Where The Wild Things Are (2009) 
Blu-ray Sci-Fi-Fantasy
Written by Noah Fleming   
Wednesday, 03 March 2010

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"Where the Wild Things Are" is perhaps one of the most well-known children's books worldwide.  The story and creatures captured imaginations, inspiring creativity and the arts.  When I first heard about the adaptation of the Maurice Sendak book I was thrilled.  As it turns out I am not as enthusiastic about the outcome as other critics.

I did enjoy the film, but only marginally compared to my expectations.  The film is depressing, which is the intent of the filmmakers.  However, after a while the film becomes utterly too depressing.  And it has a depressing ending.  There is only so much one can take.

My other issue is that the filmmakers found perhaps the most annoying kid to play Max.  I have to phrase this delicately, but the kid seems to have a bad case of maniac depression.  Max must need serious medication.  Max is supposed to be a lonesome, creative little kid.  Instead, he comes across as someone that needs to be in a mental hospital.

The film doesn't really pick up until about 45 minutes or so into the story.  Overall, I felt the story was drawn out to fill the runtime.  There are some really dull moments, such as when the wild things demand Max to show them his powers.  Max takes an extraordinary amount of time to get up and try to dance the robot.  It was fairly pathetic.  This is likely due to the poor acting on the part of the child actor playing Max.  Any lesson learned from the film is mysterious and takes some energy to figure out.  My only other complaint is that the book inspires imagination.  The film removes all that.  The film doesn't present an entire image of the wild things' world, but it doesn't leave room for expansion because the story has some plot holes.

In the end, the film is imaginative, but suffers from adaptation-syndrome in which the film is padded from the original story to fill screen time.

The Blu-ray presentation of "Where the Wild Things Are" is very faithful to the original intent of the filmmakers.  There are couple issues with the transfer, but overall it is technically sound.  The nighttime sequences have the most trouble.  There is frequent crush and some banding in those sequences.  The color palette is reserved to browns and yellows.  There is an occasional speck of during the first daytime sequence on the island, but that is about it for color.  Fleshtones remain neutral.  The print is in excellent shape and there is no evidence of artifacting or noise reduction.  Edge enhancement is also absent.  Details and textures are nicely resolved for the most part.  However, soft shots are littered throughout the film.  These may be intentional or part of the transfer.  The fur of the wild things can either be nicely defined or blurred.  The texture and details of the sticks and cocoons on the island is also incredible.  This isn't a striking transfer, but it is a solid image.

Warner Bros. provides a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track.  The track bests the video track.  The soundscape is full of life and completely immersive.  The dynamic range is greater than any movie I have seen in recent memory.  In fact, sometimes it is so great that you might have to reach for the volume control for the lower parts.  Dialogue is clean, but its prioritization is off.  There are moments in which the dialogue falls second to ambience and effects.  The LFE channel is solid and present throughout.  It never muddies the soundscape.  The rear channels are almost always full of ambience.  The sound effects are crisp and detailed.  Panning and directionality are nearly always dead on.  Overall, the balance is what keeps me from giving this a perfect score.

The Blu-ray edition of the film has a relatively modest supplemental package.  Sadly there is no commentary track or deleted scenes, the only special features that are actually usually worth anything.  "Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or There Must be More to Life" is a new short from another of Maurice Sendak's books.  "HBO First Look: 'Where the Wild Things Are'" is a typical behind the scenes featurette.  "Max and Spike" and "Maurice and Spike" are sitdowns with the respective individuals discussing their feelings about the film.  "Carter Burwell" is an all-too-brief segment on the amazing music score.  "The Big Prank" is a lame featurette about an on set prank.  "The Kids Take Over the Picture" is a kids on set featurette.  "Vampire Attack" is simply dumb.  "The Absurd Difficulty of Filming a Dog" is a brief segment on dog training.  The package also comes with a second disc that functions as a DVD Copy and Digital Copy.

"Where the Wild Things Are" is not necessarily a great film.  It is not exactly highly repeatable, but it is interesting the first time around.  The cinematography is terrific, but the acting leaves something to be desired.  The video and audio tracks are quite excellent and the audio track especially should not be missed.
Studio Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating PG
Starring Max Records, Catherine Keener, James Gandolfini, Paul Dano, Catherine O'Hara, Forest Whitaker, Chris Cooper, Lauren Ambrose
Director Spike Jonze
Film Release Year 2009
Release Year 2010
Resolution(s) 1080p (main feature) • 1080p (supplements)
Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
Running Time 1 hr. 41 mins.
Sound Formats English DTS-HD Master 5.1 • French Dolby Digital 5.1 • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles English SDH • French • Spanish
Special Features "Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or There Must Be More to Life"; "HBO First Look"; A Collection Shorts; DVD Copy; Digital Copy
Forum Link http://www.avrev.com/forum
Reviewer Noah Fleming

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