Thank the Almighty and benevolent Space Buddah I finally (through entirely legal means, I swear!) mustered up the cash to buy the Wonder Woman movie on DVD. (Two -disc Special Edition! Yay!)
I've already expressed my mild rage that it's taken this long for Wondy to get her own feature so I won't reiterate it here. I was really excited to see this movie but now I'm not all together sure it was worth the wait. Don't get me wrong! I really liked this movie, but I'm hoping this is just the feelers being put out for interest in bringing her to a wider audience, be that through either the TV or motion picture medium. This was an entertaining movie but it could have been so much better. I think we can go a lot further with her story without perverting her image, making it a magical-girl anime knock off or turning her into the host of Princess Diana's Pandering
Comedy Hour for Basement Dwelling Mouth-Breathers.
This movie was produced for the expanding direct-to-DVD DC Animated movie line by the Bruce Timm production family over at Warner Bros. Everything that man's name is on says quality, so I was so excited to see his Wondy designs. The movie was written by GAIL SIMONE who's very name makes me flail with joy. She writes things that are awesome; Jayne and I argue weekly over who of us wants to bear her children more...despite the obvious hinderances.
Those, besides obvious members of the voice acting cast, are the only names attached to this project that I care about.
This review is in the play-by-play style and very spoilery. If you care, DO NOT read this post.
The movie opens with WAR. A distinctly Greek looking country-side is getting burninated by hordes and hordes of random orcs and generic mythical beasts of every shape and size. Shiny bronze-plated Amazons are holding back the tide of evil pretty well but for the most part they're getting owned. There is a sudden dog pile on an Amazon we don't get to see very
well at first but when she throws them off we are hit with classic Wonder Woman iconography. She's got the Lasso of Truth strapped to her hip, the Amazon crest on her shield and the shiny shiny silver bracelets. She proceeds to stomp all the bad guys within her reach into a mushy evil paste. She makes her way, via a flying bad guy that she then decapitates with her tiara, (and at this point I could not help but squeal Moon Tiara Action! to my shame) towards a towering acropolis that houses the instigator of these shenanigans: Ares; God of War/Chauvinistic Douchebaggery. It quickly becomes apparent that this is not the Diana version of Wonder Woman but Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, out for some sweet, sweet revenge.
OMG the violence in this opening scene definitely caught me off guard. Several members of the evil horde as well as a decent chunk of the Amazons get various and sundry melee weapons embedded in their faces. An Amazon gets rolled over by a downed horse on screen and lays there with limbs all bent in the wrong direction and twitching! That's messed up for a 'toon, even one aimed at a more adult audience! The PG-13 rating is most definitely earned within the first five minutes of this movie. The tone is set right away and that tone is dark.
We cut back into the melee to meet some side characters. Artemis: a crazy, bad ass killing machine Amazon warrior who is really into the whole Spartan-esque Amazon doctrine of glory through death in battle. Her borderline zealotry is reflected in her relationship with her sister, Alexa. Alexa, to her sister's shame, is in no way suited to the life she was born into. Alexa prefers to read books by obscure mystic philosophers and knows nothing of being a warrior. She demonstrates this by being an utter noob that has to be hauled out of the fray by yet another named Amazon NPC: Persephone. Persephone pays for her good deed by getting half of her face hacked off! Artemis uses this opportunity to be smug and claim that Persephone now wears her courage. I'm assuming she means the ugly puckering scar that will result if Persy survives that nasty face wounding. I also assume she will survive as she is the only other Amazon besides the sisters to get a name and some slight character buildup.
Back to the Hippolyta/Ares throw down. This fight is brutal. Ares has absolutely no qualms with hitting women, and hitting them hard. He also stoops to using vile insinuations about his and Hippolyta's former romantic relationship as weapon.
Ares: You seem as eager to meet me in battlefield as you once did in the bedroom, Hippolyta.
Hippolyta: I only hope you prove more skilled in this arena, Ares.
Alfred Molina, who you might remember as Doctor Octopus from such films as Spider Man 2, makes me believe every arrogant, malicious word out of his animated mouth. Virginia Madsen, though her delivery is a little dry, makes Hippy's hatred for Ares, and the male species by association, so thick and hearty you could spread it on a cracker.
As Hippy and Ares grapple Ares starts in with the psychological warfare by bringing attention to a warrior in the melee below that is single handedly serving all of the Amazons near him with a perverted look of glee on his face. We learn right away that the malicious little snot is Ares's son with Hippolyta, named Thrax. It is also insinuated that he was "forced upon" Hippy. NOT COOL ARES. She hates that kid only slightly less than she hates his father. There is a brilliant little bit of animation that focuses on Ares's and Hippolyta's faces as Ares moons over his murderous little progeny. In a blink-and-you-miss-it moment the look of disgusted hate on Hippy's face morphs into a crafty smirk. She breaks free of Ares, leaving him on the floor of the acropolis as she makes her way towards Thrax. Ares quickly realizes what she's doing and pursues her, begging for Thrax's life, reminding her that he is of her blood too. Hippolyta of course is having none of it and without so much as a "Hello" she takes Thrax's head in one blow. This is shown in a cool silhouette, very arty, very graphic.
