I'm as big a 'Wallace and Gromit' fan as anyone out there. Claymation is a lost art form. Aardman Animation seems to be the only animation studio even sticking with the (some would say, but they'd be wrong) "outdated" animation technology. Although, even Aardman, champions of all things clay, stepped foot into the CGI realm last year with 'Arthur Christmas.' I can't get enough Claymation though. It simply provides a different feeling than CGI. There's something more realistic about it, more down to earth. So, with my love of 'Wallace and Gromit' constantly in full-gear, I must say that I'm a bit disappointed by 'Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention.' Not because it's a bad little show, it's actually quite charming at times, but this seems like something you'd show to a classroom of grade school students rather than watching at your own home for entertainment purposes.
Wallace and his trusty K-9 friend Gromit are the hosts of a show put on in Wallace's basement. Wallace introduces a few bits and pieces and then we're whisked away to another part of the world where we see real people inventing real things.
Sort of like 'Bill Nye the Science Guy,' 'World of Invention' finds a few clever ways to poke fun at inventing. What really disappointed me about this set is that Wallace and Gromit are mere footnotes in the larger scheme of things. Yes, they have their moments – like during the episode about rockets Wallace accidentally launches Gromit into space directly after talking about how hard the Russian space dogs had it – but, those moments are few and far between. There's simply not enough Wallace and Gromit here to satiate my appetite for wonderfully crafted Claymation and cheeky social commentary.
The show instead follows a very formulaic approach. First we see Wallace as he introduces the day's subject. Then we are passed off to real, live human correspondents who pick up the story of whatever inventor they're spotlighting. Most of the time is spent in interviews and watching test footage of what the featured inventors have come up with. Then at some point during the show Wallace introduces a number of contraptions built for whatever purpose they're discussing at the moment that simply didn't work. And that's about it.
If anything, this is a release for teachers to pick up and show to their kids during a slow day in school. There is some fun to be had, and neat inventors are spotlighted here, but I fail to see how this show would be useful for consumption by the movie-buying masses. There's just not enough here to warrant purchasing it without the express interest in showing it to a class full of young minds.
From homemade robots to a specialized spacesuit that could make the bulky modern day ones a thing of the past, the show does cover some rather interesting inventions. The problem is, if you're getting this show because you're a 'Wallace and Gromit' fan, you might be disappointed. There just isn't enough of them in the actual show to make it worth it.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a Lionsgate release. It's coded for Region A use. The six half-hour-long episodes have been pressed onto one 50GB Blu-ray Disc, which is packaged in an eco-friendly Blu-ray keepcase.
Like 'The Complete Collection', which was released in 2009, the visuals when it comes to watching the clay in action look great. Although that release was transferred in 1080p, while this one is 1080i. This is one of those times where you don't really see much of a difference.
When it comes to the clay animation it's easy to make out individual fingerprints on Wallace's face and Gromit's nose and body. There's a level of detail here that rivals that of 'The Complete Collection' release.
When it comes to live-action footage, most of it looks akin to news footage. While most of it is technically sound, it does have a flat, digital look to it. If you've seen high definition news stories from your local news, then you know the kind of visuals you're going to be getting here; straightforward with nothing added for flair. Much of the video shown is stock footage or home videos which obviously feature a wide variety of quality. This is simply something that comes along with doing a newsy show like this.
The episodes here have been granted DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mixes. Each one of them coming across just as generic as most of the real-life footage looks. There are some fun ambient sound effects to be had – like Gromit blasting off in a rocket or a gassy elephant roaming the studio – but, for the most part we have a talk-at-you type of documentary footage going on.
Dialogue is always clear and never muffled. The interviews have been recorded nicely. Even on a windy beach or out in the open, voices can still be heard clearly. There isn't much else to say about this mix. LFE is light, as you might expect. In the episode "Reach for the Sky" numerous rocket ignitions provide for some low-end delights, but not many. Like the video presentation, this audio presentation resembles that of a newscast. It's front and center much of the time, without many bells and whistles.
I love 'Wallace and Gromit,' but this isn't a show that fans will be clamoring for, simply because there isn't enough Wallace and Gromit. It would be a fine show for teachers to show to their classroom of youngsters on a slow day at school, but I don't see much merit in owning this release. It has little, to no, rewatch value. This could be my first and last "For Teachers Only" recommendation that I give on this site.