Review: ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ on Blu-ray
Roald Dahl’s imagination is to be celebrated. His books never repeat themselves and offer readers a vivid variety of ideas and images, memorable characters and incredible situations. Thankfully, technology today allows the works to be adapted with an eye towards retaining as much of his creations as is possible. The latest such adaptation is Fantastic Mr. Fox, another stop-motion production.
Available this week through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, the fall 2009 movie is available in the combo package of Blu-ray, standard DVD and digital copy. Directed by Wes Anderson, making his first animated foray, the movie is a largely satisfying and entertaining production.
With an all-star vocal cast including George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, and Bill Murray it tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Fox (Clooney and Streep), who live a poor but happy life with their eccentric son Ash (Schwartzman) and visiting nephew Kristopherson (Eric Chase Anderson). That is until Mr. Fox slips into his sneaky, old ways and plots the greatest heist the animal world has ever seen. When mean old farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean (Michael Gambon, Robin Hurlstone, and Hugo Guinness) join forces to surround Mr. Fox and his family, they don’t realize they are not dealing with any old fox.
Anderson, who says Dahl was a personal hero, added the opening and closing scenes to frame the novel and they have the right feel, giving the film a nice resolution. Co-writer Noah Baumbach nails the voices of the characters and retains their inventive personalities.
The stop motion work is fluid and attractive, with a nicely selected color palette to make the story feel, well, fantastic. Credit goes to not only Anderson, but to Henry Selick, who collaborated with him on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. When Revolution Studios folded, Selick left to make the equally engaging Coraline while Anderson kept the Dahl book and cut a deal with 20th. The voices were recorded in a variety of settings for a different tonal quality but it’s so subtle as to be effectively pointless. But the performances themselves are terrific all the way through the cast.
The Blu-ray comes packed with a variety of extras to accompany the 89-minute feature. Making Mr. Fox Fantastic is a six-part featurette including the visual look, adapting the script to the stop-motion film, the puppet makers, the puppet animation, the vocal cast and Bill and his Badger (only the 7-minute from script to screen segment can be found on the standard disc). A Beginner’s Guide To Whack-Bat is a fanciful newsreel about the sport played throughout the film; while Fantastic Mr. Fox: The World of Roald Dahl celebrates the author as is appropriate.
Read your children the book then let them revel in this film, which will stand up to repeated viewings.