Friday, June 21, 2019

Wonder Park Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Wonder Park is the story of a young girl named June with a big imagination who makes an incredible discovery—the amusement park of her dreams has come to life. Filled with the world’s wildest rides operated by fun-loving animals, the excitement never ends. But when trouble hits, June and her misfit team of furry friends begin an unforgettable journey to save the park. Action-packed and brimming with laughs, Wonder Park  is a ride the whole family will love.

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
June (Brianna Denski) is an enthusiastic young girl with a great imagination. Her and her mom (Jennifer Garner) have been imagining and documenting a make-believe amusement park, called Wonderland. The park has crazy rides and is filled with her mascot friends and other animals. The monkey Peanut (Norbert Leo Butz) is the creator, who uses his magic marker to bring June’s ideas to reality. When life gets hard for June and her family, she abandons the park her and her mother loved so much.

Dad (Matthew Broderick) tries to do his best to take care of June while mom is away. June and her mom have a meaningful, special relationship and without her mom around June doesn’t want to be involved in Wonder park. Mom asks June to keep that little light in her shining bright, because she is the wonder in Wonderland. Even with mom’s kind words, the park suffers when June stops believing. The mascots of Wonder park are voiced by John Oliver, Ken Jeong, and Kenan Thompson. These character actors bring much needed levity to the film. Jennifer Garner and Matthew Broderick both have great parent voices. 

My problem with the film is it’s too darn sad. Watching a young girl’s depression spiral just isn’t my idea of entertainment. I can’t honestly decide if this would make a kid in a similar situation feel good or worse. This would have been a really cute movie if it focused on the park and the magic June and her mom unknowingly create. The audio and video quality are okay. The story is okay. The special features are underwhelming. The whole thing feels like a great idea that didn’t get someone’s full attention.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Wonder Park is acceptable but not exceptional on Blu-ray. The opening moments in Wonderland offer every color in the rainbow but they are muted. The clothes and fireworks should be a brilliant bold color palette. Clarity and textures are apparent in fur and the animation for the humans (and their hair) is pretty good. Blues fair best but overall it’s a flat picture.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
The Dolby True HD 7.1 soundtrack is adequate for the film. Dialogue comes across clearly and fully.  Coffee grinding, a saw against wood and the sounds of the homemade roller coaster are authentic. Rides in the park whiz by with slight directionality. Music is well balanced and not overwhelming. Crowds have expected weight and volume. No major audio complaints, but also nothing remarkable.
Extras (2 out of 5 stars)
The list of features is brief, and aren’t terribly informative.  I did appreciate the design on the caricature instructions.
  • Gus Yodeling – Deleted Scene (:54)
  • The Wonder Chimp Channel (5:04) – Wonder Chimp news, entertainment and fashion.
  • The Pi Song Sing-a-Long (1:13) – The sing along version (with lyrics) of that catchy tune the kids sing on the bus.
  • Making Noises (It’s Actually a Job?!!) (4:14) – Recording footage and discussion of voice over sessions.
  • June’s Guide to Wonderland (2:00) – The blueprint for the fun of Wonderland with an explanation of the inspiration for the unique attractions. 
  • June’s Welcoming Crew (2:34) – The mascots are introduced and detailed here.
  • Boardwalk Caricatures – Adult and child instructional videos for the following:
    • Drawing Boomer (8:49)
    • Drawing the Wonder Chimp Pirate (10:29)
    • Drawing the Wonder Chimp Princess (7:55)
Summary (3 out of 5 stars)
Wonder Park wasn’t the spectacular adventure I expected. There are moments that shine but overall, I couldn’t get past the sad story. Regardless of the overall happy ending, I spent too much time feeling bad for this family, and not enough time enjoying the park. The Blu-ray is not exceptional but does the job. This is the kind of film I’d pay matinee price at the theater for but not prime time full price.  When purchasing I’d be willing to score a discounted copy because I’m not sure how often it would make it into my family’s rotation of children’s movies.

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