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Fantastic Mr. Fox (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 21, 2010 by  



“Fantastic Mr. Fox” is absolutely fantastic and you’ll definitely enjoy every scene and detail of this stop-animation film in high definition on Blu-ray!  Definitely recommended!

© 2009 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fantastic Mr. Fox

DURATION: 87 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Widescreen: 1:85: 1, AVC @ 22MBPS, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish, French, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: Spanish, French, Portuguese, Cantonese, Mandarin

COMPANY: Twentieth Century Fox

RATED: PG (Action, Smoking and Slang Humor)

RELEASE DATE: March 30, 2010

Based on the novel by Roald Dahl

Directed by Wes Anderson

Screenplay by Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach

Executive Producer: Armon Milchan, Sten M. Rales

Producer: Allison Abbate, Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Scott Rudin

Co-Producer: Molly Cooper

Line Producer: Simon Quinn

Music by Alexandre Desplat

Cinematography by Tristan Oliver

Edited by Andrew Weisblum

Production Design by Nelson Lowry

Art Direction by Francesca Berlingieri Maxwell

Featuring the voices of:

George Clooney as Mr. Fox

Meryl Streep as Mrs. Fox

Jason Schwartzman as Ash

Eric Chase Anderson as Kristofferson Silverfox

Bill Murray as Badger

Wilem Dafoe as Rat

Owen Wilson as Coach Skip

Adrien Brody as Rickity the Field Mouse

Wallace Wolodarksy as Kylie

Academy Award-winning Hollywood heavyweights George Clooney (Up In The Air) and Meryl Streep (It’s Complicated) lend their voices to the hilarious, heartwarming and dazzling stop-motion animated adventure from visionary director Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenebaums) Fantastic Mr. Fox, arriving as a Blu-ray Disc/DVD Combo Pack and on DVD March 23 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. In there-imagined classic family tale, Mr. and Mrs. Fox (Clooney and Streep) live a happy home life with their eccentric son Ash (Jason Schwartzman: The Darjeeling Limited) and visiting nephew Kristopherson. That is until Mr. Fox slips into his sneaky, old ways and plots the greatest heist the animal world has ever seen. When mean old farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean join forces to surround Mr. Fox and his family, they don’t realize they are not dealing with any old fox – it’s Fantastic Mr. Fox and he has a fantastic master plan to save the day!

Roald Dahl, a British novelist who introduced us to “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “James and the Giant Peach”, “Matilda”, “The Witches” and “The BFG” and many other books that have entertained generations.  And in 1970, Dahl wrote the children’s novel “Fantastic Mr. Fox” which would receive an adaptation into a feature animated film  co-written and directed by Wes Anderson (“Rushmore”, “The Royal Tenenbaums”, “The Darjeeling Limited”) and co-writer Noah Baumbach (“The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”, “Margot at the Wedding”, “Kicking and Screaming”).

The development for “Fantastic Mr. Fox” began in 2004 and was released in theaters in 2009.  What made the film quite unique is that it’s a Wes Anderson animated film and also a film that utilizes stop-motion animation and a first for 20th Century Fox.

The film was released in October 2009 and made over $41 million in the box office and nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Animated Feature” and “Best Original Score”.  And now, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” will receive its first Blu-ray and DVD release.  The Blu-ray release will include a DVD and also a digital copy of the film.

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” is a film that begins with Fox (voiced by George Clooney) and his girlfriend Felicity killing and stealing squab.  Due to his girlfriend being pregnant and the fact that the two were caught stealing, Fox made a promise that if they were to survive their ordeal, he would quit and find a safer job.

Fast forward two years later, Mr. Fox and Mrs. Fox (voiced by Meryl Streep) have a son named Ash (voiced by Jason Schwartzman).  Mr. Fox is now a newspaper columnist and unhappy about his current lifestyle and living in a hole.   He wants a better home but Mrs. Fox has no problem where they are living at.   As for Mr. Fox’s son, Ash is a son who is not as gifted as his father and can be seen as a little weird as he likes to sport unusual clothing including a cape.

One day, Mr. Fox decides to purchase a home inside a tree, despite warning from his lawyer, Badger (voiced by Bill Murray).  Part of the reason why Fox wanted the home is that he could be close to large corporate facilities owned by farmers Walter Boggis (owns a chicken/squaw farm), Nathan Bunce (owns a duck and geese farm) and Franklin Bean (owns a turkey, apples and cider farm).

The whole family packs up and moves to their new home while Mrs. Fox’s nephew Kristofferson (voiced by Eric Chase Anderson) comes to live with them because of his father’s illness.  But immediately, Mr. Fox sees how Kristofferson is gifted with athletic ability like himself (and unlike his son) and also Kristofferson becomes quite popular at the school.  This causes Ash to become very jealous of his cousin because he does not have the same athletic skills but most importantly, his father seems to have more interest in Kristofferson than him.   Thus Ash treats his cousin quite badly.

