The Tale of Despereaux [Blu-ray]
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39 of 48 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 20, 2008
*Spoiler Alert. A request was made to add this for people who don't like to see storyline*

My daughter wanted to see this film. Probably because the ads showed a cute mouse. We had never heard of this book so I can't judge the story.

The qualities of the stories are simple. Mistakes, redemption, pure of heart, honor, etc.

The movie opens with a ship heading to a city. On it is Roscuro the rat. Wearing cloths and an ear ring he looks forward for the famous Soup of the day of the kingdom of Dor. Wandering through the city he accidentally finds himself in the royal hall as the royal family are first to try the soup. Too entranced with the smell; Roscuro falls into the Queens soup and she is shocked to see a Rat, suffers a heart attack and dies. The guards chase him and he eventally falls into a drainage where he lands in Ratworld. There he is discovered by Botticelli who befriends him and decides to teach him the proper ways of being a Rat.

The grieving king then declares no more soup and rats are outlawed and any who harbor them will be punished.

Despereaux is born in mouseworld. He is not a typical mouse. Smaller then normal and he has over-sized ears. What's worst is that he doesn't cower, run, and he likes to take the cheese from mouse traps. His parents are called into school and told he is about to fail since he does not cower from knives and he draws pictures of cats. Even names one fluffy. The school master suggests that Despereaux follow his brother who graduated and was a proper mouse and could teach by example.

They head off to the library where Despereaux is supposed to eat books but instead he starts reading them and learns about knights, honor and questing to save the fair princess. This eventually takes him to the Princess Peas room where he befriends her as she is curious by his gentlemanly ways.

Eventually, Desperaux is found out and he is punished as he has gone too far by talking to a human.

He is sent to Ratword where no mouse ever returns. The rats find him and toss him into a Colosseum where he is to be sacrificed to a cat.

Roscuro notices him and sees that he is different. He decides to save him by declaring he wants to eat him. Botticelli, leader of the rats, agrees as he had been unhappy with Roscuro since he was refusing to eat flesh.

In Roscuro's room, Despereaux tells Roscuro about knights, chivalry and his quest to save the princess. Roscuro recognizes the princess is the very girl whose mother he caused to die and decides to help as he may get a chance of redemption by telling her he is sorry.

I could go on but I don't want to completely spoil the film. Overall I liked the film as the hero really doesn't solve all problems. It's more cause and effect that guides the story. The actions of one affect another. Happiness is lost and as the narrator says a hero appears when most needed. Despereaux is the hero and he actions effects others and causes actions which cause the return of happiness.

The cast is excellent. Sigourney Weaver does a great job as the narrator. Matthew Broderick as Despereaux and Dustin Hoffman as Roscuro. Emma Watson as the princess(though I must admit I thought was Emily Watson). Tracey Ullman as Miggery Sow. Kevin Kline as Andre the soup master. Ciaran Hinds as Botticelli(though I must admit I thought Peter O'Toole would have been better).

Visually the film is beautiful and the music adds to experience in the right ways.

Violence wise it's pretty safe. There is fighting but you don't see things like stabbing, etc. It can be intense especially with the Rat chases and the rat gladiatorial scenes but it's not too bad. My girl is sensitive but she only wanted a little comfort but she still kept her eyes on the screen.

My daugher wants to see it again as it's a great film in her opinion and I think it's was worth the theater price. My daughter has already declared we have to obtain the film when it goes to DVD.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 2013
The book was an absolutely DELIGHTFUL story. Charming, evocative, mysterious, fun, and cheerful for the most part. One of those stories that is just made for reading aloud, and which keeps the audience enthralled to the last word, and which provides a simultaneous sense of satisfaction mixed with disappointment when it ends. We read it together as a family, and it was thoroughly enjoyable. In fact, it is high on my list of Must Read books for children - oh, not very YOUNG children, because the story is too long for them, and requires connecting the dots between several story lines woven skillfully together. But 10 to 18 year olds - yes, even teens love this story. A lovely way to create bonds of shared memories for families with teens that they aren't sure how to connect with again.

