on 2 November 2009
Marking 20 years of 'Wallace and Gromit', 'The Complete Collection' brings together all four of the dynamic duo's television films - 'A Grand Day Out', 'The Wrong Trousers', 'A Close Shave' and 'A Matter of Loaf and Death' is glorious HD - for the very first time, in the case of the first three. There's little that can be said about the films themselves that hasn't been said already - they're all brilliant, and have all garnered a plethora of richly-deserved awards to reflect that. The question is - what is the Blu Ray like?
Picture and sound quality on this release is excellent, particularly on 'A Matter of Loaf and Death', but even the earliest film, 'A Grand Day Out', looks impressive. The high definition presentation highlights a few visual elements that perhaps weren't so obvious in SD - obviously painted backdrops, thumb-prints in the plasticine figures, and so on - but none of these detract from the films themselves, and to some extent actually enhance them, as it gives you a better sense of the sheer amount of work that has gone into even the smallest scenes. HD is also great for spotting little visual gags that Nick Park and co. have left scattered throughout the background. All the films are accompanied by commentaries, and there's a wealth of behind the scenes material too - though unfortunately this is all presented in SD.
I've seen these films countless times down the years, but the Blu Ray release really does give them a new lease of life - and compared with the standalone release of 'A Matter of Loaf and Death', it's terrific value for money too.
on 14 June 2013
WALLACE & GROMIT: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION  [20th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray] Three Amazing and Cracking Adventures!
Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Academy Award® Oscar winning eccentric inventor Wallace, and his faithful, four-legged friend Gromit, have had all four of their smashing half hour specials in this complete collection, have been specially re-mastered!
Cast Voices: Peter Sallis, Anne Reid, Sally Lindsay, Melissa Collier [Fluffles voice], Sarah Laborde, Geraldine McEwan (uncredited) and Ben Whitehead (uncredited)
Director: Nick Park
Producers: Rob Copeland, Peter Lord, Christopher Moll, Colin Rose, Peter Salmon, David Sproxton, Michael Rose, Carla Shelley
Screenplay: Nick Park, Bob Baker and Brian Sibley
Composer: Julian Nott
Cinematography: Nick Park and Dave Alex Riddett
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: 5.1 TrueHD Master Audio and 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH
Running Time: 110 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Aardman Animations / 2|Entertain [BBC]
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: Continuing the noble tradition of fictional pets that are infinitely more intelligent than their master’s equivalent to their inferior American Cartoon Characters, Wallace and Gromit have cemented themselves into the hearts and minds of fans around the world, literally. Translated into more than 20 languages, their beloved short films and recent feature-length motion picture, Wallace and Gromit in `The Curse of the Were-Rabbit' [not included here, sadly] have been watched, re-watched, and talked about at length by fans and critics alike. Needless to say, their latest adventures bring our heroes into the digital age and they look absolutely brilliant!
I was first exposed to Nick Park's brilliant ‘A Grand Day Out' through their first introduction to the charming duo of Wallace the absentminded inventor and his genius-intellect faithful companion Gromit. From that moment on, I was hooked. My passion for stop motion animation had just found a new hero.
Wallace & Gromit found life in creator Nick Park's sketch books from an early age. Part stereotypical northerner, Nick Park's own father, Wallace grew out of his moustached stocky appearance and settled on his present form in fairly short order. Gromit started life as a cat and made several evolutions before arriving at the look he has today. In fact, when Nick began work on this film in 1983, the very first screen test had Gromit looking like a big old wolf hound. A labour of love, he continued his work at National Film and Television School but ran out of money and missed his deadline. It wasn't until he picked up a job at Aardman Animations that he was able to finish the film.
Sure the technicality of these films is superb, but the real genius of Nick Park and his Aardman Animations compatriots, is in getting us to love all these characters. From the principal heroes to the mice in their basement, we're invested in this adventure from the very beginning, despite the fact that only one character has any dialogue. In 24 minutes we get a complete adventure with a main story and equally enchanting subplot, both leaving us with an uncontrollable grin. What more can you ask for? Now check out the synopsis on the four different terrific animations.
