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Wallace & Gromit World of Invention

Score: 90%
Rating: Not Rated
Publisher: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Region: 1
Media: DVD/1
Running Time: 2 Hrs, 54 Mins.
Genre: TV Series/Family/Historical
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH

Features:

  • Your World Of Invention: Build Six Of Your Own Cracking Contraptions

Nick Park and his Aardman Animation Company have been wowing audiences for quite some time now, popularizing stop-motion animation with the adventures of Wallace and Gromit, Timmy Time, and full-length feature films. One reason we love Park's creations may be the amount of time put into small, realistic touches. Seeing the inside of Wallace and Gromit's house, with all its familiar cheery touches, is great counterpoint to the surreal hijinks that have taken place by the end of a typical adventure. Most of these adventures were facilitated by one of Wallace and Gromit's wild inventions. Trips to the moon, window washing gadgets, and mechanical pants are among the objects that become characters in their own right. Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention takes the show's spirit of invention beyond a fictional universe, showing how truth may in fact be stranger. The portraits of real-world inventors are captured here in six, 30-minute episodes that show where Wallace and Gromit may have derived some parts of their inspiration.

Each show is built around a theme, and showcases multiple inventors. This keeps things moving quickly, important for younger kids who love Wallace and Gromit, but may not be ready to soak up relatively complicated science and engineering topics. The details of various inventions are mostly glossed over, but older kids (and parents) will find enough explanation to satisfy their curiosity around "how does that work?" The inventions are never presented without some explanation of the (mostly) men behind the work. In fact, Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention seemed to prefer living inventors, which is a nice touch. Kids bombarded with the famous examples like Leonardo, Newton, Washington, and Curie may fail to realize that tomorrow's legendary inventors are alive and working today. We can't say whether the modern projects featured in Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention will endure, but the show definitely captured some fascinating portraits.

Examples include the inventor working on methods to extract breathable air from water, much like a fish does with its gills. Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention science correspondent, Mr. Jem, meets the inventor and then takes a swim to sample the device's air. Another modern inventor experiments with creatures built from PVC piping that have no motorized elements, but instead use simple machines to walk on beaches, store air in liter bottles for bursts of locomotion, and detect water to change course before foundering in the surf. Various experiments in locomotion are profiled, included a man who constructed a personal submarine in Cold War Russia before being discovered by the KBG. Another man has spent a considerable amount of his life building rockets that he hopes will some day allow him to travel beyond Earth's atmosphere. These seem like pipe dreams, but are often being funded by corporate or government interests. Other inventors appear to be self-funded, but have strong working prototypes in place that the show highlights.

These video biographies are punctuated with snippets of Wallace and Gromit horsing around in their studio. A methane (be sure to pronounce it "mee-thane" as Wallace does) producing elephant serves as the studio's power generator, so long as he's well fed and given the occasional cupcake... Gromit, as usual, seems to be running the entire show and ends up in various predicaments that will have young viewers howling. Being that these are short episodes, you'll have no problem captivating your kids of age five or greater. Younger than that, and you might lose them on a few of the more "sciency" bits. The older kids will immediately see the parallels to what they are working on in school, and we suspect one of the biggest payoff moments of Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention is when kids see science as a really adventurous, cool endeavor. If nothing else, Nick Park and team manage to frame innovation as being right up there with professional sports and rock music. Here's hoping that science classrooms can find ways to present the same material to young students with half as much creativity and enthusiasm! Recommended.



-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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