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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ratatouille Screening



Last Friday my wife, son and I were very fortunate to attend a "Ratatouille" screening at Pixar. They showed the short "Lifted" by Gary Rydstrom and the "Wall-E" teaser, then moved on to the main dish (zing!).

In short, the movie was absolutely terrific.

[Spoilers will be hidden, please highlight the blanks in order to see them.]

The movie opens with the Pixar logo and a subtle French anthem playing on top of it, which made me smile of course. I'm a huge sucker for sounds or music over logos that set the tone of the movie (see "Blow" or countless other movies I can't think of right now), so this was already a great start (yes, I'm that anal...).

The sound and music overall was great, Michael Giacchino proved once again that he's very talented and able to navigate between different genres, and the sound masters at Skywalker Sound led by Randy Tom don't disappoint either.

What surprised me was the animation on the old lady at the beginning of the movie. Being that old, her handling of the gun is a bit over the top and out of character. She's just not strong enough to work the gun like that. Yeah, yeah, it's a cartoon, but Pixar has always been good about keeping their characters consistent across the board. Same with Linguini's slapstick moments, like when hes a few 360s to get the letter out of his pants and when he rides his bike to go kill Remy. The first one is acting wise too much and the bike ride is very fast in terms of movement. I think the reason why I reacted to that is because of the look of the movie. That's my major gripe. The renders look so real at times, that it gets close to live-action, yet the characters are designed in a very cartoony way. That mix is a bit jarring to me. With all that realism established, I'd expect the animation to be leaning towards the real as well. But you're left with cartoony faces and cartoony acting, yet the hair looks and behaves in a real manner, the physics are all real, fire, smoke, etc. everything else obeys the laws of physics. I'm missing the character that even smoke has in old 2D Disney movies. Everything was stylized. Here you have Skinner, with his great performance, but when you see his mouth moving in all directions on a face that looks so real, then the heads become very squishy, very doey, if that makes sense.

Wall-E seems to be going the photoreal way as well. I hope that at one point Pixar goes the other way, establishing a new visual style. But then you hear that John Carter of Mars will mix CG with live-action? Oh boy, I hope not, unless they stylize the live-action part. But that's years away.

Oh, I almost forgot, that little "non-mocap" disclaimer at the end? Weak. Keep it humble, come on.

Is "Ratatouille" better than "The Incredibles" seems to be a question I hear/read a lot. Tough choice. I love the subject matter in The Incredibles more than in Rats, but acting wise Rats is so much more advanced and the overall look of the movie is unbelievably beautiful.
I thought that the end of the 2 act was dragging a bit, with my mind suddenly asking the question "Hmm... so is this better than Incredibles?" But I also thought that the beginning of Incredibles was slow, now I love it. I probably have to watch Ratatouille again so I can enjoy the movie instead of scrutinizing everything.

But all in all another masterpiece by Pixar.

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4 comments:

Erik said...

I will come back to read it after I finished movie tomorrow.

why so many people have seen it in Pixar?

Jean-Denis Haas said...

They had "Friends & Family" screenings.

Erik said...

It's too great to say a word...I think they get really great balance on cartoony v.s. realistic.
Story telling is almost perfect.
I haven't watch such great movie like this for long long time.

Joey said...

I really like the style of Incredibles. In Rat..., I love character acting! It really looked advanced acting ever before. The style of Ratatouille, it seems to me that it is extremely good looking rendering! Yeah it has its own style,though, it's not as strong as Incredibles.

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