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Having never read Maurice Sendak's children’s book upon which Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers based their screenplay, I am unable to tell how WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE ($36) compares to its literary source. Coming at it cold, I found WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE to be an intriguing coming of age story, in which its nine-year-old protagonist begins to come to grips with his place in the real world, after his adventures with creatures of pure imagination. The premise of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE introduces us to Max, a lonely boy of boundless energy and limited self-control, who runs around wildly while wearing a wolf costume. A child of divorce, Max is prone to violent fits of temper, the latest of which ends with our young wolf-boy biting his mother and running away from home. Getting into a boat in a nearby pond, Max sails off across the ocean landing on an island where the wild things are.

Although monstrous in size in comparison to Max, he is soon declared the king of the wild things, with Max seemingly finding his strongest bond with the wildest of the wild things, who shares a temperament quite similar to that of Max at his wildest. Eventually Max comes to find that even the wild things have their share of problems, many of which stem from their relationships with one another, as well as having to deal with the world around them- all of which resemble the situations of Max’s own life, before he left home. Ultimately, the time Max spends amongst the wild things gives him fresh perspective and allows Max to make some decisions about his own life, as well as face the world with a greater sense of maturity. The human cast and vocal talent behind WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE also features Catherine Keener, Mark Ruffalo, James Gandolfini, Lauren Ambrose, Chris Cooper, Forest Whitaker, Catherine O'Hara, Paul Dano and Michael Berry.

Warner Home Video has made WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Director Spike Jonze has adopted a natural and rough around the edges visual style for WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, and the film appears very nicely rendered in its 1080p presentation. Reflecting the filmmakers’ intentions, the image is sharp and nicely defined, but not in any way that one would call upon this release as a demonstration disc for high definition. There is a good sense of texture in the image, but minute details seem purposely diffuse. Colors are subdued, and favor the earthen tones of the films production design, which shies away from bright primary hues. Blacks are deep and sometime impenetrable, while whites are crisp. Contrast sometimes appears to been slightly pushed, while shadow details can sometimes be lost in the impenetrable blacks. The elements from which WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE have been transferred appear free from imperfections. Grain is apparent, but modest, yet maintains the organic quality of the presentation.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The sound design has a rollicking quality that marries well to the rough and tumble situations in which Max finds himself along with the wild things. Of course, there are also quieter moments that are beautifully rendered. All situations make excellent use of the outlying channels. Thanks to the lossless encode Carter Burwell’s score has a wonderful musical clarity. The bass channel is nicely grounded, and supplies sufficient reinforcement to the sonic effects. Dialogue is crisp, clean and is easy to understand. French Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or There Must Be More To Life (twenty four minutes), HBO First Look (thirteen minutes), Maurice And Spike (three minutes), Max And Spike (seven minutes), The Records Family (seven minutes), Carter Burwell (five minutes), The Absurd Difficulty Of Filming A Dog (six minutes), The Big Prank (three minutes), The Kids Take Over The Picture (five minutes) and Vampire Attack (one minute). A DVD copy and Digital Copy of the film are also provided, with both being housed on the second disc of this set.

As I stated earlier, I found WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE to be an intriguing coming of age story. The Blu-ray presentation is quite strong and appears to be a faithful rendering of the filmmakers’ intentions.



Where the Wild Things Are [Blu-ray] (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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