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Blu-ray Review: Fantastic Mr. Fox
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Fantastic Mr. Fox Blu-ray DVDFantastic Mr. Fox
Three-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo
Directed by Wes Anderson
Starring George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Wallace Wolodarsky, Jason Schwartzman, Eric Chase Anderson
20th Century Fox
Blu-ray/DVD Release Date: March 23, 2010

I’ve never been a big Wes Anderson fan. The films I have seen from the filmmaker have been too quirky for my tastes, the kind of quirk that crosses the line between adorable and just plain weird. Anderson definitely makes the kinds of films where I would deem it mandatory to find out precisely what type of experience you’re in for before seeing them, because if you don’t you could end up thinking someone switched films on you leaving you lost and bewildered. Keeping that in mind, I think Fantastic Mr. Fox just might be my favorite Wes Anderson film to date.

Based on the children’s novel of the same name by Roald Dahl, the story is about Mr. Fox (George Clooney) and how he outwits his farmer neighbors, stealing their food right from under their noses. Anderson stated that he signed on because Roald Dahl was one of his heroes, so he had a strong personal connection in making the film. I’ve not had the pleasure of reading the book, but while doing some research I learned that the story the book covers would amount to the second act of the film. New scenes were apparently added by Anderson to serve for the film’s beginning and end.

Something that interested me about the production of the film was Anderson’s choice to record the voices outdoors rather than in a studio:

“We went out in a forest, ..went in an attic, [and] went in a stable. We went underground for some things. There was a great spontaneity in the recordings because of that. We wanted to use real trees and real sand, but it’s all miniature.”

I think the director’s choices really paid off in a satisfying way. The performances felt more organic and really raised the film a few notches on the enjoyment scale. Production details aside, the performances by the voice cast were really top notch. Clooney is pretty much playing Clooney but like most of the parts he plays, he really fit the character and adds a likable charm to the main character. The other stand out performance for me was frequent Anderson collaborator Jason Schwartzman. I loved his character and his performance the most out of the entire cast.

Visually the movie’s stop-motion animation has a distinct charm to it and in the age of nearly all CGI-animated films, its nice to get films like Fantastic Mr. Fox and Coraline to break up the monotony. Being a big fan of animation I really enjoy seeing different types of animation and directors who know how to use the medium to their advantage and I really felt like Anderson played to his strengths with this film.

Overall I really enjoyed Fantastic Mr. Fox, I wouldn’t say that I loved it or that it made me want to go out and watch every movie in the director’s back catalog, but I will say this is the first Wes Anderson film I have really enjoyed. Fans of Anderson will no doubt feel right at home with this charming and quirky fox.

Blu-ray disc – The image quality and sound on the Blu-ray were both crystal clear and stunning. If you can see the film on a Blu-ray player and a good HDTV, I would definitely go that route.

Bonus Features

DISC 1

– Making Mr. Fox Fantastic [44:48]

If you’re a fan of stop-motion animation, then definitely watching this lengthy ‘making of’ featurette, which is divided into a seven chapters that revolve around how the filmmakers came to adapt this children’s story, and how they used stop-motion animation to tell the tale. Dahl’s widow talks about how Anderson and his crew used items in the Dahl museum as inspiration. The film’s animators all explain and then show their techniques of bring this world to life. You see expert artists painstakingly creating this tiny sets for the puppets to be filmed on, it’s really amazing. There’s also behind-the-scenes footage of the actors doing their lines,a and star Bill Murray also gets involved in learning the way the Fantastic characters were animated.

– A Beginner’s Guide To Whack-Bat [1:24]

This is the sport that the foxes played in the film, so this is a short old-school instructional video on how to play Whack-Bat.

– Fantastic Mr. Fox: The World of Roald Dahl [3:00]

Dahl’s widow Felicity talks about her husband’s books and the things he loved, like the outdoors and the woods. Anderson went to The Gipsy House, Dahl’s home in Buckinghamshire, England, and stay there for a while, having everything there photographed for reference.

– Theatrical Trailer

DISC 2

This is the DVD copy of the film.

DISC 3

This is the Digital Download copy of the film.

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