“Wonder Woman” is, well, a wonder 1

NEW YORK — First, let me disclaim: I saw the upcoming DC animated feature “Wonder Woman” in the best possible setting, in a packed house with probably five or six-hundred excited geeks.

Actually, you know what? The movie would have been awesome if I’d watched it on a crappy laptop in some dark room somewhere.

Let me backtrack.

The Michael Jelenic-penned, Bruce Timm-produced “Wonder Woman” tells a new-and-improved origin story for the Lasso of Truth-wielding Amazon that begins before Themyscira even really exists. The opening scene is a massive battle between the Amazons, led by Virginia Madsen’s Queen Hippolyta, and God of War Ares’ horde, with no Diana in sight.

After Zeus and Hera intervene in the war, the Amazons are given the island paradise, Ares as their powerless prisoner, and the promise of a daughter in the future. Years pass and Diana arrives on scene.

But before giving away too much, let’s talk tech specs.

The animation and style were both top-notch, of the same quality as “Batman: Gotham Knight” but with a feminine flavor appropriate to a story about Wonder Woman. Director Lauren Montgomery has mentioned before how she counts the Disney princesses among her influences and while the style was distinctly separate from that, with straighter lines and cleaner angles, the influence was clear to see especially in the characters’ faces.

ww4Wonder Woman herself was a far cry from the Marilyn-esque, stiletto-wearing Wonder Woman of yore; this Diana was a modernized and altogether tough-looking character; she was tall and statuesque without being manly, strong without bulging muscles, and, of course, voiced wonderfully by Keri Russell.

The supporting cast of Amazons were beautifully designed and Rosario Dawson’s hilarious Artemis was a scene-stealer.

And speaking of scene-stealers, Nathan Fillion’s Steve Trevor stole the entire show. Not only did the character have most of the best lines of the film (some surprisingly scandalous, though none up to “the hammer is my penis” levels of bawdiness). “Wonder Woman” does a fine job of walking the line with Steve as a guy physically weaker than Wonder Woman while making him a hero in his own right.

The film also manages to deal with some real issues in a way that is neither soap-boxy nor half-assed. The modern-day Wonder Woman is a fantastic feminist character without bowing to any clichƒ©s, and the film asks a lot of serious questions about the nature of men and women’s relationships and the ways that men and women deal with conflicts.

One of the best scenes in the film occurs when Diana first arrives in New York City and is walking in a park with Steve Trevor. She encounters a small girl who’s crying because the boys won’t let her pretend sword-fight with them. Wonder Woman finds that unacceptable, of course, and that mini-arc finds a hilarious and poignant conclusion.

The film was also paced beautifully. Each character had a meaningful and unique story arc that created a lot of depth to the overall story and theme, and the remarkable voice talent (including Alfred Molina as villain Ares) really sold it.

In all, I though the movie was great: beautiful, funny, well-written, and an altogether pleasure to watch… and watch again.

Grab your copy in stores on March 3rd.