Ares, who clearly loved his sadistic son, freaks. Hippolyta gets ready to righteously finish the job and end Ares but alas, this is a story steeped in Greek Mythology and we are reminded of this as thunderclouds herald the arrival of Zeus to stop her...cause he's a jerk.
Hippy understandably calls bullshit. After everything Ares has done to the Amazons what right does Zeus have to stay her hand? I'm right there with Hippy! Screw that noise! But nooooo, Zeus won't allow it. Hera butts in, agreeing with Hippy, but suggesting a compromise in decidedly bored tones. Ares will be stripped of his powers by gauntlety things and imprisoned forever by the Amazons, but he will not be killed. (He's a god so can he really die at all?) The Amazons get a magical island dubbed Themyscira, cut off from the world of men. (So...it's like being trapped in an all girls military school forever? Pass.) And Hippolyta herself gets a baby not "created by unholy union". A fantastical freaky mud baby brought to life by Hippy's love and the power of the gods named Diana.
Thank Zeus for no cheesy growing pains montages but we've only just now gotten to the freakin' credits! Lotsa world building and character introductions to get through!
So far, I'm so into this movie it's not even funny. Wonder Woman hasn't even shown up yet and it's been non-stop action from go. Beautiful animation, even the violence is just stunningly rendered. Kudos to Bruce Timm and Co...so far.
After the intro credits we get some more fight choreography, only now we get to meet Diana. She's all grown up and angsty, coveting freedom and a chance to prove herself to her overprotective mother. During a sparring battle with Artemis we see that she is in fact quite capable of holding her own in a battle. Too bad if Hippolyta has her way she'll never see a battlefield in any of her immortal days. If she'd had a mermaid's tail and red hair I'd have been expecting a rendition of "Part of Your World" from our fair heroine.
To make a point, Hippy brings her daughter to an isolated, guarded cave in the outer parts of Themyscira. We see where Ares has been spending the last couple centuries: a dank dark cell. He's being guarded by the now heavily scarred, bitter and half blind Persephone.
Diana is kinda freaked out by the first man (god!) she's ever seen in her life. Hippy is displeased and starts one of several anti-men rants in this movie.
It's in this scene that Hippolyta's character started to bug me. Her hatred and rage towards Ares specifically is understandable. Her hatred and distrust for the male gender as a whole, however, is not. You can also tell from the way Diana kinda rolls her eyes everytime one of these tirades starts that Hippy has been bitching out loud about men-in-general SINCE the Ares incident however many centuries ago. (Maybe I projected the eye-rolling onto Diana cause I know for a fact that's what I was doing.) Amazons have often been portrayed as a race of man-hating super-femmes so characters like Artemis behaving like that without reason doesn't really bother me. Artemis is gleefully violent and aggressive in every aspect of her personality. It was probably off putting to the Amazonian men before Ares allegedly slaughtered them all so she might just have
a centuries old case of sour grapes. Whatever. Hippolyta associates Ares as the root of evil in all men's hearts. Hello? You're a race of warrior women! War is most definitely in your hearts too! I've been in a bad relationship before but being a sane rational adult means I don't blame THE ENTIRE MALE SEX for the problems I had with ONE of their members. Get a grip Hippolyta. Grab a pint of Ben & Jerrys, tune the coconut radio to Sad FM, have a little cry and get over it. Argh. (Y: the Last Man clearly ruined me for stories involving female dominated societies.)
HOWEVER: After watching this movie several times I have come to the conclusion that perhaps the filmmakers made both Hippolyta and Artemis unlikeable shrews on purpose. In response to the "Wha?" I'm assuming you just uttered I assure you I will come back to that thought later on in the post.
Anyway, Diana goes off for an escapist horsey ride while Hippy speaks expositionally in front of her magic mirror (it sees into the world of men, or so she says cause the only thing we see in it is the local weather) for a few minutes. Through the mirror we are introduced to three American fighter pilots doing god-knows-what over god-knows-where airspace. They are suddenly accosted by faceless, nameless badguys in black jets with opaque visors. Subtle. It doesn't matter though cause I find myself with my disbelief completely suspended cause HEE! NATHAN FILLION!
One of our intrepid pilots is none other than Steve Trevor, known in the comics as a love interest for Diana, (In the 50's, he was like a male version of Lois Lane and he and Diana got married before the first Crisis-on-Infinite-Earths retconned him into obscurity, poor guy.) so you can see where this is going. Nathan Fillion fills the character with his trademark sort of smarmy charm that turns me into goo! Every time this character is on-screen it brings a flutter to my heart and a squee to my lips cause he's just adorable. A lot.
