Blu-ray Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

By , Contributor
One might be tempted to consider Wonder Woman, newly available on Blu-ray (also 3D Blu-ray and 4K UltraHD), the crown jewel in the DC Extended Universe thus far. No contest in terms of domestic box office response—though perceived as a "flop," Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (which debuted Gal Godot's Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman) tallied $330 million, but Wonder Woman cruised past that at $411 million. In fact, it's still in active theatrical release even as it bows on home video. Believe it or not, however, Dawn of Justice remains DC's worldwide champ with $873 million to Wonder's $818.

Nitpicking over numbers aside, it's undeniable that the world was more than ready to accept a female-driven superhero movie. That said, Wonder Woman more often than not misses the mark. Plot-wise it's basically a retread of Captain America: The First Avenger. Why do you think the filmmakers shifted the Diana Prince origin story backwards to World War I instead of DC's original print version's World War II? While only a superficial difference, it does help give Wonder Woman a different flavor, taking it back further than the '40s. But it's essentially the same deal—unstoppable superhero fights German war criminal mastermind. General Erich Ludendorff (Danny Huston) isn't substantially different from Johann Schmidt (aka Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving). Though predating the Nazi party, Ludendorff functions in much the same way for Wonder as Schmidt did for Avenger
 
rsz_wonder_woman_gal_gadot_3.jpg Of course, Wonder Woman has the whole mythological element of Diana being the daughter of Zeus. She grows up on the island of Themyscira, invisible to the rest of Earth but easily penetrable by a World War I fighter jet. There are no men on this isolated paradise, just a bunch of beautiful warrior women spawned by a demigod. A male demigod, for what it's worth. The whole "we don't need no stinkin' men" conceit is all the more hokey when they depend on one for their entire existence. The day they've been training for arrives when Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) breaks the invisible barrier and flies into Themyscira. Though never having encountered a man before, Diana falls into 20th century flirtatiousness with Trevor quite easily as a chaste romance develops.

Perhaps all these comic book adaptations are blending together in people's mind since these bases have been covered more effectively. There's nothing particularly interesting transpiring throughout Wonder Woman, just a different hero at the center of a workmanlike fantasy adventure. Its 140-minute running time often plods, especially during the interminable mano a mano (or in this case, mano a womano) climactic battle sequence. As for Gal Gadot's title character, James Cameron was basically right. Not many people seem to be willing to admit it, but the statuesque Gadot, outfitted in her gam-baring getup, is not representative of a feminist presence. She doesn't exhibit an abundance of personality or intelligence. Physical beauty and supernatural strength are her primary attributes—the former an unrealistic idealization of feminine appearance few naturally possess, the latter simply unattainable for anyone. So this is what director Patty Jenkins has decided to fob off as a role model for young women? 
  
rsz_wonder_woman_gal_gadot_2.jpg If Wonder Woman hadn't been marketed as some sort of manufactured cause célèbre, there'd be little else to spotlight. And of course we've had movies based on Catwoman, Elektra, and Supergirl previously—it's just that none of those were very good. Jenkins fails to distinguish Wonder Woman, but it's far from unwatchable. What is quite curious though, (spoiler alert) it's not Gadot's Diana Prince who saves the day—for whatever reason, the screenwriters (a trio of them wrote this thing, including Zach Snyder) have chosen to give Pine's Captain Steve Trevor the martyr role fulfilled by Steve Rodgers in the Marvel-produced predecessor. What exactly is the takeaway here?

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment delivers a reliably excellent Blu-ray presentation. Special features include four deleted scenes, an epilogue called "Etta's Mission" (centered on Lucy Davis' sidekick character, Etta Candy), bloopers, and a string of ten behind-the-scenes featurettes (five are over ten minutes, five are under). In other words, there's a pretty generous selection of material for Woman Woman fans looking for more.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is film and music. His new jazz album Good Merlin is now available.

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