Wonder Wheel - Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray / Media Reviews' started by Michael Scott, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    Wonder Wheel

    [​IMG]
    Movie: :2.5stars:
    Video: :4.5stars:
    Audio: :4stars:
    Extras: :1star:
    Final Score: :3stars:



    [​IMG] Movie

    Woody Allen has been known for making some amazing films over the years, but the man has been in a creative slump ever since his last hit (the fantastic Blue Jasmine). Midnight in Paris was good, but then came Magic in the Moonlight , Irrational Man and Cafe Society. All of which were DECENT, but nothing more than that. With Jim Belushi, Kate Winslet, Juno Temple and the criminally underrated Justin Timberlake as his cast, I was really hoping that Woody would pull another Blue Jasmine. But with Woody Allen being Woody Allen, Wonder Wheel is a visually striking affair that just falls remarkably flat due to the director leaving all appearances of mass appeal by the waysides and crafts a film that is just tough to watch, while still showing some remarkable performances.

    Ginny (Kate Winslet), is a 39, approaching 40, year old waitress who is down on her luck and feeling miserable. She makes her living as a waitress in a Coney Island diner, while being married to her slovenly husband, Humpty (Jim Belushi), in a loveless marriage. Once an aspiring actress, Ginny’s life fell off the deep end when she had an affair with a fell actor, thus tanking her marriage and leaving her life in free fall. After marrying Humpty (a widower who was just as lost as she was), she was able to right the proverbial ship, but by that time her career and life aspirations were over. She was stuck with a man she didn’t love, and in a job that was destroying her health.

    Looking for help, Humpty’s estranged daughter Carolina (Juno Temple) crashes the party in hopes of hiding out from her mobster husband’s hit squad (who want her dead for squealing to the police). Adding another layer into Ginny’s life, it forces the forlorn woman into the arms of a young lifeguard named Mickey (Justin Timberlake, who also narrates the film), and starts a relationship that seems to bring meaning to her worn out life. However, things get ugly when Mickey’s head is turned by the beautiful Caroline, and Ginny’s tenuous hold on reality is threatened when her own insecurities drive the middle aged woman into a frenzy of jealousy and unhinged mental delusions.
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    Wonder Wheel is a frustrating event that really has some potential, but like most of Woody Allen’s latest projects, is hampered by having very little direction to keep it on course. Instead of being a straight forward melodrama, Wonder Wheel is a strangely roundabout film that meanders from piece to piece, using cartoonish dramatic hilarity as his rudder. Mickey is the narrator and point of view for the film, letting us in on the secret that he’s “in love with drama” from the first few moments of the film. It allows the viewer to see things from his unique perspective and explains a bit why everyone is so cartoonish in their melodrama.

    Woody Allen has a modicum of an idea for his script, but it careens and veers around so much that you feel seasick by the end. The movie is just tough to watch, and while it emphasizes the “frazzled woman” motif that was introduced in Blue Jasmine, it just doesn’t have the general appeal or focus of most of his better works. The experience is largely frustrating, and while the movie does have some redemptive performances by Kate Winslet and Jim Belushi, it’s just not one of his best works.




    Rating:

    Rated PG-13 for thematic content including some sexuality, language and smoking




    Video: :4.5stars:
    [​IMG]
    Being that Wonder Wheel was shot digitally using the Sony CineAlta cameras and finished at a full 4K digital intermediate, I was rather surprised to see that Universal hadn’t crafted a 4K UHD package for Woody Allen’s latest film. I get that his films are rather niche, and don’t really speak to the mass market populace, but with master being right there I almost would have expected it to be super easy to make happen. Either that or Allen wasn’t really interested in the prospect. Either way, the Blu-ray is really impressive looking. Woody Allen has gone for a very burnished and overly saturated look for his film, with primary colors splashed everywhere in almost garish fashion. A heavy ruddy push to the film’s color grading gives it a burnished look, with skin tones looking hot, and backdrops looking almost golden at times (although there are a few scenes within the home that look more blue than anything). Details are exceptional throughout, with the typical soft Woody Allen focus still allowing stunning clarity to peak through the styled shooting style. There’s some banding in low light shots, and I noticed some mild crush, but other than those two small flaws, the disc looks amazing.







