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post #1 of 4 Old 11-20-07, 02:05 PM Thread Starter
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Ratatouille - Blu-ray Review

Ratatouille Blu-ray disc review

Director: Brad Bird
Starring: Will Arnett, Brian Dennehy, Janeane Garofalo, Ian Holm, Peter O’Toole
Studio: Buena Vista
Production Year: 2007
Media Year: 2007
Rated: G
Runtime: 111 minutes

Movie:



The truth is - I didn’t really want to see Ratatouille.

I’ve seen enough funny Pixar animation films, clever though they are. I’m bored of the “winking to adult audiences whilst innocently entertaining the kiddies” theme. Sure, I loved Toy Story and Finding Nemo as much as the next guy, but somewhere around Cars I think I started to get a bit worn out. Still, having a kid, I’m part of these films’ target demographic, so Ratatouille on Blu-ray was up last weekend.

I am pleased to announce this movie is truly memorable and has me anxiously awaiting the next Pixar release.

You’ve probably already heard Ratatouille is about a rat who cooks. Clearly, Remy is not like other rats - he walks on his hind legs to keep his hands clean for cooking, and he also has very acute senses of smell and taste.


After being separated from his rat clan, Remy finds himself in Paris where he is able to ply his trade as a chef. He befriends a bumbling young kitchen hand named Linguini who becomes Remy’s human / chef avatar. Since there is no way a rat is allowed in a kitchen Linguini keeps his relationship with Remy a secret, while taking all the credit for Remy’s fine cooking.

This odd relationship between rat and human is just one of the layers in this finely crafted story. Like most of the new animated kid’s stories there are multiple plot threads, with different lessons being learned by different characters. The various sub-plots are tightly woven together and characters pass between them at a fast pace so you never feel bogged down. Despite touching on philosophical and moral issues like honesty, prejudice and obligation to family, the film never indulges lame exposition. Ratatouille does a good job of showing rather than telling as its character’s learn and grow.

In an especially touching scene, surly food critic Anton Ego,voiced by Peter O’Toole samples Remy’s signature dish (bearing the film’s name, Ratatouille), and with one bite is stirred by fond memories of his peasant childhood. He then writes a critique that is as much about life as it is about food, and we would all do well to read it (or listen to it) and learn from its wisdom.

The only negative criticism I could give the film, is that Linguini, although one of the film’s main characters, comes across as tacked on. He’s a necessary vehicle for Remy (and I mean that literally) but he seems to lack any motivation to be in the kitchen. Fate deals him a rather extraordinary hand mid–film, but Linguini seems undeserving of such a reward. I would have appreciated seeing it go to his plucky girlfriend Colette (voiced by Janeane Garofalo) or someone who actually worked hard at succeeding in Paris’s cut-throat chef scene.

Some may feel cooking itself isn’t a topic that will capture the imaginations of children. But I strongly disagree. Children especially will benefit from this movie!

I watched this film with my four year old son who loved it. The trouble with a lot of children’s entertainment today is it panders to kids - it seems to want to get on its knees and plead to your children that it’s worthy of their time. I believe children’s entertainment should engage a range of topics, even topics that, at first glance, children might not care for. My son, like most four year olds, is a Spiderman fanatic. If I asked him if he wants to watch another Spiderman cartoon or a movie about a cooking rat, his choice would be predictable.

But I can promise you, for years into his young life he’ll always associate cooking with the rat who wanted more than anything to be a chef. That’s how you engage children in a meaningful way. You introduce them to a wider world.

Audio:

Like many Blu-ray discs, this one has the audio option that is sure to impress - uncompressed PCM 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit).. The audio didn’t over-indulge the surrounds, nor were sounds reflecting through your home theater at every turn (which gets old quickly). While the film doesn’t exactly lend itself to blazing guns or cannon fire, there are scenes in this movie that will make your audio system spring to life.

One acoustically-notable scene takes place in a tunnel, after Remy is washed away from his clan. You get a lot of LFE as the current grabs hold of him, and you’re left with some nice tunnel effects out of your surrounds as he finds himself adrift in a sewer, calling for his family.

