As a tie-in with their big-budget live-action movie, Warner Brothers has re-issued their 2009 animated Wonder Woman movie. This DVD is not suitable for children under age 14.
Millennia ago, the Greek race of warrior women called the Amazons battled the forces of Ares, the god of war. The gods gave the victorious Amazons a hidden island on which to dwell, and charged them with guarding the imprisoned but immortal Ares. When Air Force pilot Steve Trevor crashes on the island Ares is freed, and the Amazon Princess Diana is tasked with a twofold mission: escort Steve back to civilization, and stop Ares before he can plunge the entire world into war. Gifted with a costume, an invisible jet, and the magical Lasso of Truth, Diana ventures forth to battle evil as Wonder Woman!
Despite its fidelity to its comic-book source, the animated Wonder Woman DVD contains large amounts of graphic violence. The movie opens with realistically-rendered and bloody battle scenes ala the movie 300, with Amazon women killing (and being killed) in slow motion with swords, axes, arrows and spears. The Amazon’s queen decapitates several foes, including her own son. At one point Ares performs an occult ceremony by stabbing a man on an altar, the victim’s blood flowing freely onto the floor. Ares also summons the dead Amazons back to life to fight their sisters for him; they appear as rotting zombies. The movie also features more traditional comicbook-style fantasy violence, with Wonder Woman battling various monsters, modern-day soldiers, and criminals, being knocked through walls, lifting cars, and so forth. There is also some fairly adult violence-related dialogue, such as one Amazon’s threat to “personally castrate” Steve.
There is also an unusually large amount of sexual content in the film. The movie’s first line of dialogue features Ares telling the Amazon queen, “You seem as eager to meet me on the battlefield as you once did in the bedroom;” she retorts, “I only hope you prove more skilled in this arena.” She also mentions the child Ares “forced on” her, thus implying that she has been raped by the war god (a perspective later affirmed when another character refers to her “unholy union” with Ares). Steve constantly leers at Diana and the other Amazons and makes frequent sexual (and sexist) comments: when bound with the Lasso of Truth, he states that he is “into the kinky stuff,” and remarks on Diana’s “nice rack.” He also watches a number of nude Amazons as they bathe in a river.
Sexism is prominent throughout the movie – and in both directions. All of the villains and enemies seen are male, and Steve tries to get Diana drunk and engages in much macho posturing and demeaning behavior towards her; but also given significant time are multiple extended scenes of dialogue in which the Amazons repeatedly condemn all men as “wicked, disloyal, and above all, untrustworthy.” The superhumanly-strong Diana repeatedly slaps Steve for trivial reasons, and the Amazons claim that the brutal, murderous war god Ares merely represents that which “lies at the heart of all men”…a position the film appears to vindicate. Despite some brief, unconvincing dialogue at the end, throughout the movie no male character exhibits any redeeming or positive qualities. While one would not expect a man to be the hero of a movie about Wonder Woman, this utter lack of balance is disappointing, and ultimately undercuts the supposed message of the film that men and women must learn to communicate and have mutual respect for one another.
Language is not as extreme as other elements. Steve says “God” and “crap” repeatedly (despite her protests at his language, Diana gets into the same habit by the movie’s end). “Damn” is heard several times; and after teaching a young girl to fence, Diana urges her to “unleash Hell” on her playmates. A criminal uses the word “frickin’ “ once, and Steve later repeats it. Steve also banters with fellow officers about a mission’s “pucker factor” and “sphincter constriction.”
Since the character’s first appearance in 1941, Wonder Woman has been one of the few – and definitely the most recognizable – superhero characters depicting women as strong, capable and brave, yet also loving, gentle and compassionate. As such, she has served as a role model and symbol of optimism and progress for generations of American girls. It is regrettable that DC Comics and Warner Brothers have chosen to follow their recent trend in making their heroic characters “dark” and “gritty” by using a similar approach with Wonder Woman in this DVD release.
The animated DVD carries a PG-13 rating…and deservedly so. As with recent movies such as The Dark Knight, Wonder Woman is replete with graphic violence and questionable morality – adding a hefty dose of sexism (against both genders) into the mix. The Parents Television Council does not recommend the Wonder Woman animated DVD for viewers under age 14.
Original Release Date: March 3, 2009
MPAA rating: PG-13 for violence throughout and some suggestive material
Starring: Voices of Keri Russell, Nathan Filion, Alfred Molina, Rosario Dawson and Virginia Madsen
Recommended age: 14+
Overall PTC Traffic Light Rating: Red
|Sexual references and innuendo, partial nudity, veiled reference to rape|
|Graphic decapitation, dismemberment and war death; blood, explosions, occult ceremony involving murder and blood sacrifice, fantasy violence|
|Multiple uses of “God,” “hell,” “damn,” “crap,” “frickin’”; references to anus|