Blu-Ray Review: ‘Where the Wild Things Are’

Now on Blu-ray everywhere from Warner Home Video is Spike Jonze’s live-action adaptation of the children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, which follows nine-year-old Max who runs away from home and sails across the sea to become king of the land Where the Wild Things Are. Mike Pereira chimes in with his thoughts on the Blu-ray release below.
The Film

Maurice Sendak’s classic 1963 children’s book, Where The Wild Things Are has made a big impression on countless readers, young and old alike. All in just 9 sentences. Co-writer/director, Spike Jonze wisely sticks to the book’s beautiful simplicity in this highly anticipated (very long in the making) film adaptation. The narrative is as sparse as they come; frustrated with the complex, unsympathetic world he inhabits, 9 year old loner, Max escapes into an imaginary world filled with fantastical creatures. What makes this cinematic translation a work of genius is how it unflinchingly evokes one’s memories of childhood. On one end, one can be completely memorized by the seemingly aimless adventures of Max and the “Wild Things” as they parade through one random, fun-filled activity to another. But in a blink of an eye, the lovable “Wild Things” can turn into an emotional, terrifying rage that quickly reminds you that they are in fact monsters who can eat up Max at any given moment. Their unpredictable emotional state is not unlike a child’s.

Spike Jonze has constructed an 80 million dollar studio picture like no other. A children’s film that’s not quite for children. An adult’s personal reflection of what life is through a child’s point of view. Where The Wild Things Are is a magical, emotional and frightening journey. Childhood in a nutshell.

9 out of 10

Video

Where The Wild Things Are arrives with an impressive VC-1/1080p transfer. While more and modern titles have grain-free, sharp, slick visuals, Jonze’s vision sticks to a rougher but beautiful film look. As expected, there is a thin layer of grain is present throughout and a softer picture. Still, there is some pleasant detail. Contrast is strong and colors are a bit muted but during some daytime sequences, it pops up quite nicely.

8 out of 10

Audio

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix really comes out of nowhere. The sound design is alive on all channels throughout. The bass channel is quite intense especially whenever the Wild Things wreck havoc. The bass in their voices feel all the more real during some of the more dramatic moments. Dialogue is crystal clear and the fantastic soundtrack really shines. All in all, an unexpectedly riveting audio experience.

9 out of 10

Supplements

Higglety Pigglety Pop! or There Must Be More To Life (HD, 23:30) live action/animated short is about as bizarre as the title suggests. Still, it manages to be a charming little gem featuring great voice work by Meryl Streep.

HBO First Look (HD, 13:02) is a fine “making of” featurette. The majority of the footage is recycled from the series of featurettes which makes it a rather pointless addition to this disc.

The collection of eight specifically-titled featurettes (HD, 36:00) by Lance Bangs is a charming and entertaining glimpse into the production. Some may seem mundane but totally keeping within the spirit of the film. It captures Jonze’s unorthodox directorial style for the picture. The appropriately titled; The Absurd Difficulty of Filming a Dog featurette is a standout.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing on the creation of the brilliant visual effects especially about how the “Wild Things” were brought to life. A big minus in my opinion.

7 out of 10

Final Thoughts

Where The Wild Things Are on Blu-Ray is a must-own. The A/V presentation only helps to enhance this unique experience. The special features seem less telegraphed than what usually litters most home video releases. The real prize of this release is obviously the film itself. Where The Wild Things Are is the kind of film that grows richer with repeat viewings. It’s an honest portrait of the world wind of emotions a child faces in life. An attribute never as effectively presented by any film before it.

8 out of 10