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Welcome To Marwen (Blu-ray Review)

Welcome to Marwen Blu-ray ReviewWhere to begin with this film. There are great actors, solid performances, and an engaging based on a true story storyline… Yet why does it seem like a complete and utter mess? Why does the film seem discombobulated, half baked and partially made? Story points open, yet don’t close out…. Welcome to a “Royal Mess” is more like it.  Check out our full Blu-ray review of it which saw Welcome to Marwen hit the format on April 9th.

Welcome to Marwen Blu-ray Review

Film

Welcome To Marwen is based on the true story of Mark Hogencamp (Steve Carrell), an eccentric artist who lives in Upstate New York. Some time before our story begins, Mark was a target of a brutal beating after drunkenly exposing his interest for women’s shoes. After the beating we are given privy to Mark’s life. He is sad, frustrated and seems always entirely lost in his life. That is, in all aspects besides his work. Now unable to remember how to draw as he once did, Mark has created Marwen, a micro-sized village where he has made a World War II scene where he has dolls placed within that he photographs.  Beyond his art installation, Mark enjoys his shoe collection, taking little trips to the hobby shop, and working at his part time job which is at the bar where he endured his horrific beating.

Things seem to look up when Nicol (Leslie Mann) moves across the street. She is sunny, beautiful and very curious about Mark and his little village. Mark becomes interested in Nicol too, going so far as to find a doll that would be fitting to be Nicol in his little Marwen. Nicol has frequent run ins with an ex lover and in between her friendship with Mark, the two men end up crossing paths. The ex becomes a nazi in Mark’s WWII artwork.

Now for a little side note: Marwen’s inhabitants are actually many real life characters in Mark’s life. Besides Mark, who in his fantasy world is an old school manly soldier, there is Deja (Diane Kruger), a Belgian Witch that loves Mark and wants any woman who crosses his path dead. There is also Roberta, who in real life works at the hobby shop and may also have some feelings for Mark. Julie (Janelle Monae) is in real life another friend of Mark and additionally Carlala and Annie, other fixtures in Mark’s life. If you notice a pattern, Mark has a life filled with women who are a strength to which Mark has always been drawn. He loves women’s shoes because, in his own words, wearing them makes him feel a woman’s essence. He has nothing but respect for women, but he also is fixated on them in ways that may be odd for some.

Side note aside, Mark finds solace in his little village, working meticulously to capture photos, create a story line and find an escape. It’s in those fantasy moments that come in jarring waves throughout that the inconsistencies in the film begin to show. We are engaged in a story in which a man with some serious PTSD has to face demons head on. He has to face his attackers in a trial, and is terrified to do so. He needs his doll alter ego to go with him to the trial. It’s all relevant to the story, but the way it’s presented is as if there was some serious story altering to try and make the film more entertaining.

For me anyway, this film is full of holes, loose ends, missed opportunities and often a waste of great talent. We see people on screen that we love, but the characters they are inhabiting are so middle of the road, blandly sketched and cobbled together that it’s hard to care for them entirely. Worse still is the tone of the film. One moment we are expected to laugh as the score builds and a moment in Marwen requires doll nudity, but then we are treated to a serious moment within the next few minutes that we are then expected to not be laughing but feeling somber about.

Coming from a legend like Robert Zemeckis you’d expect a little more, but everyone is human and everyone makes mistakes. This is a mistake for Zemeckis and a lot of the cast to be sure. I’d say unless you’re a die hard fan, you may want to skip this one.

Welcome to Marwen Blu-ray Review

Video

  • Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC 
  • Resolution: 1080p (Film was shot at 6.5K)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Clarity/Detail: This is a nice clear transfer. We see lots of great detail in indoor and outdoor settings. In the fantasy of Marwen, we see more details emerge, such as the plasticine texture of the dolls, their clothes and their surroundings. The little buildings are a marvel to see and are quite pleasing to the eye. 
  • Depth: The depth of this film is on full display here. The interior scenes throughout have a lot to look st overall, with little details popping out everywhere. The Marwen scenes are even more emphasized with depth than those taking place in real life, but of course they would be more depth realized as they’re digitally animated. 
  • Black Levels: Blacks are nice and true to life throughout. There are no scenes involving graying of any kind. 
  • Color Reproduction: The color palette for this film is similar to Ready Player One. Colors are sort of basic and drab in the normal world with more vibrancy and care given to the Marwen scenes. Reds are redder, blue skies and grasses are more fantastical in their presentation. The switch between the worlds can be nice at times but distracting in others. 
  • Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are as to be expected — True to life in the real world, and plastic-y and smooth in Marwen
  • Noise/Artifacts – None

Welcome to Marwen Blu-ray Review

Audio

  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
  • Dynamics: This mix isn’t the most dynamic. This is a drama overall, so dialogue is the main star here. Sound effects play loudly when needed and music also plays respectably in the TrueHD soundtrack
  • Low Frequency Extension: Low End pops up during battle scenes in Marwen, and the score is also a place you’ll find your bass extension on display. Beyond that, again, this film is more dialogue than anything else. 
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Surrounds come into play during fantasy scenes, and in the courtroom scenes primarily. A good chunk of Welcome to Marwen plays outdoors and you’ll hear the sounds of nature popping up at times throughout. 
  • Dialogue Reproduction: This dialogue heavy film lovingly reproduces each line front and center. No issues whatsoever. 

Welcome to Marwen Blu-ray Review

Extras 

Extras for this film are a little on the skimpy side. We are treated to standard deleted scenes, obviously cut for time, and 4 tiny featurettes to shed a minuscule light on the creation of the film and its little doll world within. Along with the Blu-ray you receive a bundled DVD and a digital code that redeems in 4K. This film being shot in 6.5K means it probably looks great in 4K despite being, in my opinion, a stinker. Here are the extras as follows:

  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 11:22 for all scenes) – Nothing here would seem to have helped the movie much.
  • Marwen’s Citizens (HD, 3:51) – All about the characters in Marwen.
  • A Visionary Director (HD, 4:53) – Here we learn more about Robert Zemeckis.
  • Building Marwen (HD, 4:03) – A very short featurette about working on the miniature world of Marwen.
  • Living Dolls (HD, 4:02) – Discusses the motion capture process for the film.

Welcome to Marwen Blu-ray Review

Summary

Welcome To Marwen had a lot of promise with an inspiring story premise and some top flight actors in an ensemble cast.  What we are treated to instead is an overblown mess of a movie by a director who has seen much greater triumph.  I truly wish I could say better for what I saw but I struggle to find nice remarks overall.  The performances are fine, but the movie itself just isn’t very good. Sadly, this one is a waste.

*** The images used above within the review are not actual 4K screenshots.  They are for illustrative purposes only.  

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Welcome to Marwen Blu-ray Review

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