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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Ratatouille

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#1 of 57 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted November 09 2007 - 12:55 AM


Ratatouille (Blu-ray)
Directed by Brad Bird

Studio: Disney
Year: 2007
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 111 minutes
Rating: G
Audio: PCM 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $34.99

Release Date: November 6, 2007
Review Date: November 9, 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 rat who‘s a master chef. 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 understand 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 sequences. Among my favorites were Remy’s sewer adventure early in the movie, 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 presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. As wonderful as the standard definition disc looks, the Blu-ray trumps it in every respect. In terms of sharpness, color depth and purity, and small object detail, the Blu-ray disc is a marvel. Ratatouille is bathed in warm hues throughout, so it’s less bright than some other animated films you can find on Blu-ray. However, for depth of field and attention to detail (watch moonlight softly glisten off Remy’s whiskers, for example, or notice the faint stubble on Linguini's chin), this Pixar film just soars in high definition. Obviously coming from the digital domain, everything looks pristine and beautifully rendered as, once again, Pixar animation offers up another reference quality release. The film has been divided into 31 chapters.

Audio Quality

5/5

The uncompressed PCM 5.1 (48kHz/24 bit, 6.9 Mbps) soundtrack is a wonderfully orchestrated effort with its brilliant combination of music and sound effects pumped through all of the channels as necessary and also directionialzed voices where appropriate which sound so clear and with echo used so intelligently that you‘d swear the people were in the room with you. Again, Pixar does things right with the marvelous blend of sounds both expected and unique.

Special Features

5/5

The Blu-ray release of Ratatouille features Disney’s Cine-Explore feature which allows for interactive discussions, inserts, and branching featurettes to be placed throughout the film for easy manual access or automatic playback as user selected. Watching the 111 minute feature with the automatic features turned on will take approximately three hours due to the feature rich nature of the materials present.

For this film, director Brad Bird and producer Brad Lewis team up for a lively and fact-filled audio commentary that leaves no stoned unturned about all aspects of the film. As they speak about different cast and crew members, photographs illustrate the people involved. Sketches, storyboards, and concept art also pop up as the appropriate scenes come on screen.

Also a part of the Cine-Explore material (which is also included on the menu and can be watched individually apart from the movie; they‘re presented in 480p) are 10 featurettes called “Animation Briefings” where director Brad Bird discusses with his staff the aspects of a scene to emphasize certain qualities or attitudes he’s looking for from his animators, 13 “Documentary Shorts” dealing with aspects of the production like music and character design, 3 deleted scenes in rough sketch or mock-up with explanations as to their elimination (these were also on the SD-DVD release), and 5 amusing deleted shots (running just a few seconds each) where the animators in question bemoan the loss of favorite moments of their work.

“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 1080p delight.

“Your Friend the Rat” is an 11-minute featurette in 1080p 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 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 in 1080p of director Brad Bird and master chef Thomas Keller discussing (individually) how they run their respective domains proving true leaders can persuade an animation studio or a kitchen staff to do their best work. This is also presented in anamorphic video.

Exclusive to Blu-ray is Gusteau’s Gourmet Game, a game that requires a player to complete orders in the kitchen and deliver them within an increasing time limit.

Another exclusive is “The Will,” an almost 3-minute activity in which the viewer can select two different soundtrack accompaniments composed by Michael Giacchino for one particular film sequence.

“Remembering Dan Lee” is a final exclusive, a 3-minute tribute to animator Dan Lee who died during production, fondly remembered by several co-workers in a touching remembrance.

In Conclusion

5/5 (not an average)

Ratatouille continues the winning tradition of Pixar’s legendary animation team. The film is fast, funny, and, like other Pixar gems, utterly unique. This Blu-ray release offers extraordinary quality for the home viewer and is most certainly the preferred presentation of this marvelous animated feature.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 57 OFFLINE   BrettB

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Posted November 09 2007 - 03:12 AM

Thanks for the review. Posted Image

So far...

I still haven't watched the entire film yet but what I have watched (only about 30 mins) has me thinking this might win out over Cars re: video quality. Check out the scenes in the beginning with water. Although it's kinda apples/oranges as they're quite different.

Watched a little of the Cine-Explore and look forward to checking it out. Brad Bird is great. Cine-Explore on this is done differently than with Cars which has the dashboard on-screen that you can fiddle with as it plays. Not sure which way I like better.

On Lifted check out the flag on the mailbox at the end. Noticed that last night.