A fire fight ensues with the "badguys" continuing with the surprising amounts of violence in an animated movie. One of the badguy's planes get shot up from below by Steve and blood splatters on the inside of the cockpit window before the plane itself explodes! Not just a little splatter either, this guy was clearly shot into bloody ribbons before he was incinerated! Holy crap!
Steve's two pilot buddies get shot down and blown up too. (Not through any ineptness on their parts, the faceless a.i. badguys are just that good.) Steve's plane gets damaged in the explosion that takes out the last badguy. A swift cut back to Themyscira reminds us that the only reason we are seeing this at all is because Hippolyta was watching it in the magic mirror. Someone, and I can only assume it's Hippy, though we don't actually see who, punches the mirror causing it to appear like Brigadoon in the middle of the sea Steve thought he was gonna crash into just moments before.
This is my favorite animated sequence in the whole movie. Steve's plane...falls with style, taking in the sights of Themyscira on the way. This includes a really, really cool landscape panning shot of Steve zooming past Diana standing on a cliff in a pretty green mountain valley. The literal and figurative crashing of man into the world of the Amazons has never been so gloriously illustrated before.
Sadly, right after this sequence I was pulled right out of the movie by the spectacular amounts of FAIL the filmmakers follow this with.
Steve is the greatest pilot in the universe. He apparently rolls nat 20s on his reflex saves cause this "crash" landing is the least crashy crash I've ever seen. (Take that English language!) He lands his plane on a lake. Not in the lake. On it. It hits the water with a slight bit of turbulence and an eety little splash, then the momentum carries the plane, upright and perfectly intact (give or take a few bullet holes) right to shore. I'm sure it's possible to land a plane in water like that without much damage, (that one guy landed a commercial plane on the Hudson in a similar fashion) but not at the speed he was going. Sorry, no. Steve hops out unscathed and stumbles
into the Themyscirian jungle.
If this wasn't unbelievable enough, Steve just happens to stumble his merry way into some of the most ridiculous, non-sensical pandering I've ever seen in all my years on this Earth.
Steve pushes aside some fern fronds and, (you guessed it!) sees a bunch of naked Amazons bathing, splashing and giggling in a combination hot spring and waterfall that I'm almost positive does not occur in nature!
NO! BAD MOVIE! NO BISCUIT! Steve's plane just took the scenic route through the entire island. Every woman in Themyscira has to know he's there. These women are splashing and giggling without a care! No! Maybe something could be said for a bunch of inexplicably gorgeous, sexually active women being isolated together on an island for a very long time, and maybe that leading to extreme closeness, maybe a bond of sisterhood, maybe rampant lesbianism, I don't know! There is NO REASON for this scene. There are much better examples of showing off Steve's apparent womanizing and lechery both before and after this scene! This is completely pointless and tasteless and I hated it. Bad form!
Artemis leads the spear throwing charge to hunt down the man in their midst. Steve does a pretty good job of evading them until Diana joins in, despite Artemis's demands that she go home. Because Diana is mounted on a horse, I guess, she catches up to Steve first. Steve is instantly smitten with the hot bossy chick. (May or may not have had something to do with the good lighting and heroic background music) Steve, like a moron, still tries to run away...from the lady on a horse. (You're cute Steve but so very dumb.)
Needless to say Diana catches him again with a flying tackle off the back of her noble steed. She bodyboards Steve down a hill, (ow!) and they get into a short fight that is very pretty looking. Steve's holding his own while hilariously oogling Diana's T&A. He goes down after a very seriously painful looking kick to the junk and a finishing move that knocks him out.
Steve wakes up tied to a chair in the throne room surrounded by a gaggle of pissed off Amazons. As he made a crack about not having had this dream since he was thirteen (I giggled) I noticed that no two of the cluster of Amazons in the room look the same. Thumbs up to the filmmakers for taking the time to do that!
Anyway, Hippy's got the Lasso of Truth. She expositions some more about the shiny gold rope having the power to "bypass the untrustworthy nature of man" then (after I rolled my eyes) a simultaneously hilarious and frustrating interrogation commences.
Hippolyta: Here the true nature of men is laid bare. What other depraved thoughts must you be thinking?
Steve Trevor: God, your daughter's got a nice rack.
Hippy decides that Steve is no danger but he must be taken back where he came from. She wants to pick an emissary to accompany Steve back to America. In a fit of frivolity she decides to hold a tournament to determine the emissary. Obviously Diana, having a major jones for the outside world, volunteers right away. Steve likes this plan but Hippolyta shuts them down. Through the machinations of Persephone Diana is volunteered for a shift of Ares-sitting instead. This causes pouting. (Steve is a very very cute pouter. Then again I'm pretty sure I just projected Nathan Fillion's head onto Steve's animated body...which officially makes me a weirdo.)
