Wonder Woman, the latest animated dvd movie from DC Comics, is an origin/beginnings movie that slightly alters the start of the heroine -- and also makes for a fun, often amusing, quite violent adventure.

In ancient times Ares, the God of War (Alfred Molina), battled the Amazons until he was defeated by Queen Hippolyta (Virginia Madsen). Ares was depowered (unless another god removed his shackles) and kept prisoner, while the Amazons were rewarded for their victory with the island of Themyscira, a paradise hidden from the world. Queen Hippolyta was also allowed to create a daughter from clay and her blood, and this became Diana (Keri Russell).

After centuries of peace and isolation, the world of man comes to Themyscira when American fighter pilot Steve Trevor (Nathan Fillion) crashes on the island after a battle. His presence causes an uproar (not the least of which is because he's a constant flirt), then a contest to see what Amazon is most worthy to bring him back to the outside world, leading Diana to become Wonder Woman.

All is not well in paradise -- well, on Paradise Island -- because Ares has escaped his imprisonment. The god seeks to become more powerful than ever, waging war in the modern world with mythical creatures and plotting revenge on the Amazons. Will Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor manage to stop bickering long enough to defeat the God of War?

Wonder Woman is an enjoyable romp, albeit one with a lot of bloodshed. Keri Russell does a fine job as Diana/Wonder Woman, making her a strong female warrior who also wants to explore a world that's new to her while not quite fitting in. Nathan Fillion, previously the arrogant superhero Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, is now an arrogant womanizer with a heart of gold; the tension between Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor works mainly from the interaction of Fillion and Russell. The rest of the voice cast does well, including Molina as the powerful villain and Rosario Dawson as Artemis, an Amazon who loves to fight.

Remember when heroes would protect life, no matter what? That's not the case in this movie. The movie opens with a bloody battle fought between the Amazons and Ares' creatures, and things don't let up when Wonder Woman embarks on her mission to stop Ares: She kills off numerous enemies, both humans and creatures. This is PG-13, and if it were a tad more graphic it might have earned an R rating.

Still, Wonder Woman manages to work pretty well for the most part. The action is exciting, there's a lot of humor at the battle of the sexes going on between the two protagonists (with as much fun had about Wonder Woman and the uber-sexy women of comics as about the relentlessly aroused Steve Trevor), and the modernization of Wonder Woman's origin doesn't radically alter her character. By the end of Wonder Woman you'll understand why this character is one of DC Comics' big three (along with Batman and Superman).

The two-disc special edition from Target (and I work at Target; enjoy the fact, those who enjoy full disclosure!) offers a somewhat odd mix of bonus features. As expected, there are commentaries, two documentaries (Wonder Woman: A Subversive Dream, about the historical background of Wonder Woman; and Wonder Woman: Daughter of Myth, exploing the mythological elements of Wonder Woman), five episodes from Justice League and Justice League Unlimited that focus on Wonder Woman, and a first look at DC Comics' next animated movie, Green Lantern. However, there were a couple of non-DC Comics trailers on here as well, and I can only conclude the documentaries from Justice League: The New Frontier and Batman: Gotham Knights were included to pad out the double disc edition.

If you're a fan of Wonder Woman, or you're looking for a cool adventure cartoon, then get a copy of Wonder Woman -- and enjoy!

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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