commandos from Captain America. I wasn’t expecting the movie to be original, because ironically, origin stories are almost never original, but it was similar enough that I shook my head. On the positive side, that’s the only real problem I had with the movie. (That and implausible travel time from Themyscira to London, but filmmakers rarely know how long it takes to get from one place to another.)

Gal Gadot is excellent in the movie and is clearly the best character in the entire DCEU. She and Chris Pine also have great chemistry together and this elevates an otherwise rather standard romance. Furthermore, Gal Gadot, like all of the actresses who play the Amazons, can handle the action scenes. The film also really goes to great lengths to make Wonder Woman inspirational, and if you’ve seen those countless images of young girls dressing up as Wonder Woman, you know it did an excellent job there.

I’m not saying the movie is great and it is not among the top five best films I’ve seen all year. For example, it lacks the emotional gut punch of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 and that does hurt its overall score. That said, if you want a rousing time with some excellent action scenes and a lead that won’t be mistaken for countless others, then Wonder Woman is certainly worth your time. I’ve watched it three times so far and I will likely watch it again.

The Extras

Extras begin with Etta’s Mission, a 3-minute short about Etta’s first mission after the movie ended. Crafting the Wonder is a 16-minute long making of featurette. A Director’s Vision is a five-part, 25 minute look at Patty Jenkins’s vision for the movie. The Warriors of Wonder Woman looks at the Amazons and the training the actresses went through. The Trinity is a 16-minute look at the three big DC comics super heroes. Patty Jenkins is the focus of 16-minute long featurette, The Wonder Behind the Camera. Finding the Wonder Woman Within features interviews with lots of women as they talk about the important character traits Wonder Woman has and how they would improve the world as a whole. There are five extended scenes, with a total running time of 9 minutes. There is also an alternate scene that runs one minute. Finally, there are six minutes of outtakes.

I would have liked an audio commentary track, but this is still a great selection of extras.

The Verdict

Wonder Woman is the first movie in the DCEU that I’m actually looking forward to seeing again. The extras on the DVD, Blu-ray Combo Pack, 3D Combo Pack, or 4k Ultra HD Combo Pack is more than enough to lift it to an easy purchase.

Filed under: Video Review, Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC Extended Universe, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis, Gal Gadot, Danny Huston, Connie Nielsen, Chris Pine, David Thewlis, Robin Wright, Patty Jenkins, Emily Carey, Lilly Aspell