Fantastic Mr. Fox (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

It’s hard to imagine films the way “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is made. Literally one frame at a time. If you’ve ever seen films of this genre then you’ll know what I’m talking about. And this genre goes back a long, long way back to “King Kong”. These films have a very unique look and feel to them and it gives you new appreciation for the term “movie making”. I think we’ve become so spoiled by computer animation that we don’t sit and think about what it takes to make a movie like this. Again, I say, one shot at a time. I’ll touch a bit more on that later, but I was surprised to learn that “Fantastic Mr. Fox” was written by the same chap who penned “WIlly Wonka” and “James and the Giant Peach” (another stop motion movie, too). Mr. Roald Dahl must have been a man of great imagination or someone who knew where to score some great drugs because these books and subsequent films are all very clever and have made for some interesting movies.

We meet Mr. Fox (voiced by George Clooney) as he’s in search for a new home; in this case it’s a new tree. He’s married to Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep) and they’ve got a little one named Ash (voiced by Jason Schwartzman). Mr. Fox used to be quite the wild one and now that he’s getting on in years, his desire to get back to his old ways is taking over. You see there are three farms near the tree and two have some mighty fine chickens and the other some apple cider. So Mr. Fox along with his partner-in-crime head off on some late night adventures to steal some chickens. Naturally the farmers don’t take kindly to their stock being stolen and set out to get rid of the family by, simply enough, blowing up their tree. Add to this the somewhat eccentric visiting cousin, Kristofferson (voiced by Eric Anderson) and there’s enough going to make one’s head spin.

I simply love the films by Wes Anderson that include “Bottle Rocket”, “The Life Aquatic”, “Rushmore” and one of my all-time favorites “The Royal Tenenbaums” so I was curious to see what he’d do with a stop motion film based on a children’s book. As it turns out, the subject matter, though interesting, was a perfect choice for Anderson’s witty type of humor. As per usual, he’s assembled his cast with some of Hollywood’s “A” listers including Bill Murray, Meryl Streep, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller and George Clooney to name a few. The film is enjoyable for adults as it is children and let me assure you there’s not a “cuss” word in the film (that will take on some additional meaning once you’ve seen the movie). Truthfully this has something for everyone and I found it to be one of the few movies that really lives up to the hype. Highly recommended.

Video: How does it look?

“Fantastic Mr. Fox” looks simply divine in its 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer. As anyone who has seen a stop motion film, it’s a somewhat different viewing experience as we see the hair on the foxes change and appear to “move” or “breathe”, but apart from that, the image quality is beautiful. There are lots of earthy shots because, well, the family lives in a tree and a majority of the film takes place underground. Reds and browns tend to dominate the transfer and the auburn texture of the foxes gives off a radiant glow. I found no edge enhancement, colors to be very bright and bold and the lack of any sort of artifacting made this a sheer pleasure to watch. As someone who’s at a loss for adjectives I guess I’ll have to be unoriginal and say that the image quality is…fantastic.

Audio: How does it sound?

As if the visual palette was pleasing enough, the DTS HD Master Audio track was nice as well. In movies like this (as well as animation of the traditional sort), you tend to concentrate on the vocals a bit more and try to place the actor. Some were easy like George Clooney or Owen Wilson, and some not so much like Bill Murray. But the soundtrack is robust and as per usual, Wes Anderson’s assembled a rather offbeat score that runs throughout the duration of the film. LFE are present, but only in passing and surrounds do kick in as well, but the meat of the movie takes place in the front stage. It’s a nice-sounding track that delivers on all levels.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This Blu-ray contains three discs, with the second and third discs being a DVD copy of the film and a digital copy respectively. Suppleent-wise we start out with “Making Mr. Fox Fantastic” and it’s broken down into sub-sections: “The Look or Mr. Fox” which shows us some sketches as well as some art for the book as they sculpt and craft the physical appearance of the main character. Moving on we have “From Script to Screen” which gives us some insight as to how Wes Anderson and Noah Buambach took Roald Dahl’s book and turned it into this film. We also get a look at those who create the puppets in the aptly-titled “The Puppet Makers” and “Still Life” shows us how it all comes together to the final product. We get a look at the fictional game in the film in “A Beginner’s Guide to Whack Bat” and some interviews with Dahl’s spouse in “The World of Roald Dahl.”

Disc Scores