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HTF DVD Review: Ratatouille



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#1 of 82 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted October 30 2007 - 12:35 AM


Ratatouille
Directed by Brad Bird

Studio: Disney
Year: 2007
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 111 minutes
Rating: G
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 EX, 2.0 stereo English
Subtitles: SDH
MSRP: $29.99

Release Date: November 6, 2007
Review Date: October 30, 2007


The Film

4.5/5

The wit and intelligence behind the stories and especially the dialogue in a typical Pixar film have no equal in the cutthroat world of computer animation. Other studios’ films may win the feature animation Oscar (surprisingly only Finding Nemo and The Incredibles have netted Pixar the feature animation prize), but none of the other studios ever seem to be able to achieve the uncanny blend of sight and sound that is uniquely Pixar. And once again, the studio comes through with flying colors with Ratatouille, the latest in their long line of winning animated confections.

And “confection” is the right word in this case since the story of Ratatouille revolves around a cooking rat. Yep, lovable Remy (Patton Oswalt), after being separated from his family, finds himself in the kitchen of once five star restaurant Gusteau’s. Due to the death of its founding chef and the new chef Skinner’s (Ian Holm) unbridled ego and dictatorial ways, the once proud eatery has lost two of the stars from its rating. With a few dashes of spices and herbs, Remy turns a soup into something craved by all, and credit for the concoction falls on clean-up boy Linguini (Lou Romano). Once Linguini and Remy learn how to communicate so Remy can make him into a master chef, the restaurant’s reputation for fine food takes off, enough that critic Anton Ego (Peter O'Toole) decides to return to pen another critique of this new miracle worker.

The key comic moments in the film all revolve around keeping the secret of Remy’s talent from those who might upset the apple cart. Naturally the haughty Skinner smells a rat (pun intended), but Remy must also deal with his goofy brother Emile (Peter Sohn) and father Django (Brian Dennehy), neither of whom understands why the garbage they usually forage isn’t good enough for Remy. There’s also an ambitious female chef in the kitchen, Colette (Janeane Garofalo), whom Linguini flips for and whose presence must be dealt with in times of great stress in the kitchen.

Pixar has lavished the usual incredible production values on the movie with stunningly detailed surroundings for both the rats and the humans. Paris has rarely looked more beautiful or appealing in some of these animated shots, and following Remy on his various excursions through the Paris sewers and behind the walls of various establishments reveals points of view that we humans rarely get to encounter. Like all Pixar product, the animation is so lush, so thoroughly intricate and exquisitely rendered that it’s often hard not to want to stop and just look at these frames as true artwork. Having just watched Meet the Robinsons with its beautiful animation, one realizes seeing Ratatouille that the Pixar craftsmanship on view is like the difference between high school and college coursework. Pixar does it more fully and with greater attention to detail and complexity.

The voice cast is also simply wonderful. Oswalt’s Remy is adorably wide-eyed and sweet while Holm overacts like fun as the grasping Skinner. Peter O’Toole sounds like he’s having the time of his life as the sneering food critic, almost daring anyone to please him. Brad Garrett does the voice of restaurant founder Gusteau who continues to be Remy’s Jiminy Cricket-like conscience throughout the film. You’ll also hear veteran character actors James Remar, Will Arnett. John Ratzenberger, and director Brad Bird voicing other characters in the movie.

Brad Bird’s direction offers some stunning set pieces. Among my favorites were Remy’s sewer adventure, Remy’s wild excursions all over the Gusteau kitchen during his first entry there, and the climactic cooking sequence with hundreds of rats on display. All of these astonishing events show mind-boggling animation at the zenith of its artistic effectiveness.

Video Quality

5/5

The film’s 2.39:1 aspect ratio is delivered on this DVD in a gorgeous anamorphic transfer. As with all of the Pixar transfers, the animation is stupendously detailed, so much so that you feel you could reach out and stroke the individual hairs on the bodies of these rats. The film has a more muted color palette than, say, The Incredibles, but that doesn’t make this transfer any less appealing. Everything looks pristine and beautifully rendered, as once again, Pixar animation offers up another reference quality DVD. The film has been divided into 31 chapters.

