Okay, so I watched this last night with my family and all I can start with is I LOVE THIS FILM! Wallace and Gromit has always been a warm presence in my childhood, as well as most of Aardman films, such as Chicken Run. I can’t remember it not being in my life thanks to the TV shorts playing all the time and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this film a hundred times but for me it never gets old! It’s a nostalgic gem for me, and will always be one of my favourite childhood films 🙂
So, in the duo’s first feature film (and I really hope they do another one soon!), Wallace (Peter Sallis) and Gromit have started a pest control business and find themselves employed by Lady Tottington (Helena Bonham Carter) to help find a were rabbit destroying the town’s crops before the vegetable competition takes place, whilst Tottington’s pompous boyfriend Lord Victor Quatermaine (Ralph Fiennes) fights for her affection with Wallace. Due to Wallace’s own mind experiment going wrong, it turns out that he himself is the were rabbit, so it’s all up to Gromit to save his master before the town find out!
The animation in the film, as expected from Aardman, is absolutely fantastic. Every frame is rich with detail and beautiful clay models of the characters we all know and love. There are some clever, funny visual gags used in a lot of the scenes which many children will not pick up on and are obviously intended for the grown-up audiences, so it’s quite amusing for me to watch it as an adult and pick up on the sense of humour. However, there’s plenty of ‘cheesy’, slapstick humour for the children in the audience, and even then it isn’t the over-the-top, in the face type, it will probably get the adults laughing too. I also absolutely love the sets in this film. Since this is a full-length feature film, the sets are much grander and on a bigger scale than those used in the original classic shorts. Every time I watch the film, I always get caught up in the typical British countryside village or town and living in Yorkshire makes it easy to relate to and admire. As always, the best part of the animation for me, has to be the way Nick Park and his team animate Gromit; the character doesn’t speak a word and yet his facial expressions such as a roll of the eyes, are enough to tell the audience what he is thinking and create a perfectly relatable, endearing character in the midst of the madness.
Another stand-out for me is the brilliant use of camera work and lighting to build up the suspense of the big reveal that Wallace is in fact the were-rabbit, and although fairly predictable for the adult audiences, it isn’t too obvious so you’re always invested in the plot, and with delightfully entertaining characters like Wallace and Gromit, you’re always going to be entertained. The film cleverly ensures that the audience don’t see the were-rabbit until a full transformation scene, with a great use of dark lighting and blocked out camera use so we only see a few shots of the creature before we see him fully transform. Of course, the plot does seem pretty silly, but what works is that the creators already know this and some of the characters make fun of the whole idea of a giant rabbit destroying vegetables, such as a policeman voiced by the hilarious Peter Kay and, of course, Ralph Fiennes’ Victor.
Another element I must mention is the incredibly EPIC score by Hans Zimmer. Whilst writing this review, I’m currently listening to it now, and it makes perfect sense that Zimmer composed the score. As usual, he has done a fine job here and I simply can’t imagine the film without it, it fully enhances the action scenes and adds an element of charm to the film. The stand-out for me is the main theme of the film, which plays at the beginning when the duo go on one of their pest control missions, and the montage of them getting ready is just fantastic, the music really inviting the audience to feel excited and ready for the adventure to come.
The voice cast do a splendid job, with very British voices making the film all the more relatable and charming to me. Peter Kay is always a win, his role is minor here but every line he delivers is hilarious and Fiennes and Bonham Carter do a very good job with their roles too. Of course, Peter Sallis does a great job as always, with his warm, eccentric voice perfectly capturing the adventurous, caring character of Wallace.
Amongst all of these elements and the nostlagia factor, I think what keeps me returning to this film is the huge sense of heart and the endearing relationship between Wallace and his dog, Gromit. There’s just something about a dog having to save his master from himself that always gets me invested and entertained. The relationship between the two is touching and they clearly care a lot for each other, even when Gromit has to go along with the bad inventions that Wallace makes and deal with the consequences on his own, but that’s just what makes him such an engaging character: his sense of loyalty and commitment to his master. Along with the witty banter that goes on between them (even if Gromit doesn’t say a word), my favourite scene that encapsulates their relationship has to be when Gromit saves Wallace as the were-rabbit from being shot by Victor, but then loses control of the fairground plane and before he crashes, Wallace catches him and hits the ground instead, therefore killing himself as the rabbit. That scene has always moved me, even though it is arguably a little over the top and cheesy, depending on your mood it is likely to engage you. And it’s really sad to see Gromit cry for a few seconds before Wallace wakes up as a human and everything is okay! Of course, we already knew it would be a happy ending 🙂
So! Wallace and Gromit The Curse of the Were-Rabbit will always be one of my favourite childhood films, and probably just one of my favourites in general. The film is saturated in beautiful animation, a great sense of suspense with an hilarious plot which is very self-aware, an epic music score, fitting voice cast and wonderful emotional moments that leave me smiling or tearing up. All in all, I love this film and would recommend it to anyone at all, whether you’re five years old or fifty, you’re bound to enjoy this film. It is truly a fine example of what Aardman can do 🙂