Friday, June 29, 2007


a movie review

Ratatouille opened today and I went t the first showing at noon at the Crystal River Theater. Given the sneak preview of a week or so ago and the reports and reviews coming off of that, I had little doubt that it was good- every one of them said so. What I didn't know was that parts of it are great! Absolutely magnificent came to mind during certain scenes. But in the end, good is correct.

As with all Pixar movies, it opens with a short, and by all means this one is the best by far! Heck- I would have been happy with just that! And it was a precursor to what was to come- a new unique experience, different from anything before, and a level of animation that takes us to a new height, a new standard in- beyond- computer animation.

The opening sequence in Ratatouille is simply magnificent. The drawing is scrumptious! The characters are deeply developed and realized, starting as terrifying apparitions and quickly becoming fully realized and likable individuals. The movement is impeccable as is the motion through the scenery. It isn't until the first humans appear that once again, the failings of computer animation become obvious. Why is it that humans seem such an impossible obstacle to overcome? The degree of detail and life given to the rats, and you simply will not believe it until you see it, surely a bit of that quality of movement could be given to the humans? It is as if an entirely different program, studio, crew of animators did the humans- and their backgrounds. Maybe they did. That is a shame, for it does bring one down from the exalted heights of what is manifest in the first minutes of this movie, where it is so excellently done that one no longer even considers that it as computer or any other form of animation: one is simply too involved being amazed!

But after the shock wears off, it carries on as a good movie, often surprising in its uniqueness and even offensive at times- there are scenes with the rats that are guaranteed to offend the stomachs of even the most jaded viewer! And it is beautiful at all times- especially the scenes of Paris which are the realization of all the fantasy images anyone has ever held in their head and heart for that mythical local.

The pacing is good, never a dull spot, and the story is good, solid, and well realized. The only weak point is at the end, which uses a rather overly long narration to wrap things up- a inexplicable and cheap device to be avoided in all story telling, especially the visual kind. This was extreme enough that some children were being led out of the theater as it played; and they didn't miss much, for at that point, it was pretty much over. I stayed and there is a bit more, but it is pretty much afterthought, like those rolling blurbs at the end of American Graffiti that tell the future of each of the main characters.

All in all, Pixar has another winner, a surprising achievement to have such a string; and it is worthy, it is a good movie, but parts of it are so magnificent that I mourn what could have been! I was thinking during that first scene that Walt himself would have been blown away by this! Would have been nice to have that carry on through to the end.
But in the end, visually and in movement , this is by far the best Pixar ever. This moves the field to a whole new level.
And it is a very different movie. I think Monday, I will see it again!
Especially the first scene! Simply magnificent!



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