There’s nothing particularly wrong with Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. It’s lighthearted, fun, and imaginative. From the stand point of a children’s movie though, there are some problems. Namely, the kids don’t see enough of what they came to see, like the magical toys.
Dustin Hoffman is lively as the supposedly 235-year-old Mr. Magorium, some sort of alien/human/other worldly magical guy. It’s never particularly clear. He owns a toy store loaded with magical toys that one would assume result in some form of scientific study. Natalie Portman stars as the store’s manager, and only employee if the film is correct.
Enough with picking it apart though. Wonder Emporium is filled with lively scenes of kids enjoying some special toys, and having a blast on-screen while they do. There is some hefty imagination in many sequences, including a bouncing ball room that’s a load of fun to watch. All of this leads to completely harmless fun.
Sadly, there’s more to the movie, and instead of focusing on something entertaining, the script focuses on an accountant. Yes, because managing and crunching numbers is surely something kids of all ages are interested in…or not. Simply put, there’s not enough Mr. Magorium in Mr. Magorium. Hoffman almost feels like he’s been cast in a side role, tossed away to be replaced by a perfectly capable Jason Bateman and Portman. Their story, for the most part, isn’t that interesting. In fact, it’s even a little boring.
All of the imagination of the store seems to stop any time Hoffman isn’t taking over the screen. The movie instead tries to focus on other characters, and it never really recovers. The stuff you want to see ends up happening in the background, and the somewhat unexplainable story doesn’t help (especially when discussing Magorium himself).
Kids may get the message here, but once past the toys, it’s doubtful they’ll stick around until the end to find out what it is anyway. There are some small laughs, but mostly just tiny smiles. If there’s a 90-minute span in your life you’re looking to kill, this isn’t an awful way to do it, but there’s more potential here than realized.
With an absolutely insane bitrate, Magorium blows the viewer away on Blu-ray with its outstanding color. This is the type of film that layers color on top of colors, and gets away with it. Black levels are strong, although whites are sometimes blown out. Flesh tones do tend to fall over into orange tones, although it’s a minor issue. Image depth is spectacular, and you can appreciate some of the finer details in every scene thanks to a high-end sharpness.
The disc comes packed with a DTS-HD mix, and it has numerous moments to shine. The above-mentioned ball room is incredible, with a countless number of balls bouncing around the sound field for a truly immersive experience. Outdoor scenes, such as the few shot on the city streets are sadly flat and lacking ambience. The store itself provides the ambience you need however, with kids screaming in all available channels as they romp through the store. There are only a few chances for bass, yet the disc performs admirably when called upon.
Fox apparently had no faith in the film, and provides no extras. Nope, not even trailers. Plus, the menu is initially confusing for no real reason.