Friday, February 10, 2006

WALLACE & GROMIT IN THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT

Reviewed by Byron Merritt

THUMBS UP!

THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING!


It’s tough to fathom a G-rated animated film garnering so much world attention, but there you go. Wallace and Gromit have captured ...something ....in our collective imaginations. Perhaps it’s a harkening back to simpler times. Perhaps it’s the witticism. Perhaps it’s the originality of "claymation" (clay characters shot one painstaking frame after the next). But whatever it is, it works.

Not having seen any previous works by Steve Box and Nick Park (directors), I have no comparisons to draw from with regards to their earlier award-winning claymation movies (A CLOSE SHAVE, 2001). But I can say, without hesitation, that this is a very good film for a couple of reasons.

First was the story. There’s never been a "vegetarian" monster before, but now we have one with "The Curse of the Were-Rabbit." This giant fluffy bunny has the strength of ten men and ten-times the appetite, too. Gardens are being destroyed and it’s only days before the Giant Vegetable Competition. Wallace and Gromit, founders of the "Anti-Pesto" pest control company (who drive a green van, which is just too funny, too, if you know what Pesto looks like), have their hands full. Their basement is already maxed out with captured rabbits (they don’t kill them, but are humane and take care of their pests). And now this Were-Rabbit problem. What to do?

Second was the character voices
. Peter Sallis, British-born stage actor, reprises his role as Wallace, the good-hearted pest control agent with great gadgetry. Gromit the dog, of course, is his trusty mute sidekick who saves Wallace constantly but receives no praise for his work. Helena Bonham Carter (CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, 2005) plays the voice of Lady Tottington, the love interest of Wallace and the wicked Victor Quartermaine (Hmm, where have I heard that name before?) voiced excellently by Ralph Fiennes (THE CONSTANT GARDNER, 2005). Victor wants to shoot every possible threat and now that the Were-Rabbit has been spotted, it appears he may very well get his chance. But killing the Were-Rabbit may have consequences that go far beyond simple Bunny Homicide.

Third was the way the film was shot. Watching how fluidly the claymation proceeded was astounding. Never once was there the "herky-jerky" motions most of us remember when using this kind of animation. Remember Gumby? This was light years beyond him.

Fourth were the extras. There were lots of tidbits about how claymation works and the success of Wallace and Gromit (and those that have been successful thanks to them, like various cheeses). But the thing that grabbed me the most was the inclusion of an award-winning short film called
STAGE FRIGHT. The lighting, homage to The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and wonderful special effects made this an eye-popping piece of film making.

This is a really good film for parents and children alike. The kids will get a kick out of Gromit’s facial expressions and the cool antics pulled off by all the characters, and parents will get a nice trip down memory lane, remembering when times were simpler.

Click here for the Wallace & Gromit movie trailer!

Oscar Award Winner: Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

BAFTA Award Winner: Outstanding British Film of the Year

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