Where The Wild Things Are Blu-ray Review

Spike Jonze’s theatrical adaptation of the short and snappy children’s book Where The Wild Things Are is easy to misunderstand. Though the book was written for kids to enjoy, Jonze’s elaborate extension of the story into a feature is crafted in such a way that children will likely miss the underlying message Jonze is pushing. That message is the adolescent years can suck and be very lonely, but your imagination can be a powerful ally in coping with adversity in a world that seems unkind and unfair.

For young Max (newcomer Max Records), life is throwing nonstop curveballs without a single break. His single mother is too busy dating and working to give him the time of day while his elder sibling is running with an older crowd and has no concern for Max’s wellbeing. And Max, overwhelmed by his lonely existence, is unable to constructively let out his frustration without hurting those around him in explosive acts of rage.

The brilliance of Where The Wild Things Are is how Spike Jonze successfully takes each of the emotions and people Max is struggling with and puts them into the imaginary Wild Thing characters’ personalities. Max’s time visiting the Wild Things after an explosive fight with his mother is stretched a bit long, but his transformation from vengeful to forgiving by seeing his strengths and weaknesses in the amazingly lifelike creatures is masterfully told with an artisan’s touch. The world would be a better place if everyone took a step back and visited their own personal ‘Wild Things’ for a day or three.

High-Def Presentation
For all the look Spike Jonze put into meticulously creating the world and creatures in Where The Wild Things Are, it comes as a surprise to find a 1080p transfer that does not do the wonderful cinematography or design justice. The film is deliberately brown and earthy to echo the Wild Things’ seaside land (actually Australia), but that same world is without the fine detail expected of Blu-ray. Only a handful of sand dunes shot stand out. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, however, is a different story. There are a myriad of strange sounds coming from the youthful yet sophisticated score and the Wild Things jumping and stomping around their land. The waves crashing ashore when Max first arrives are worth listening to a few times over.

Beyond the Feature
The first Blu-ray exclusive bonus feature listed on the inclusive outer sleeve, Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or There Must Be More to Life (23:30, HD), should be the first stop after the feature without hesitation. The all-new short based on Maurice Sendak’s book of the same name and starring lifelike puppets of animals in a real world setting is as visually interesting and deep as the Wild Things themselves.

Also exclusive to Blu-ray is a familiar HBO First Look special (13:02, HD) crammed with behind-the-scenes footage and interview snippets, and Shorts by Lance Bang (approx 35:00, HD), a collection of 8 short featurettes that build upon the HBO topics yet prove somewhat redundant considering their abbreviated length. Each featurette is listed out individually in the menu giving the appearance of extensive additional content, but in actuality Where The Wild Things Are on Blu-ray is lacking some staples like artwork and trailers expected from this type of film. At least it is not the DVD which includes none of these extras.

Where The Wild Things Are is a wonderfully fantastical film for a parent to share and explain with a pre-teen child, a child to marvel at the assortment of amazingly lifelike gargantuan creatures controlled by animatronics, or an adult to enjoy on the film’s own merit. The lessons learned are invaluable and the production design combined with Spike Jonze’s direction is in a class of its own. Warner Bros. didn’t lavish Where The Wild Things Are with the most robust high definition release, but the feature film or new short alone will spin your imagination in a direction worth following to a unique new world.

– Dan Bradley

Shop for Where The Wild Things Are on Blu-ray for a discounted price at Amazon.com.

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