The Tale of Despereaux (2008) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Adventure / Animation / Comedy / Family / Fantasy
Universal || G - 93 minutes - $39.98 || April 7, 2009
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2009-05-10


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Sam Fell, Robert Stevenhagen
Writer(s): Kate DiCamillo (book); Will McRobb & Chris Viscardi (screen story), Gary Ross (written by)
Cast: Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Emma Watson, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Kline, William H. Macy


Theatrical Release Date: December 19, 2008


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • U-Control
  • Featurettes
  • Deleted Songs
  • Scene Progression
  • MyScenes


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Have you ever wandered around Blockbuster and noticed the amount of direct to video DVDs they have stocked? Well, as someone who use to work there they often stocked many of these titles and because of their obscure nature they would get rented out enough to actual turn a profit compared to what we purchased them for. Now, they were separated into two different categories by many employees - the first being films that had incredibly low budgets and were just regurgitated out onto DVD because some small studio thought this might be their Napoleon Dynamite or Little Miss Sunshine. The second reason is because they blatantly tried to copy another successful film and were hoping to cash in on the stupidity of customers. The Tale of Despereaux is the latter.

Plot Synopsis: Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Dor, rats and humans live together in harmony and speak to one another (yep, they can speak English). One day a year the chef of the Kingdom creates a special soup for everyone and when it is presented to the Queen a rat named Roscuro (Hoffman) accidentally falls in causing the Queen to have a heart attack and die (!). Soon after the King banishes the rats for the Kingdom and does not allow soup to ever be made again. This in turn forces the Princess to be locked inside of a dungeon and it no longer rains (Huh? Soup makes rain now?).

Flash forward some time and we now see Rats live alone in "Ratworld" and Mice live alone in "Miceworld". In "Ratworld", we find that Roscuro now lives with 'mean' rats where they try to get him to kill other animals and people...and he wants none of that. In "Miceworld" we see that a new mouse is being born named Despereaux (Broderick) who has big ears and big eyes...making him the oddball of the village. Not only is he not afraid of anything but he does not conform to the standard of the village. After reading a book and visiting the Princess he is banished to "Ratworld" where Roscuro takes him under his wing and the two hatch a plan to get everything back to normal.

For a film that is meant for children the plot is incredibly tough to follow and filled with adult themes and situations that may make kids beg for the parents to put Ratatouille in instead. Why? Because for some reason Universal thought it was a good idea to try and recreate the "magic" at the box office by putting rats and soup together yet again. They couldn't have thought of something a bit more original? With the obvious copycat points aside the plot itself is a mess. The film keeps going back and forth between these three "worlds" which means it takes almost 55 minutes to get the plot going (for a 96 minute film!) While I typically enjoy animated films even though I have no children I kept looking at my Blu-ray player display waiting for this film to end. What a bore.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

This release comes with an embossed Slip Cover and all Features are presented in HD.

The Tale of Despereaux (12 Minutes) - Most of this appears to be covered in the above U-Control but this is simply some behind the scenes footage. Nothing spectacular and pretty boring.

U-Control (Profile 1.1/2.0) - A pretty 'meh' version where you can see the various acting talent talk into the microphone while the film is being played as well as animatic and behind the scenes footage. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Scene Progression (40 Minutes) - Now this is actually a neat feature that shows scenes from storyboard to being fully animated. With or without Commentary. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Deleted Songs (5 Minutes) - Two songs that were omitted from the film are presented here. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Rounding out the disc is a few features that will barely keep your child entertained. First up is Top Ten Uses for Oversized Ears (1 Minute), Make Your Own Soup Game (** Blu-ray Exclusive **), Card Creator (** Blu-ray Exclusive **) - which you can share with friends via the included BD-Live), a sneak peak at Curious George 2 (10 Minutes), My Scenes (2.0) & oddly enough a coupon to get some a free photo book (Huh?!).

The Blu-ray is missing 2 games, Map and some various DVD-Rom content from the DVD release as well which makes no sense because there is almost 10GB of space available on the Blu-ray.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The Tale of Despereaux is presented in 2.35:1 (VC1) on a 50GB Disc. Since this is Universal's first for tray into animation on a HD Disc format (Blu-ray or HD DVD) they have done a great job! Colors are incredibly rich and Blacks maintain a perfect level. While they are not up to par as to what Disney or even DreamWorks has offered they are still off to a great start.

Universal has included an English 5.1 DTS MA Track for this release. Dialog was perfect but rears remained fairly inactive for most of the film. Only a few times was there really a nice 'oomf' of power (when the cat escapes and the falling perfumes) itís still an adequate track. Spanish and French DTS 5.1 tracks are also included along with Subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish.



.::OVERALL::.

The Tale of Despereaux looks and sounds great on Blu-ray but the actual film itself may leave kids wondering whatís going on and why you won't let them watch Ratatouille instead. While it has a decent amount of features this one comes with a recommendation of a rental only.