Based on the #1 New York Times bestseller, and USA Today’s top-selling book of 2017, by R.J. Palacio, Ralph Potts reviews writer-director Stephen Chbosky’s beautiful and thought-provoking film that brings to life the uplifting story of a boy who inspires and teaches others that true beauty is found within.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:
Extras:
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

89
Details:

Studio and Year: Lionsgate - 2017
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 113 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:English, English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, Jacob Tremblay, Mandy Patinkin, Izabela Vidovic, Noah Jupe, Daveed Diggs
Directed by: Stephen Chbosky
Music by: Marcelo Zarvos
Written by: Stephen Chbosky, Steven Conrad, Jack Thorne based on the book by R.J. Palacio
Region Code: A


Release Date: February 13, 2018
"Be KIND"
My Take:

Wonder follows the inspiring story of the Pullman family, whose youngest child, Auggie, is a boy born with facial differences. When Auggie enters mainstream elementary school for the first time, his extraordinary journey unites his family, his school, and his community, and proves that you can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.

When I first saw the trailer for Wonder it immediately touched me, and I knew I had to see it. Based on the book by R.J. Palacio, it tells a very human story about a 10-year-old boy that was born with a facial deformity, and how after staying within the loving and supportive boundaries of his family (homeschooled by his mother), ventures out, attending school, where he must contend with the outside world, most especially, kids of his own age.

Wonder is more than just a coming of age tale, it’s about people, as it asks us to look in the mirror, and perhaps see beyond what is on the outside. Yes, the narrative’s context reeks of social commentary, but, its execution, and forthright elements, embolden its formula, while its richly interwoven humor, heartwarming drama, and superbly crafted characters, underscore its positive message. The story is conveyed from the perspectives of key characters, allowing for a viable and necessary connection that thoroughly captures the essence of the fictional, but, relevant tale, that speaks to the human condition, on a level that can be easily absorbed, by children and adults alike.

The performances are outstanding. Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Izabela Vidovic are simply terrific, but young Jacob Tremblay, in the pivotal role of Auggie, steals the show. Hats off to the wonderful assemblage of young talent that portray Auggie’s classmates, most notably Noah Jupe, who of late, seems to be showing up in quite a few films, and has yet to disappoint.

Wonder is a truly compelling, moving, and effectual film that has touched me both times that I have seen it. It’s among my favorites of 2017…


Replay Value:
Parental Guide:

The rating is for thematic elements including bullying, and some mild language.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



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UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



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Audio: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



  • Dynamics: 
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  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): 




Wonder comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 2160p HEVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 63 Mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 4.2 Mbps. 

For its presentation in Ultra HD Wonder was derived from a digital source, rendered from 2K DI and upconverted to 4K. This is a solid Ultra HD presentation that looks great on my large screen. What struck me from the onset is the lifelike reproduction of the textures captured by the camera's lens. Whether it be the finest minutia in physical features or rough textures on the surfaces of the stone buildings, streets, and the interiors of the classrooms or Pullman home, or the vistas of the shooting locations, the imagery is gorgeous. The benefits of high dynamic range and wide color gamut are on display as earth tones, and primary colors have an added dimension that enlivens shots where they would normally have blended in, being seen as a less provocative background element that would generally go unnoticed.

Whites are detailed and bright, especially during low level transitions viewed in a darkened environment. Contrast is spot on, lending an authenticity that underscores the subject matter, bringing it to a visually rewarding level. Shot digitally, this rendering reproduces its elements with aplomb. Looking at the 1080p version, which is solid as well, the difference is noticeable, but not what I would describe as night and day. I found this Ultra HD video presentation to be faithful, beautifully rendered, and the best way to experience this film.


Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Wonder, I found the HDR to be close, but felt that the DV rendering edged out the HDR-10. Much of this came when comparing the same scenes, and finding that the rendering of color was a bit warmer, providing a vividness that was aesthetically pleasing. I also thought that gradations in the white and black detail were more delineated. While I wouldn’t categorize these differences as stark, I definitely felt that the DV rendering was my preference.

This is primarily a dialog driven film however there are elements in the film that require use of the entire system so its ability to clearly render them is essential. Dialog is reproduced with transparent realism and lucid texture as it is appropriately balanced within the front soundstage. The surround mix utilizes the entire platform to recreate the many acoustic sounds associated with the environments portrayed onscreen. The rear channels contain a mixture of spatial ambience/musical extension as well as directional panning cues that effectively support the front soundstage. This is a complimentary audio presentation that mates well with the source material.


For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:


Video: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



  • Resolution/Clarity: 
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Wonder comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 Mbps.

This is a great looking new release title from Lionsgate. Images onscreen exhibit plenty of fine rendering and crisp definition that on occasion rises to higher levels especially during close ups which can be very revealing. Long range shots appear resolute with good dimensional depth and notable object detail. Bright exterior segments are punchy with crisp dynamic whites and appreciable texture. Colors are vibrant with eye catching primaries and natural rendering that looked great in high definition. Fleshtones are tonally divergent and appear lifelike in depiction. Blacks are deep and shadow detail is excellent. I didn’t detect any video related anomalies, finding this to be a faithful video presentation.


Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Wonder Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Wonder Blu-ray
  • “Summer of Fun” 5-Part Documentary
    1. “A (com)Passion Project” Featurette
    2. “Family Matters” Featurette
    3. “A Technical Wonder” Featurette
    4. “A Note of Kindness” Featurette
    5. “We All Deserve a Standing Ovation at Least Once in Our Lives” Featurette
  • “A Child’s Sense of Wonder” Featurette
  • “What a Wonderful World” Featurette
  • Audio Commentary with Stephen Chbosky and R.J. Palacio
  • “Brand New Eyes” Music Video
  • Wonder Soundtrack: Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
  • Digital HD Copy
Final Thoughts:

Based on the book by R.J. Palacio, Wonder is a beautiful film that captures the essence of the human spirit as seen through the experiences of a special little boy and his family. It comes to Blu-ray in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack from Lionsgate Home Entertainment, featuring an excellent Ultra HD video rendering (which includes Dolby Vision HDR), top notch high definition video, complimentary lossless surround sound, and worthwhile supplemental package. Wonder is among my favorite films of 2017 and comes highly recommended.
 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews



Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from  Spectracal )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems