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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

Fantastic Mr. Fox [Blu-ray]

 

(Wes Anderson, 2009)

 

20th Century Fox - Region 'A' Blu-ray - LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

Video: 20th Century Fox / Criterion Collection - Spine #700

 

Disc:

Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:26:44.616 / 1:27:00.256

Disc Size: 27,543,985,052 bytes / 47,178,190,607 bytes

Feature Size: 18,576,218,112 bytes / 19,112,214,528 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.02 Mbps / 24.18 Mbps

Chapters: 24 / 21

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: March 23rd, 2010 / February 18th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Bitrate:

20th Century Fox - Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3370 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3370 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB

 

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3279 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3279 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), Chinese (traditional and simplified), French, Portuguese, Spanish, none

English, none

 

Extras:

Disc One - Blu-ray
● Fantastic Mr. Fox in 1080P
Making Mr. Fox Fantastic (44:48)
○ The Look Of Fantastic Mr. Fox (8:12)
○ From Script To Screen (7:01)
○ The Puppet Makers (8:21)
○ Still Life (Puppet Animation) (7:23)
○ The Cast (6:34)
○ Bill And His Badger (7:37)
A Beginner’s Guide To Whack-Bat (1:12)
Fantastic Mr. Fox: The World Of Roald Dahl (3:00)

Disc Two (DVD)
Fantastic Mr. Fox widescreen feature film (16x9 1.85:1)
From Script to Screen
Still Life (Puppet Animation)
A Beginner’s Guide to Whack-Bat

Disc Three
Digital Copy of Fantastic Mr. Fox (Blu-ray Disc exclusive)

 

Audio commentary featuring Anderson

Introduction (1:12)
Storyboard Animatic for the entire film (1:15:09)

Footage of the actors voicing their characters, puppet construction, stop-motion setups, visit to the studio, the recording of the score and miniature Objects (7:44, 3:53, 1:31, 10:27, 2:23, 4:54, 1;16)
Interviews with cast and crew (7:44)
Puppet animation tests (3:53)
Photo gallery of puppets, props, and sets
Animated awards acceptance speeches (1:17, 1:22, :27)
Audio recording of author Roald Dahl reading the book on which the film is based (53:20)

6 Publicity Featurettes (same as 20th Century Fox) - The Look Of Fantastic Mr. Fox (8:12), From Script To Screen (7:01), The Puppet Makers (8:21), Still Life (Puppet Animation) (7:23), The Cast (6:34) and Bill And His Badger (7:37)
Fantastic Mr. Dahl, an hour-long 2005 documentary about the author (1:01:26)
Gallery of Dahl’s original manuscripts
Discussion and analysis of the film (11:27)
Stop-motion Sony robot commercial by Anderson (1:01)

Witches Tree (1:45)
PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Erica Wagner; a 2002 article on Dahl’s Gipsy House by Anderson; White Cape, a comic book used as a prop in the film; and drawings, original paintings, and other ephemera

2 DVDs with the feature and all the content of the Blu-ray

 

 

Description: Academy Award-winning* Hollywood heavyweights George Clooney (Up In The Air) and Meryl Streep (It’s Complicated) lend their voices to the hilarious, heartwarming and dazzling stop-motion animated adventure from visionary director Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenebaums) Fantastic Mr. Fox, arriving as a Blu-ray Disc/DVD Combo Pack and on DVD March 23 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. In the re-imagined classic family tale, Mr. and Mrs. Fox (Clooney and Streep) live a happy home life with their eccentric son Ash (Jason Schwartzman: The Darjeeling Limited) and visiting nephew Kristopherson. 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 join forces to surround Mr. Fox and his family, they don’t realize they are not dealing with any old fox – it’s Fantastic Mr. Fox and he has a fantastic master plan to save the day!

Based on the beloved best-selling book by Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Fantastic Mr. Fox is family fun at its finest. Anderson employs a colorful supporting cast to bring his eccentric characters to life including Bill Murray (Lost In Translation), Owen Wilson (Marley & Me) and Willem Dafoe (Spiderman triology).

***

Fantastic Mr. Fox is the story of a clever, quick, nimble, and exceptionally well-dressed wild animal. A compulsive chicken thief turned newspaper reporter, Mr. Fox settles down with his family in a new foxhole in a beautiful tree—directly adjacent to three enormous poultry farms owned by three ferociously vicious farmers: Boggis, Bunce, and Bean. Mr. Fox simply cannot resist. Wes Anderson’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s novel is a meticulous work of stop-motion animation featuring vibrant performances by George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Willem Dafoe, Michael Gambon, and Bill Murray.

 

 

The Film:

Some artists have a way of riveting your vision with the certitude of what they do. This has nothing to do with subject or style. It's inexplicable. Andy Warhol and Grandma Moses. The spareness of Bergman or the Fellini circus. Wes Anderson is like that. There's nothing consistent about his recent work but its ability to make me go zooinng! What else do "The Darjeeling Limited" and "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" have in common?

Now here's "Fantastic Mr. Fox," an animated picture with nothing in common with traditional animation, except that it's largely in one of the oldest animation styles of all -- stop motion, the one used in "King Kong." The animals aren't smaller than people but often larger, and more mature.

