Media

Movie Renter's Guide - October, 2009

ARTICLE INDEX

"The Tale of Despereaux" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Tyler Stripko

The Tale of DespereauxSynopsis

In the kingdom of Dor, the Queen suffers a heart attack after an unfortunate incident involving a rat named Roscuro (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) and a bowl of soup.  The King then banishes all rats and the cooking of soup, which casts the kingdom into a depressed state.  Shortly afterward, a tiny mouse with gigantic ears named Despereaux (voiced by Matthew Broderick) is born beneath the castle.  Despereaux is unlike other mice.  He is not afraid of cats or humans, and during one of his explorations he manages to befriend Princess Pea (voiced by Emma Watson).  When the princess is captured by the rats, Despereaux races to action and with the help of Roscuro they manage to save the day and restore Dor to its former glory.

 

Specifications

  • Universal
  • 2008, Color, Rated G, 1 Hr 34 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring Matthew Broderick, Robbie Coltrane, Dustin Hoffman, Richard Jenkins, Kevin Kline, Frank Langella, William H. Macy, Tracey Ullman, Emma Watson, and Sigourney Weaver
  • Directed by Sam Fell and Robert Stevenhagen
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Mild
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

This movie had a lot of potential, but a fragmented plot kept it from being very entertaining.  The pacing was very slow, even for adults.  I can't imagine this story holding the interest of a child for more than a few minutes.  Despite the excellent actors cast to do the voice-overs, I didn't feel any type of emotional connection to any of the characters.  The animation was also done with a very muted color palette.  While the drab colors may be historically accurate, they don't do anything to jazz up the presentation of the film.  The animation also lacked depth and "life" compared to other animated films (Ratatouille for instance).  Many of the animals (Roscuro in particular) had a sort of "plastic" look about them that made them seem less real.

Technical

Despite the muted color palette, the overall picture quality was very good, as most computer rendered animation tends to be.  The picture was very sharp and free from any grain.  During the many scenes in Ratworld, blacks were deep and displayed good shadow detail.  The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack was well recorded, with solid bass where needed and some nice subtle effects during the quiet scenes.  The surrounds were used appropriately when called for.

Extras

Included on the disc are two discarded musical numbers, a making-of featurette, a break down of six scenes, and three interactive games designed for younger viewers.  There are also some BonusView enabled picture-in-picture scenes and a 10-minute preview of "Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey!"