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Wonder Woman: Bloodlines – Animated Feature Review

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines
Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
Release Date: October 5, 2019 – Digital; October 22, 2019 – 4K Blu-ray, Blu-ray

Synopsis: In Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, Amazon princess Diana of Themyscira chooses to save fighter pilot Steve Trevor and return him to his home in America – setting in motion one of Wonder Woman’s most captivating chapters. Fulfilling the role of both ambassador as well as protector, Diana soon earns the name Wonder Woman from the gracious people of Earth. Equally strong in body, heart and will, she makes it her mission to help a troubled young girl enlisted by a deadly organization known as Villainy, Inc., whose criminal members have their sights set on invading Themyscira, Diana’s paradise home. Prepare for a thrilling quest packed with brutal battles, mysterious mythology and endless wonder!

Rosario Dawson (Jane the Virgin, Rent, Luke Cage) returns as the voice of Wonder Woman for the sixth time, leading a sensational Wonder Woman: Bloodlines voice cast that includes Jeffrey Donovan (Fargo, Burn Notice) as Steve Trevor, Marie Avgeropoulos (The 100) as Silver Swan, Adrienne C. Moore (Orange Is the New Black) as Etta Candy, Kimberly Brooks (DC Super Hero Girls, Mass Effect, Winx Club) as The Cheetah & Giganta, Courtenay Taylor (Regular Show, Fallout 4) as Dr. Poison, Constance Zimmer (Entourage, House of Cards, Unreal) as Veronica Cale, Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) as Julia Kapatelis, Michael Dorn (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Arrow) as Ferdinand, Cree Summer (Batman Beyond, Rugrats) as Hippolyta, Mozhan Marno (The Blacklist, House of Cards) as Dr. Cyber, and Ray Chase (Justice League Dark) as Lead Bandit.

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines is co-directed by Sam Liu (Reign of the Supermen) and Justin Copeland (Batman: Hush) from a script by Mairghread Scott (Justice League Action, Guardians of the Galaxy animated series). Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) is co-producer. Sam Liu and Amy McKenna (The Death of Superman) are producers. Executive Producers are Sam Register and James Tucker (Batman: Hush).

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Wonder Woman: Bloodlines Animated Feature Review
By James Harvey

While it doesn’t really cover any new ground, Wonder Woman: Bloodline is still a thoroughly enjoyable, emotional and occasionally humorous tale coupled with solid animation, clever choreography and sweet storyboard work. Even though the dialogue can be occasionally clunky, and the story may skip a few key character beats, fans who have been waiting to see the Amazon Princess spotlight her own DC Universe Movie title again will likely fancy this adventure.

Filling in some gaps for the “in-continuity” DC Universe Movies, Wonder Woman: Bloodline briefly recaps Princess Diana’s origins of leaving Paradise Island for Man’s World (though adds a Parademon to the mix) before introducing us to her early days of establishing herself both in her new surroundings and as a super hero (think pre-Justice League: War). At the same time, we see the birth of Silver Swan and Wonder Woman’s unintentional role in her creation. From there we eventually get to present day, following the events of Batman: Hush (timeline-wise), and the story blows up to an arguably epic scale.

It feels like a classic Wonder Woman adventure through and through, with an emotional core that serves as the base for an action-heavy romp through Wonder Woman’s world. And holy smokes, Wonder Woman: Bloodlines has some spectacular action scenes. The directing by Sam Liu and Justin Copeland is pretty dang impressive, giving us really slick action beats throughout that hit fast and hard. Smooth animation and some creative choreography and camera work also gives these sequences some extra heft to really drive the scale and the power that’s being thrown about. The only major set piece that stumbles is the film’s climactic battle, as it just can’t hit all the big notes it’s aiming for, but it’s still ultimately satisfying.

