Fantastic Mr. Fox (Blu-ray)
To simply say that FANTASTIC MR. FOX is fantastic is a bit of an understatement. Most viewers might know director Wes Anderson because of his quirky, unique films like RUSHMORE, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, and THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU just to name a few. Fantastic Mr. Fox is a different adventure for Anderson. This time he dives into the world of a classic children’s book from Roald Dahl. Using stop motion animation, Anderson goes beyond the book, but keeps the spirit within its’ original pages.
From the first scene, I was immediately filled with whimsy. Yes, I used the word whimsy. It’s hard to use ordinary words with a film that is extraordinary. When we meet Mr. Fox, he’s charmingly posed at the top a hill listening to music eating an apple under a tree. This immediately gives the best first impression of the character. Then when George Clooney’s voice comes out, it’s certainly a perfect match.
The film may center on a fox family, but the story is relatable to anyone. Mr. Fox (Clooney) wants nothing more than to give his wife (Meryl Streep) and son (Jason Schwartzman) the best life possible. When the foxes move under a shiny new tree and nephew Kristofferson (Eric Anderson) joins the clan, that’s when the trouble starts. Mr. fox chooses a home that has three farmers in his backyard: Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. Each farmer has something that appeals to Mr. Fox’s sneaky old ways. What starts out as just one job, turns into many dangerous jobs that turn Mr. Fox’s life upside down.
It’s delightful to see an animated film using stop motion animation in a world dominated by CGI, 3D, and motion capture. I thought it gave the story an advantage as well as something special. As I said before, this was a perfect way to take the tale from book to big screen. In the special features, it’s mentioned that Dahl’s book is “very English” and this feels that way. When watching I often thought back to Wallace and Gromit. Fantastic Mr. Fox doesn’t have the claymation or the accents, but it doesn’t need it. Anderson has created a world that is special and of its own.
I really loved watching the life of Mr. Fox and it’s so much more than that. Each of the characters bring something fun to the story. The dynamic between Ash and his cousin Kristofferson feels like one of a typical Brother relationship. Ash is trying to be grown-up man fox while comparing himself to his outstanding cousin. Mr. Fox takes an extreme liking to Kristofferson because he is every bit what he was like when he was young. However, the Father/Son bond cannot be broken and even though you only are hearing their voices, Schwartzman and Clooney are convincing in these roles. I was also pleased with the voice work of Murray, Dafoe, and Streep who sounds like honey.
The script that was written by Anderson and partner Noah Baumbach is excellent. It’s a story you never grown tired of at any point. One of my favorite devices in the film has to be replacing actual cuss words with the word cuss, for example, “clustercuss”. There’s also a very adorable signature sound that Mr. Fox uses when he exits a room. The soundtrack is what you would expect from a typical Anderson film, except this time throw in some Beach Boys, Jarvis Cocker, Rolling Stones, and a beautiful score from Alexandre Desplat. Honestly, this is a journey I’d take over and over again. I watched the film at least 3 or 4 times after receiving it. Is it a bit much? Not at all. If anything, the film gets better and better with each viewing. There’s magic when you watch Fantastic Mr. Fox and it might be because even if it is simple, it’s a quote, unquote fantastic film.
Video: Video quality was excellent. Everything was crisp and clear. It really felt like the scenery was leaping off the screen. The quality of the disc was something I was really impressed with. The aspect ratio is 1.85:1 Widescreen.
Audio: The sound quality was pretty decent. At times the music tracks were a lot louder than the actual dialogue. At the beginning the volume went up a tad. I had a difficult time hearing what Mr. Fox was listening to on his pocket radio. The master audio quality is 5.1 DTS-HD.
Making Mr. Fox Fantastic: The Look of Fantastic Mr. Fox (44:48): The making of is broken down into different sections: From Script to Screen, The Puppet Makers, Still Life (Puppet Animation, and The Cast, Bill, and His Badger. This really gives a detailed perspective on every aspect when it came to making the film. You get to see the detail that Anderson really went into when it came to staying to true to Dahl, as well as adding personal touches of the author himself in the film. Seeing the way the puppets are made is also quite interesting. The most amusing part has to be Bill Murray and George Clooney script reading a scene where they are fighting and making animal noises. Really any candid moment with Mr. Murray is wonderful.
Fantastic Mr. Fox: The World of Roald Dahl (3:00): This feature goes into the world of author Roald Dahl. It talks about Wes Anderson’s stay at Gypsy House (Dahl’s home) while writing the script. Dahl’s wife, Felicity Dahl gives her own praise of the film as well as what her husband would have thought.
The Beginners Guide to Whack a Bat (1:12): This is a short step-by-step instruction video using most of the footage contained in the film.