Alexa serves up the solution by volunteering to cover for Diana so that she can enter the tournament, in disguise of course, so her mother wouldn't just automatically shut down any plot progression we could hope for.
Now we get to a pretty standard but very well animated tournament montage. Spears are thrown, chariots are raced etc. Diana is distinguishable by her helm which is of a slightly different make than the ones the other ladies are sporting.
About a third of the way through the montage I got kind of confused when they cut back to the cell. Alexa enters the cell and Persephone is mildly peeved that Diana weaseled her way out of her mother's commands yet again. Alexa begins spouting her obscure philosophy again but suddenly stops, eyes wide in shock. Persephone bitterly finishes the quote as she shoves the sword further into Alexa's back and lays the woman down to die. From Alexa's blurred perspective we see Persephone walk over to Ares's cell and release him. Then she makes out with him! Ares is, of course, splitting the time between mourning the fact that Diana isn't the one bleeding to death on the floor of the cell and gloating about all the mayhem that's about to ensue. He does not lay out his master plan, though it would've been acceptable and not at all cliche or annoying if he had as the person he's monologuing too is definitely about to die. Alexa's vision slowly goes black as Ares holds his hand over her nose and mouth. It's kind of shocking to realize we are watching Alexa die from her own perspective. My mouth was hanging open. Holy crap! I was also bummed cause I very much liked Alexa. Bookish women have a large place in my nerdy little heart.
We we come back to the tournament it's down to some nameless Amazon and Diana. The final contest is a really cool sequence that basically the same idea as the bullets and bracelets game from the comics, only with bows and arrows, which makes more sense. Steve has to be expositioned to by Artemis, who is curiously not participating in this contest...Diana wins! (natch)
As the victor Diana recives the Lasso of Truth, the shiny bracelets (of...awesomeness?) and the Wonder Woman costume, which resembles the colors of the nation she's emmisary-ing to. (improve your vocabulary by making up words!)
Hippolyta is oddly stoic as Diana reveals herself but she places the tiara (the one that can decapitate monsters and still look fabulous) on Diana's head and says she's sure Diana will do them all proud. I, for one, am glad for the lack of hissy. The moment is spoiled however by the news of Ares's escape. The ladies find Alexa's corpse on the floor of the cell, to the dismay of everyone...except Artemis. The extremly cold fish blames Alexa's death and Ares's escape on Alexa's weakness which causes my strangly hands to flare up. Hippy points out that Persephone is missing too and probably was the one to inflict the sword wound that Alexa, her sister, died from. (Or would have died from if Ares's hadn't smothered her to death first) Artemis at least has the nerve to look slightly ashamed of herself so the rage subsides. It now looks like Wonder Woman will not only have to accompany Steve home, but now she has to come back with Ares. No pressure, Diana.
We get a short montage of Wondy donning her costume for the first time, (with an unnecessary boob shot) and then we get the official first appearance of Wonder Woman in this movie! Yay!
Hippy brings out the invisible jet without ANY explanation of where it came from or how the Amazons aquired it. (The commentary explains that the producers thought it was enough of a part of the mythos they didn't need to explain it...ow.) Steve and Wondy are off on the shortest international flight ever to New York City, which is where they keep the Air Force, kiddies! How do I know this? There's a building within walking distance of Central Park that has a big sign outside that reads: AIR FORCE. Handy!
There's also a crazy drunk hobo on a bench that is voiced by John DiMaggio (AKA Bender from Futurama, and Aquaman from Batman Brave and the Bold) He's the only guy in the entire park that seems to notice an invisible jet just landed. (To be fair, it is invisible.) The best thing about this is that it really sounds like Bender is behind Steve and Wondy yelling wierd stuff like "look at that lady!" OMG I had to pause the movie I was laughing so hard!
Before we get to WTF-land though, Wondy gets her first introduction in the trials of woman in this brave new world. A little girl is crying on a bench. When asked, the little girl points out a gang of boys, probably around the age of ten or twelve, horsing around nearby.
Little Girl: They won't let me play pirates with them!
Wonder Woman: And why not?
Little Girl: Because I'm the girl and they need someone to save!
Wondy and I, at this point, have the same mixtures of shock and rage expressed on our faces. (No seriously, I was angry. That basically sums up my experience as a nerdy girl until around my late teens.) Wondy, in a move that single-handedly won me over to her character more than anything else she does afterwards, teaches the little girl how to mercilessly obliterate her opponents with a sharp stick.
Wonder Woman: Now go, unleash hell!
(the little girl runs off, little boys wail in terror in the background. Wondy looks proud.)
