- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English SDH, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Spanish
- Region: A
- Rating: PG
- Discs: 3
- Studio: 20th Century Fox
- Blu-ray Release Date: March 23, 2010
- List Price: $39.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Many of us have grown up with the stories of Norwegian-Welsh author Roald Dahl. Young and old alike, his stories have stood the test of time, and like his U.S. counterpart Theodor Seuss Geisel, A.K.A. Dr. Seuss, his books have gone on to transcend generations, being passed down from one to the next. Who isn’t familiar with such stories as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or James and the Giant Peach?
Now, Roald Dahl’s book, Fantastic Mr. Fox comes to life in Wes Anderson’s stop-motion animated film. Based on the illustrations by Donald Chaffin from the book’s original publication, Anderson’s film is actually quite close to Dahl’s original story, adding only a few scenes to the beginning of the story and a slightly different ending to flesh out a fuller, more extended film from what is a rather short work of children’s fiction.
As the story goes, a fox named, Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) launches a master plan to pull off one last great heist from three mean farmers, Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. Enlisting his friend, an opossum (Wallace Wolodarsky), and his wife’s visiting nephew Kristoferson (Eric Chase Anderson), Mr. Fox sneaks out in the middle of the night to steal produce from the farms, including squabs, alcoholic cider, apples, and chickens, much to the dismay of Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep) when she catches him sneaking back one night. You see, two years earlier, the two of them had been caught in a fox trap trying to steal squab and they managed to dig themselves out. Mr. Fox promised never to steal again, for the sake of their as yet to be born cub — but he just couldn’t resist.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fox’s grand heists have raised the ire of the farmers and they resolve to wait outside the Fox’s tree and shoot him when he comes out, but they only manage to shoot off his tail. Then, they lay siege on the Fox’s tree, bringing in bulldozers to tear it down, but the family manages to dig their way down out of trouble.
The entire group of animals in the area is cut off from food, however, so Mr. Fox comes up with a bold plan to tunnel underneath the farmers’ lands right into their storage areas, steal all their food, and feed all of their friends, but things go awry when Kristofferson is kidnapped and held for ransom and Mr. Fox faces the choice of either turning himself in to be killed, or allowing all of his friends and family, including his nephew, to die.
Anderson’s vision of Fantastic Mr. Fox is visually stunning. The stop-motion animation technique marvelously captures the quaint, English countryside feel of Dahl’s story and Chaffin’s original illustrations. Even with the added sequences, the story is true to the original, never straying too far off course.
What keeps Fantastic Mr. Fox from being absolutely incredible, however, is an overriding lack of overall energy in the film. The pace is somewhat slow and I’m not completely convinced that the voice casting works for the characters. Clooney’s Mr. Fox lacks any sense of wonder and slyness one might expect from a “fantastic” fox, Meryl Streep just seems to be reading by the numbers in her role, and even the comedic talents of Owen Wilson and Bill Murray are completely wasted. Mr. Fox is quaint and mildly amusing, but hardly humorous. It certainly feels a bit platitudinous at times, perhaps even like it is being too reverent to the original work, thus sucking all the joy from what could have been an absolutely spellbinding story.
Fantastic Mr. Fox arrives on Blu-ray with an amazingly detailed AVC/MPEG-4 transfer from 20th Century Fox. The individual strands of fur in the animated characters are all easily distinguished, both foreground and background details are sharp from the largest to the smallest items, and color reproduction is rich and consistent. Shadow delineations is well extended and artifacts are nowhere to be found.
Although the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack provides a full, robust program with clean dialogue, solid midrange, and energetic musical sequences, it is disappointingly stagnant given the nature of the film. Surround channels are barely used for anything more than the subtlest of ambience, even in some of the more active scenes. Low frequency extension is rather good. Bass is extended down to the mid-low range and deep, but not ground shaking.
Fox has rolled out a compelling and value-packed set of supplements for this release of Fantastic Mr. Fox, including a standard definition DVD version included with the Blu-ray, Digital Copy, and a decent amount of high definition featurettes that get behind-the-scenes of the filmmaking process whilst offering a glimpse into the life of author Roald Dahl.
The supplements provided on this release are:
Making Mr. Fox Fantastic (1.78:1; 1080p/24):
- The Look of Fantastic Mr. Fox
- From Script to Screen
- The Puppet Makers
- Still Life (Puppet Animation)
- The Cast
- Bill and His Badger
- A Beginner’s Guide to Whack-Bat (1.78:1; 1080p/24)
- Fantastic Mr. Fox: The World of Roald Dahl (1.78:1; 1080i/60)
- Theatrical Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Digital Copy
The Definitive Word
Mr. Fox is pleasant family entertainment truly deserving of its Oscar nomination, but its weaknesses keep it from being the brilliant piece of animated work it could have been. Still, it is an enjoyable 90-minutes or so made even better by a spectacularly rendered reference-quality Blu-ray transfer from 20th Century Fox that is guaranteed to delight.
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