SNEAK PEEK: Wallace And Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
By B. Alan Orange
CGI killed the Cartoon Star.
80-minute animal-centric CGI'd exploits have dominated the family film landscape as of late. They've virtually slaughtered any want or need for a traditionally drawn animated feature. Every studio is doing them, and there is always one playing at any given moment. We've had so many of these things dumped on our face in the last couple of years; the notion has become its own genre. Whoever said the Mockumentary was the last viably describable type of film category was wrong. They didn't account for, or foresee this powerful cinematic force (to be reckoned with). The computer generated funny talking animal flick. Movies like A Shark's Tale and Madagascar have me wishing I was the stunt double in a snuff film.
Frankly, I'm sick of them. They make me nauseous. It's over kill. Where trailers for Chicken Little, Over the Hedge, that goddamned Steve Oedekerk cow movie Barnyard, and Ice Age 2 might have once enthralled and interested me, now they just make my testicles hurt. This tired trend needs to be bucked ASAP, and replacing the quadrupeds with fat Super Heroes and jibber-jabbering cars just aint going to cut it. I need something else. Something fresh.
Thank God, a couple of the studios out their have heard this cry. Warner Brothers is releasing Tim Burton's Corpse Bride this week. Sure it looks a little too similar to A Nightmare Before Christmas, but isn't that the point? I think so. I know it's rather short at only an hour and ten minutes, but damn if it isn't a change-up from the same old that's been pulled like a dead corpse tied to a Zamboni machine through our multiplexes this last year and a half. I'll take this over Shrek 3 any day of the week.
Corpse Bride is a small, pleasant diversion. The real stunner comes from Dreamworks and Aardman Studios. October 3rd, they will be releasing Wallace & Gromit in Curse of the Were-Rabbit, and I hate too sound cliché, but it's an instant classic. There's no way you could give this film less than five gold stars. Only an out-and-out dickrag of a human being could dislike the thing. An insurmountable amount of painstaking work has gone into bringing Were-Rabbit too the screen. And not one man hour was wasted. This is easily the second or third best film of the year, and one of the ten best family films ever created. That's saying an awful lot, and I haven't been too generous with my praise lately.
Wallace and Gromit are malleable. Real. They exist in a placticine world that seems to rest on a ferial plain just out of reach. It's hypnotic on a kinetic, frenetic sort of level. You can literally see the finger prints pressed on the faces of the characters. That's an enduring quality; a hands on approach that is missing from most cinematic fare nowadays. I haven't had this much fun in a long time. And I know why. Creator Nick Park actually used his imagination in creating this tight clay-mation outing.
This has some of the best action scenes I've ever seen. And they're being played out by little clay people. Remember the Pie Machine Escape from Chicken Run that George Lucas stole for the ending of Attack of the Clones? That was an edge of your seat thrill ride moment that enlivened an otherwise tranquil, yet funny, outing. Well, here, we get about ten of these hair-raising, knuckle-biting escapist scenes. Each one outshining the next. This is the least bored I've been in years. Curse of the Were-Rabbit zips by at a breakneck speed. And it's simply amazing to watch, especially knowing how much time and effort goes into creating a single second of film. You'd think that the characters would move slower than they do. But they're more alive and expressive than most human actors.
I'm not at all familiar with the Wallace & Gromit shorts. I've never seen them. And having done so is not a necessity to enjoy this film. Wallace likes cheese. He's an inventor. We learn that fairly early on. We also learn that his silent partner Gromit, a dog with a pair of the most communicative eyes ever put to screen, is a little bit smarter than his human counterpart. They make for a unique team. This time out, the pair are exterminators, hell-bent on keeping the neighboring vegetable gardens free of rabbits.
Talk about a breath of fresh air. I never laugh at cartoons. This got a few chuckles out of me. I got a rather upsetting text message a little ways into the film. It was distracting. I couldn't concentrate on what was in front of me. But then Wallace & Gromit are driving their Exterminator van with a giant female Were-Rabbit fashioned to the top. Gromit is pulling the strings, making the thing move and look alluring to any passing male Were-rabbits. This scene immediately pulled me back into the film. It actually made me laugh, and forget whatever trouble was going on in the outside world. That takes a mighty powerful stretch of imagination to pull that off. I'd thought I'd seen everything. Well, I hadn't yet seen this.
I especially liked the look of both the real rabbits and the Were-Rabbit. They're just cool as f*ck. And the few inventions that are put on display are pretty neat as well. This is the type of film where you're just constantly staring at everything in amazement. I actually want to watch it again right now. I think I could watch it about five more times, and still be excited about it.
There's just no way to hate this movie. And picking on it would be mean spirited in a "Hitler hated the Jews" sort of way. Everybody has been complaining that there's nothing new at the cinema this year. That everything is just a remake. Well, this may be based on a series of short films that have existed for ten years. But it's the most original thing going right now. With this, History of Violence, and a couple of the other non-remakes being released at this current time, the last half of 2005 is shaping up to something quite special.
If you have any spirit left, you need to check this thing out. It's that good. It may even rejuvenate your hateful bones. Me, I'm beyond repair. Doesn't mean I can't enjoy myself every once in awhile…
See this, then go buy the new Bloodhound Gang record. It might suck the first 26 times you listen to it. But that 27th time is the charm.
Dont't forget to also check out: Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was released October 5th, 2005 and stars Peter Sallis, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Peter Kay, Nicholas Smith, Liz Smith, John Thomson, Mark Gatiss. The film is directed by Steve Box, Nick Park.