A Grand Day Out  [1080p] [24:00] Confounded by where to go for their bank holiday, Wallace and Gromit are devastated when they realize that they have run out of cheese. With the local corner shop closed for the Bank Holiday, Wallace decides to take a trip to the moon, as "everybody knows the moon's made of cheese." Naturally, he has to take his faithful dog Gromit with him. The two build a rocket in Wallace's basement and set off to the moon. Upon landing, Wallace tries the cheese, which he suggests tastes like Wensleydale, but starts to question his theory on the moon. Also, a strange coin-operated robot shaped like an oven, complete with arms, wheels and a creepy weird eye, is encountered by the duo and tries unsuccessfully to stop Wallace from eating the cheese. The robot later seems to wish to go with them to Earth so he can try out some skiing. Wallace and Gromit believe it is after them for stealing the moon cheese and try to escape. Little do they realise there may be someone or something waiting to foil their grand day out? Nominated for an OSCAR® and won a BAFTA.
The Wrong Trousers  [1080p] [30:00] It's Gromit's birthday and Wallace honours his friend with a pair of Techno Trousers, designed to relieve the master of the house from having to take his best friend for a walk. Unfortunately, the house has been overrun by Wallace's inventions and they've managed to drain his piggy bank. To ease their financial crisis, Wallace takes in a boarder who quickly commandeers Gromit's bedroom and made his life a living hell. There's something nefarious about this penguin that goes above and beyond petty jealousy, and our canine Sherlock Holmes is bound and determined to expose him for the evil interloper he is. Little do we know how dastardly the penguin's plans truly are. Won an Oscar. Won a BAFTA.
A Close Shave  [1080p] [30:00] The county is suffering though a terrible wool shortage and rampant sheep rustling is on the rise. In fact, late one night, the now legendary rustler loses a sheep on Wallace and Gromit's street. Before he can reclaim the escapee, Shaun the ever hungry sheep ducks into the house, leaving our heroes unwittingly marked. The following morning, the duo's successful new window washing business is called into action. The client? Wendolene Ramsbottom, proprietor of Wendolene's Wools. When Wendolene discovers Wallace is an inventor like her late father, it is instant karma for both. Meanwhile, the rustler, Wendolene's dog, Preston breaks into the boys' home to steal back Shaun, only to discover the blueprints for Wallace's Knit-O-Matic, the perfect solution to bolster his mistresses failing business. The only problem is Gromit is on to Preston's villainy and needs taking out. Framed as the infamous sheep rustler, our favourite pooch is sent to the big house. Can Gromit beat the rap? Will Shaun eat them out of house and home? Will Wallace and Wendolene find true love? Is there more to Preston's evil scheme than just sheep rustling? Won an Oscar and won a BAFTA.
A Matter of Loaf and Death  [1080p] [30:00] Twelve bakers have been found murdered in the past year and guess whose now running a bakery? Wallace and Gromit! On a morning delivery run, the legendary Bake-O-Lite pinup girl, Piella Bakewell, and her precious poodle Fluffles discover their runaway bicycle has no brakes, so it's Wallace and Gromit to the rescue. But Gromit's suspicions about Piella Bakewell bear bitter fruit and, before he can warn his master, Wallace announces they are to be married. Thus begins yet another game of dog vs. evil villain. Can Gromit expose Peilla's treachery before Wallace completes her black widow baker's dozen? It won a BAFTA.
Blu-ray Video Quality – Each of the four episodes is given the 1080p encoded image treatment. With each of them presented in their original aspect ratios you'll be able to see how the series has progressed over the years. The first two episodes ‘A Grand Day Out’ and ‘The Wrong Trousers,’ are presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. ‘A Close Shave’ is presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Rounding out the set is the last episodes ‘A Matter of Loaf and Death’ that is presented in the widescreen ratio of 1.78:1.
"A Grand Day Out," while solid looking, it does appear a little older than the other episodes. The colour is just a tad dimmer. It's also slightly grainier. Still the fine detail is immediately noticeable in the first episode. When you can see the fingerprints on the actual “Claymation” figures you know you're getting a greatly detailed picture. ‘A Close Shave’ and ‘The Wrong Trousers’ both look terrific. The same fingerprints are noticeable here, but the colours are vibrant and the detail is even finer. Every thread and stitch is noticeable in the fabrics that are used to create the world of 'Wallace and Gromit.' ‘A Matter of Loaf and Death’ does harbour a bit of aliasing, but that's about the only technical anomaly that can be found on the set.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – There are only 2 audio option on this All Region Blu-ray release. You can either go with a 5.1 TrueHD Master Audio and 5.1 Dolby Digital sound track. The 5.1 TrueHD Master Audio sound track is definite the way to go. The range is far greater than its 5.1 Dolby Digital counterpart. I was actually more amazed at how this collection sounded than how the visuals were presented. Barring some muffled dialogue from Wallace, the rest of the audio track on each episode is engrossing. The musical scores are enveloping using the surround channels to create an omnipresent feeling. Panning effects work smoothly for the most part as objects and people travel across the screen. Directionality is also well done. This is all around a pleasantly surprising audio offering.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Audio Commentary: Commentary with Nick Park and David McCormick: Creator, writer and director Nick Park provides solo commentaries on the first three films, before being joined by Editor David McCormick on Loaf and Death. Nick is a humble but engaging guy and fans of Wallace & Gromit owe it to themselves to hear all four tracks. Each of the commentaries holds a variety of anecdotes. Each of the commentaries are a must listen material.
