It’s been a long time coming but finally we have a Wallace & Gromit movie. And do you know what? It doesn’t disappoint.
More importantly, Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a big step up from the dreadfully dull and disappointing Chicken Run. The first Nick Park (co-) directed feature seemed like a pale imitation of the type of brilliance we’d previously seen in the Wallace & Gromit short films of the late 80’s and 90’s. The inventive duo are in fine form here, and for me it was like that poultry Mel Gibson voiced movie never existed. (Hah! What pun this review is!)
There have been no colossal changes made to the original formula, and there’s something comfortingly English about the whole affair, which is great considering a cynic would suggest the film could quite easily have been hijacked by Dreamworks Animation. There are some great new characters, with Lady Tottington voiced by Helena Bonham Carter (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and Lord Victor Quartermaine by Ralph Fiennes (Red Dragon). Quartermaine’s mutt also bears more than a passing resemblance to Rufferto from Sergio Argonés comic ‘Groo the Wanderer’, especially with his comical bow-legged gait.
The stop motion animation on display here is first class. Of course one would expect nothing less from the respected Aardman Studios, who have been producing animated work since the early 80’s (from Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’ video clip to the hilarious Creature Comforts shorts). There’s something wonderfully tactile about stop motion that gives it more life than the recent glut of CGI-animated features. What’s more, on the big screen you can actually see the fingerprints on the models, which is fantastic! Of course there seems to have been a lot of post production work done (I can’t imagine one can easily create stop motion fog) but only when it was absolutely necessary. Most of the time it looks as though the thousands of person-hours have paid off.
The easily recognisable Wallace & Gromit humour could almost be trademarked. There’s something about the expressions, the oversized teeth and hands that make their screen appearances constantly amusing. There are very few dud lines here, and the feature moves along at a cracking pace. Sure, it’s probably not as good as the Wallace & Gromit shorts, and let’s face it: the climax from The Wrong Trousers or A Close Shave will probably never be beaten. There were also a few moments where the climax pushed the boundaries of reality as laid out by their previous outings. The only other flaw is the fact that these two are probably better suited to a shorter running time, but Curse of the Were-Rabbit is undoubtedly the best a full length Wallace & Gromit feature could be. Oh, and the rabbits are hilarious.Rating: