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Willy’s Wonderland (Shout! Factory) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Willy’s Wonderland (Shout! Factory) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: February 13th, 2024.
    Director: Kevin Lewis
    Cast: Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Ric Reitz, Chris Warner, Kai Kadlec
    Year: 2021
    Purchase From Amazon

    Willy’s Wonderland – Movie Review:

    An unnamed janitor (played by Nicolas Cage) experiences a car breaks down more or less in the middle of nowhere. He manages to get a tow truck to help him out but doesn’t have the money needed to cover the cost of the necessary repairs. The man in charge of the towing company brings him to an abandoned children’s restaurant where he tells him that if he’s willing to spend the night cleaning the place up, he’ll cover the cost of the car repairs and send him on his way. The janitor agrees and the next thing you know, he’s wearing a ‘Willy’s Wonderland’ stuff t-shirt and scrubbing down the grimy old restaurant and kooky animatronic Chuck E. Cheese/Rock A-Fire Explosion styled musical characters/mascots. What he doesn’t realize is that this grubby old restaurant was, not so long ago, used by a Satanic cult for rituals and the cultists’ spirits now live inside the animatronic animals that once performed for hordes of kids.

    Meanwhile, a young woman named Liv (Emily Tosta) and her friends – who remember losing their parents to the possessed animatronics when they were younger – want revenge. Liv goes into the restaurant herself, undeterred and well aware of what lurks inside. When the janitor meets Liv and keeps on toiling away at his work.

    It isn’t long, however, before the janitor realizes that Liv speaks the truth. Soon enough, it all hits the fan and Emily’s friends then realize they have to go in and get her out, all while Sheriff Lund (Beth Grant) and her new recruit hope to stop more carnage from occurring at the weird old restaurant.

    “He’s not locked in there with them, they’re locked in there with him!”

    If your idea of a good time is watching Nicolas Cage in a silent performance strut his stuff while taking down a serious of death-crazed, murderous animatronic characters inside a dilapidated old restaurant, this is the movie for you, and truth be told, Willy’s Wonderland, as dumb as it might sound, is a pretty entertaining watch. It might not be a movie you keep going back to but it is worth seeing once thanks to Cage’s manic moves and freakishly determined performance. He looks like he’s having a lot of fun in this one, and that turns out to be infectious enough to keep this entertaining. The rest of the cast are fine, if not especially remarkable, but Cage has that charisma and wackiness to him that seems to be the main reason for his getting cast in anything the last decade or so, and he uses it really well here.

    The animatronic characters are well-designed. They start off, in the prologue at least, all squeaky clean and kid friendly and, as the movie progresses and time passes, the effects crew does a good job of making them appear increasingly grubby which suits their possessed demeanor. There are some pretty cool murder set pieces on display in the movie as well, and the sets created for the restaurant are well-done.

    Willy’s Wonderland– UHD Review:

    The HEVC encoded 2160p transfer, framed at 2.35.1 and featuring HDR10 and Dolby Vision enhancement looks great. This was shot digitally so there are no issues with damage or heavy grain. Detail looks pretty strong and color reproduction is consistently very impressive. Detail is pretty solid and texture is fine throughout. No problems to note here – this would seem to be a pretty accurate representation of the source material.

    English language audio options are provided in 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 and DTS-HD 2.0 Stereo options with removable subtitles offered in English only. The 5.1 option is the way to go, it’s a pretty active track with good rear channel activity and solid subwoofer response throughout. Dialogue stays clean and is always easy to follow and both the effects work and the score sound quite good.

    Extras start off with a featurette titled Inside Fun that runs eight minutes and offers up insight from Nicolas Cage, Kevin Lewis, Emily Tosta, Christian Delgrosso, Jeremy Davis, Grant Cramer, David Ozer, Kenneth J. Hall, Chris Schmidt Jr., Jessica Graves, BJ Guyer, Charlie Parrish, Jiri Stanek and Billy Bussey. They talk about how the movie is a genre mashup of sorts, the characters that populate the story, the appeal of the script and how the movie at times feels like a western, Cage's approach to his character and his 'silent' performance, how the creatures were created and creating the fight scenes.

    The Set Tour with Actor Christian Del Grosso is a three minute look at the main sets that were built for the feature with some insight into some of the detail work that had to go into making them by way of the work that the art department did. There’s even a cool custom made pinball machine in here!

    The Fresh Meat Featurette is a quick seventy second piece where the performers who played the teenagers in the movie very quickly discuss their characters.

    The Colorful Darkness And The Demon-Atrons Featurette is a two minute bit that covers how the crew tried to start the animatronic characters off as cute and then turn them into something menacing.

    Finishing things up is a trailer, a few image galleries, menus and chapter selection options. This release comes packaged with a slipcover

    Willy’s Wonderland- The Final Word:

    Willy’s Wonderland is a pretty entertaining time killer, if not exactly a timeless classic. Cage does what Cage does at this point in his career but he carries the film pretty effectively and, if you enjoy his shtick, he can be a lot of fun to watch. The UHD/Blu-ray come from Shout! Factory isn’t stacked with extras but the presentation is a good one. Again, not an essential watch, but a fun one.



    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Willy’s Wonderland Blu-ray screen caps!

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