In terms of the film’s story, it’s a little unbalanced but it’s still ultimately an interesting tale. Wonder Woman: Bloodlines does an admirable job exploring Diana’s relationship with Dr. Julia Kapatelis and her daughter Vanessa as the Amazonian Princess starts to make her way in the world. However, once the film jumps ahead to current day, the sudden status quo change in that relationship is a little jarring, specifically Vanessa’s descent into super-villainy as the foe Silver Swan, and teaming up with Doctor Poison and Doctor Cyber. The story definitely needed some more breathing room and some smoother dialogue. The groundwork is there, sure, but it feels like a few steps are missed in order to get the characters where they need to be. Vanessa’s motivation, she’s essentially jealous of the relationship between her mother and Wonder Woman, is a little weak but still understandable.

Wonder Woman ultimately feeling responsible for Vanessa’s situation is an interesting way to really dive into her character, and it does lead to some compelling moments between the two. Despite some gaps in the storytelling, where the movie takes and inevitably leaves these two characters feels earned. Diana’s journey to save and redeem Vanessa, with Steve Trevor and Etta Candy in tow, also offers up the perfect excuse for some classic globe-trotting fun and solid action beats as our heroes face off against some of Wonder Woman’s biggest foes. Plenty of recognizable baddies pop up during this trek – even Cheetah and Giganta appear in extended cameos – but they’re somewhat underdeveloped and primarily included to support Silver Swan’s storyline more than anything else. The movie also throws in at least one twist which should catch some viewers by surprise.

Wonder Woman: Bloodlines is not only inspired by George Perez’s classic comic book run with the characters (clearly with the Kapatelises and Ferdinand the minotaur chef), but the film takes a lot of welcome cues from Greg Rucka’s two stints with the character (specifically it’s revamped take on some of Diana’s supporting cast). It’s a smart way to stay true to what is arguably the most popular rendition of Wonder Woman’s lore while also updating a few aspects of it. We see that especially with Candy, Trevor and Silver Swan, who feel ripped right from Rucka’s run, while other elements, specifically Themiscrya and some of Wonder Woman’s foes, feel more inspired by Perez. It’s especially nice to see Candy’s LGBT status remain, too. The blending of the two eras, well handled by writer Mairghread Scott, ultimately gives this movie a modern yet somewhat timeless (for lack of better term) appeal to it.

Dawson is back as Wonder Woman and it’s easily her best turn as the character to date, undoubtedly helped by the meaty material she gets to work with. You can hear the compassion in Dawson’s voice for the quieter scenes but she’s also able to bring out her strong, warrior nature during the big action beats. Donovan brings charm to his take on Steve Trevor, adding a little character to the straight-laced soldier, while Moore’s take on Etta Candy adds a little welcome sharpness to her character. Avgeropoulosis is great as Vanessa Kapatelis/Silver Swan, bringing the right amount of angst and bubbling anger to the role. While her character’s arc might not be entirely unique, Avgeropoulosis works hard to sell it. The entire impressive cast, really, does solid work here, though some do occasionally stumble over some of the awkward bits of dialogue. Wes Gleason, again is able to draw out some great performances from the talented cast.

Characters designs, with Steven Choi and Bryce Collins stepping in for Phil Bourassa – who regularly handles the “in-continuity” DC Universe Movie titles – are expressive, slick and animate beautifully. It’s great to see Bourassa’s Wonder Woman design interpreted by another artist, as it adds a fresh quality and reaffirms the solid choices made when first designing the costumes and overall look for the “in-continuity” titles. It’s almost like when comic books would have a guest artist pop in for an issue or two to give the regular artist a break. The animation is also strong here, though it does stumble a bit during the bigger set pieces. Don’t get me wrong, the movie looks really great.

It’s fantastic to see Wonder Woman headlining another animated movie, even if it did take ten years after 2009’s Wonder Woman, and there’s plenty here to entertain fans. While it’s not the strongest entry in the DC Universe Movie, it’s still an enjoyable trip through Wonder Woman’s massive world. Both the movie and the characters look great, and the cast is on point. The story might not bring anything new to the table, and the dialogue is pretty ham-fisted at times, but it’s still a worthwhile journey with a satisfying destination. The excellent score by Weidmann then ties the entire film together with a bow. Wonder Woman: Bloodlines might not hit it out of the park, but it’s an animated movie that was a long time coming and, while not strongest, was still worth the wait. Recommended!

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