Audio Quality

5/5

The Dolby Digital 5.1 EX soundtrack is a thoroughly engaging affair with music and sound effects pumped through all of the channels as necessary and also directionialzed voices where appropriate. The rear surround channel, often an afterthought in other EX transfers, is made expert use of here with a steady stream of sound issuing from it. Again, Pixar does things right with the marvelous blend of sounds both expected and unique.

Special Features

3.5/5

“Lifted” is the Pixar short which accompanied Ratatouille in theaters, and it’s simply hilarious as an alien taking driver’s ed uses trial and error to manipulate his spacecraft. Think Looney Tunes meets Close Encounters for this highly enjoyable 5-minute romp (also with a most effective Dolby 5.1 EX soundtrack). It’s a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer.

“Your Friend the Rat” is an 11-minute featurette that features Remy and Emile amusingly discussing how rats have aided mankind through the years. (Yes, they step gingerly around the bubonic plague problem.) This anamorphic short could easily have been a segment on the old Disneyland program to go along with shorts like The Truth About Mother Goose or Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom which found homes there.

“Fine Food & Film” gives us 14 minutes of director Brad Bird and master chef Thomas Keller discussing (individually) how they run their respective domains showing how true leaders can persuade an animation studio or a kitchen staff to do their best work. This is also presented in anamorphic widescreen video.

Three deleted scenes, none in finished form but rather in sketches or mock-ups with the vocal track attached and music from the soundtrack serving as background, are on the disc. Brad Bird explains the elmination of the first two while producer Brad Lewis and writer Jim Capobianco discuss why the third scene didn’t fit the film.

In Conclusion

4.5/5 (not an average)

Ratatouille continues the winning tradition of Pixar’s legendary animation team. The film is fast, funny, and unique. The DVD offers exemplary quality of presentation for the home viewer and is most certainly highly recommended.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 82 OFFLINE   PaulP

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Posted October 30 2007 - 12:47 AM

Very very low on extras for a Pixar film. This started with Cars. So sad, because their 2-discers have all been stellar.

#3 of 82 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H

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Posted October 30 2007 - 04:26 AM

I still haven't gotten through many of the extras on my Pixar titles. Give me a stellar transfer and a few worthwhile extras (the short that accompanies each film in theatres is a MUST), and I'm a happy camper. Can't wait to see this, as my wife and my youngest son loved it (they went to see this while I took the older two kids to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The IMAX Experience 3-D).
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#4 of 82 OFFLINE   Sam Davatchi

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Posted October 30 2007 - 05:58 AM

Very disappointed with the lack of extras.

#5 of 82 OFFLINE   Bill Thomann

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Posted October 30 2007 - 12:00 PM

The lack of 2 disc/loaded with quality extras on Pixar films since Disney acquired them really sucks. But it's a great movie so I'll buy it & they'll probably put out a 2 disc SE in a year or two.

#6 of 82 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted October 30 2007 - 02:59 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Thomann
But it's a great movie so I'll buy it & they'll probably put out a 2 disc SE in a year or two.
I said the same thing about a Cars SE and I would have bet the farm that it would have been released to coincide with either the theatrical or video release of Ratatouille. Maybe Disney has tricked me and they're just waiting for the theatrical release of Wall-E. Posted Image

Like you said, it's a great movie so I'm picking it (and the Pixar shorts disc) up despite the lack of extras.

#7 of 82 OFFLINE   RobertSiegel

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Posted October 30 2007 - 04:37 PM

I am ok with the movie at its best quality and a great soundtrack. There are many discs I have not watched the extras on, it's the movie that matters to me, although it's nice to have them and I realize that other people may treasure them.

I am glad to see such a great review, in terms of quality, that would indicate this will be one awesome blu-ray release, can't wait! Cars, Pixar short films collection and Ratatouille on blu-ray in one week. Should be fun!

Classics on Blu-ray is what it is all about!


#8 of 82 OFFLINE   onecent

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Posted October 31 2007 - 01:35 AM

Excellent review, Matt. I can tell you really liked the movie. This will definitely be one I'll watch. Thanks!

