I'm beginning to wonder why Warner Bros. decided to abandon the original DC Comics animated universe. You know, the one that began in 1992 with the great Batman: The Animated Series, then went on to include Superman, Batman Beyond, and others before coming to an abrupt end in 2006 with Justice League Unlimited. I know that there are probably lots of complicated financial and marketing reasons as to why they decided to start a line of direct-to-DVD projects entitled DC Universe Original Animated Movies, but I'm not going to bother myself with all that. What I'm talking about here is quality.
The old cartoons were unusually intelligent and entertaining; Batman was so popular during its weekday afternoon run that it won a prime time slot. These DVD movies, of which there are now four, simply don't have the same wit or sophistication. I don't mean to put the whole line down, as I enjoyed the first two releases, Superman: Doomsday and Justice League: The New Frontier. They were slight but entertaining, which is all one really expects from a DVD movie anyway. Batman: Gotham Knight was something of an interesting misfire, but with Wonder Woman the creative team has a total failure on its hands.
This is the first time they've attempted to tell a full origin story, from Wonder Woman's birth to her emergence as a superheroine to her saving the world. They manage to put the whole thing across in a scant 74 minutes, but for something so short it's frequently dull. Wonder Woman, née Diana (the voice of Keri Russell) is granted to Queen Hippolyta (Virginia Madsen) by Zeus after an epic battle in Ancient Greece during which Ares (Alfred Molina), the god of war, is defeated and imprisoned. Afterwards, Hippolyta and her Amazons are given the island of Themyscira, where they are happily isolated from the world of man. So basically: No boys allowed.
Thus you can imagine the kind of stupid gags that occur when fighter pilot Steve Trevor (Nathan Fillion) crash lands on Themyscira and gets an eyeful of the hot warrior babes. Hippolyta ultimately decides that Steve is harmless, but before he can be taken back to man's land, his emissary must be decided, a handy excuse for a deadly boring Spartacus/Ben-Hur-type tournament of skills. The long and short of it is that Diana wins, but at the same time, Ares is freed from his cell and goes to wreak havoc in the world of man, so Diana slips into the star-spangled panties and goes to kick some war-god ass.