A vast departure from his past works, director Wes Anderson's latest film is a stop-motion animation flick that takes on Roald Dahl's popular tale. The picture not only offers remarkably detailed stop-motion animation, but provides a fast and funny take on the story.
The film focuses on Mr. and Mrs. Fox (voiced by George Clooney and Meryl Streep), who - early in the movie - decide that they're tired of the risk of stealing chickens and living in a hole. So, he tries to go on another path, buying a (literal) tree house and going into the newspaper biz.
Also in the valley are a trio of creepy characters - Boggis and Bunce and Bean.
One fat, one short, one lean.
These horrible crooks, so different in looks.
Were nonetheless equally mean.
Despite success in journalism and a reasonably enjoyable stay in the tree, taking chickens proves too lucrative to stay away from for long, and soon enough, Mr. Fox sneaks out of the house and heads towards the farms again. While he's able to keep it a secret from his family, Boggis, Bunce and Bean are none too pleased and seek revenge against the thief, turning the area into a battleground as the Foxes dig a hole for cover and then try to run for safety. Meanwhile, Fox's son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) has become jealous of his visiting cousin, Kristofferson (Eric Anderson), who's the more athletic and popular one in the family.
The stop-motion animation is magnificent - from the clothes of the characters to their whiskers, the level of thought and care that appears to have gone into the film is wholly remarkable. Anderson has also assembled a top-notch voice cast, with excellent performances from Clooney (whose "Ocean's 11"-style dry wit is entertaining once again), Streep, Willem Dafoe and Bill Murray, among others. Finally, Anderson's latest once again does an extraordinary job using classic tunes (I have to imagine music rights are an issue with Anderson's films) and a terrific score (this time, by Andre Desplat.)
Some elements of the film may not be appropriate for the youngest audiences, but older children and adults will likely find this a charming and zippy adventure with top-notch stop-motion animation.
This edition includes a Blu-Ray copy of the film on the first disc, a DVD copy on the second disc and a digital copy on the third disc.
VIDEO: "Fantastic Mr. Fox" is presented by Fox in 1.85:1 (1080p/AVC). This is a bold and beautiful transfer, capturing the kind of work that has clearly gone into the stop-motion animation, with even the smallest details quite clearly visible.
The presentation did have a couple of tiny concerns - a couple of instances of edge enhancement were seen and a few slight traces of noise were spotted. The picture otherwise remained pristine and smooth, with a three-dimensional feel. The film's generally autumn-ish color palette looked rich and well-saturated, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack is generally low-key, with surrounds providing minimal ambience and occasional discrete sound effects. Audio quality is terrific, with well-recorded effects, natural-sounding dialogue and clear, detailed score.
EXTRAS: "From Script to Screen" featurette, "Still Life" featurette, "A Beginner's Guide to Wack-Bat" featurette, trailer for "Fox" and trailers for other titles from Fox.
Final Thoughts: Older children and adults will likely find "Fantastic Mr. Fox" a charming and zippy adventure with top-notch stop-motion animation. The Blu-Ray edition provides marvelous video quality, fine audio quality and a few minor extras. Recommended.
The Film B+