Thursday, January 15, 2015

On DVD: Wonder Woman (2009)

Ever wonder why it's so hard to mount any sort of a project involving Wonder Woman?

In 2011, noted producer David E. Kelley was tasked to produce a revival of the 70's series, with Adrienne Palicki taking up the mantle previously worn by Lynda Carter. Unfortunately, NBC, after commissioning the pilot, backed off, and it went unsold, though I believe there is a video on YouTube that we'll get to down the road over at The Land of Whatever.

Two years earlier, DC & Warner Bros. released an animated DTV that explained the Amazing Amazon's origin, as was documented at the time, as well as how the Amazons came to settle on Themyscira (formerly Paradise Island). Seems that the Amazons were engaged in battle vs. Ares (Alfred Molina), who draws psychic energy from the battle to give him strength. Hippolyta (Virginia Madsen) wanted to kill him, but Zeus (David McCallum, NCIS) would have none of it. Instead, Ares was stripped of his powers thanks to some bracers which could only be removed by another god.

On Themyscira, Hippolyta used the sands of the beach, rather than clay as told in the comics, to create her daughter, Diana (Keri Russell, ex-Felicity). The island is shielded from "Man's World", and doesn't shift between dimensions, as had been documented in recent comics prior to 2011. One day, Army pilot Steve Trevor (Nathan Fillion, Castle) crash-lands on the island. The Amazons' reaction? They see Trevor as they see all men, as the enemy. However, he falls for Diana almost immediately.

Ares, meanwhile, has seduced Persephone to the point where she has betrayed her sisters and releases Ares. Diana & Steve travel to the mainland, after Diana has gone through the trial by combat that gives her the iconic costume, to combat Ares and his followers. A climatic battle in Washington sees Ares raise some Amazons from the dead to fight their sisters. Coincidentally, there'd been a miniseries from DC about dead characters being brought back to life around the same time. Trevor, on the other hand, intercepts a missile headed for Themyscira, as the President (Rick Overton) has been duped into thinking the Amazons are responsible.

Inevitably, Diana, and, for that matter, the Amazons as a whole, finally realize that shutting themselves off from male companionship was not a good idea after all. Diana, ultimately, returns to the mainland to begin her relationship with Steve, and we get a closing tease that was supposed to represent a potential sequel, but no second film was made.

Here's a sample clip:

Where the film fails is in the characterization of Steve Trevor. I don't believe he was portrayed as a womanizer in the live-action series (by Lyle Waggoner), so this is a little off-putting. Rightfully, having an acclaimed comics writer in Gail Simone writing the script should've been enough. Michael Jelenic, now head writer and producer of Teen Titans Go!, wrote the final treatment, and missed the mark, especially with Diana & Steve's "first date".

Rating: C.


magicdog said...

I never understood why it's so hard to do a WW show or live action film now.

Forty years ago the network had no serious problems (Linda Carter was WW and is still the standard to live up to) yet all the other so called talented Hollywood types claim they can't or have no story ideas or the moon isn't in retrograde, or some such excuse.

This movie is the next best thing to a live action show or movie; Kimberly Williams did a great job as WW and it was great to see [Paradise Island] and the Amazons working alongside each other. Nathan Fillian always seems like a roguish kind of guy, so I'm not surprised he was selected to be Steve Trevor, but it might have been a nice wink and nod if Patrick Duffy were asked to voice him again (as he did in JL). Even he played it a bit roguish - especially calling Diana, "Angel".

I saw the (thankfully) unaired WW pilot Kelley tried to foist upon us and it couldn't be further away from what Diana was supposed to be. She was characterized as Ally McBeal with superpowers!


Why don't they just get Gail Simone to write a screenplay or TV script treatment. At least she has a good handle on the character.

hobbyfan said...

As noted, this would've been better if Gail Simone wrote the final script herself, instead of giving it to Michael Jelenic.

Keri Russell was fine as Diana here, and I'd not mind her returning for a follow-up. I do have to catch up on all those other DTV's, though, to keep score.