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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Robert Zemeckis
Cast:
Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, Janelle Monae
Writing Credits:
Robert Zemeckis, Caroline Thompson

Synopsis:
A victim of a brutal attack finds a unique therapeutic outlet to help him through his recovery process.

Box Office:
Budget:
$39 million.
Opening Weekend
$2,354,205 on 1911 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$10,763,520.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio:
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
English DVS
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish

Runtime: 116 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 4/9/2019

Bonus:
• Deleted Scenes
• “Marwen’s Citizens” Featurette
• “A Visionary Director” Featurette
• “Building Marwen” Featurette
• “Living Dolls” Featurette
• Previews
• DVD Copy


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RELATED REVIEWS


Welcome to Marwen [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 16, 2019)

An unusual mix of fantasy and drama, 2018’s Welcome to Marwen comes based on the true story of Mark Hogancamp. In spring 2000, Mark (Steve Carell) undergoes a brutal assault inflicted by a group of five men.

This violent attack causes brain damage that significantly impairs Mark’s memory. Suffering from PTSD as well, Mark creates a miniature World War II village he calls “Marwen” as a way to cope with his situation and recover.

With Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis at the helm and Oscar-nominated Carell in the lead, Marwen seemed destined for both box office and critical success. However, the movie received mostly poor reviews and audiences shunned it, factors that turned into a major bomb.

I can’t blame critics and moviegoers for these reactions. While not a total waste of time, Marwen definitely disappoints.

The main issue stems from the erratic tonal choices Zemeckis makes. At its core, Marwen tells a deeply serious tale of a borderline suicidal man who retreats to fantasy to maintain his sanity.

Occasionally, Zemeckis brings out this darkness at the character’s core, but not with enough regularity or impact. Every once in a while, Zemeckis uses a melodramatic scene to remind us of Mark’s inner demons, and these moments fail to make a real impact.

Instead, Zemeckis prefers the wild fantasy world of Marwen, and this means much of the movie takes place in that setting. This flops badly, as the Marwen scenes do little to connect us to Mark or his issues.

Instead, they simply act as a distraction. Sure, the Marwen material provides a manifestation of Mark’s needs/desires/thoughts, but the film plays them in such a glib manner that they feel disconnected from the main story.

Zemeckis made his name on action-fantasy films, and he seems unable to break from that history and turn Marwen into the serious drama it needs to be. Rather than engage in the comedy and “B”-movie razzmatazz of Marwen, the film should more fully commit to the lead character’s real-life journey.

I guess Zemeckis thought that sounded like a drag. I think Zemeckis could create a straight drama without the superficial techniques found here, but he appears unwilling to do so.

Marwen does get lost under its gimmicks, and the lack of depth impacts the actors as well. Carell plays Mark as a stereotypical “special needs” character, one with more of a sense of childlike whimsy than a tone of pain and psychological distress.

Stuck with one-note roles, the remaining actors give one-note performances as well. We get some good people here, but they’re left with parts that don’t challenge them, and mediocre performances result.

Really, the decision to bring Marwen to life via animation and mo-cap remains the movie’s biggest defect, though. Though intended as a clever way to involve us in Mark’s world, the material turns into a massive distraction.

Even without the animation, though, Marwen probably still wouldn’t work. The film lacks a commitment to the core of the story and ends up as a glib, unconvincing effort.


The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Welcome to Marwen appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie boasted a pleasing image.

Overall sharpness worked well. Some wider shots veered a smidgen toward the soft side, but they remained in the minority during this largely accurate presentation.

I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also failed to become an issue.

Like most modern movies, Marwen went a lot of teal and amber. Predictable as the colors tended to be, the Blu-ray rendered them in an appropriate manner.

Blacks looked dark and deep, while shadows seemed smooth and concise. I felt happy with this high-quality presentation.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it added involvement to the proceedings. The five channels used music in an involving manner, and various effects also broadened the soundscape in a moderate way.

While not a film packed with action, Marwen came to life enough to work the speakers well. Various vehicles and elements of violence moved around the room in a convincing pattern to contribute some life to the tale.

Audio quality worked well. Speech seemed concise and distinctive, while effects appeared accurate and natural. Louder moments – such as from various weapons and vehicles – boasted fine punch.

Music was warm and full, with a good level of punch from percussive elements. All of this left us with a satisfactory “B” soundtrack.

Eight Deleted Scenes fill a total of 11 minutes, 22 seconds. Most of these offer short additions to existing sequences, and even the new segments don’t give us compelling material. These exist as semi-superfluous clips.

Four featurettes follow, and we start with Marwen’s Citizens. The three-minute, 51-second piece offers notes from writer/director Robert Zemeckis and actors Janelle Monae, Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, Diane Kruger, Gwendoline Christie, Leslie Zemeckis, Eiza Gonzalez, and Merritt Wever.

“Citizens” looks at characters, cast and performances. Other than some good shots from the set, this becomes a superficial program.

With A Visionary Director, we find a four-minute, 53-second show with Gonzalez, Christie, Monae, Carell, Robert Zemeckis, Mann, Kruger, producers Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke, production designer Stefan Dechant, costume designer Joanna Johnston, composer Alan Silvestri, and executive producer Jacqueline Levine.

As expected, “Visionary” tells us about the greatness of Robert Zemeckis. As expected, it emphasizes happy talk and lacks much substance.

Building Marwen spans four minutes, three seconds and includes Carell, Starkey, Dechant, Robert Zemeckis, Johnston, Monae, Gonzalez, Mann, set designer Hamish Purdy, doll poser D. Martin Myatt, miniature effects supervisor Dave Asling, and hair department head/doll hair designer Anne Morgan.

This show looks at the dolls and sets involved in the movie’s “Marwen” universe. Despite some happy talk, we get a decent view of the details involved.

Finally, Living Dolls goes for four minutes, two seconds and includes Robert Zemeckis, Starkey, Carell, Mann, Christie, visual effects supervisor Kevin Baillie, and associate producer Derek Hogue.

“Dolls” gives us a take on various mocap and effects techniques featured in the movie. Like “Building”, we get a little too much fluff, but the behind the scenes glimpses compensate.

The disc opens with ads for Second Act, The Upside, On the Basis of Sex, Arctic and Backdraft 2. No trailer for Marwen appears here.

With an intriguing premise based on a fascinating real-life story as well as a talented cast/crew, Welcome to Marwen prompted reasonably high expectations. Unfortunately, it dashed these, as the film offers a mawkish, erratic and melodramatic affair. The Blu-ray brings positive picture and audio as well as minor supplements. Marwen never finds its groove.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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