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Wes Anderson
George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Wallace Wolodarsky, Eric Chase Anderson, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson
Writing Credits:
Roald Dahl (novel), Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach

His life is fantastic ... his wife is fantastic ... his neighbors, not so fantastic.

George Clooney and Meryl Streep lend their voices to this hilarious and heartwarming animated adventure from visionary director Wes Anderson. Mr. and Mrs. Fox (Clooney and Streep) live a happy home life with their eccentric son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) and visiting nephew Kristopherson. That is until Mr. Fox slips into his sneaky, old ways and plots the greatest chicken heist the animal world has ever seen.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$265.900 thousand on 4 screens.
Domestic Gross
$20.980 million.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 87 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 3/23/2010

• ďMaking Mr. Fox FantasticĒ Featurette
• ďA Beginnerís Guide to Whack-BatĒ Featurette
• ďFantastic Mr. Fox: The World of Roald DahlĒ Featurette
• Trailer
• Previews
• DVD Version of the Film
• Digital Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Fantastic Mr. Fox [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 7, 2010)

Director Wes Anderson adapts Roald Dahl for the world of stop-motion animation with 2009ís The Fantastic Mr. Fox. A fox named Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) makes his living as a bird thief. When he and his wife (Meryl Streep) get captured and she tells him sheís pregnant, he agrees to take on a less risky career.

We fast-forward 12 fox years to find Mr. Fox as a semi-struggling newspaper columnist with an adolescent son named Ash (Jason Schwartzman). Mr. Fox aspires to a better life outside of their hole, so he moves the family into a tree. He chooses this particular abode largely because it resides in the shadow of some nasty humans named Boggis (Robin Hurlstone), Bunce (Hugo Guinness) and Bean (Michael Gambon). Mr. Fox aspires to relive the excitement of his earlier life, and he recruits his pal Kylie (Wally Wolodarsky) to help. This sets up a war between the animals and the humans.

We also see issues connected to a visit from Foxís nephew Kristofferson (Eric Anderson). Ash is a bit of an odd kid and also small for his age, while Kristofferson is a good athlete and more of a charmer with the ladies. Because of this, Ash becomes resentful of his cousin and conflicts ensue.

I suspect that even if Fox completely stunk, itíd receive praise from a certain faction due to three factors: Anderson, Dahl, and a quirky, challenging form of animation. This is basically animation ala the indie world, for better or for worse.

While Iíve been perfectly happy with mainstream animation, I think Fox creates a nice niche for itself. Does Anderson do anything to make the film significantly different from work other studios could produce? No, not really.

The style of animation is the most unusual factor here, as stop-motion material rarely makes an appearance these days. Thatís no surprise, as stop-motion is a difficult, time-consuming medium. Iím not sure this style gives the film any kind of heft or power that would be absent in a more traditional piece of cell or CG animation, but it creates something that stands out from the crowd.

Only one negative comes with stop-motion animation: the style occasionally threatens to distract from the story and characters. At times I paid so much attention to the techniques at work that I almost forgot about the movie itself. Thatís not a constant Ė or even frequent Ė problem, and it might just be one that only I encounter, but it was an issue.

The quality of the animation was quite good. The main concern stems from the massive amount of fur on display, as the stop-motion techniques ensure that it moves around a lot. This means that even when a character stands still, his or her hair tends to ruffle and shift. Other objects do the same, but the fur demonstrates the most widespread example of this.

I hesitate to call this an actual problem, though, because apparently Anderson did nothing to fix it. In the discís documentary, he mentions that he loved the sight of the shifting fur in the original King Kong, so itís clear he didnít want to use any kind of post-production method to change it.

And even though the drifting hair distracts me, Iím fine with that. I understand Andersonís preference for a more organic feel, even one that shows warts. Too much clean-up mightíve eradicated some of the formatís basic charms.

The story, characters and performances are strong enough to overcome potential technical concerns anyway. At its heart, one could view Fox as an environmental tale since it involves the battle between nature and the humans.

While you could do that, I suspect you shouldnít, as itíd turn a fun film into something less engaging. I donít want to say that Fox should be taken as a piece of fluff, but I donít get the impression it really aspired to a great deal of social commentary. Those elements lurk, but the film fares best when taken as a comedic romp.

