Ratatouille appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Everything here looked great.
Sharpness remained immaculate at all times. If any examples of softness materialized here, I didn’t notice them. Instead, the flick seemed crisp and detailed from start to finish. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering appeared, and I saw no edge enhancement. Source flaws were completely absent as well.
With a warm, natural palette, Ratatouille produced consistently attractive hues. The colors came across as vivid and dynamic throughout the film. Blacks appeared deep and firm, while low-light shots demonstrated nice clarity and delineation. This was an appealing transfer.
Though not quite as strong, the Uncompressed LPCM 5.1 soundtrack of Ratatouille satisfied. The soundfield offered enough to create a good sense of setting. Only a few noticeably active sequences materialized. Rainstorms provided a nice liveliness, and Remy’s ride through the sewers stood as the movie’s most dynamic scene.
Otherwise, matters stayed in the subdued realm. We got some good localized dialogue, and music showed nice stereo imaging. The effects usually bolstered the ambience, with only the occasional exception like those mentioned earlier. The elements added to the movie in a general subtle manner.
I thought the quality of the audio seemed strong. Music was bright and bold, and effects fell into the same realm. Both of those aspects showed good range and dynamics. Speech sounded natural and concise, with no edginess or other problems. The movie boasted a consistently pleasing soundtrack.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD release? Audio was fuller and more dynamic, while visuals seemed tighter, richer and bolder. I liked the DVD but felt the Blu-ray worked better.
The Blu-ray mixes old and new extras. We get two animated shorts. A short that accompanied the theatrical release of Ratatouille, Lifted (5:01) shows an alien force that tries to extricate a guy from his house with limited success. A clever twist on the usual alien abduction theme, this one feels like a Looney Tunes short – and I mean that as a compliment. It’s a lot of fun.
Your Friend the Rat (11:16) is new to home video. Here Remy and brother Emile detail the evolution of the rat over the centuries. It uses a style reminiscent of those semi-educational Disney shorts from the 1950s. I like the mix of visual techniques and think it’s a lively and fun way to tell us a little about these much-maligned rodents.
Gusteau’s Gourmet Game is new to Blu-ray. This requires you to assemble ingredients to make meals. I found it to be tedious and not much fun.
Exclusive to the Blu-ray, Cine-Explore offers a mix of components. Of prime interest, it gives us an audio commentary with director Brad Bird and producer Brad Lewis. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific discussion of story/character areas, various design and cinematography choices, cast and performances, cast and performances, animation, music and audio, themes and influences, and connected topics.
Expect a delightful chat from Lewis and (especially) Bird, as they give us a terrific view of the film. They mix technical and creative elements well, and that ensures the commentary never becomes dry or dull. I especially like Bird’s insights into the changes he made after he came onto the production. (Bird took over for Jan Pinkava in 2005.) The track moves well and becomes a fine examination of the film.
After the commentary, we continue the “Cine-Explore” elements via Animation Briefings. This area includes 13 segments with a total running time of 14 minutes, 25 seconds. Introduced by supervising animator Dylan Brown, we follow meetings between Brad Bird and others that discuss the development of various scenes. I like this kind of “fly on the wall” piece and this becomes a fun collection.
“Cine-Explore” continues with 10 Documentary Shorts. These fill a total of 50 minutes, 58 seconds and include notes from Brad Bird, Brad Lewis, character designer Tony Fucile, groom supervisor Sanjay Bakshi, lead groom artist Laura Hainke, story artist Peter Sohn, shading art director Belinda Van Valkenburg, production designer Harley Jessup, associate producer Galyn Susman, directors of photography/lighting Robert Anderson and Sharon Calahan, co-director Jan Pinkava, story supervisor Mark Andrews, senior camera operator Shawn Brennan, supervising animator Dylan Brown, sets/layout manager and production sous chef Michael Warch, story Jim Capobianco, character designer Jason Deamer, film editor Darren Holmes, actor Lou Romano, composer Michael Giacchino, conductor/orchestrator Tim Simonek, musicians Karl Vincent, Victor Lawrence and Bobby Shulgold, music scoring mixer Dan Wallin, character designer teddy Newton, production artist Nate Wragg, Your Friend the Rat director Jim Capobianco, and animators Doug Dooley, Bret Parker, Robert Russ, Jean Claude Tran, Gini Santos, Jaime Landes, Kureha Yokoo, Amber Martorelli, Sarah Mercey-Boose, Matt Majers, Don Crum, Kristophe Vergne, John Kahrs, and Doug Frankel.
