Filipino Canadian comic book artist Francis Manapul has put in some great work for Top Cow, Aspen, and Image (most notably Witchblade) and is currently signed on with DC busy handling the art chores for their rebooted Flash series.
He has an enjoyable art style to take in and is certainly capable of producing some stunningly beautiful and striking pieces of work, one such beauty being this depiction of Diana, Princess of the Amazons, and better known to us as Wonder Woman of course!
The Island of Themyscira, a mystical place populated by the strong Amazon warrior caste that shun all male contact and who have gone so far as to cut themselves off from the corrupt world of man entirely. However, one of their sisters has broken their rank and aided the escape of Ares, the fearsome God of War. Seeking the enslavement of man and revenge on the hated Amazon race, Ares now threatens everything that civilization has ever created on a global scale.
However, strong-willed and impetuous daughter of the queen, Warrior Princess Diana vows to leave the island and re-capture Ares, determined not to be stopped in her newfound mission no matter who might get in her way – including her very own mother! Together with the cocky fighter pilot Steve Trevor who managed to survive crashing his plane on their sacred island (thus becoming the first man to set foot on Themyscira in eons), Diana tracks Ares down to the United States, where she now prepares for a battle, the likes of which this world has yet to see!
The warrior princess, Wonder Woman is a 2009 direct to video animated film arising from the Warner Bros. Animation and DC Comics growing stable of comic-book related films. Written by Gail Simone and Michael Jelenic, Wonder Woman is directed by Lauren Montgomery who had previously directed the second act of Superman: Doomsday as well as being involved on the storyboards for Justice League: The New Frontier. As with almost all the current crop of DC Comics animated movies, legendary DC Comics animation veteran Bruce Timm casts his producer eye over the proceedings.
Taking us back to the roots of the Wonder Woman mythos and focussing on how Diana got to take up the mantle of the Amazon Princess, the story delves nicely into the motivations behind Themyscira’s isolation policy and the general attitudes of its inhabitants. Walking us nicely through the type of people that the Amazon sisterhood represents, it then continues to build up some tense steam by revealing the movie’s atagonist and setting in motion the events that will eventually see the headstrong young Diana leave her island and come to the world of man, where she’ll get to learn about us from her already narrowed mindset. This presents us with some great character development as the movie progresses and the interaction between Diana and the cocky fighter pilot Steve Trevor makes for a great dynamic that eventually takes us straight into the heart of the matter as to just why Diana eventually becomes the iconic Wonder Woman that we all know and love so.
As for the conflict, Ares proves to be a great foil to Diana and provides some fantastic tension which the story then cranks up and finally lets blow with one huge battle sequence at the end of what can only be described as quite the entertaining outing. Some great humour, good character development on the part of Diana, lots of action, and quite frankly, an excellent interpretation of Wonder Woman’s origin story.
As for the musical score and voice casting, the entire job do an absolutely sterling job. Also, apart from the usual bunch of voice actors like Tara Strong and John DiMaggio who always seem to have their hands in these particular projects, Wonder Woman manages to throw in some surprise inclusions in terms of the character voices, featuring for example Keri Russell as an excellent Princess Diana, Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor, Alfred Molina as Ares, Rosario Dawson as Artemis, Marg Helgenberger as Hera and even Oliver Platt as Hades! All of these recognisable TV and movie faces bring their best to the game and in the end we are left with an absolutely great sounding film that just happens to have the extra little boost in terms of star power.
Visually, Wonder Woman is absolutely slick. A sumptuous palette of vibrant colours and extremely detailed backgrounds lays the foundation on which some beautifully designed and realised characters find themselves acting out the film’s often intense scenes. There are a number of huge battle sequences and action-packed fight scenes and the animators seem eager not to take shortcuts and show everything in its full glory. Often violent, often bloody, there is some really great choreography to be had here, over and above the already smooth and detailed animation presented here.
In summary, Wonder Woman is an absolutely fantastic animated film that is well made, well presented and will be sure to please the most hardened of DC Comic book fans. There are a couple of gaping plot scratching head moments like the Amazons storming the beaches of America to join in the final battle, but if you can cast aside these worries about ‘realism’ for a bit, then you really should be enjoying this animated feature. It is faithful to its source character and examines the world exactly like she would and in the process, delivers some killer fight scenes, a great little story and plenty of animated bliss to absorb and enjoy! :)
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonder_Woman_(film)