Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

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Released 31-Mar-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Fantasy Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-4
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 96:52
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (39:19) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Spike Jonze
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Max Records
Pepita Emmerichs
Max Pfeifer
Madeleine Greaves
Joshua Jay
Ryan Corr
Catherine Keener
Steve Mouzakis
Mark Ruffalo
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Carter Burwell
Karen Orzolek


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    One thing should be made very clear about this film based on a famous children's picture book, it is NOT a film aimed at children or in my opinion suitable for them. It is too sad, emotionally intense and scary for most children under 10 to sit through, let alone enjoy. It seems very strange to me that a famous children's picture book should be made into a film for adults. The film is more an exploration of the psyche of a child than anything else, although it is very hard to categorise or even at times, to understand. I suppose considering that the film was directed by Spike Jonze, director of the very cerebral Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, we should not be overly surprised. I must say though, that I enjoyed both of those films much more than this one.

    The plot is pretty straight forward and focuses on a young boy, Max (Max Records) who is somewhat maladjusted in his real life. His single mother (Catherine Keener) is very busy and struggles to spend the time with him she would like. He doesn't seem to have many friends and his older sister finds him annoying and slightly embarrassing. One evening while his mother has a friend over (Mark Ruffalo who you will miss if you blink) he has a tantrum and after biting his mother runs out of the house and into the woods. This seems to transform magically and he ends up on a boat, crossing a stormy sea. After narrowly surviving the storm he lands on an island, and discovers that it is inhabited by a group of childlike monsters who seem to live without thought to consequences or how they impact on each other. Max convinces them that he is a king with limitless powers and they allow him to become their king. The group includes the large, somewhat aggressive but kind-hearted Carol (James Gandolfini), his sometime girlfriend, KW (Lauren Ambrose), Carol's best friend, Douglas (Chris Cooper), the quiet Ira (Forest Whittaker), his sharp-tongued girlfriend, Judith (Catherine O'Hara) plus the goat-like Alex who no-one listens to and The Bull. Oddly, the stunt performer for The Bull was Aussie comedian Angus Sampson. Max wants everyone to be happy but pretty soon tension mounts.

    On a positive note, this film is certainly different from your average mainstream film especially other films based on children's books. There is some interesting dialogue between the monsters which is reminiscent of the way kids talk to each other and make up stories. The monsters are well realised including the CGI done for their faces which is very well integrated into characters mostly recorded live. Supposedly the CGI had to be added due to the animatronic heads of the monster suits being too heavy meaning that the planned animatronics had to be removed. The acting especially by the young boy, Max Records and James Gandolfini is of high quality.

    The tone of the film is very melancholy and angsty which makes for a somewhat uncomfortable viewing experience. The film is sometimes hard to follow due to some somewhat murky scenes at the beginning and because there is little explanation of onscreen action at times. Generally, the approach taken to the material is quite esoteric and this results in it not connecting with its audience. In addition to this is is hard to tell who the audience is supposed to be. I would guess that fans of Spike Jonze's work would be interested in this or perhaps people who liked the book as children and are now people who enjoy esoteric, arty filmmaking. Generally speaking, I cannot really recommend it and certainly not as children's entertainment. Of course, there is a possibility that I just didn't 'get it'.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good.

    The feature is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is 16x9 enhanced widescreen and the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was quite clear and sharp throughout with some minor MPEG artefacts during fast motion. The shadow detail was average in some scenes although I would guess this was an artistic choice.

    The colour was well rendered in what is not an overly colourful film. It has a colour scheme of mostly greys and browns.

    There were no other obvious artefacts.

    There are optional subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired which are clear and easy to read.

    The layer change occurs at 39:19 but is not noticeable during playback.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio is good but disappointingly encoded at a less than optimum bitrate.

    This DVD contains two audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 384Kb/s and an English Dolby Digital Audio Descriptive 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192Kb/s.

    Dialogue was sometimes hard to understand which may be due to the reduced bitrate.

    The music by Karen O and Carter Burwell is one of the highlights of the film. It is interesting and mostly acoustic, punctuated by some original songs. Karen O is from the alternative band The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

    The surround speakers were well used providing atmosphere plus surround effects such as thunder, birds and music.

    The subwoofer added bass for the music and thunder.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     The featurettes were all directed by Lance Bangs, a documentary filmmaker. Not that it makes them any more interesting.

Menu

    The menu is still but includes some of the score. It allows for chapter selection and is preceded by three trailers.

The Absurd Difficulty of Filming a Dog Running and Barking at the Same Time (5:32) 

    Featurette about the challenges of filming a particular scene. Mostly behind the scenes footage rather than any focused explanation.

The Big Prank (3:23) 

    Footage of a prank played on Spike Jonze during filming

Vampire Attack (0:51) 

    Max Records and Spike Jonze mucking around during filming.

The Kids take over the Picture (4:58) 

    Featurette about the kids of all the cast and crew hanging around the set. Features an appearance by Angus Sampson.

Other Trailers

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of the DVD is exactly the same except for language options. It is available on Blu-ray here and in Region A.

Summary

    A film for esoteric adults based on a children's book.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is good.

    This disc has a small selection of average extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, May 07, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS708H upscaling to 1080p, using HDMI output
DisplayLG Scarlet 42LG61YD 106cm Full HD LCD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Sony SAW2500M Subwoofer

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