Steve Trevor: That was sweet, teaching her to disembowel her playmates like that.
Steve then makes a suggestion that they go look for Ares using his access to expensive government surveillance tech. Also that they find Wondy some normal clothes so that Steve doesn't get arrested for solicitation. Another moment I had to pause for lols. I love it when a medium pokes fun at itself!
One slightly uptight looking purple dress later Steve is showing Wondy around the AIR FORCE. They run into the spokeswoman for badly written female characters; Etta Candy. Etta, who does that thing where she talks with her boobs, wants Stave to get the pen she dropped under her desk. Diana, clearly as annoyed with this horseshit as I am, calls her on it, then ruins the whole thing by launching into another tirade about the wrongs society hath done unto women, especially women like Etta who have to feign weakness in order to get the things they want. I really don't like characters (or people) like that either but, I dunno, maybe it's a tribute to Keri Russel's voice acting in these scenes but these rants just come off as shrewish bitching instead of truly righteous speeches about a very serious societal problem. Happily, Steve gets Wondy to shut-up and focus on finding Ares, another, arguably larger, societal evil. They come to the conclusion that they have to wait for a patteren of mayhem and murder to arise so that they can figure out where Ares is going, or what he's up to. (Uhm...no?) While they wait, Steve makes another brilliant suggestion: a bar...and tequila.
Oh, Steve, no.
Diana matches Steve shot for shot through at least six rounds. She's fine but Steve is adorably drunk. The two talk about Diana, mostly her mother's history with Ares and how big of a whore Zeus is.
Adorably drunk Steve does something dumb and tries to make a pass at Diana. She overreacts, naturally. She carries her hissy fit outside, to the relief of the other customers I imagine.
Diana: It's all true, isn't it, Steve? Everything my mother warned me about man's world is true. She even told me you'd try to seduce me, and I, like a fool, told her, "For now, let's only expect the best from the pilot." You tried to get me drunk. As if you could out drink an Amazon, you pathetic lightweight!
You're not a modern American woman, Diana so this may or may not instill the abject terror I'm hoping it will. YOU'RE STARTING TO SOUND JUST LIKE YOUR MOTHER.
As they leave and wander into a backally, artfully lit with steam coming out of vents for atmoshpere, some punks/thugs come to collect what they call "stupidity fines" from the pretty lady and her date. Lead punk guy has a gun. Steve hilariously/lazily hands over his wallet but Diana, after confirming that they are, in fact, being robbed, insists that the pugs apologize. When they refuse and bullets begin to fly, the silver bracelets come out. I tell you right now, no matter how many times that happens to Wondy, it NEVER GETS OLD. One of the pugs takes a richochet, then they run squealing into the night.
Steve, hyped up on adrenaline no doubt and forgetting that he is still very drunk, sees a shadowy figure in the artfuly backlit steam and tries to take the newcomer on.
Thus begins my favorite fight in the flick. Out of the steam steps a mythical brute that was briefly seen in the ancient battle scenes at the beginning in Ares's minion army. His name is Deimos but he will hereafter be refrerred to as Snake Beard...because he's got a beard made of snakes! Alan Moore is so jealous!
After a short but brutal street fight Wondy and Snake Beard absolutly obliterate a mall. I'm not saying they damage a fountain, knock over a T-Mobile kiosk and scatter a couple mannequins. I'm saying store fronts get cars launched into them, lots of load bearing walls get turned into powder, and Wondy herself get hurled bodily into what looks like a structurally important bridge. Take that symbol of consumer driven female oppression...or whatever! Also, just to crank the awesome to 11, Wonder Woman is fighting barefoot the entire time and she fends of Snake Beard by bashing him in the eye with a stilleto! How's that for symbolism?
With a nasty roundhouse kick to the face Deimos is down and under the power of the Lasso. He realizes they are gonna ask him questions and uses his own snake beard to suicide! (Alan Moore's beard wishes it could do that, if only to assume complete control...) Steve and Wondy discover an amulet of some kind in Snake Beard's ashy remains that points to Tartarus. This apparently means that Ares is going to get Hades, of all people, to remove his power smothering gauntlety things. (Technical term.)
Steve and Wondy hop in the invisible jet and fly...somewhere...to a volcano that, as we find out later, houses an entrance to Hades. (the place as well as the person) Our heroes have to fight thier way through a terrorist cell called the Cult of Ares, which if you think about it is kind of an awesome name for a random Greek terrorist cell. (Praise be upon the producers for making them clearly Greek in origin instead of vaguley Middle Eastern 'cause that would've been horribly stereotypical not to mention non-sensical.)
Steve channels his inner Solid Snake and outright kills two of the (Terro-cultists? Cul-terrorists?) badguys. Wondy only knocks them out but Steve snaps one guy's neck and throws a knife into another one's face! Geeze Steve!
