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Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
Film: A+
Video/Audio/Extras: B+/A-/B+

Directed by: Steve Box and Nick Park
Written by: Steve Box, Nick Park, Bob Baker and Mark Burton
Based on the short films by: Nick Park
Produced by: Nick Park, Claire Jennings, Peter Lord, Carla Shelley and David Sproxton
Starring: Peter Sallis, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Nicholas Smith, Liz Smith, Peter Kay, Edward Kelsey
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it

Throughout the years, different types of animation have been brought before audiences. Hand-drawn animation, computer-generated animation and Japanese anime seem to be the most popular forms. However, the best type of animation has to be stop-motion. Whether the animator uses palestine or movable puppets, this is a pain-staking process. The stop-motion animator's job is to move the characters one tiny bit frame after frame. This isn't exactly a popular form, which is why there are so little. However, many great characters have been more from this technique like King Kong and Jack Skellington (from The Nightmare Before Christmas). The best of them all is without a doubt the British duo, Wallace and Gromit. After three award-winning short films, they made the leap to the big-screen with their first cinema adventure, which is now available to own on DVD.

The annual vegetable competition is being held and everyone is getting ready for the big day. To protect their crops from hungry rabbits, the villagers use Anti-Pesto. It's a new vegetable security system created by the creative inventor Wallace (Peter Sallis) and his dog Gromit. One night, the town's worst nightmare comes to live when the dreaded Were-Rabbit arrives and starts to eat everything. Wallace, wanting to win the heart of Lady Tottingham (Helena Bonham Carter) and Gromit set out to find the beast and trap it. However, they have to deal with the evil Victor Quartermine (Ralph Fiennes), who wants to shoot it. Behind all this is a big secret that is sure to shock everyone.

I have been a huge fan of the cheese-loving duo for a very long time and The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a great adventure and one of their best films yet. The Englishness of Wallace and Gromit and one of the reasons for their greatness, but so is the combination of Peter Sallis's wonderful voice work and the Chaplin-esque acting of Gromit. The addition of more characters just add to the fun. We can safely add Victor Quartermine to the list of great performances from Ralph Fiennes (which already includes Justin Qualye and Amon Goeth). Helena Bonham Carter excelled two weeks before this film was released with Corpse Bride and continues that here as Wallace's love interest. As is typical with animated fare this year, there are a couple of adult jokes scattered throughout the production, but none of that takes away from the magic of Wallace and Gromit.

In England, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit gets a two-disc edition, so that would have been nice to have on the other side of the Atlantic, but at least DreamWorks doesn't skimp on the extras. The audio commentary from directors Nick Park and Steve Box is the best special feature on the DVD, because it is so delightful. They give tidbits about the animation, story ideas that were scrapped as well as working with the two big stars. They are a funny duo and it's obvious that they love making this film. The fun continues with the optional commentary available with the deleted scenes. They do the usual fun chat about why they were deleted as well as other deleted story ideas that didn't even get into storyboard form.

There are some behind-the-scenes documentaries also found on this DVD. The first is a look at the life of Wallace & Gromit. Fans already know all the information that is provided, but it will be very educational for newcomers. Next is a promotional look at the making of The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and nothing more. "A Day in the Life of Aardman" is exactly what the title suggests as we follow an employee through the animation studio. It's a very informative piece, although I would have prefered less film clips. "How to Build a Bunny" is the film featurette and looks on how they made the cute rabbits that appear in the film. It's a fun watch for fans of plastecine. Stage Fright is a really good animated short from Steve Box, who also provides an educational audio commentary.

A photo gallery is followed by a section called "DreamWorks Kids." The first part of that section are three very short Wallace & Gromit films. They are absolutely hilarious and will make you want to write a letter to Nick Park asking for more Wallace & Gromit adventures. In the Games & Activities area are three meaningless and stupid activities. The first is a Whack-A-Mole game followed by a simple, little guide on how to be cool and then ending off with a dress-up game. The final clip is once again a look on how to make a plastecine rabbit. The disc opens with trailers for Over the Hedge and Flushed Away. In the disc's preview area, there are advertisements for Dreamer, Madagascar, Shark Tale, Shrek 2, Wallace & Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit - Interactive DVD Game.

I hope Wallace and Gromit continue to make more wonderful films, because they are on a roll. This DVD provides good video and audio and some nice extras. I highly recommend you watch all of their adventures, because they are two of the brilliant comedians of British comedy.

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