Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Review: Ratatouille

The Short...
Another high point in the Pixar cannon. Funny, entertaining, intelligent and full of joy.

The Long...
Something happened in the IMC Cinema, Dun Laoghaire on Monday night last as the graphic for the IFCO appeared on the screen. It looked different, gleaming with a kind of sheen. It hit me once the Pixar logo with it's lamp jumped around to introduce a short film before the main feature... it was all projected digitally. No film, just a large projector box with a whole bunch of 1's and 0's being pushed through it's lens. And WOW, it looked freakin' awesome!

It's a theme that ran through the whole of Ratatouille, one of amazing technical achievement. Disregarding the actual film, story, characters and elements the film there is some impressive attention to detail and organic, realistic textures throughout. Rain droplets hit the ground and look ultra photo-realistic. A carpet seems as though it really does have millions of fibers running through it. Vegetables appear to have tangible weight and grain. With each film since Toy Story Pixar seem to be pushing the limits of 3D animation to new heights.

Production quality aside, is Ratatouille any good? It begins quite slowly, setting up the character of Remy, a mouse who has a nose for food and a passion for cooking it. He, his family and their fellow rats are driven from their country house by it's owner (an old lady) when Remy is discovered attempting to find some herbs for his next culinary endevour. Remy is separated from the main group and finds himself beneath the restaurant of his now deceased hero, Auguste Gusteau. So far, so average, but things really begin to pick up when Remy tries to fix a soup ruined by the restaurant's new garbage boy, Alfredo.

It's a great rat-out-of-water story and yields some excellent gags as Remy attempts to control Alfredo's cooking. The lush design and smart writing add to a story that exhibits an intelligence far beyond the moral stickiness of Cars (their worst film). Ian Holm and Peter O'Toole perform excellent jobs as the main villains of the piece, in particular O'Toole's rich and brilliant voice adding an incredible depth to food critic Anton Ego (you could listen to him talking for ages).

Ratatouille is an amazing feat. Technically brilliant while ensuring that just as much attention is paid to story, laughs and characters. Along with Toy Story 2, this is one of Pixar's best.

Rating: * * * * * (5 Stars)

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