Meanwhile Ares is explaining to Persephone about needing to make a sacrifice to open the door to Hades. At this point it seems like Ares is gonna be a super-douche and sacrifice this woman that abandoned her culture and her people for him, which bad guys do so often that it's boring and cliche and awful. But, Persephone seems to have faith in this creep and hands him her dagger anyway. Shockingly, her faith is rewarded when Ares chooses to slaughter on of his red-shirt minions instead.
Just as the knife is about to come down Wondy stops it with some more Moon Tiara Action! Ares puts on his problem solving hat and begins chanting (in Latin...why?) to bring forth some giant harpy statues. The design for the harpies is very bat-like, (which is not at all what harpies look like but, whatever.) Steve empties his clip at them, then chucks his gun. (Great plan, Steve.) Wondy makes him promise to stop Ares, no matter what happens to her and leaps into the fray. (Though what she thinks he's gonna do if the Amazon in the room can't stop Ares is beyond me. Irrational expectations must run in the family.) The badguy minions prove thier ineptness by watching as Wondy charges about twenty yards right past most of them, standing there holding machine guns, to tackle the god they supposedly (according to thier name, I haven't seen thier mission statement) worship! Don't you guys pay minion union dues or something? Where's the workplace pride?!
All hell breaks loose! Wondy is getting owned by one of the harpies towards the end of the tussle and Steve decides to save her, (through creative grenade application) instead of stopping Ares from sacrificing the minion, (who is weirdly wearing a hat he didn't have on ten seconds ago and is apparently carrying at least eighteen gallons of blood in his body cause thats how much goes into the fancy floor blood canals.) Steve saves Wondy from the harpy in flight and they land in a way that should have either shattered his kneecaps, turned his ankle-bones into powder or driven his femurs into his kidneys. He falls over with a grunt though, so his being a cartoon character saves him from traction.
We follow Ares and Persephone into Hades. Cerberus blocks the path. After a beat Cerberus concedes to Ares but still refuses to let Persephone pass. Weird, Persephone cant get into Hades...is that literary irony or just weird? Ares is pretty cold about the whole thing with his cast off "Fine, she can stay here" line. Thats mixed messages Ares. Not cool. No wonder Hippy hates men so much if she thinks they're all like you! And WTF, Persephone? This guy is garbage, go back to your militant lesbian commune, you're better off!
Now we get to meet Hades! His character design kinda threw me off, I thought he was Dionysus for a second. He looks like the demented humanoid love child of Ursula from the Little Mermaid and Hedonism-bot from Futurama, only EVIL to the nth power. Oliver Platt is the best voice actor in this flick; he does such a good job. Hades just oozes juicy, voluptuous evil. He's got the crazy eyes and the slow menacing voice. Ugh, gives me the heebies just thinking about him.
Hades: You're early nephew.
Ares: Not that I don't cherish your company, my dear uncle, but I'm afraid I'm only visiting today.
Hades: You are here for a favor.
Ares: I am.
Hades: Perhaps then you can enlighten me as to why you think I would remove your bands. Is it because I've longed for a return of your power-crazed ways? Or maybe, I wish to see you act again without regard for your divine brothers and sisters. Or is it simply because I am so easily manipulated and like a dog, will obey any command?
Ares: It is simplicity itself. Once these bands are removed, I will wage a war against humanity the likes of which this world has never seen. Its populace will choke on death. And you will be flooded with more servants to glorify you than you will possibly know what to do with it.
After taunting Ares with the servile wraith of his dead son, Thrax and just being a scary bastard in general, Hades removes Ares's gauntlety things. Ares does his best Sepiroth impression and we know that the shit hath hitteth the fan-eth.
Cut to a hospital bed as Diana is waking up. Steve is giddily happy that she's ok. Her first question is, of course, about Ares. The second she learns that Ares lived to fight another day she gets all crazy bug-eyed pissed at him. The following fight dialogue, if nothing else, made me stand up and shout glory halellujah.
Wonder Woman: I didn't need you to save me. I needed you to stop Ares.
Steve Trevor: Hey, if it weren't for me, you wouldn't be here right now!
Wonder Woman: I'm an Amazon, Steve. We give our lives in battle. I knew what the consequences were going in to this mission. I bet you would have acted differently, if I were a man!
Steve Trevor: Oh, playing the sex card again, are you? You know what? I've had just about enough of listening to you go on about how terrible men are.
(me too actually, Steve)
Wonder Woman: Does the truth hurt, Steve?
Steve Trevor: News flash: The Amazons ain't so perfect either. You act brave, but cutting yourselves off from the outside world was cowardly. Not to mention stupid! Like less communication between men and women is what the world needed.
Wonder Woman: How dare you?
