The House with a Clock in its Walls
Genre(s): Fantasy, Family
Universal | PG – 105 min. – $39.98 | December 18, 2018
Date Published: 01/11/2019 | Author: The Movieman
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
THE MOVIE — 3.0/5
Plot Synopsis: Based on the classic children’s book, this magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (OWEN VACCARO), who goes to live with his Uncle Jonathan (JACK BLACK) in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town’s sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches.
Review: Shouldn’t be much of a surprise to anyone who knows me, I’m generally not familiar with these adaptations to best-selling books, especially ones that were aimed toward younger readers at the time and/or required reading in school (in high school, we more often than not read Shakespeare).
So with that said, I had never even heard of The House with a Clock in its Walls, though I’ll give it to the studio for even keeping such an awkward title. In any case, while I don’t think this is a special movie, it was moderately entertaining. The acting was alright though Jack Black pretty much is playing a similar character to that of his quirky R.L. Stine in the two Goosebumps movies. Cate Blanchett was, as always, a delight even in a smaller role with some minimal development. The young Owen Vaccaro did have his moments… good and bad, one in particular was rough; even as child actors go he wasn’t always the best.
Eli Roth continues on his unusual career path which began in the “torture porn” realm (Hostel 1 & 2), cannibal horror (The Green Inferno) and then thrillers (Knock Knock, Death Wish remake). Now he’s forayed from R-rating affairs right to family-friendly PG rated films with this one. I don’t think he did a bad job and some of his darker tones, some of which might be too much for younger viewers (I’d say 8+ in age might be suitable).
In the end, The House with a Clock in its Walls, aside from having an awkward title, was a fun enough family-fantasy flick that save for a couple performances, especially from Vaccaro, was enjoyable though having never even heard of the source material, let alone ever read it, not sure how this compares. Even so, the movie is at least worthy of a rental.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
This release comes with a glossy and title-embossed slip cover and inside is a redemption code for the Digital Copy. All of the features are on both the Ultra HD (in 4K resolution) and Blu-ray discs.
Audio Commentary – Director Eli Roth and Actor Jack Black provide a friendly track that was fun to listen to and the pair do provide some behind-the-scenes stories.
Alternate Opening and Ending (5:35; HD) – These two alternate scenes that was changed. Includes an optional track with Roth and Black.
Deleted Scenes (9:20; HD) – Nine scenes failed to make the cut and via the optional commentary, it’s explained why they were ultimately removed.
Gag Reel (3:33; HD) filled with line flubs and on-set shenanigans.
Movie Magic (9:53; HD) breaks down some of the practical effects and production designs such as the house, the pumpkin vomit and the like.
Tick Tock: Brining the Book to Life (3:27; HD) is a short featurette on how the project, based on a best-selling book, was brought to life.
Eli Roth: Director’s Journals (7:23; HD) are behind-the-scenes production featurettes on the mansion, filming locations, the chair, etc.
Owen Goes Behind the Scenes (4:11; HD) – They gave actor Owen Vaccaro a camera to interview the cast and crew on the set.
Theme Song Challenge (2:48; HD) is a featurette on the cast, including Black, Vaccaro, MacLachlan, Lorenza Izzo, and Roth coming up with a theme song. Strictly for kids.
Do You Know Jack Black? (4:01; HD) – Is a trivia game where Vaccaro, MacLachlan and Izzo answer questions about the actor.
Abracadabra! (1:06; HD) has Roth performing a magic trick. Okay.
Jack Black’s Greatest Fear (1:27; HD) has Roth and Vaccaro doing a prank on Black.
The Mighty Wurlitzer (2:26; HD) – This is a featurette on the score and the instruments the composer utilized to give it a unique sound, specifically a silent era organ.
Previews – Johnny English Strikes Again, Mary and the Witches Flower
4K VIDEO – 4.75/5, BD VIDEO – 4.5/5
|The House with a Clock in its Walls is presented in its original 2.39 widescreen aspect ratio and on 4K UHD with a 2160p high-definition transfer (and 1080p on Blu-ray). Although this was a generally dark looking movie, detail was still visible and sharp while colors were decent, though nothing I’d say was overly vibrant, yet there are a few shots that had some pop, perhaps aided with the 4K’s included HDR. The Blu-ray meanwhile is no slouch either, definition was still nicely defined and black levels were fairly stark. In either format, there were no noticeable instances of artifacting, aliasing, or any other flaw.|
AUDIO – 5.0/5
|There is a Dolby Atmos track available on both formats. This is a fantastic sounding track providing crisp and clear dialogue primarily coming via the center channel while the bulk of the action was laid out through the front and rear channels. This track especially comes to life during the action-filled finale where you get a good sense of the depth, such as the winding gears of the titled clock.|
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Overall, The House with a Clock in its Walls is a fine enough family fantasy adventure that is certainly flawed with some suspect acting but it was at least enjoyable time though I would not recommend this for anyone probably under 7. The 4K UHD/Blu-ray combo pack offers up great video and audio transfers and a so-so selection of special features, highlighted by the commentary track from Roth and Black.
The screen captures came from the Blu-ray copy and are here to add visuals to the review and do not represent the 4K video.