Wonder Park Blu-ray Review
"Do you ever feel like Wonder Park is real?"
Wonder Park Film Review
Hardly a threat to the bigger animation studios, Paramount Animation's Wonder Park captures initial Pixar magic before getting distracted providing a pure kids-only diversion.For a while, you wonder whether Wonder Park has, perhaps inadvertently, managed to channel Toy Story vibes in its quest to provide something of a heartfelt human backstory to a central plot that involves bringing 'toys' to life for family-friendly entertainment purposes. It's hardly exclusive to Toy Story, nor was that arguably the progenitor, but Toy Story set the benchmark, with subsequent films like Wreck it Ralph bringing video games to life, The Secret Life of Pets unravelling a whole new world of pet interaction, and the Lego franchise doing the same for Lego.
Wonder Park does a commendable job establishing the human characters - it'll maybe even bring you to tears within the first half hour, which is a trait almost exclusive to the magic Pixar formula - but it soon goes off the rails once it tries to go to the other place.
It'll maybe even bring you to tears within the first half hour, which is a trait almost exclusive to the magic Pixar formula, but it soon goes off the rails
The story has young girl June - who has a wonderful imagination, and is something of a child genius - crafting a whole new adventure park within her living room, with the help of her mum, before one day putting it all away and refusing to play with it. One day she finds herself inside the park, with everything she imagined come to life, only the whole place has fallen into disrepair, and June has to find a way to turn it back on before a swarm of zombified chimps overrun it completely.
Wonder Park may well surprise you with just how well it develops its first act, with shocking events hooking you into the plight of this young girl. But it simply doesn't appear to know how to blend its two universes, which appear to be connected by June's imagination, but also veritably exist within the real world, only hidden - like Wakanda in Black Panther. Once we hit the 'real' Wonder Park, it's very easy for adults to want to get off the ride - none of it really has any internal logic, and the loosely-plotted exploits hold very little interest for anyone but kids, who will, conversely, be largely enamoured by the chimpanzombies, exploding rockets, and broken rollercoaster hijinks. It all becomes a little Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom, only for kids.
With so much promise, it's a disappointing turn of events, as - unlike more popular recent animated features like The Secret Life of Pets 2 and The Lego Movie 2 - Wonder Park nails the emotional element in a way that only Pixar has ever really achieved (and even makes you think of one particular Pixar film whose opening prologue is arguably the greatest of any animated movie). It just doesn't know what to do with the rest of its ideas.
Wonder Park Blu-ray PictureParamount bring Wonder Park to UK Blu-ray with what looks to be the exact same largely excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation that adorned its preceding US release, delivered in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen.
A strong, often demo video component
A surprisingly impressively shot production, there are some nice stylistic flourishes that go some way towards making the animated style very visually striking, with superb character designs, interesting lighting shots, and some truly stunning vistas (particular when first landing at the park). There are some wonderful nuances on offer, not least the blue fur of the bear, and similarly the visual palette is frequently impressive, content with more naturalistic tones for the most part, but unafraid of affording intermittent popping highlights. Rounded out by solid black levels, this remains a strong, often demo video component.
Wonder Park Blu-ray SoundDelivers the aural goods in style
Curiously, the UK release defaults to a lossless 5.1 track which is decent enough, but if you check the audio options there is actually a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 alternative, which has been strangely labelled "US audio" presumably due to a couple of region-specific dialogue changes - it is undoubtedly the preferred option for those who have the facilities to enjoy the further channels. Either way, both lossless tracks impress, delivering a veritable rollercoaster ride of engaging setpieces, remarkably emotional beats, and otherwise perhaps marginally generic scoring, with keen prioritisation for the dialogue, and some decent support from the LFE channel. It's hardly as dynamic or object-oriented as a 3D Atmos offering, but it delivers the aural goods in style.
Wonder Park Blu-ray ExtrasMatching up to the US disc, there are a salvo of sometimes short additional features, including a Deleted Scene and an in-character 'short', which has clips of news report footage from within the park.
A salvo of additional features
There's also a guide to the park and its characters, a short sing-a-long option for one of the songs, some brief clips from the cast talking about their work on the production, and a Featurette that teaches you how to draw some of the characters.
Wonder Park Blu-ray VerdictWonder Park nails the emotional element in a way that only Pixar has ever really achieved. It just doesn't know what to do with the rest of its ideas.
Paramount's latest animation hardly lit up the Box Office, largely going unnoticed on theatrical release, and now hoping to find a broader audience at home. It has a lot of potential, particularly in its opening set-up, but doesn't quite know how to integrated the park-come-to-life concepts into a cohesive whole. Internal logic is not a forte here. The UK disc, however, affords largely excellent video and audio, and a few nice extras, rounding out a very good release that is sure to keep kids engaged and, at least at the start and very end, perhaps even their parents.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £15.00
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