In Wonder

Nini Panner, Reporter

Windows down and radio blasting, the newest album that I won’t be playing is Shawn Mendes’ “Wonder.” It has underwhelmed fans and critics alike. The corresponding documentary, “In Wonder,” is yet another example of the shallow nature of Mendes’ newest releases.

Mendes’ album, “In Wonder”, was released on Nov. 23 and the documentary, “Wonder”, shortly after on Dec. 4.

The documentary consisted mostly of concert clips, fluff and stereotypical pop star storylines, and it feels like any major star’s name could be pasted over Shawn Mendes and it wouldn’t change much.

I was hoping this documentary would delve deeper into Mendes’ life and mindset, but it fails to capture that.

His earnest personality and deep love for his family come across strongly and are a highlight of what is otherwise a monotonous hour and a half.

A highlight of the documentary takes us on a trip to Mendes’ hometown. We get to see personal and close shots of Mendes’ quality time with family and friends.

This trip helps the audience see a softer side to a more private pop star, and the intimate quality of the scenes makes it feel like we’re right there alongside him. This doesn’t last long though and the documentary quickly switches back to the inaccessible perspective of mega fame and the privilege that comes along with it.

The unoriginal documentary is paired with a similarly disappointing album.

With no new sounds or style from what Shawn Mendes and other pop stars have been producing for years, the build-up feels as though it led up to a very anti-climatic release. Although there are catchy beats and eloquent lyrics, it’s a light-weight album which has no impact beyond a foot tap.

We have seen many artists explore something new during quarantine. However, “Wonder” does not display any risks Mendes took with his song or style.

“Call Your Friends” is a song on the album that echoes the themes revolving around dedication to family and friends in his documentary. While this song does offer an insight into the grueling schedule of a tour, it still sounds like any generic pop song and lacks any difference from other songs on the album.

One standout theme from this album is Mendes’ connection to his current girlfriend, Camilla Cabello. “Always Been You” is an example of one of the many songs which incorporates a warm-hearted reference to his long-term relationship with Cabello.

Lyrics like “I swear that you’ve been meant to save me” give the listener more insight into their deep and meaningful connection.

However, the album still feels like one continuous song with no particular standouts.

I kept asking myself when the album would touch on what was for many the devastating impact of COVID-19, but that topic was completely omitted from the movie.

With flashing shots of 50,000 person stadiums and crowds of strangers hugging each other, it feels strangely disconnected from our current reality.

Take a listen to the album or watch the film, or don’t. You’ll find some catchy tunes but that’s about it. It would be great to see Mendes really advance in his work, but the album and documentary don’t show the full extent of his musical and theatrical ability, which serve to disappoint the viewer.