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Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie (Extended Edition) (2009) Print E-mail
Monday, 14 December 2009
Image“Wizards of Waverly Place” is one of Disney’s most successful television programs in the past decade.  The shelf of these shows is relatively short, corresponding with the generation currently in the age bracket.  There was nothing wrong with “Lizzie McGuire” and yet that show was canceled after only two seasons and 65 episodes.  That being said, “Wizards of Waverly Place” has already gone its two seasons and is in the midst of its third.  The show has won several awards, which is probably what is keeping it alive.

The success of the program has led to a made-for-TV movie starring the whole of the original cast plus a couple newcomers.

In the film, the Russo family is preparing for a trip to the Caribbean, one of the most magical places on the planet.  However, ma and pa Russo are heading there to celebrate an anniversary at the place where they met.  Alex (Selena Gomez) is given the opportunity to remain with her friend Harper while her brothers go with their parents to the Caribbean.  However, after a magical stunt, that privilege is removed and she is forced to go with the rest of the family.  I know, such torture.

Alex is a rebellious teen that acts out for the entirety of the trip.  She and her mother do not see eye to eye.  Despite their wands being taken away, Alex sneaks the Forbidden Spell book to the Caribbean while her older brother Justin sneaks the titanium wand to the Caribbean.  After much fighting, the two decide to team up and use the two together in order to get mom and dad to agree to whatever they say for six hours.

When Alex’s mom catches her in the act of a spell, words of hate are spoken and Alex wishes that her parents had never meet.  It is obvious where it is going from here.  Alex and her brothers find their parents to now be complete strangers, their father still has his magic and their own lives are in jeopardy.  Alex and Justin must set out to find the stone of dreams, which is capable of reverse any spell or granting any wish.  Meanwhile, Max must remain at the resort to make sure that their estranged parents don’t get into any trouble.

The path to the stone of dreams is apparently wrought with danger, although that remains to be seen until the moment they actually find the stone and attempt to reach it.  As a side plot that inevitable turns on them, Alex and Justin enlist the help of a local wannabe magician with a parrot.  The magician used to be a wizard and his parrot is obviously a witch that was sentenced to life as a parrot.  However, no one seems interested in realizing this.
Despite some blunders in the storytelling, the movie is quite good.  It ranks up there with “The Lizzie McGuire Movie.”  Therein lies the different.  The Lizzie movie got theatrical, major budget treatment.  This film did not receive the same treatment.  While shot on location in Puerto Rico, the quality is subpar.

For some reason or another Disney decided not to release this title on the Blu-ray format, which is a real shame.  I originally saw this movie on HD cable and loved the image quality, despite Comcast’s horrible data compression.  Watching it on DVD was a bit of a let down compared to that HD quality.  Blu-ray would have been the way to go.  That aside, the video is not as saturated as the HD presentation.  Colors don’t exactly pop from the screen.  Greens remain the most lush, but oranges and reds fail to pop.  Edges are a bit blurry at times.  Details are impressive for the most part, though soft shots at times inhibit those details.  Textures are virtually absent, making all faces and costumes appear flat.  Black levels are decent.  This is a good transfer, but should be reserved for smaller widescreen televisions.

Unfortunately, the audio quality is quite terrible.  The audio must have been remixed for the DVD, because the HD presentation was not plagued by many of the problems on this DVD.  Right from the start clarity is an issue.  Sound effects fight with one another, creating a phasing and hollow sounding track.  Dialogue is intelligible throughout.  However, as a professional dialogue editor, this dialogue does not retain consistency.  Perspective changes are exaggerated and ambience cuts in and out.  The LFE channel is hollow.  The frequency response of this audio track is very bandy.  Also, the high frequencies have been exaggerated, causing some ear piercing moments, especially during the disastrous subway sequence.

This DVD release is an extended edition.  It does contain footage that was not seen on the television broadcast.  The added sequences are seamless, but offer little in the way of the story.  The only bonus material on this disc is a making of featurette running about 10 minutes.  It is interesting, but too short.  Other items in the bonus section are simply promos for other Disney shows and releases.

This package comes in a cardboard box with a wishing stone keychain.

“Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie” is a fun film.  Selena Gomez is always cute and fun to watch.  The dynamics between the characters is better than most shows.  Unfortunately, the audio and video qualities are far below those present in the HD broadcast of the film.  Hopefully a Blu-ray of this film will eventually come to light.

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