Monday, May 24, 2010

Review: Wonder Woman (2009)

The action scenes in this Direct-to-DVD animated movie are so incredibly good (and so much more violent than you'd expect) that you almost want to forgive the rest of the film all its problems. And to a certain degree you can - I can say that this film was reasonably good. But it should have been better, and it could have been better, if the voice cast had been better utilised.

I mean, goddamn, this is a film with Alfred Molina, Rosario Dawson, Oliver Platt, David McCallum, Vicki Lewis, Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion. I like every single one of these actors (yes, even Vicki Lewis), but they are so underutilised here that you can barely tell that most of these people are actually good actors. Alfred Molina sounds no different than any other generic sounding Justice League villain, Oliver Platt sounds like someone doing a bad Oliver Platt impression! Rosario Dawson, David McCallum, Vicki Lewis and Keri Russell - I knew ahead of time that all these people were in this film, and I still had difficulty working out who was playing who. There's no energy in any of these performances - they all sound so bored.

The only cast member I recognised was Nathan Fillion, and I really wish I hadn't. I mean, I love Nathan Fillion, in Firefly, or Serenity, or Waitress, or Castle - he is a legitimately charming man. But you take his disembodied voice, attach it to an animated character that is much less handsome than Fillion himself (with the most illogical and ugly hair I have seen on a non-anime animated character, I think ever), give him some truly tasteless dialogue - that charming man becomes a stupid and annoying douche that I just wanted to punch in his stupid face every damn time he openned his damn mouth. And why was Wonder Woman attracted to him? It doesn't make any sense. I mean, I can understand the attraction of the bad boy to a regular female - the sense of danger, the vague but undefined sexual threat - I can understand that. But Wonder Woman wouldn't feel any of that - if anything, she should pity him for being such a damn weakling. And if you take away Steve Trevor's bad boy-ness (in this version anyway - normally the problem with Trevor isn't that he's a bad boy but that he's so bland that it's inconceivable that anyone would like him, so I guess they fixed that problem), you aren't left with some decent guy who just likes to have fun, you're left with an insecure douche who thinks he's better than everyone. Why is that attractive to her?

Apart from Fillion's annoyance and the rest of the cast's blandness though, the film is pretty good. I mean, they do actually fix up quite a few problems I've always had with the Wonder Woman origin story, like - how the hell do the Amazons have guns (this movie's version of the Bullets and Bracelets sequence actually makes sense, as well as being probably the best staging of that sequence I've seen), or why does she feel the need to fight in heels? Mix these legitimately good tweakings of the story with some really damn good action scenes, and it all makes for a pretty good film. I just wish they had utilised their voice cast properly. I mean, they got real actors - why don't they sound like it?

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