Friday, April 07, 2006

#9 [tie] (Film in Review 2005)

I must confess that before I sat down to watch this film, I was a Wallace and Gromit virgin. I had indeed heard tremendous praise for the prior short-length adventures of this animated duo, but I was never convinced that such a concept would appeal to me. From what little material I came across, I assumed that the proceedings would be either too cutesy (read: aimed at kids) or dry (read: aimed at adults). So The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (#9 - tie) came and went back in October, and despite the stellar reviews and the inevitabiliy of its Oscar win for Best Animated Feature, I felt no loss at having skipped it. The only reason I ended up watching it on DVD was because my local video store had no copies of Kings and Queen, so I picked up Were-Rabbit to bulk up my 2005 quota. What a great decision I made, for I found the film an absolutely riotous delight! I have since watched the film three more times since my initial viewing, and it has not lessened at all in my eyes one bit. It remains fresh and charming (without being pacifying) just as it was the first time around, succeeding in making me erupt into giggles every other minute (especially during those moments where those psychotic, bouncy rabbits hop their way into the frame). In this feature-length effort, directors Nick Park and Steve Box open up the world of their two characters, introducing the viewer to Wallace and Gromit's township and the people who reside in it.

The film looks stunning, and to consider the amount of detail, effort and planning that went into this only heightens one's appreciation of the team's accomplishments. This landscape has limitless potential, and it struck me how easy it is to lose oneself in these environments. Yet aware of the dangers of attempting to go overboard in an endeavor such as this, Park and Box are selective in who they choose to include in the tale, specifically choosing to elect only the glorious Lady Tottington (voiced by Helena Bonham Carter, in a performance that completely trumps her work in The Corpse Bride, another stop-motion film released last year) and the ruthless villain Lord Quartermaine (a delightful Ralph Fiennes) as fleshed-out characters. The beauty of the film lies in its simplicity - the characters of Wallace and his faithful partner are as impressionable as ever, and despite the greater scope of the narrative, the proceedings never feel come across as overwhelming. Ultimately, Wallace and Gromit do not lose their charms on the big screen; their winsome personalities are simply amplified for our enjoyment. It is a delightful tale that will win over an audience of both kids and adults of all ages.


Kamikaze Camel said...

LOVE! Was my #3 of the year. So good. But then I loved W&G before, too.

Nick M. said...

This popped your Wallace and Gromit cherry?

Well, go slut it up and rent their shorts. The Wrong Trousers, in particular, is giddy fun. It also features one of the only penguins I ever liked.

Regardless, nice choice and placement (despite the rididculous amount of sexual innuendos which began to grow stale near the end of the film).

Ali said...

Glenn - I wish it could have been in the Top Five for me as well.

Nick - Indeed, I loved the film so much that when I went to buy it, I got the two-pack with both the feature and the shorts. I haven't had time lately to watch them, but they are at the top of my list.

I can't quite understand the criticism of the film in terms of the sexual innuendos (there were only a couple!). Didn't you think they were fairly harmless?

jesse said...

Hmmm...even though I like the the shorts, I can't muster up any enthusiasm to actually watch this. Does that make me a bad person?

I'm disappointed with the C- for BRICK-- I've been looking forward to that one.

Ali said...

Not at all, Jesse. I remember having the same feeling, but I'd definitely recommend taking the plunge. Even though I can imagine you not being as won over as everyone else, I can't see you outright hating it.

And I wouldn't take my rating for Brick too seriously. It's one of those reactions that is very much in the minority. I'd even recommend you watch it, because it's definitely a unique production.

Nick M. said...

C- for Brick?


Put off #8 for the moment and tell me why you were dissatisfied!

Kamikaze Camel said...

When i saw that on the main page I went to myself "i have to ask about that" so i clicked on here and viola, others are too.

Ali said...

Okay, brief thoughts on Brick: I am reluctant to write a review for this, because my distaste for the film will come across as unfair nitpicking. So firstly, I must say that I admired the production in terms of its novelty. But that is where my appreciation ended - I cannot give it points for originality when the whole thing, in my estimation, added up to zero. The film becomes tedious very quickly, from the stylized writing of the screenplay to the overlong running time.

For the first twenty minutes, the proceedings were intriguing, but after that point, I began looking at my watch every few seconds. It didn't help that the film featured medicore-to-painful performances (the actors sound like they're participating in a high school poetry reading), a truly ill-placed score, and endless repetition (how many times would I have to see Gordon-Levitt get punched in the face?).

That said, I can completely understand why the film has won as much acclaim as it has, so I am not going to bitch about the love for the rest of the year.