Fine Food and Film is quite good and inspirational.

The Will is very cool. Love how you can swap the audio back & forth and a nice insight into the creative process.

Remembering Dan Lee, nice tribute to one of the many talented Pixar artists that create these great films. He worked on Nemo's design damnit which puts him on my Personal Hero List. Posted Image

The pop-up menu is the same as the Total Menus which is to say that it basically takes up the entire screen and the film is minimized and pushed up to top right corner. This is the first disc I've seen like that.

From the first level of the Total Menus there are some easter eggs to the left.

In the set-up area there are some vid. test patterns and a simple speaker calibration thingy.

#3 of 57 OFFLINE   Parker Clack

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Posted November 09 2007 - 03:41 AM

Beat him out of recognisable shape!

"I tried to get my medical records from the company but they say they

are confidential and can only be released to other insurance companies,

pharmaceutical​ reps, suppliers of medical equipment and for some

reason the RNC."
 


#4 of 57 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted November 09 2007 - 08:52 AM

I watched CARS this afternoon on Blu-ray (review up soon), and I much prefer the Cine-Explore on CARS which you can change on the fly and has a much more amusing layout.

#5 of 57 OFFLINE   Paul Arnette

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Posted November 09 2007 - 02:06 PM

I just finished watching this disc with my family, and I was duly impressed. Even though we watched it on the 720p plasma in the family room vs. the 1080p in the HT room, I was amazed at the details present (e.g. the scrapes and abrasions on the pots and pans).

I also enjoyed both shorts, and even the game looked like it could be a fun little diversion.

Disney, "Let us toast your non-idiocy!" for this amazing release. Posted Image
Universal Blu-ray Discs I will not be buying while they're offered only as Blu-ray + DVD 'flipper' discs:

The Jackal
, Out of Africa, and Traffic.

#6 of 57 OFFLINE   George Cifrancis

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Posted November 09 2007 - 05:59 PM

To get to the Easter Eggs...

1. Start at the main menu.
2. Select "TOTAL MENUS"
3. On the next screen wait for the little rat at the top right to peek out from behind the stack of dishes press LEFT on your remote (you won't be able to do it when he is not visable).

You will then see a menu list of 5 items starting with "Ro-Dead Commercial" that you can choose from.
George C.
 

 


#7 of 57 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted November 09 2007 - 11:23 PM

Thank you for the review, I plan on watching this BRD today.






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#8 of 57 OFFLINE   Jim_K

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Posted November 10 2007 - 01:40 AM

Watched this last night and wow, great A/V presentation and a great film. Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

Out of all the Pixar films this one seems the most geared to adults.
Death before Streaming!


#9 of 57 ONLINE   TravisR

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Posted November 10 2007 - 05:41 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim_K
Out of all the Pixar films this one seems the most geared to adults.
Yeah, me and my buddy took his nephew to see it and while me and him loved it, the kid (about 3 or 4) was pretty bored throughout. Granted, if he was a couple of years older he probably would have liked it more.

#10 of 57 ONLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 13 2007 - 01:06 AM

I just finished watching Ratatouille for the first time on Blu-ray.

Before I give my opinion, I need to say a few things about my personal
preferences when it comes to animation. Generally, I don't prefer to watch
an animated film. It's not anything against the genre itself, it's just that
most of it is geared towards kids, and as such, I don't have much of a
tolerance for most of the Disney fare out there.

With the above in mind, I readily admit that the kind of animation
I do enjoy is the stuff that comes out of Pixar. I find the
work they do to be a "cut above" everyone else. In most all cases,
the Pixar name is a stamp of golden approval.

I wasn't expecting much from Ratatouille. The thought of
watching a film about a rat chef didn't seem inspiring from the outside.
Once again, I find myself reminded of the old saying, Never judge a
book by its cover
.

Ratatouille is perhaps the best animated film I have ever
watched. In short, it's a work of art. I can't think of any other
animated feature that has put such an emphasis on detail. There's a
scene where Remy first arrives in Paris, is climbing out of the sewer
and up a building. As he makes the climb, he spirals himself through
all the intricate details that make up the building itself. It continues
on, as the camera follows ahead of Remy scurrying through vents
and ceiling as he observes the action below. To the viewer, it's the
most amazing thing to watch.

