Wes Anderson takes his first swing at animation with a wonderful retelling of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox. We take a look at Criterion’s release of this film, and boy do we like what we see.
The Movie Itself [usr 5] :
Even if you’ve not heard the name Roald Dahl, you know his stories. He is one of the most well known and loved children’s book authors to ever put pen to paper. Not only did he lead a fairly fascinating life, he also wrote such classics as James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, Matilda, and, of course, Fantastic Mr. Fox.
The story of Mr. Fox begins with him proposing to his wife. During his proposal we find out that he is a soon to be a father, and Mrs. Fox makes him promise to never again risk life and limb to steal chickens. This arrangement is endured by Mr. Fox until he hits a sort of mid-life crises wherein he struggles with his own identity and soon turns to his former lifestyle after he finds out that three very large and successful farms are close to his shiny new treehouse.
But Mr. Fox is not the only one struggling in this tale. His son Ash (who is quite possibly the most perfectly cast and played character I’ve ever seen, the absolute epitome of Wes Anderson’s style), an outcast in school, is having a hard time coping with being second best to Kristofferson, his cousin whom the family is watching over while his father is recovering. Kristofferson is a natural at being all things foxy, which catches Mr. Fox’s eye and further sets Ash apart.
In a series of events that only be described as extraordinary, Mr. Fox finds himself in a war with the three farmers that puts all woodland critters in the area in trouble. It’s up to his cunning and trickster attributes – those that got him into trouble in the first place – to set things right. If you know Wes Anderson, you have a good idea of what sorts of shenanigans to expect. It’s really quite a fun ride.
Fantasic Mr. Fox is quite possibly one of the best animation films I’ve ever seen outside of Pixar. It has an amazing visual appeal, is genuinely funny, and teaches us a great moral lesson. I cannot recommend this film enough, it will appeal to viewers of all ages.
Video Quality [usr 5] :
Fantastic Mr. Fox has a very unique art style and color palette. It was shot in what must have been absolute painstaking detail. Each character is represented by a handful of different scaled puppets that all have some of the most elaborate textures to them. These textures pop off of the screen in a way that I’ve never seen in blu. You can almost feel each and every bit of cloth or scenery. This movie is perfect for impressing friends.
Audio Quality [usr 5]:
There are no explosions or crazy scenes to speak of, but the music and effects are all perfectly represented here. There are no balance issues. It is a wonderful sounding blu-ray.
What’s In the Packaging [usr 5]:
- Criterion Digipack
- 33 page booklet with drawings, essays by Wes Anderson and Erica Wagner, as well as cast and crew information.
Special Features [usr 5]:
As always, Criterion really goes above and beyond to include a grip of special features. Be prepared for a couple of solid sit throughs to watch it all, but it is 100% worth it.
- Audio Commentary with Wes Anderson
- Introduction (HD, 2mins)
- A fun introduction to the film featuring Petey, the movie’s narrator. It’s nice to put a character to the voice.
- Animatic (HD, 76mins)
- A storyboard version of the film.
- The Making of Fantastic Mr. Fox (HD, 32mins)
- A series of seven parts that goes into detail what all goes into making a film like this.
- Publicity Featurettes (HD, 32mins)
- Six interviews/mini documentaries featuring cast and crew.
- Fantastic Mr. Dahl (HD, 62mins)
- A BBC documentary on Roald Dahl, super interesting!
- Roald Dahl Reads Fantastic Mr. Fox (HD, 54mins)
- This was one of the most exciting features, getting to hear the author himself read the story.
- Awards Speeches (HD, 4mins)
- Stop animation award speeches for various nominations.
- Discussion and Analysis (HD, 12mins)
- Two young children give a Siskel and Ebert style rundown of the film.
- Witch’s Tree (SD, 2mins)
- A weird inclusion involving Roald Dahl in a tree discussing how he came up with the story.
- Sony Robot Commercial (HD, 1min)
- A commercial for Sony using the same animation style that was used in the film.
- Set Photography by Ray Lewis
- A series of photos taken during filming.
- Dahl’s Manuscripts
- The very beginnings to the writing process, in Dahl’s own writing.
- Blu-ray + 2 DVD (all content is available on both formats)
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- English subtitles
- Audio Formats:
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Final Thoughts [usr 5]:
Not only is Fantastic Mr. Fox an absolute must own, this Criterion version takes two steps beyond expectations and includes a trove of great special features and some of the most beautiful disc and packaging I’ve seen. I have a hard time imagining anyone not having a great time with this film. Go get it.