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To The Wonder Blu-ray Review

To The Wonder Blu-ray

“To The Wonder” is standard Terrence Malick.

The plot: After falling in love with a woman named Marina in Paris, Neil decides to move to Oklahoma with her (and her daughter). While in Oklahoma, Marina and her daughter become very unhappy causing a rift between them and Neil. Eventually, the two move away leaving Neil alone. Shortly thereafter, Neil falls for a former lover (Jane), but discovers that he still has feelings for Marina. Amidst the story, there’s a key subplot involving a Spanish Priest struggling with his own faith.

If you’re expecting a narrative feature film, you might be surprised to learn that “To the Wonder” does not follow the standard cinematic storytelling style. Instead, it’s a very montage and narration heavy work much like Malick’s previous film “Tree of Life.” While many cinema lovers adore anything and everything Malick does, I have grown weary of his self serving direction. When it comes to a Malick film, the movie is all about him (despite what is actually going on on screen). It’s his vision and style that trump the characters. The characters are essentially inconsequential and this is especially evident in ‘Wonder’ as there is a supreme lack of dialogue. This, in turn, makes it hard for the audience to get a read on the characters or even connect with them. Yes, the film may be stuffed with deep themes and ideas about religion, love, and relationships, but all of that feels empty without a deeper understanding of the characters.

On the subject of the characters, it’s a real shame that the cast is wasted here. The new Batman (Ben Affleck), Rachel McAdams, Javier Bardem and Olga Kurylenko are all unable to do their jobs as their work is constantly interrupted by Malick himself. In some cases, a few cast members (namely Jessica Chastain and Rachel Weisz) were cut out of the movie entirely! It makes you wonder what the movie could have been like had it not been for the massive amount of cuts.

If there’s one thing that everyone can agree on in terms of Malick’s work, it’s that all of his films look visually stunning. “To the Wonder” is no exception. Between Malick’s sharp eye and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s beautiful framing, the two manage to make even a Sonic Burger look breathtaking.  

Video/Audio:

Presented in 2.35:1 1080p, ‘Wonder’ features dazzling cinematography which should come as no surprise if you’ve followed the career of director Terrence Malick.

Prior to the film, a short message onto screen stating that you should crank the volume on the TV for the 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track. The reason? The audio is almost entirely whispery narration, mumbling and music.

Extras:
* Magnolia trailers and a “To The Wonder” theatrical trailer.
* “Local Flavor”- A featurette on Bartlesville, Oklahoma (where the film was shot) and the people in the town.
* ‘The Ballet”- A piece about lighting, the production, improv, and cinematography.
* “The Actors’ Experience”- A short extra featuring cast interviews.
* “The Making Of To The Wonder”- Behind-the-scenes footage, cast and crew interviews, discussions about Malick’s style, etc.

Summary: Between the seemingly endless amount of scenes of characters prancing and pacing and the cast being wasted, it’s no WONDER the film was booed at the Venice Film Festival. “To the Wonder” will undoubtedly divide audiences and even Malick devotees. See at your own risk.

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August 23, 2013 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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