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Wonder Woman – Commemorative Edition (Blu-ray Review)

Its hard to believe this DC Comics animated film is turning eight years old in 2017. When it was released, it was but the fourth of these edgier cartoons with PG-13 ratings featuring the DC super heroes. Now they are somewhere around thirty with more to come. These come at a pace where they can afford to hit and miss while constantly crutching on the Batman mythos with much frequency. Wonder Woman’s debut was a big standout right away, and the best reviewed of the bunch. It got the tone, story and characters perfect. While what came before was pretty solid, this one put thing on another pedestal. I haven’t seen every one of these, but Wonder Woman still is on that pedestal holding strong. It went out of print a while back, so with the new film coming out, Warner Bros is re-releasing it with a couple new featurettes.  If you didn’t have it before, now’s the time to grab it when it streets on May 16th.

Film 

On the mystical island of Themyscira, a proud and fierce warrior race of Amazons have raised a princess of untold beauty, grace and strength – Diana. When U.S. fighter pilot Steve Trevor crash-lands on the island, the rebellious and headstrong Diana defies Amazonian law by accompanying Trevor back to civilization. Meanwhile, Ares (the God of War) has escaped his imprisonment at the hands of the Amazonians and has decided to exact his revenge by starting a World War that will last for centuries and wipe out every living being on the planet, starting with the Amazons. It is up to Diana to save her people and the world – by using her gifts and becoming the ultimate Wonder Woman!

Going back, its crazy how much this Wonder Woman film fits into is one hour and fifteen minute runtime. There’s a complete origin story, two giant battles, a villainous plot, lots of different characters with arcs and personal moments.  But the thing is, it never feels crammed, jammed, contrived, forced or rushed. This film feels relaxed and patient with so much material, while something that is given pretty much three hours to do so, felt quite the opposite last year. I can’t think of a better introduction for the character Princess Diana as she has her first outing to take the mantle of Wonder Woman.

This film has damn near everything too. It opens on a massive battle with the Amazonian women against Aries and an army of macho dudes, minotaurs, ogres, werewolves and stuff. This is complete with plenty of bloodshed and a few beheadings (YES! This movie LOOOOOOVES decapitating people). We get plenty of fights, the lasso of truth, the invisible jet, little battles, big giant battles, sword fights and…it wouldn’t be complete without ZOMBIES! Yes, there are zombies in here. And in a nice touch they kinda feel like caffeinated version of the ones from the Tombs of the Blind Dead movies. To add, the film has a really good, tasteful sense of humor, whether its silly giggles or a little bit of cruder adult humor. Wonder Woman is always well aware and on point.

Voice casting is on point as well. Keri Russell makes for a terrific Wonder Woman. Unfortunately this was her only turn as Princess Diana.  Russell manages to bring both a maturity with straight arrow sense of honor and a sense of wonder and youth to the role. Nathan Fillion’s Steve Trevor is pretty much a Nathan Fillion role, and that works quite well. Alfred Molina works well, but the calm nature he approaches it with adds a creepier factor to his hulking and menacing Aries. The rest of the cast rounds out quite well, with Virginia Madsen giving a strong effort as Wonder Woman’s mother.

While I have spoke highly about this film for about eight years now, I hadn’t seen it since that first time back in 2009. I was very happy to return for this review and confirm that what I thought then still holds true now. And it confirms that they still have quite topped this one yet. It just formulates perfectly around who this character is and manages the perfect tone and doesn’t abuse the freedom it has to be PG-13. If you haven’t seen it, correct that mistake and check it out.

Video 

Encoding: VC-1

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-25

Clarity/Detail: As you can see from the VC-1 encoding, this is the exact same picture that was on the previous edition of the film. Its well enough, though it feels as if the image could be striking and more crisp and sharp if they took a second and just tweaked it a tad. Even though, this is a fine enough picture that is more thrilling the brighter the occasion.

Depth:  Flat, 2-D here. Nothing really standout in terms of camera pans or whatnot.

Black Levels: Blacks are their solid form. Some solid shading in darker sequences. No crushing witnessed on this viewing.

Color Reproduction: Colors are solid and strong enough, but you feel in some areas they could have been more bold. Reds, golds and yellows stick out well. Fire does pop the most when on screen. Most things feel like they could or should be a little brighter.

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 2.0 Dolby Digital, German 2.0 Dolby Digital, Spanish (Latin Am.) 2.o Dolby Digital, Portuguese 2.0 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German SDH, Spanish (Latin Am.), Portuguese

Dynamics: For this edition, they’ve gone from TrueHD to DTS-HD Master Audio. I can’t remember what it really sounded like before, but this proves to be a solid track. The action gets nice and rumbly with good clarity and separation of the music, vocals and sound effects. These aren’t the crispest of foley sound effects in an animated film, but they do have good clarity and work well enough. This one could be a bit better, but what you get does the trick and then some.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Impaling, explosions, magic, marching, heavy sword clanging & swooping and hard punches landing give a solid thump in the subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: Movement is accurately placed up in the front channels back and forth. Rear speakers do engage in some of the action, but primarily work for the ambiance and environmental sounds in different scenes.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is clear and crisp with a good representation of the actors’ diction.

Extras 

Wonder Woman – Commemorative Edition comes with the DVD edition and an UltraViolet digital copy of the film. From the previous edition, they have removed any of the timely promo featurettes for other films and the Justice League episodes.

Audio Commentary

  • By the Film’s Creative Team

A Sneak Peak at Batman and Harley Quinn (HD, 9:08) – Bruce Timm and others fluff and give backstory on the character as well as the upcoming Harley Quinn DCAU film that stars Melissa Rauch as Harley Quinn.

What Makes a Wonder Woman (HD, 10:06) – Gal Gadot, Patty Jenkins, Lauren Montgomery, Phil Jiminez, Geoff Johns and others discuss the history of the character and who exactly she is with some promo of the upcoming tossed in.

Wonder Woman: A Subversive Dream (HD, 25:36) – Carried over from the previous edition, it goes over the era of the world when Wonder Woman debuted and how she and women in comics impacted the world.

Wonder Woman: Daughter of Myth (HD, 25:40) – Another ported over from the previous edition, it covers her origin, place in mythology and personality.

Trailer (HD, 1:33) – DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year

Summary 

Wonder Woman holds up swimmingly. Hopefully the new film takes cues from this and not the live action ones that came before it. The video remains the same as before, while the audio just switches lossless formats. The new extras add more to Wonder Woman knowledge and the stuff that didn’t make the cut from last time really isn’t going to be missed. This is a must have for any Wonder Woman/DC/superhero fan that doesn’t already own it. If you DO own it, you really don’t need to double dip.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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