Monday, August 20, 2007

A good helping of Ratatouille

Well, I have now seen Ratatouille, two weeks before it officially opens here in Oz. Pixar have done it again. The film is a visual feast and contains all the elements of hope, drama, despair and comedy that typify Pixar story-telling. In an audience that was made up of around 80% children - many of them very young - it was good to be able to watch the movie undistracted by bored kids running around - as happened with Cars. This was a little surprising as Ratatouille doesn't seem to be aimed at young kids, it really is a film that many adults will appreciate. But the young-uns clearly connected better with the furry critters in Brad Bird's ratty tale than they did with the slick, shiny machines in John Lassetter's Route 66 adventure (which I quite enjoy, by the way). And the adults had a ball, laughing loudly at all the right moments.

I won't critique the film as I'm a hopeless watcher. Neither movies nor novels ever hold my uninterrupted attention and with modern animations I'm easily distracted by the CG feast. As an oil painter too, I was easily distracted in Ratatouille by the wonderful, glowing light that permeates every scene. But I knew from all the preview material that this would be the case. One area where I was disappointed was the in-your-face moral lesson that underpinned the story. In fact, overall I feel the moralising overwhelmed the humour and I really don't need life-lessons from a cartoon.

One thing that did amuse me was the much-feared food critic Anton Ego. His funereal appearance reminds me of ex-Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating - or at least of the caricatures that entertained newspaper readers during the time of his political career.

Potential spoiler here... > I couldn't help but wonder if Ego's ultimate summary of the value of food critics might also have been intended as a bit of a swipe at the many film critics who had this rodent-filled film dead and buried before the last frames were even rendered?

Now I'm looking forward to the DVD release. Hopefully Disney-Pixar will come good with the extras for this one and not short-change us as they did with Cars, which came with very few "accessories". I think most, Pixar fans will expect to be given a good helping of side servings with their Ratatouille. If this DVD is as skimpy as the Cars DVD was then I'll be waiting until it hits the discount shelves - the extras have become a large part of what makes Pixar DVDs so special and are one big reason why I own so many Pixar titles on DVD despite already having perfectly good VHS copies. The apparent decision to release a fully-accessorised version of Cars, 12 months after the initial DVD release, leaves me feeling a little cynical that someone's trying to double-dip by enticing fans to "upgrade" to the new, improved release.

Thanks again to the organisers of the Telethon previews.

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