    Audio: :4stars:
    [​IMG] Universal’s 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is fairly standard, with a good sound stage that utilizes the Coney Island beaches to its advantage midst a typical dramatic mix. Dialog is always crisp and clear, locked up front in the center of the room. Surrounds can be fairly mild, as the track is decidedly front heavy with copious amounts of dialog between the actors, but when Ginny heads on down to the beach they get a decent workout with the hubbub of the carnival style craziness. The hubbub of voices and lilting music flow evenly through the surround channels, and the LFE even gets to come out and play once in a while. It’s not going to blow anybody’s doors off audio wise, but the mix is lively and precise, with good vocals and enough surround and bass to be thoroughly enjoyable for the genre film that it is.







    Extras: :1star:
    [​IMG]

    • The Cast and Crew Discuss Making Wonder Wheel









    Final Score: :3stars:


    Wonder Wheel is a gorgeous looking period piece film that is wonderfully stylized to fit in the 1950s motif, but it just doesn’t have the ability to capture the audience with Allen’s trademark dialog. The man has been living with the standard of a “one movie a year” work from the writer/director, but I really think this scrip could have done with a lot more TLC applied to the writing, and more time on the cutting room would have helped tremendously. As is, Wonder Wheel is rushed and leaves you with a bloated and awkward sensation with the melodrama doing what it does best. Audio and video are great, but there is sadly only a single extra on the disc. Personally, I’d leave this as a rental unless you’re a 100% dyed in the wool Woody Allen fan.



    Technical Specifications:

    Starring: Juno Temple, Kate Winslet, Justin Timberlake, Jim Belushi
    Directed by: Woody Allen
    Written by: Woody Allen
    Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
    Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
    Subtitles: English SDH
    Studio: Universal
    Rated: PG-13
    Runtime: 101 minutes
    Blu-Ray Release Date: March 6th, 2018






    Recommendation: Rental

     
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  2. tripplej

    tripplej AV Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the review. I do like his movies so will see if available on amazon prime/netflix. :)
     
  3. Asere

    Asere AV Addict

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    Thanks for the review. I had my eye on this one and glad you were able to review it. A rental for sure even though I love Kate Winslet.
     
  4. Todd Anderson

    Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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    I'm struggling with the outer presentation, here...




    Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 12.26.26 PM.png
     
  5. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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  6. Todd Anderson

    Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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    Pull over, Universal!!!
     
  7. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    lol, the original poster was MUUUUUUUUUCH better. This cover was just a "why Universal? why?" moment when I saw it
     
  8. Todd Anderson

    Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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    It's like the gave Jimmy, the summer intern, a trial copy of Photoshop and said "let's see what you can do."

    Terrible!
     
  9. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    lol, on one of the other film forums I'm a member of I saw a comment which summed it up succinctly "Which soon to be fired Intern made this cover?"
     
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  10. Todd Anderson

    Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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    Obviously they aren't expecting sales to be strong.... or perhaps they know buyers of this simply won't care.

    I am, however, disappointed this film didn't get a better review. I haven't seen it, but I typically enjoy Woody Allen movies. I'm definitely going to skip this one.
     
  11. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    I do too, but I have been sadly dissapointed with his latest 3 movies or so. Cafe Society was decent, but I personally think he needs to slow down and fine tune his scripts a bit more. His last REALLY good one was Blue Jasmine
     
  12. Todd Anderson

    Todd Anderson News Editor / Reviewer/ Senior Admin
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    Blue Jasmine was fantastic...

    If memory serves, I think I reviewed that one!
     
  13. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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  14. Asere

    Asere AV Addict

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    Michael,on a side note. Will you be reviewing The Shape of Water?
     
  15. Michael Scott

    Michael Scott Moderator / Reviewer
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    the review is coming up today. The disc was just received from Fox yesterday
     
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  16. Asere

    Asere AV Addict

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    Great looking forward :)
     

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