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April 1, 2010
Where The Wild Things Are Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
3/12/20091/4/2010Village RoadshowSpike Jonze
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
VC-1DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1PGMax Records

THE MOVIE
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Where The Wild Things Are is on Blu-Ray.

After being in development hell for years including an animated movie at Disney in the early 1980s, and then an animated movie at Universal around a decade ago, director Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich and Adaptation) was eventually settled on to create a live-action movie for Universal before a falling out saw Spike Jonze take the movie to Warner Brothers, Legendary Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures.

Where The Wild Things Are tells the story of nine year old Max who runs away from home and sails across the sea to become king of a wondrous realm of gigantic fuzzy monsters - but being king may not be as carefree as it looks!

What an interesting movie. Where The Wild Things Are is based on a children’s book written in 1963. That book contains a total of ten sentences, so in creating this movie Spike Jonze had to create an original script - which was 111 pages in length. The result is a movie which has monsters very similar to the book, but a mostly original storyline where Max becomes friends with the monsters, bringing joy to their lives, but never really being able to fit into their society and ultimately causing more problems within their society then they originally had.

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Max Powers plays Max, superbly too.
After viewing this movie a couple of times now we can't help but find the monsters interesting, Max was well portrayed by, well, actor Max Records, but the story ultimately lacked depth. There are interesting moments and certainly a few amusing ones littered throughout the movie, but ultimately this is a movie about Max learning about the monsters, their interactions, and their lives. There's no major battles between "monster clans", but perhaps, just like the book, it's the simplicity that's much of the charm.

Adapting this children’s book was always going to be a gamble, and while the movie isn't for complete youngsters, it does take you to a very magical place with wonderful, if slightly depressing, characters. Do I recommend this? Ultimately yes, it's worth checking out, and I feel that it's a movie that - much like the book - will grow a legion of fans over time. The best word to sum up this movie, unique.

VIDEO
Where The Wild Things Are is presented at the films original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 at Blu-Rays standard resolution of 1920 x 1080p using the VC-1 codec. The movie, once Max get to the island, has a very brown, earthy look even in the forest while the majority of the monsters are brown in tone as well. Still, it works as you feel you have been transported to an "unknown" location on the planet.

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Max and Carol in Where the Wild Things Are.
It must be said that the image is, as expected, quite sharp with the fur on each of the monsters looking particularly impressive. Shadow detail too manages to impress and despite a bitrate that often dips below 20Mbps (but also occasionally above 30Mbps) the image looks fairly sharp with some softness primarily, we expect, due to the original filming and footage. There's little doubt though that this artistically unique film is visually superior on Blu-Ray to DVD so make sure you get the HD format to ensure the best possible quality.

AUDIO
As seems to be the norm on so many Blu-Rays these days the primary audio track is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (24-bit/48Khz) and it's a cracker of a release too. We absolutely loved the music score from Carter Burwell and songs by Karen O. Dialogue which are lively, childlike but at times haunting too. Dialogue is clear but it's the audio effects that stand out - have a listen to the waves crashing around you when the boat comes in toward the island from 17:20 to 18:30, or during the dirt clod fight during Chapter 13 from 1:03:34 to 1:05:45 as another example. This is a great audio experience.

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Audio during the boat landing is intense.
Other Tracks include English Descriptive Audio which is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track encoded at 192kbps. Other languages include French, German, Italian, Spanish (Castellano and Catala) each with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 640kbps and from brief samples each sounded fairly much on par with the other tracks. Subtitles are provided in English for the Hearing Impaired, French, German, German for the Hearing Impaired, Italian, Italian for the Hearing Impaired, Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese. What I find interesting, and disappointing, is that there isn't a plain English track.

EXTRAS
While not overly loaded there are a few extras on the Blu-Ray for Where The Wild Things Are...

Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or There Must Be More To Life (23:30HD): Well I wasn't expecting this. This is a Canadian film based on another of Maurice Sendak's books. It's fairly entertaining with a decent video and audio quality too and is fairly good added value.

HBO First Look (13:02/HD): This is a better then average EPK styled featurette which runs a little longer then normal with a 13 minute runtime. Interviews with Spike Jonze and Maurice Sendak are the highlight with some insight into the book, writing the script and story and filming the movie.

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Max runs during the dirt clod fight.
Maurice and Spike (3:15/HD): This featurette looks at the relationship the grew between the books author Maurice and director Spike Jonze. Brief but good.

Max and Spike (6:37/HD): Max Records, as well as other cast and crew, talk about working with each other with a brilliant story about how they got Max, as a first time actor, to react to different situations.

The Records Family (6:45/HD): This is a nice little featurette which focuses on the child star of the movie, Max Records, how he was cast in the role and how his family reacted to his casting including his younger brother Sam on set which is pretty funny and his father who is a photographer who took around 10,000 photos on the set - it's a shame we can't see more of these gorgeous photos too.

Carter Burwell (4:39/HD): Carter Burwell is the co-composer of the score for Where The Wild Things Are and his works are discussed in this featurette.

The Absurd Difficulty of Filming a Dog Running and Barking at the Same Time (5:32/HD): You would think filming a dog running and barking would be easy, but this entertaining clip shows just how hard it was for the few seconds in the film.

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Character design really is superb.
The Big Prank (3:23/HD): This short featurette was a prank played on set against director Spike Jonze.

Vampire Attack (0:51/HD): A short vampire clip filmed on the set. Nothing much here.

The Kids Take Over The Picture (4:57/HD): Not too much substance here, but just a look at the kids mucking around on-set.

OVERALL
Where The Wild Things Are is an interesting movie, no doubt about it, and we can see where very young children may not like this however as an adult I appreciated the tone and look of the movie, although I'm not proclaiming it a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination. A good transfer and a few extras makes this worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
7/10
THE VIDEO
8/10
THE AUDIO
9/10
THE EXTRAS
5/10
OVERALL
7.5/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.