“Wonder Park” (2019)

Animation

Running time: 110 minutes

Written by: Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec

Directed by: Dylan Brown

Featuring:  Brianna Denski, Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Garner, Ken Hudson Campbell, Kenan Thompson, Ken Jeong, Mila Kunis, John Oliver, Kath Soucie, Norbert Leo Butz and Kevin Chamberlin

Mom: “I never want you to stop using your imagination. But without wrecking the neighbourhood.”

Critical review

Released recently on DVD and Blu-ray is one of the latest animated family movies among what could now be considered a glut of animated movies, the rather uninspiring “Wonder Park” (2019). There is no real need to go to deep on this movie, all of the story beats are mostly covered in the trailer which itself is fairly routine. The animation in this story is good but not great, there are no surprises or hints at anything beyond the main plot that we see play out through a predictable narrative. This is not a bad movie at all, in fact I can see it having a life on streaming services as well racking up some DVD sales for repeat viewings as at the very least it offers eye candy for the very young. 

What I do find interesting is that it was not long ago that actually having an animated movie released in a given year was a novelty, so much so that a Studio could almost guarantee having a box office hit. However now it seems that there is such an expectancy on Studios to have animated movies that many have become dull, unimaginative and some cases cash grabs to pay off previous animated hits, or to even stumble onto a budding franchise.  

Looking back on the abundance of animated movies it is unimaginable to think of a time when animated movies were not coming out every month or so but in the mid-nineties that is exactly the industry Hollywood found itself in. For example, the highest grossing (and only) animated movie in both 1995 and 1996 was Pixar’s (Disney) “Toy Story” (1994). The next animated movies to be released were in 1998, with the double header and similarly themed “Antz” (1998) and “A Bug’s Life” both doing quite well with the latter coming out on top. It was not until 2006 when animated movies hit double figures with a huge eighteen movies in production and the number rising steadily over the next fourteen years, this year alone there has been that many animated movies released, by the end of the year that figure will be a record thirty-seven, making up at least 15% of the total US box office. 

What this means is that almost all major and minor studios have their fingers in the animation business which has led to a finite number of people working on a huge mass of movies that require development as well as subtly otherwise they end up either too childish or lost without a true artists hand to guide them. This is why we end up with movies like “Wonder Park” that are limited in appeal as well as not having something that drives them to be special enough to break through the crowded marketplace. 

The movie revolves around June Bailey, a girl with a bright imagination, her mother comes up with the story of Wonderland, a magical amusement park run by a group of animals: Boomer, a big blue bear who greets guests; Greta, a wild boar; Gus and Cooper, beaver brothers; Steve, a porcupine who is the park’s safety manager and is in love with Greta; and Peanut, the leader of the park and a chimpanzee who has the ability to create rides by listening to June’s mother’s voice. Over time, Mrs. Bailey starts to get sick and is sent away for recovery, June starts alienating from Wonderland, and burns the blueprints of the park out of frustration. Sometime later, Mr. Bailey sends June to math camp, after misinterpreting a note from her father as a cry for help, she uses her friend Banky to create a distraction on the bus to escape and return home, but instead she finds a broken-down Wonderland in the woods.

Technical Review

“Wonder Park” arrives on Blu-ray with a BD-50 disc, the disc is housed in an eco-friendly case with an identical slipcover. The disc loads to an animated main menu with traditional navigation options. 

Video

“Wonder Park” enjoys a bright, colorful, detailed 2.39:1 1080p transfer. While the human character animation isn’t overly detailed, the animal characters have been concentrated to stand out which is similar to the plot itself. Colours are robust with plenty of bright primary yellows, blues, and reds. Black levels are great with deep inky blacks and strong shadows. Free of any compression issues, this is an often splendid and beautiful picture. 

Audio

“Wonder Park” gets a lot of life out of its Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix. Dialogue comes through crystal clear without any issue. Sound effects are placed to keep surrounds engaged virtually at all times. The 7.1 track keeps the action lively and exciting. 

Extras

  • Sing Along with June – The Pi-Song (HD 1:13)
  • Gus the Yodeling Beaver Deleted Scene (HD 00:53)
  • The Wonder Chimp Channel (HD 5:04)
  • Making Noises – It’s Actually a Job! (HD 4:14)
  • June’s Guide to Wonderland (HD 2:00)
  • June’s Welcoming Crew (HD 2:34)
  • How to Draw Boomer and the Wonder Chimps

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