A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that though Wonder Woman derives from a vintage comic-book character, the script is pretty up-to-date with the violence, including beatings, stabbings, decapitations, and blood flowing from a human sacrifice. Sexually suggestive lines include references to prostitution, seduction, and Wonder Woman's "rack" (wonder-rack?). Some Amazon women are shown skimpily clad or bathing, and Wonder Woman proves to have super-powers of alcohol consumption. "Crap" is uttered (and treated) like an obscenity. Viewers with little knowledge of Greek mythology might be confused about fine details; ultra-religious household might be put off by the trappings of pre-Christian pagan worship.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A Herculean helping of Greek mythology explains the origin of the 20th-century comic-book heroine WONDER WOMAN. Her mother, Hyppolite, fought a ruinous conflict against Aries, the war god. Mighty Zeus decrees that the Amazons be given an invisible island on which to dwell unmolested, with Aries, deprived of his powers, as their prisoner. On this timeless island Hyppolite "conceives" (literally molding from sand, without a father) a daughter, Diana, who grows up to become a foremost Amazon warrior. When a macho, modern-day USAF fighter-pilot, Steve, crash-lands on the island, the outraged-but-intrigued Amazons assign Diana to take him back to his world (New York City, it so happens). But Aries simultaneously escapes, and to prevent an apocalypse Diana -- with Steve as a guide -- goes into the modern world with an emblematic breastplate, magic lariat, and tiara as Wonder Woman.
Is it any good?
Like the Amazon archers themselves, this movie hits it targets more often than not, despite the familiarly basic TV-level animation. While a Wonder Woman blockbuster lingered on Hollywood's drawing-boards, this engaging, action-crammed cartoon feature reached the home-video marketplace first. Some sequences, like a jet dogfight, are truly kinetic and exciting, and the script puts modern wit, battle-of-the-sexes dialogue, and feminism into a lively cauldron with the ancient Greek myth -- well, DC Comics' selective notion of it anyway.
Setting Wonder Woman against a basically all-powerful god is bit of a stretch, even by the wobbly logic of superhero antics, and Aries is a one-dimensional baddie. But chauvinist Steve gets a zinger with his line that a nice-guy god would probably never even have a girlfriend, as Aries does. A sub-theme proposes that the self-reliant Amazon women go wrong by aspiring to remain chaste and aloof from romantic love; interestingly, the novelization (but not the movie) of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith claims the Jedi Knights make the same mistake.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of Wonder Woman, a character practically as iconic as another DC Comics mainstay, Superman.
Ask kids if they think female superheroes with idealized bodies and skimpy clothing help the cause of women or set it back. What other female costumed heroes are hot right now, and why (besides the idealized bodies/skimpy clothing)?
- In theaters: February 27, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: February 27, 2009
- Cast: Alfred Molina, Keri Russell, Marg Helgenberger, Oliver Platt, Rosario Dawson
- Director: Lauren Montgomery
- Studio: Warner Home Video
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Superheroes
- Run time: 75 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence throughout and some suggestive material
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.