DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Wallace & Gromit - The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (RECOMMENDED)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Matt Stone, Feb 9, 2006.

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  1. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]
    Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
    Directed By: Nick Park and Steve Box

    Studio: Dreamworks
    Year: 2005
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (Anamorphic)
    Running Time: 1 Hr. 25 Mins.
    Rating: G
    Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital (English, French), 2.0 Dolby Digital (English, Spanish)
    Subtitles: English, French, and Spanish
    MSRP: $29.99
    Street Date: 7 February, 2006

    Review Date: 9 February, 2006
    (Ratings are out of five stars)

    Summary
    I had been familiar with Wallace & Gromit, but hadn’t really become a fan until I reviewed Dreamworks’ recent release of their shorts collection a few months ago. I found Wallace & Gromit’s adventures reminding me of cartoons I watched as a child, but was able to appreciate as an adult. The level of humor in Wallace’s actions combined with Gromit’s silent film star performances made for many laughs. Creator Nick Park was able to translate this level of humor to the big screen with Wallace & Gromit’s recent adventure, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

    The central theme of most Wallace & Gromit adventures is Wallace’s panache for creating absolutely half-baked, Rube-Goldbergian contraptions to serve some greater good (obtaining cheese for example). The duo’s big screen debut presents them as rabbit catchers thinning out the herd for an upcoming giant vegetable contest. During the first act, we get to see all of Wallace’s wacky rabbit-catching inventions as well as Gromit’s cherished melon (that he hopes to snag first prize with). It isn’t long before the pair is called to Lady Campanula Tottington’s palace (where the Vegetable contest will be held) to humanely collect all of her bunnies. Lady Tottington is expertly voiced by the multi-talented Helena Bonham Carter. During this adventure, we’re introduced to the chief antagonist of the film, the full-of-himself hunter, Victor Quartermaine (Ralph Fiennes).
    The second act kicks off with a little Frankenstein-inspired science that creates the viscous Were-Rabbit that terrorizes the entire vegetable growing community. I won’t spoil the plot any further than that, but needless to say: there’s plenty of hijinks, humor, and over-the-top contraptions.

    I missed this one when it hit theaters last fall, and I really regretted it at the time. I’m glad I got the opportunity to rectify that with this review. What is most striking in this film is the level of detail in all facets. The miniature sets and characters are produced and rendered beautifully, and the voice acting is consistently good and funny. It amazes me how effective the lighting can be manipulated on such a small set. I think back to how good the “bigatures” looked in the LOTR trilogy, and how hard it must be to mesh the small with the large. Wallace & Gromit is a little different since it’s all small, but the result is the same. I’m a fan of the recent crop of CGI-animated films (specifically the Pixar movies), but I really appreciate something made by hand. Much like Tim Burton’s recent Corpse Bride, I can really appreciate the amount of craftsmanship that went into making this film.

    Film Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Video
    The video quality is as good as you would expect from a mainstream film and studio. As I mentioned in my summary, the lighting of the small sets really impressed me and it always looked good on the DVD. With the subject matter being pseudo-horror, there are a lot of dark, moonlight scenes. I was very impressed with the amount of shadow detail and the lack of banding during these sequences. The characters are made of real, physical material and they video transfer reflects that. As ironic as it may sound, the plasticine characters don’t have the “plasticy” feel that accompanies some CGI-animated transfers. The color palette was very vibrant and varied considering the heavy amount of vegetables featured. The recent Wallace & Gromit shorts DVD looked a little washed-out and video-like, but I would assume that resulted from being low-budget shorts. The big-screen upgrade definitely remedied any of these problems. There was no edge enhancement visible to me on my Infocus 4805 and I didn’t notice any other visible abnormalities. The layer change was quick and well placed even for the worst players.

    Video Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Audio
    The DVD presents it’s audio in Dolby Digital with no DTS option. I’m sure this will bum a lot of you out, but no worries, the DVD still sounds great. The rear effects channels (as well as LFE) are used sparingly, but are definitely there when necessary (during most of the big action around the end of the film). Most of the sound comes from the front three channels, and specifically the center channel. Julian Nott’s excellent score sounds terrific on a very broad soundstage. Much like the video quality, the audio has a noticeable upgrade from the previous shorts. No longer can you hear the hiss of a cheap boom-mic or second-rate sound effects. The sound design of the film was just as expertly crafted as the exquisite sets. If you were a fan of the film, you’ll definitely be pleased with the audio.

    Audio Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Extras
    Cracking Commentary – The full length commentary features writers/directors Steve Box and Nick Park. Park and Box are a couple of pretty interesting guys and cover the decisions they made during the making of the film. The pair are very descriptive and cover a lot of material with very little silent moments.
    Deleted Scenes (13:12) – There are nine scenes that were deleted from the film. You have the choice to watch them all with the Play All feature or separately. You can also watch them with a commentary. Some of the scenes are in rough animatic form and some of them are actually completed.
    How Wallace & Gromit Went to Hollywood (20:22) – This nice little featurette is almost like an A&E Biography about Wallace & Gromit’s rise to fame. It covers all of their shorts as well as Chicken Run and the formation of Aardman Animation. Some of it was a little repetitive from the shorts DVD, but it’s still very interesting.
    Behind the Scenes (13:02) – This is a pretty self-explanatory featurette. As you’d expect it details the process of making The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.
    A Day in the Life at Aardman (8:24) – This short featurette is a video tour of the Aardman Animation studios. It’s very short, but it’s very interesting as it covers how all of the sets and props were produced.
    How to Build a Bunny (3:31) – A quick look at how all of the plasticine bunnies were produced.
    Stagefright (11:08) – A short film from co-director Steve Box. You also have the option of watching it with a commentary from Box.
    The Family Album – A series of images including Signs, Storyboards, photos of Wallace and Gromit, and Behind the Scenes photos.

    The DVD also features some previews of other Dreamworks films.

    Extras Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    In Closing…
    This film is animation perfection. From the set and character design to the voice acting right up to the direction, this is a great film. Dreamworks has given a great film a great DVD to match. The extras are extensive and interesting, and the audio/video quality is fantastic. It’s refreshing to see a film rely on visual storytelling and craftsmanship rather than cheap jokes and cliché plot devices. I can easily say that I’m now a big fan of Wallace & Gromit and I can also easily recommend this DVD to all audiences.

    Overall Rating: [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Matt Stone
    9 February, 2005
     
  2. Frank Ha

    Frank Ha Second Unit

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    My copy of Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is waiting for me at my courrier service. I'll pick it up later today. After reading your review, I can't wait to watch it, which hopefully will be tonight.

    Thanks Matt for the great review.
     
  3. Stephen Orr

    Stephen Orr Screenwriter

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    Picking mine up at Walmart today (for the second bonus disc...)
     
  4. Tommy G

    Tommy G Screenwriter

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    Picked this up yesterday and looking forward to throwing it up on the big screen tonight and watching it with the kids.
     
  5. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

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    My cover doesn't look like the one in the review! Is the canadian version different?
     
  6. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    Sam,
    That's not the cover on my copy either. Mine has a wider shot of Wallace & Gromit as seen in the above version with the Were-Rabbit in the background.
     
  7. Magnus T

    Magnus T Supporting Actor

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    UK 2 - Disc Edition for me.
     
  8. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    Thanks for the review, Matt. What a funny, funny movie. The family crowd watched it Friday night, and some of us laughed until we cried.

    A word of warning: may contain nuts. [​IMG]

    By the way, this is the prevailing cover of the single-disc edition:

    [​IMG]

    Love those bunnies.

    - Steve
     

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