Meanwhile, we learn of Mr. Fox’s main motivation of moving to the tree and near the corporations.  He is missing his old self and the ability to infiltrate, kill his food and steal.  Thus immediately, Mr. Fox and his friend Kylie (voiced by Wallace Wolodarsky) along with an unwilling Kristofferson begin infiltrating and stealing from the farms successfully.   But each of the farmers have had enough and will now do anything it takes to capture or kill Mr. Fox.

What became a fun getaway from Mr. Fox can now lead to the demise of his family and friends.  How will the fantastic Mr. Fox get out of this predicament?

VIDEO:

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” is presented in 1080p (widescreen 1:85:1).  One thing that is important to emphasize that this is a stop-motion animated film.  So, for those who are wondering why the animation is not as fluid as a Pixar film, that is because this whole film is based on miniature models and an unthinkable amount of photographic images to create an animated film.

With that being said, I have to say that I was blown away by how beautiful this film is.  I didn’t realize how much went into this film until I saw the special features because I knew it was stop animation but for something to look this good, I figured there was plenty of CGI-animation incorporated.  But learning that every furnishing, every scenery was handmade and painted, each of the characters were about two feet miniatures and highly detailed was absolutely amazing. Great cinematography by Tristan Oliver (who has worked in several “Wallace & Gromit” films).

The Blu-ray brings out the detail of the work of the staff as the fur of the characters come out in such glorious detail, the eyes of the characters/puppets to the detail of the ground and the tree.  Absolutely fantastic work and very much appreciated through HD as detail is clear and reds, oranges and browns and various earthtone colors really showcase the vibrancy of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish, French and Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Although the majority of the film is dialogue and musically driven, there are sequences that begin midway from the film that begins to incorporate more action sequences and sound effects.  Dialogue is crystal clear and understandable, music also comes out quite nicely through the front channels and then the moments of destruction from the humans towards Mr. Fox’s home and living areas are well demonstrated throughout the surround channels and even utilizing LFE.

Lossless audio is very well done and although not an aggressive soundtrack, a still a solid lossless audio presentation for the film.  And also, what an an interesting but fun music soundtrack with The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, Burl Ives and other artists featured in the film and wonderful music by Alexandre Desplat (who did a wonderful job with “Julie & Julia”, “Cheri”, “Coco Avant Chanel”, etc).

Subtitles are presented in English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese and Mandarin.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” comes with the following special features:

  • Making Mr. Fox Fantastic – A fantastic documentary on the making of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” which you can play all or watch the following featurettes separately:  The Look of Fantastic Mr. Fox (8:12), From Script to Screen (7:00), The Puppet Makers (8:19), Still Life (Puppet Animation) (7:23), Cast (6:32), Bill and His Badger (7:37).  I loved the featurettes included in this segment and how it shows the crew creating wonderful miniatures of Dahl’s work from furnishings to even the silverware and animating the puppets.
  • A Beginner’s Guide to Whack Bat – (1:12) A brief guide to the sport of Whack Bat.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox – The World of Roald Dahl – (2:58) A short featurette about using the Dahl house as an inspiration of ideas in creating the miniature sets for the film.  Mrs. Dahl talks about how the filmmakers did a wonderful job in capturing Roald’s ideas for “Fantastic Mr. Fox”.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:25) The original theatrical trailer

EXTRAS:

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” includes a DVD of the film presented in Widescreen (1:85:1), audio in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround and Subtitles in English SDH, Spanish and French.  Also, included is a digital copy of the film.

I really enjoyed “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and after watching this Blu-ray release, just in awe of how much hard work, creativity and detail went into creating this film.  As mentioned, I thought there was a lot of CGI implemented in this film but to find out everything was literally handcrafted was amazing.

Wes Anderson is a wonderful director and the fact that you have major talent involved in this film from George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray and many others along with a talented crew to create this stop-animation film and make it come to life is quite impressive. The characters and the world of Mr. Fox just comes alive in this film and you can’t help but grin because the colors and the detail is just so striking on HD.  This film really looks fantastic on Blu-ray!

As for parents who wonder if they can show this film to their children, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is rated PG and with FOX’s being wild animals, they steal and kill their prey.  Granted, there is no blood shown but those are things that some parents may be concerned about.  There is one scene where a rat pulls out a knife and tries to kill Mr. Fox and continues again further in the story where he goes after Ash.  So, there are darker moments in the film.  So, definitely parental guidance is suggested.

There is nothing that I can really complain about the film.  I absolutely loved it!   You get a good amount of special features on the making of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and on top of the solid picture and audio quality, you also get a DVD and digital copy of the film.

Overall, “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is a wonderful animated film that may be more appreciated by teenagers and adults than children but this Blu-ray is most definitely recommended!

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