And itís a heck of a good romp at that. The tale starts a little slowly, perhaps because it takes us a while to buy into the stop-motion animation and the filmís universe. Once we do so, though, we find a slew of engaging characters and situations that become more and more dynamic as the movie progresses.

It doesnít hurt that the flick boasts a world-class cast. Clooney doesnít exactly break a sweat as the lead character, a furry variation on Danny Ocean. But hey, Cary Grant made a career based on similar roles, so why shouldnít Clooney continue to do what he does best? Heís perfect as Mr. Fox, and the remainder of the actors Ė a group that also includes folks like Bill Murray and Owen Wilson Ė give us fun work as well.

ďFunĒ seems to be my go-to word in this review, and itís the one that best describes the charming Fox. Yes, the film has some themes and character depth; itís not a shallow romp with nothing else to it. But at its heart, itís just a great deal of fun.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

The Fantastic Mr. Fox appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Very few modern animated flicks suffer from bad transfers, and Fox lived up to those standards.

Sharpness always looked very good. A minor smidgen affected a couple of wide shots, but the vast majority of the flick offered excellent clarity and delineation. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement was absent. Source flaws also failed to mar the presentation.

In terms of palette, Fox tended toward an earthy orange tint. This gave the whole movie a bit of a sunset feel, and it fit the material. The colors looked solid given the stylistic choices. Blacks were dark and tight, while shadows demonstrated nice smoothness and definition. This was a consistently pleasing presentation.

Nothing too exciting came with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Fox, but it seemed fine for the film. Like all Wes Anderson flicks, music played an important part. Both score and songs boasted nice stereo imaging across the front.

Effects were satisfying though not especially involving most of the time. A few of the movieís action scenes offered decent involvement, but itís hard to think of anything that stood out. Instead, the film usually stayed with a nice sense of atmosphere and that was about it.

Audio quality was terrific. Music worked best, as that side of things seemed lively and full. Speech was consistently natural and concise, while effects appeared clean and accurate. A few louder bits boasted nice low-end response. All of this ended up as a good but not special soundtrack.

Among the discís extras, we get three programs. These start with Making Mr. Fox Fantastic, a 44-minute, 48-second documentary that features director Wes Anderson, producers Allison Abbate and Jeremy Dawson, author Roald Dahlís widow Felicity, production designer Nelson Lowry, director of photography Tristan Oliver, animation director Mark Gustafson, animator Mark Waring, puppet fabrication supervisor Andy Gent, and actors Bill Murray, and Jason Schwartzman. ďMakingĒ looks at the source story and its adaptation, visual design and creating the sets/props/puppets, animation issues/challenges, cast and performances, and Andersonís broad influence over the production.

While Iím a little disappointed Anderson didnít provide a commentary, ďMakingĒ acts as a good substitute. It offers a pretty deep look at the flick, with a lot of very fun behind the scenes material. We see a lot of the animation techniques in use, and we learn that the actors were recorded away from the standard studio much of the time. All of these components add up to a fine documentary.

A Beginnerís Guide to Whack-Bat goes for one minute, 12 seconds. Itís a short, semi-tongue in cheek instructional film that explains the movieís sport. Itís a fun little piece.

Finally, Fantastic Mr. Fox: The World of Roald Dahl runs three minutes and features Anderson and Felicity Dahl. The show looks at the source novel and Andersonís research. We essentially get the same information in the prior documentary, so this promotional clip doesnít add much.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Date Night, Marley and Me: The Terrible 2s and Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. We also find the trailer for Fox.

A second disc offers a DVD Copy of Fox. This offers the same single-DVD version available on store shelves; this means it comes with a few of the Blu-rayís extras. If you want to own Fox but arenít yet Blu-ray capable, itís a good compromise.

Finally, a third platter gives us a Digital Copy of Fox. As always, this lets you slap the flick onto a computer or digital viewing thingy. Rock and roll!

A charming piece of animation with an unusual pedigree, The Fantastic Mr. Fox brings the quirky world of Wes Anderson to the Roald Dahl novel. His take succeeds, as the movie offers a fun take on the material. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals, good audio, and a few supplements highlighted by a very good documentary. Give this cool animated effort a look.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.875 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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