Steve Trevor: No! I'm not done. You met your first man, what, like 15 minutes ago? And you think you have us all figured out? Well, I'm sorry, but not everything a man does is to further some misogynistic agenda. We don't hold doors open or pull out chairs for women because we're trying to keep you down. And I didn't save you because I thought were some damsel in distress! I saved you because... because I care about you, Diana. And I'm not gonna abandon a friend in need, man or woman.
Wonder Woman: You should have saved the world and not me.
Steve Trevor: Maybe I figured the world's not worth saving if you're not in it.
YES! FINALLY! No more of this men are from Mars etc horsepucky! Whoo Hoo! More movies with messages like this in them please and thank you!
Diana is finally beginning to see reason, and she and Steve fly off to find Ares. I don't know how much time is supposed to have passed but Ares has gathered his minion horde in front of the Lincoln Memorial for unfathomable reasons. Steve and Wondy land to discover the hordes are running amok. The military has intervened but they don't seem prepared to handle a horde of mythical beasts with primative wepons. One guy looks pretty surprised to find a spear sticking out of his kevlar. (Shouldn't there be enough nerds in the armed forces to know how to handle orc hordes!?) Steve notices that the hordes have beheaded the Lincoln statue and are defacing it, which causes him to utter the awesomest line in the movie:
Steve Trevor: They're messing with Lincoln! Nobody messes with Lincoln!
Ares is speechifying to the hordes, only Persy really seems to be listening, when Wondy jumps right into the fray. Orcs and mythical meanies are flying left and right. Wondy is outnumbered, especially when Persephone steps in with her bad-ass looking halberd in a sub-boss capacity. Wondy gets captured. Ares is about to take her head with a jab towards the absent Hipplyta about Thrax when a spear intervenes. Speak of the the devil! The Amazons, lead by Hippolyta, are storming the beach! (Is DC a coastal city? Well there is a river there but if they are in boats the Amazons woulda have to have left months ago to get there...oh screw it, MAGIC! Problem solved.)
Meanwhile, in the bunker they obviously moved the President to the second Ares & Co. showed up, a nameless aide is briefing the grumpy looking Chief . Apparently, on top of all the other weird shennanigans going down in the capital a mysterious island has appeared in the middle of the Aegean. They jump to the conclusion that the fracas is being caused by this island. So, without consulting anyone or even thinking about it for more than a minute, President Trigger-Happy launches an unspecified warhead at Themyscira!
The hell?! That island is in Aegean, which is, if I remember correctly is no where near the U.S. I can think of several European countries, not to mention a handful of Middle Eastern ones that would be all kinds of NOT OK with us randomly launching a warhead at an island in their vicinity! The only way I could justify this was if maybe the presence of Ares in the area made the Pres a little more eager to push the big red button than he would've been otherwise.
Anyway, the whatsit is launched at Themyscira and Steve takes off in the invisible jet to shoot it down. I couldn't help but laugh out loud in the scene where Steve decides to try and shoot down the bomb, he turns around and looks directly at the invisible jet. Really? Didn't think that one through did we?
Ares has gone all Super Shredder because of the psychic energy he gets from weapons of mass destruction. (They're like RED MUSHROOMS!) He's giving Wonder Woman the beating of her life, (and they are obliterating the White House!) while cockily bragging about his new powers. Then, I can only assume because Ares reads this blog and knows that zombies make everything better, he summons the Amazon dead to battle the oncoming Amazon onslaught!
The battle animation for this scene is phenominal. The Ama-zombies fight like creepy rag dolls with disjointed limbs that bend and move in ways that looks just so unnatural. Everytime they kill one of the Amazons she joins the undead. Ugh, not a shotgun in sight!
Artemis is stab-happy-ing her way through the Ama-zombie and orc hordes like it's just another day at work. Suddenly, who should rise to battle right behind her? Alexa, who to my warped glee gets to be a bad-ass like she never was in life as she battles her sister tooth and nail. She's got Artemis on the ropes when she starts whispering something in Latin. It takes Artemis a few tries to pick up that Alexa is trying to tell her something. She repeats the phrase just in time to keep herself from getting sworded in the face by Alexa.
The Ama-zombies all snap out of it, turning the tide against against the minion hordes. Alexa and Artemis lead the (beautifully well animated) charge. To my dismay, however, Ares dismisses the Ama-zombies back to where ever he summoned them from with a wave of his hand. It was really anti-climactic and I was extremely dissapointed. My dreams of zombies fighting on the side of good are dashed yet again. Artemis says good-bye to her sister, misty-eyed at last over her passing now that she's seen her warrior potential. (Alexa could've been a warrior-mage! Thats got all sorts of cross class possibilites!)
Somewhere else on the battlefield Hippolyta and Persephone are having a good old fashioned show down. Each is trying to defeat the other with righteousness. Persy's claim that love for Ares made her betray the Amazons isn't cutting it for Hippolyta, who is arguably too biased about the god in question to see straight.