The “Documentary Shorts” look at the depiction of rats in the film as well as other character areas, creating Paris in animation, virtual camerawork, restaurant design and research, various other visual areas/choices, music, and connected areas. Though they don’t form a coherent program, the “Shorts” shed a lot of light on the production. Even the potentially cutesy look at Giacchino shot by his young son works well. This turns into a nice batch of featurettes.
Three Deleted Scenes fill a total of 15 minutes, six seconds. We get “Chez Gusteau” (3:56), “Meet Gusteau” (5:57) and “First Day” (5:12). “Chez” offers a 3-D storyreel view of a long shot that pans into the restaurant to show us Remy’s introduction to the place. “Meet” comes from a version of the flick in which Gusteau isn’t dead. (He’s also alive in the “Chez” clip.) This is similar to the scene in which Skinner discusses frozen food marketing; here Gusteau is part of the process and not an exploited dead guy. It also develops Remy and Alfredo a little.
Finally, “Day” shows an alternate look at Alfred’s introduction to the job. None of these differ radically from anything in the final film, though the lavish nature of “Chez” makes it stand out from the others. They’re interesting to see.
All of these clips come with video bits to tell us about them. Director Brad Bird chats about “Chez” and “Meet”, while producer Brad Lewis and story man Jim Capobianco discuss “Day”. We learn about the clips and find out why they didn’t make the final film. The notes about the choice to kill Gusteau are the most useful, though all of them provide good info.
“Cine-Explore” finishes with Deleted Shots RIP. Billed as “a tribute to shots cut from the final film”, the three-minute, 12 second collection covers five cut snippets. Supervising animator Marc Walsh tells us how upsetting it can be to get work eliminated from the film, and we then see a black-and-white, mock-serious reel in which various Pixar animators mourn the death of their shots. It’s somewhat pointless but still amusing.
A featurette called Fine Food and Film: A Conversation with Brad Bird and Thomas Keller lasts 13 minutes, 54 seconds. Here we get comments with writer/director Bird and chef Keller in separate sessions. Their remarks draw parallels between the creative techniques behind the creation of movies and food. They also chat about how they got into their respective fields and grew in them.
The information can be interesting, though I think the featurette stretches in the way it attempts to connect Bird and Keller. I’d prefer two separate pieces – or just one about Bird’s work, as the info about the chef doesn’t particularly interest me.
Two more elements fill out the disc. The Will (1:49) lets us view alternate ways to score a scene, as composer Michael Giacchino tells us in a 54-second introduction. We can check out the sequence with the original score or the altered music used in the final film. This becomes an interesting way to see how score affects a scene’s impact.
Remembering Dan Lee (3:00) offers comments from art director Harley Jessup, character designer Ricky Nierva , art director Ralph Eggleston, story artist Nate Stanton, production manager Jonas Rivera, director Andrew Stanton, and character designer Greg Dykstra. Pixar artist Dan Lee passed during the film’s production of Ratatouille, and this short piece acts as a nice tribute.
The disc opens with previews for WALL-E,Sleeping Beauty, Tinker Bell, Cars, Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 1 and Meet the Robinsons. No trailer for Ratatouille appears here.
A second disc provides a DVD copy of Ratatouille. This includes “Fine Food”, three deleted scenes, “Tour Friend The Rat” and “Lifted” but lacks the other extras.
Through three screenings, I kept hoping I’d embrace Ratatouille, but no breakthrough ever came. I enjoyed the film and found much to like about it, but it lacked that certain kick that would allow me to really love it. The Blu-ray delivers excellent visuals as well as solid audio and bonus materials. Fans will enjoy this terrific release.
To rate this film, visit the 2007 review of RATATOUILLE