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Wallace and Gromit - The Curse of The Were-Rabbit

I'll be the first to admit it, I was nervous. There was something a little strange about going to see a Wallace and Gromit film in the cinema. Usually found on a Christmas Eve, sandwiched between a Pantomime Dame Weakest Link special and a festive episode of My Hero, Wallace and Gromit's 25 minute films seemed to fit perfectly. As Wallace was usually the only person with any lines, the short episodes worked perfectly. But how would Nick Park and the rest of the Aardman Animations team cope with the additional pressures of writing an extra hour's worth of material, spending at least another year moving Gromit's paw a fraction of an inch each day, and most challenging of all, creating new believable characters and managing to make the audience give a damn? The answer? Really rather well.

Wallace and Gromit still live in a sleepy Lancashire town that looks like a hybrid of Preston and Wigan where the only excitement is the Annual Giant Vegetable competition. Rabbits, of the waving at people and really rather cute variety, are plaguing the village desperate to feast upon the locals' produce. Enter Wallace and Gromit's home security company, Anti-Pesto, who protect the gardens of everyone in town with the most complicated, yet humane, anti-theft devices known to man. And dog. They even earn the opportunity to work for Lady Tottington, voiced by Helena Bonham Carter, on the grounds of the finest manor in Lancashire, much to the disgust of her fiancé Victor Quartermaine, excellently played by Ralph Fiennes, a gun-toting egomaniac who is determined to rid the town of all its creatures with a conveniently aimed bullet. All is going well until the shadow of a full moon combined with an experiment gone wrong unleashes the deadly and feared Were-Rabbit. Wallace and Gromit are then involved in mad dash to stop Victor from killing the beast, to protect the town, and to make sure that the vegetables are safe. Pretty standard fare...

Nick Park was offered the best computers in the world by Dreamworks, in the hope that they could CGI the film to the max and finish the film in a day or two, and head to the pub. Thankfully, Preston's third greatest son (behind Mr. Flintoff and yours truly...) told them where to go. The painstakingly slow and meticulous process took the best part of three years to 'film,' with the voices of the actors put on tape after just six months of the process. Indeed, Aardman Animations screentested the vocal talent by creating models and playing soundtracks of their previous work set to their movements, something which probably took a couple of years in itself...

As ever with the Wallace and Gromit series, its the writing that appeals the most. There simply won't be a funnier written British film this year. I think it will take at least 3 or 4 viewings to catch all the jokes as there were parts when I was laughing in a packed auditorium surrounded by deafening silence, and other parts where I looked on bemused while the sweaty balding man, who had purchased at least 5 hotdogs with Diet Coke of course, guffawed so hard that he regurgitated some of his porky snacks. Similarly to Shrek, the writers have included some great visual jokes, that dare I say it for a U certificate film, are verging on racy, that thankfully will go straight over every child's head.

Much has been made of Peter Kay's role, he plays PC Mackintosh, and when given lines is very funny. The fact that he has so few confirms that the vocals were recorded some time ago, even before the nightmarish world of Amarillo was launched upon us. Even the 'Daft Old Granny from the Royle Family' has more lines. It's not even the excellent Peter Sallis who steals the show either. The former Last of the Summer wine star, in his first major role that doesn't involve rolling down a hill in a tin bath, IS Wallace, and displays some marvellous comic timing that never seemed to appear on those Sunday evenings.

Yet the star of the show is again Gromit. Surely the finest silent film-star ever (Take that Chaplin!), the way that a simple movement of an eyebrow, that almost certainly took 3 months to complete, he says more than any other actor could ever manage. If only they could create an award for Best Plasticine Actor, Gromit would be a shoo-in provided that the rumours that Morph has a cameo in Harry Potter 4 aren't true. Nick Park has two Oscars already for Wallace and Gromit, and another for Creature Comforts. He should clear the space for a fourth now.

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excellently played by Ralph Fiennes, a gun-toting egomaniac who is determined to rid the town of all its creatures with a conveniently aimed bullet.

Hmm... Might want to reword that slightly ;)

By Kirk
October 13, 2005 @ 4:56 pm

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You've obviously never met him then...

(For legal reasons, neither have I. Refer to the commas, and my lack of correct grammar...)

By Tom
October 13, 2005 @ 5:17 pm

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I thought it was excellent.

I also thought that Quartermaine sounded more like Christopher Biggns...

By Spid
October 16, 2005 @ 8:11 pm

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Just been to see this today and thought it was excellent, too.

I almost didn't make it to the film, though, after I developed a strong urge to shoot my self in the head after half an hour of childrens adverts and movie trailers. This wasn't helped by some god awful Madagascar Christmas Special short film coming on when I finally thought W&G would be starting. ARRRRRGGG.

By Cappsy
October 16, 2005 @ 8:46 pm

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Yeah, this was great. Take that, Pixar fuckers!! (Actually, I thought The Incredibles was good) It's a definite shoe-in for the Best Animated Movie -or whatever- Oscar. What surprised me was the slickness of the whole movie, and the fact that Aardman were obviously so confident in what they were doing that they just went for it.

By performingmonkey
October 18, 2005 @ 7:33 pm

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"Nick Park was offered the best computers in the world by Dreamworks, in the hope that they could CGI the film to the max and finish the film in a day or two, and head to the pub."

Katzenberg has shipped the entire Aardman team (minus Nick Park who didn't want to be involved) to America to work on a CGI film as their third feature of the five-film deal. I hope he doesn't break them. I have nightmares of Katzenberg telling the animators to rub the fingerprints off their future plasticene models (like they did for Chicken Run, which Park now regards as too slick - "if we're going to do that we might as well use computers - we're interested in old Aardman values now, letting the human element into the work, with models that are 'thumby and funny'"), and hypnotising them to become more American.

By Dave
October 27, 2005 @ 12:22 am

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