There is something so simple and true about a warrior woman falling in love with the personification of War. I have always been intrigued with the idea, I kind of wished they'd explored it a little more here. During her longest speech to date in the film you really start to feel a little bad for Persephone. She is from a culture that worships war, and she fell in love with it, literally, herself. It's quite clear that War does not love her back, but hey thats kind of how War works. War is incapable of love because it is destruction, the fundamental opposite of love. Its very deep!
Aaaanywho, Hippolyta does end up getting the better of Persy in battle. She chastises Persephone for betraying her people, her sisters, and Hippolyta herself who gave them all peace and happiness forever in a world without men. As Persy dies she counters that yes, Hippolyta gave them peace and whatever, but she also denied them family and companionship.
Persephone: Yes, Hippolyta, the Amazons are warriors; but, we are women too.
Now there is a statement to start an argument with.
This leads me to my idea that the filmmakers made Hippy an unlikeable shrew to a purpose. This was the lesson she needed to learn in order to grow as a character; as a mother of a hero. The feminine ideal of equlity and strength is achievable without giving up femininity, compassion, motherhood, or being a woman. Femininity as a strength, sexuality as a power. We are equal to men, but we are not the same. This is the kinda stuff Wonder Woman stories should be passing on to the little fangirls of the future! These are the tales of female strength! Yes, warrior women in tight bodices carrying big swords are all well and good, but when they aren't covered in the gore of their foes, what is a warrior woman? How do you balance the Artemis with the Etta Candy with the Hera or Hippolyta inside a woman's heart? Wonder Woman is supposed to be a balance of all of those things. My god, it's a wonder she can stand up, that's gotta be exhausting!
(The Soapbox is going away now before it carries me away with it.)
We get back to Wondy vs. Ares, still epically duking it out (whilst ruining over two-thirds of the major DC metro area in the process.) Ares can now summon lightning down from the sky, but the bracelets can take lightning cause they were made from Zeus's shield. Duh, Ares! They take the fight down to the Reflecting Pool at the base of the Washington Monument. (I laughed out loud at Wonder Woman fighting for her life in the shadow of at least the largest phallic symbol on the East Coast.) Ares skips Wondy down the pool like a pebble, then makes to finish her with lightning. It didn't work ten minutes ago Ares, trying it again now is your first truly silly bad guy mistake. Too bad it's your last.
Wondy uses the Lasso of Truth (which I cant NOT type out completly, curse it!) to pull Ares into the path of his own attack. Ares screams for Zeus to save him again, but the Greek god most famous for selective hearing does nothing. Wondy takes Ares's head without further ado.
Steve comes back from saving Themyscira from a warhead just in time. Diana is very happy to see him and, (after Diana wipes the blood off of her face. Hot.) they make out! The monster hordes are obviously grossed out by this so they fade back into the mists and the Amazons cheer! Yay!
Down in Hades we see the wraith of Ares join his son in servitude to a smug, gloating Hades. Harsh.
Now we're back in Themyscira. Artemis is trying very hard to read one of her sister's books. Hippy very gently mocks her before bringing attention to a dejected looking Diana on a bench in the distance. This reminds me of another scene from the Little Mermaid when King Triton and Sebastian are discussing what to do about a depressed Ariel. (Don't even pretend you don't know what I'm talking about!) They both concede that Diana misses Steve, or as Hippolyta politly deems Steve; "Him". Hippolyta gives Diana the Wonder Woman costume and tells her she can go be a permanant emissary for Themyscira in America, so long as she promises to visit often. D'aaaw!
Lastly, we see Steve opening a taxi door for Diana in her Diana Prince persona. They adorably bicker about chauvenism and chivalry for a few moments until they are distracted by sirens. Diana hands her purse and bag of groceries to a resigned looking Steve who, with some serious role reversal, reminds her not to be late for dinner. In a very Clark Kent way, (especially 'cause she's wearing glasses) Diana whips around a corner, changing into Wonder Woman. She leaps across the hoods of several cop cars into the scene of a bank robbery in progress. A bunch of officers in riot gear come flying backwards out of the glass doors. They are followed closely by CHEETAH! (with a seriously awesome looking new character design!) Wondy get the Lasso of Truth around her, pulling her into a devastating punch! In fact the punch is so epic it sends us into the credits!
Overall I'd say watch Wonder Woman for the animation, the voice acting of Steve, Ares and Hades, the action, the humor, the violence and most importantly the addressing of serious feminist themes that always go hand-in-hand with Wonder Woman stories. If you don't think you'd like the movie based on any of the egregious plot holes or what-have-you that I've pointed out, please, just don't watch it. No need to spread more hate and discontent on the internet.
This one is long and chunky! Savor it!