I am just in complete awe of how beautiful this film looks on the
Blu-ray format. For those of you who have yet to watch a film
of this caliber in 1080p high definition have not experienced
how well film can be replicated in the home. It's astounding for
me to realize that we have finally come to a point in today's
technology where we can watch something in our home that rivals
what we experience in movie theaters.

This is one animated title you need to purchase and savor on your
Blu-ray player.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#11 of 57 OFFLINE   Joseph J.D

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Posted November 13 2007 - 01:21 AM

Ron.....with a stamp of approval like that, my copy that's currently on its way from Amazon can't get here fast enough. Posted Image
Recently watched- Simon & Simon: Season 3, Lost: Season 5, I Am Legend, Krull, The Beast Within, Subspecies, Lost: Season 4, District 9, Lost: Season 3, The Warrior's Way, The Twilight Zone: Season 1, Godzilla 3D, The Walking Dead: Season 4, Lost: Season 2, Dracula(1979), Lost: Season 1, True Grit(2010)

Currently watching- Planet Earth, Cheers: Season 6, True Blood: Season 2, Gatchaman: The Complete Series, The Equalizer: Season 2, Lost: Season 6, Tales From The Crypt: Season 2
 

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#12 of 57 OFFLINE   BrettB

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Posted November 13 2007 - 02:40 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by George Cifrancis
To get to the Easter Eggs...

1. Start at the main menu.
2. Select "TOTAL MENUS"
3. On the next screen wait for the little rat at the top right to peek out from behind the stack of dishes press LEFT on your remote (you won't be able to do it when he is not visable).
You will then see a menu list of 5 items starting with "Ro-Dead Commercial" that you can choose from.

Thanks for that. I didn't notice the rat, just kept pushing the left button till it worked. Posted Image

#13 of 57 OFFLINE   Todd H

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Posted November 13 2007 - 02:45 AM

You guys are killing me! Ratatouille and Cars are both arriving today. The wait is unbearable. Posted Image

#14 of 57 OFFLINE   Michel_Hafner

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Posted November 13 2007 - 02:52 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein
For those of you who have yet to watch a film
of this caliber in 1080p high definition have not experienced
how well film can be replicated in the home.
Of course Ratatouille in its original form is not film. It's data. And so is the BR disc.

#15 of 57 OFFLINE   Sanjay Gupta

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Posted November 13 2007 - 09:27 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by TravisR
Yeah, me and my buddy took his nephew to see it and while me and him loved it, the kid (about 3 or 4) was pretty bored throughout. Granted, if he was a couple of years older he probably would have liked it more.
Actually now that you mention this, it actually is true. Although I and my wife loved the film, our son really did not care that much for it. Considering that he actually went to sleep during the movie, he did not even express a desire to watch the film the next day as would be the norm for instances where he has gone to sleep during the viewing of any film.
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#16 of 57 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted November 13 2007 - 10:48 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein
Generally, I don't prefer to watch
an animated film. It's not anything against the genre itself, it's just that
most of it is geared towards kids, and as such, I don't have much of a
tolerance for most of the Disney fare out there.

With the above in mind, I readily admit that the kind of animation
I do enjoy is the stuff that comes out of Pixar. I find the
work they do to be a "cut above" everyone else. In most all cases,
the Pixar name is a stamp of golden approval.

The Pixar crew's philosophy is that animation should be a format, not a genre. So there ya go! Posted Image
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#17 of 57 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted November 13 2007 - 10:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim_K
Out of all the Pixar films this one seems the most geared to adults.

Dang. I was hoping my son would like this enough that we wouldn't have to always keep Cars on a 24/7 loop.

Not that there's anything wrong with Cars, but. . . Posted Image
"How wonderful it will be to have a leader unburdened by the twin horrors of knowledge and experience." -- Mr. Wick

#18 of 57 OFFLINE   Todd H

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Posted November 14 2007 - 12:46 AM

Watched some of it last night. One word....AMAZING!!! This is the new demo disk for Blu-ray owners. And the story ain't half bad either. Posted Image

#19 of 57 OFFLINE   Ron-P

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Posted November 14 2007 - 04:29 PM

Bought this blind for the family, not too bad, much better then their last several films but nothing there, as usual, for a second viewing. Pixar needs to get back with the program and start making some decent movies. It's been down hill since Toy Story.
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#20 of 57 OFFLINE   BrettB

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Posted November 15 2007 - 02:52 AM

No offense Ron. Opinions, a-holes and all that, but that is some of the funniest chit I've read in a while. Posted Image


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