Stephen Chbosky, the man who directed The Perks of Being a Wallflower has followed it up with Wonder, the story of a young deformed boy who is entering the education system for the first time. While this might sound like a standard inspirational drama, it is actually a bit more than you might expect.
Releasing on Blu-ray and 4K UHD courtesy of Lionsgate, today we’ll be taking a look at the UHD version of the film, which, coincidentally also includes a Blu-ray copy.
The synopsis would lead you to believe that this story focuses solely on one young boy named August, or Auggie, who is struggling with fitting in during his first year of middle school. However, while this is a main point of the film, it isn’t necessarily what I would call the focus of the film. In fact, I would say that this movie is just as much about those around him as they struggle with their own problems as well as their various roles in protecting, raising, struggling with, or bullying Auggie, depending on their relationships with him. But let’s take a step back.
Auggie (played by Jacob Tremblay who you will know from Room but will NOT recognize him in this) was born with a facial deformity that, even after many surgeries, has left him looking dissimilar to his peers. This has given the young boy an anxiety of being seen. Frequently in the early parts of the film, we see him wearing an astronaut’s helmet (he has a passion for space and science) around to avoid the awkward glances and looks he is used to receiving. In fact, I would posit that the image of him in his helmet is what most people would think of if they had seen the trailer or posters for this movie. Eventually, his reliance on this helmet lessens as he gains confidence in himself, which was a neat detail.
As Auggie progresses through his first year of middle school, we watch as he slowly becomes less of an outsider and more of a normal kid. This transformation takes place not only in his confidence but also in the willingness of other students to stop looking at him as a freak and begin to see him as a smart friend.
However, as children always do, eventually even those closest to Auggie are overheard saying some rather unfriendly things about him, and some bully types are very slow to see the value he provides as a person. This escalates into fist fights, suspensions, and Auggie withdrawing into himself; and this is where this film takes an interesting detour.
My expectations at this point in the film were that, of course, things are tough for the different looking kid, and of course, he would do something that would win everyone over and everything would be grand. However, throughout this film, we have been gradually learning more and more about those around Auggie and what they are going through as well, and after a certain amount of time, it was apparent to me that many of these side stories were as important to me as Auggie’s.
I won’t go into a lot of detail here because I think that this movie really smartly builds up these conflicts, and then wraps them all together in a very satisfying way, even if the ending is a little bit unsurprising. I will say this, by the time this movie was wrapping up I was emotionally invested in several characters, which was not at all expected.
The 4K visuals in this release are great. The colors are bright and vibrant, while the blacks stay true and dark. There weren’t a lot of reference scenes here, as it’s a fairly standard drama film focusing on character interactions, but at least one scene involving an astronaut was especially good looking.
The audio track is also not overly exciting but was great nonetheless. The sound quality on any new film these days is going to be great by default, and the tech must just be spot on because even mundane scenes like walking through the school halls or cars driving down the street make such great use of surround channels, which makes everything just a little bit better.
I would like to stress here that the films obvious low budget does not imply low quality. The scenes are for the most part very well thought out, entertaining, and informative. I would encourage anyone interested in the topic to give this film a watch, regardless of its indie roots.
- Audio Commentary with Stephen Chbosky and RJ Palacio
- Summer of Fun Multi-Part Documentary – several short features combined that talk about different aspects of the film
- A Child’s Sense of Wonder – a look a the young cast members
- What a Wonderful World – location scouting
- “Brand New Eyes” Music Video
- Theatrical Trailers
Wonder Final Thoughts:
Wonder was a big surprise for me. Not only does it do a great job at what you would expect when you hear the synopsis, it also goes well above and beyond to establish several supporting characters and storylines that you will be invested in along the way. It might be a bit predictable overall, but the journey is worthwhile. Wonder is out now and available from Amazon and other retailers in both Blu-ray and 4K UHD.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgment or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.