In a slightly more, shall we say, romantic scene, Michael Giaccono’s musical score takes over all five channels, and the effect is stunning. You’ll know it when you hear it, as it’s an expression of pure joy on film.

Video:

It seems that Mpeg-4 AVC is the new standard for Blu-ray, and it’s none too soon. Early Mpeg2 BD releases left something to be desired. My Sony Blu-ray player detected the source material at 1080P/24 fps but my display only provides me 720P at 60Hz. Even still, the video looked as good as anything I’ve seen.

The video is presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 and deserves all the positive adjectives I can throw at it. From finely detailed individual hairs on the rats to subtle colors and darker shades in the tunnel and the nighttime skyline of Paris, this movie ranges from looking good to breathtaking.


Special Features:

There are two layers to the menu system on this disc. The first animated menu limits your choices to the basics - the movie and a couple of special features. You must select a complete menu option to see all the deleted scenes and small cut scenes showing director Brad Bird’s thoughts. The list of these scenes is exhausting, but if you like this kind of thing you’re in heaven. I can only take so much.

I liked that the deleted scenes gave us the scene in sketch animation that films like this use in early phases of production. It harkens to cartoons of the past and the drawings are surprisingly expressive and well-crafted.


Gusteau’s Gourmet Game: Is a completely unnecessary exercise in BD-Java. If your Blu-ray player blazes through the disc’s menu systems at lightning speeds, perhaps you’ll waste less than five minutes loading this option. Games on discs are usually a dull waste of time - younger kids won’t know how to play and older kids are too busy playing real video games on their PS3.

Your Friend the Rat: The highlight of the special features on this disc. It appears in full HD and uses the same quality of animation as the movie. It’s a documentary hosted by Remy himself about the long history of rat / human interaction. It takes a humorous look at how rats have affected human history, including events like the black plague, which Remy reminds you wasn’t caused by rats and killed way more rats than humans.

The documentary is witty and informative - it’s topical for this disc and it’s not the usual dull, dry production-behind-the-scenes drudgery. This is what special features should be. It’s like extending the movie.

Lifted: Lifted is a Pixar short that appears on a disc collection and may have appeared at theaters as a prelude to another Pixar movie. It appears in full high definition with high quality animation and sound. It’s funny, but a bit like a Laurel and Hardy skit - kind of frustrating to watch after you get the joke. Still, it’s well worth the several minutes invested in its viewing.

Fine Food and Film: A look at director Brad Bird and Chef Thomas Keller, showing how the two of them brought their own esthetic to the production of the film. It was interesting for a few minutes to see two distinctly different styles of expression having to come together to make one movie. But not much here to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Now on Blu-ray trailers:

Cars
Pixar Short Films Collection
Meet the Robinsons
Coming to Blu-ray:
Sleeping Beauty
Tinkerbell


Easter Egg:
The Easter egg on this disc is found on the full menu screen. You’ll see Remy and Emile rolling a cheese. Select the Features option and then hit the left key on your remote. Hidden extras await.

Conclusion: A consistent combination of high quality video, audio and storytelling, along with decent special features, makes this one of the best Blu-ray discs available. If you have kids it’s a shoo-in for a movie night at home. If you’re an adult who likes any of Pixar’s library of films, you’ll find this is one of the better choices. Ratatouille takes its place up there with the top Pixar films like Toy Story and Finding Nemo.

Wayde
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post #2 of 4 Old 01-19-08, 06:30 PM
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Re: Ratatouille Blu-ray Review

watched the other day in 1080p wow what a great picture. sound was great to.
post #3 of 4 Old 01-19-08, 10:08 PM
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Re: Ratatouille Blu-ray Review

You are bang on with your review Wayde,good story,great picture and excellent sound,Grannies shotgun blasts gave my subs a good workout.
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post #4 of 4 Old 01-20-08, 08:03 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Ratatouille Blu-ray Review

Thanks F1 Fan.

I really enjoyed the movie, it's the kind I can watch again and again with my four year old boy. I think it's one of the better CGI 'cartoons' to come out in awhile.

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