They live in a sometimes flat dimension; the cameras are happier sliding back and forth than moving in and out. The effect is sometimes like a old-fashioned slide projector. The landscapes and structures of this world are mannered and picture-booky. Yet the extraordinary faces of the animals are almost disturbingly human (for animals, of course). We venture into the UnCanny Valley, that No Man's Land dividing humans from the devised. Above all, their fur is so real. I've rarely seen such texture in a film.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE

 


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
 

The puppetry animation of Fantastic Mr. Fox - done with the precision of modern filmmaking - is totally 'fresh'. The Blu-ray resolution only exemplifies its unique appearance. I spent about half the presentation simply mesmerized by it. It is totally seamless (well, the jerkiness of the effect) and in 1080P shows some significant depth. It looks just marvelous - everything is so tight and crisp with great texture (via the process). Fantastic Mr. Fox was shot using a Nikon D3, a Nikon and Cooke Lenses, the film negative format is 'Digital' and the printed format 35 mm. The resulting image on this Blu-ray is very impressive. The earthy colors are generally soft palette and contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels. I don't know what else to say - the image is fairly smooth - without heavy grain - and it is not glossy at all. Visually - it looks astounding on my system.

I don't see any significant differences between the visual quality of the two Blu-rays. The Criterion is, likewise, perfect. If I was forced to choose the best, well, the Criterion is both more robust (slightly higher bitrate) and has the "Approved by Director Anderson" label.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

20th Century Fox - Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM
 

20th Century Fox - Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

20th Century Fox - Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

20th Century Fox - Region 'A' Blu-ray - TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3370 kbps is robust enough to handle all effect noises and dialogue of Fantastic Mr. Fox. It is appropriately separated and crisp. Being an Anderson film the music covers many genres and eras from "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" to Cole Porter's "Night and Day", "I Get Around" by The Beach Boys and The Bobby Fuller Four's "Let Her Dance". It all fits perfectly, usually adding wonderful joyfulness in the films lighter moods. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc.

Ditto- the 5.1 audio is the same. My ears could not distinguish a difference. There is some keen separation. The piano in Cole Porter's Night and Day is crisp! (Hey, I actually liked Petey's Song) Great audio and there are optional English subtitles on the Region 'A'-locked disc.

 

 

Extras :

In place of a commentary we get a 45-minute Making Mr. Fox Fantastic featurette divided into 6 segments generally focusing on production - explanatory by the titles - The Look Of Fantastic Mr. Fox (8:12), From Script To Screen (7:01), The Puppet Makers (8:21), Still Life (Puppet Animation) (7:23), The Cast (6:34) and Bill And His Badger (7:37). There is a faux piece on A Beginner’s Guide To Whack-Bat and a more concentrated look, if very short on Fantastic Mr. Fox: The World Of Roald Dahl (3:00). The package encloses a DVD with some of the supplements and a, 3rd disc, Digital Copy.

 

The audio commentary featuring Wes Anderson is very informative identifying all the mini-homage(s) and film references (Bob Fosse, Leone, Miami Vice, Truffaut's Stolen Kisses, Tenspeed and Brown Shoe, Studio Ghibli etc.). They seem endless - so cool! We also learn Wes' favorite scene (the real wolf - reminding the director of Jeremiah Johnson) We get a brief puppetry introduction and the very cool Storyboard Animatic for the entire film - lasting over an 1 1/4 hours. Tons of detail. There is, about 25-minutes worth of, footage of a variety of the actors voicing their characters, puppet construction, stop-motion setups, visit to the studio, the recording of the score and Miniature Objects as well as all the content of the 6 featurettes on the 20th Century Fox Blu-ray - The Look Of Fantastic Mr. Fox (8:12), From Script To Screen (7:01), The Puppet Makers (8:21), Still Life (Puppet Animation) (7:23), The Cast (6:34) and Bill And His Badger (7:37). There are some Puppet animation tests, brief interviews with cast and crew, a photo gallery of puppets, props, and sets, 3 very amusing animated awards acceptance speeches. I enjoyed listening to, almost an hour of, the audio recording of author Roald Dahl reading the book on which the film is based and there is a full, John Bridcut's hour long documentary from Imagine TV 2005 entitled Fantastic Mr. Dahl - "Through exclusive access to Roald Dahl's personal archives and interviews with his family, the documentary gives insight into where his story ideas came from, and how the fantastic happenings in his books were, quite possibly, matched by events in his own life." There is a gallery of Dahl’s original manuscripts and a Stop-motion Sony robot commercial by Anderson. We get 1.5 minutes of visiting The Witches Tree and the package contains a liner notes booklet featuring a new essay by critic Erica Wagner; a 2002 article on Dahl’s Gipsy House by Anderson; White Cape, a comic book used as a prop in the film; and drawings, original paintings, and other ephemera. There are also 2 DVDs with the feature and all the content of the Blu-ray inside the case.

 

20th Century Fox - Region 'A' Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
It's hard not to fall in love with this - even to a small degree. Anderson has captured the essence of Dahl's story so succinctly - it is actually quite heartwarming. The narrative has some subtle touches that should give this title longevity in the grander scheme of things. I'd say it was worth seeing for the fabulous appearance - but it's worth even more than that. The Blu-ray could be used for 'reference' - for the visual uniqueness. It supports the film exceptionally well and I do, 'the cuss', recommend!

 

Fantastic Mr. Fox gets better every time I see it. It is one of my favorite of the past 5 years. I'm so glad that Criterion produced this edition with upgraded supplements - including the Anderson commentary. This is worth every penny and it will be a disc that gets plenty of replay. I'm, honestly, a little obsessed with Fantastic Mr. Fox. I've watched it much more than my children. I love the snappy dialogue, wonderful music and entire concept. I will treasure this Blu-ray edition. This film is a masterpiece. PLEASE do a sequel! Is Wes Anderson our little secret? making these films... for us? It sure feels that way sometimes. I also thought Moonrise Kingdom as absolutely brilliant! I love this Criterion package.   

Gary Tooze

March 11th, 2010

January 29th, 2014

 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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