#9 of 82 OFFLINE   PaulP

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Posted October 31 2007 - 02:24 AM

I'm mostly saddened by the lack of audio commentary.

#10 of 82 OFFLINE   Tarkin The Ewok

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Posted October 31 2007 - 04:11 AM

I also wish this had the same type of extras we saw on The Incredibles. Both Disney and Pixar used to put out great DVD sets, and now it seems like they only try on the Platinum Editions.

The movie itself is fantastic, though, so anybody who doesn't care about the bonus features should pick it up pronto.

#11 of 82 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted October 31 2007 - 04:19 AM

Excellent movie, but this is really embarassing on Disney's part. While this will street for $16, I was able to get the fully loaded Jungle Book platinum edition for $14! They could have at least included the teaser trailer and the teaser for Wall-E.

But I'll probably pick it up anyways. At least the a/v is excellent.

#12 of 82 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted October 31 2007 - 04:33 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarkin The Ewok
I also wish this had the same type of extras we saw on The Incredibles. Both Disney and Pixar used to put out great DVD sets, and now it seems like they only try on the Platinum Editions.

"try" is definitely the operative word in connection with the Platinum Titles. Because, one thing you can count on with the Pixar releases is superb PQ & SQ from top to bottom.

I hope that doesn't change for the Pixar product and that maybe their new arrangement will allow some of the Pixar quality control to rub off on the Disney people.

I'm definitely all over this title.

Will you also have a Blu-ray review of this, Matt?

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#13 of 82 OFFLINE   AlexF

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Posted October 31 2007 - 01:06 PM

My guess is that the only way that we'll get good SEs from Disney/Pixar now is on their BluRay releases. Posted Image

#14 of 82 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted October 31 2007 - 02:55 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexF
My guess is that the only way that we'll get good SEs from Disney/Pixar now is on their BluRay releases. Posted Image
I think it's much more of a case that Disney has realized that they can spend virtually nothing on extras and still sell nearly the same amount of copies.

From what I've read, the Blu Ray version of Cars has the SD extras, ONE new deleted scene and a waste of disc space called "'Car Finder,' which will allow users to search for the more than 200 different cars featured in the movie, and even 'race the clock' to find a specific car in a frozen frame of film."

#15 of 82 OFFLINE   Eric Peterson

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Posted November 01 2007 - 02:14 AM

One thing is for sure, they are making my budgeting much easier.

Without a decent set of extras (meaning at the bare minimum a commentary), I'll let this release pass. I would love to add Cars & Ratatouille to my collection, but they simply are not important enough to be purchased without the requisite extra material. I often enjoy the extras on these sets more than the movies themself.

At this point, I'll either pick up a used copy for cheap or wait until I endulge in High-Def, which I don't expect to happen anytime soon.

#16 of 82 OFFLINE   PaulP

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Posted November 01 2007 - 04:53 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Peterson
One thing is for sure, they are making my budgeting much easier.

Without a decent set of extras (meaning at the bare minimum a commentary), I'll let this release pass. I would love to add Cars & Ratatouille to my collection, but they simply are not important enough to be purchased without the requisite extra material. I often enjoy the extras on these sets more than the movies themself.

At this point, I'll either pick up a used copy for cheap or wait until I endulge in High-Def, which I don't expect to happen anytime soon.

Same here. Quite unfortunate.

#17 of 82 OFFLINE   donnie_d

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Posted November 01 2007 - 02:09 PM

i'll wait for the 2-disc SE after the movie gets its well-deserved oscar award.

#18 of 82 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted November 02 2007 - 05:18 AM

Ever since Happy Feet beat both Cars and Monster House, I don't have very high expectations for the animated feature Oscar.
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#19 of 82 OFFLINE   RonR

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Posted November 02 2007 - 06:18 AM

Received this DVD last night, appears to be 5.1 and not EX..

#20 of 82 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted November 02 2007 - 08:50 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by RonR
Received this DVD last night, appears to be 5.1 and not EX..

What can I say? My Pioneer receiver decoded it as EX with the surround back decoder in the "auto" position.


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