Special Feature: The Amazing World of Wallace and Gromit  [1080p] [15:00] This Mini-documentary detailing the origins of the characters. Nick Park says, "Because they're characters now, they exist; they've got their own life. So they can sort of write their own stories. I don't look at these films and say, 'Yes, that's it. I'm satisfied.' I just want to go onto the next one." See the original 1983 screen test in which Gromit looks nothing like he does today. Exploring the Wallace & Gromit phenomenon in Japan, France, Germany, China, and Australia. Helping save the Wensleydale Cheese company.
Special Feature: Inside The Wrong Trousers  [1080p] [24:00] A fascinating look back at how far these characters and Nick's filmmaking process have come from their humble beginnings. The evolution going forward is gradual and much less noticeable, but going backwards it's staggering. One-on-one interview with Nick on the origins of the characters, his work on Peter Gabriel's "Sledgehammer" music video and creating the dancing chickens and the bumper cars and ‘Creature Comforts’ , plus turning down potentially lucrative feature film and television projects to focus his attention on ‘The Wrong Trousers.’ This is totally fascinating stuff.
Special Feature: The Making of `A Matter of Loaf and Death' and How they Donut  [1080p] Nick Park says, "It's sort of a bread-based murder mystery 'Who Donut?'" Interviews with members of the production team about universal love for Wallace & Gromit and energy that goes into every adventure. The quickest turnaround on any film in the series. The team having gelled on Curse of the Were-Rabbit, they're now a well-oiled machine. Over 700 shots in the movie, averaging 32 shots per week. Nick Parks personally acts out the character actions for the animators to draw inspiration from. Using the digital still cameras, the flexibility of camera aesthetics, instantaneous evaluation of each shot, and resulting spontaneity gave the production a whole new feel.
Special Feature: When Wallace Met Harvey  [1080p] It is an in-depth documentary about how to create a Wallace & Gromit Advertising Campaign, to launch the new Harvey Nichols store in Bristol in Partnership with Aardman Animations. You get to see behind-the-scene on how the Aardman Team create the actual animation advertising campaign, especially with the famous “Claymation” animation characters from the Wallace & Gromit film.
Trailer: Shaun the Sheep in "Off the Baa!" [1080p] [7:00] The first episode of Shaun's very own television series, produced by Aardman Animations. When a lettuce truck loses part of its load, Shaun uses the inedible head to show off his football skills in a friendly game with the rest of the flock. Only problem is the neighbouring pigs want the lettuce head for a meal. Very cute! Gag heavy, no dialogue, and introduces us to a gaggle of lovable new characters.
Invention Blueprints: [1080p] Image gallery of invention blueprints, production stills, and behind-the-scenes from ‘The Wrong Trousers’ and ‘A Close Shave.’
Picture Gallery [1080p] With this Slide Show you get roughly 16 different awesome images from the 4 different parts of each film and behind-the-scene of setting up each shots. If you want to, you can use the pause button to study in detail each image. While this Slide Show is running, you get the Wallace & Gromit music in the background.
A Matter of Loaf and Death Gallery  [1080p] With this particular Slide Show you get roughly 16 different awesome images from the animation `A Matter of Loaf and Death' and again if you want to, you can use the pause button to study in detail each image. While this Slide Show is running, you get again the Wallace & Gromit music in the background.
Finally, Nick Park stands shoulder to shoulder with Walt Disney's nine old men, Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Henry Selick, Ray Harryhausen, The Fleischer Brothers, Don Bluth, John Kricfalusi and John Lasseter. Creating characters that live on in the hearts and minds of an audience is one of the greatest achievements of any animator. Wallace & Gromit are treasures and this collection will enable us to relive their adventures over and over again. Here's hoping very soon there will be more Aardman Animations adventures, especially as it looks so stunning in the Blu-ray format and that is why I am so honoured to have this added to my Wallace and Gromit Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom