Friday, September 21, 2007

There's a rat in my soup.

When every other studios seems to be releasing their own 3-D CG animated movie recently, having one more title seems so... unexciting. I was admittedly skeptical about this film until I know it was directed by Brad Bird. Yes, the same man who gave us the incredible The Incredibles. The man who beat Antonio Banderas (Shrek's Puss in Boots) for best voice acting award with his portrayal of the eccentric Edna Mode. That Brad Bird.
I felt something was missing when I watched The Incredibles. After watching Ratatouile, I think I know what that is. Despite the medium, Bird has the ability to make an animation feels somewhat like a full feature movie. Compared to an actual good feature movie however, an animation still somehow falls short, which explained for the nagging feeling that something is missing. Erm... am I making any sense here?
Anyway... Ratatouille is a story about a rat, not just any rat. Remy has a sense of smell far superior than any other rats but more important than that is what he choose to do with it. He smells out the good food and stays away from the rest, unlike his brethrens, who eat anything. He hung out a lot in the human's house, going through their spices and watching their TV. His favourite programme is a cook show by Gusteau, who advocated that anyone can cook. He also read Gusteau's cookbook which is conveniently left in the kitchen (Sesame Street was on before the cookshow, that's where Remy picked up his ABC).
Remy soon ended up separated from his colony and alone in Paris. In extreme hunger, he saw the spirit of Gusteau himself, who insisted he is a figment of Remy's imagination. Gusteau led Remy to his restaurant where he was soon discovered by the new barbage boy, Linguini (wait... isn't that an Italian pasta?). Linguini found Remy mixing spices and flavours to improved a soup Linguini himself accidentally ruined, thereby revealing Remy's genius in the art of culinary. The two became friends and eventually work out a system for Linguini to cook on Remy's behalf, who made the choice of what ingredient to use and how to cook it. The story presented is very unlikely but that is what animation is for isn't it?
Remy is not a sweet, cute and adorable character but he is likable in his own way. The other characters are nice although nothing really outstanding. Bird's characters do tend to become a wee too real for animation.
However, Bird managed to pulled the story together very well. As usual, he never hurry through the story, picking up the pace only when it's necessary and prefering to let the story unfold slowly. This slow pacing seems to have an extra magical effect when set in Paris.
The animation is superb. I noticed that Bird seems to like a painted effect in the colour of his animation, similar to what he done in The Incredibles. It is a effect I like quite a bit.
What is most important though, is that the movie is darn entertaining. And at almost 2 hours long, we hardly felt the time goes by. It is simple enough for the children to enjoy and yet still has plenty more to offer the adults. What was the title that made Brad Bird a household name in animation? The Iron Giant I think. I really got to get my hand on a copy of that.

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