I wish the movie captured even a hint of the charm and delight of the book. But it does not. We bought it, in hopes that it would capture some of the essence of the story (in spite of hearing bad reviews). To our great disappointment, it failed in every respect. Other than the name, and a few shared names of characters, and the mention of soup, the movie bore no relation to the story in the book.

The creators of the movie, from some misguided notion that they had to rewrite the story to capture the movie audience, managed to strip it of every defining characteristic, and to create a story that was not only devoid of any of the charm or enjoyment that the book possessed, but completely, and utterly uninspired and pathetic. It was a waste of money to even make such a travesty. Many other movie reviewers have agreed that the movie was on the low end of the scale. In fact, it is something that could only be appreciated by someone who had a very short attention span, no taste, and who had no previous exposure to the original story (the very young kids who appreciated the endless string of Land Before Time movies comes to mind).

It truly was not even the same story! They changed the settings, left out essential elements, threw in completely meaningless and worthless replacements, created environments in the story that had no reason for being there, and in short, utterly ruined it. I am not too harsh, in fact, there are not words available to truly describe the vandalism perpetrated by the unskilled crew who created the appalling monstrosity.

The sailing ship in the opening scene was the first clue that something catastrophic had occurred - the book does not go near the sea at all. The absence of essential character discovery, and the remake of the dungeon into something like the dark side of the rat city from Flushed Away were obvious and unpleasant changes which displayed the ignorance and amateurity of the vandals who posed themselves as screen writers. The cook - a female character with personality and some humorous appeal - was replaced by a male chef who was merely a caricature, and a bad one at that. The movie was replete with illogical changes such as this, bad whims, carried out with no purpose, and with a sense of pathetic uselessness. The crowning atrocity though, was the vegetable man (an incredibly stupid creation of dancing vegetables which completely destroyed the story line without any kind of benefit whatsoever) - which had all the feel of an addition by a recent graduate artist, who had created something like it for a school project, and just HAD to use it SOMEWHERE, whether it fit or not.

This book could have been recrafted as a movie that was worthy of the excellence of the original story. But because this company purchased the rights, and made such a travesty, they not only polluted the world with so much animated refuse, they also blocked those who would do it right from doing so for some time to come. I think that is the saddest thing about it. In the afterlife for film creators, there must be a special torture chamber reserved for the perpetrators of such heinous actions - where they are first blessed with the good taste they lacked in mortality, and then forced to view their own bad films through eternity!

Don't bother with the film. Buy the original book - the OLDER one, without the movie character illustrations (the ones in the older book are better). Read it aloud with your family. You won't regret it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 11, 2009
Cast (voices): Matthew Broderick, Distin Hoffman, Emma Waston, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Kline, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, Frank Langella, Sigourney Weaver
Director: Sam Fell, Robert Stevenhagen
Running Length: 1:30
MPAA Classification: G

Despereaux (Broderick) is a mouse who is banished from Mouseworld for not acting like a mouse. He doesn't cower, he doesn't intentionally trip mousetraps, and he speaks to humans. In the human's world, he meets Princess Pea (Watson), and decides to go on a quest for her to restore sunlight to a dark and grey kingdom. He is assisted by the rat Roscuro (Hoffman), who had caused the problem in the first place. Meanwhile, Miggory Snow (Ullman), the princess's servant, is plotting to remove the princess and take her place.

"Despereaux" has a more complex story than one might expect from G-rated fare, but it is not too much to alienate younger viewers. The storylines intersect well, and all come together in the end. The animation is good, but not Pixar quality. That is a small complaint, and Pixar is in a league of their own anyway. The voice talent is made up of many big names, and Broderick, Hoffman, and Watson are all excellent. This is an entertaining family film that can be enjoyed by all.
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23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 20, 2009
How do I describe THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX? On the one hand, it's got top-notch animation, wonderful voice acting, and interesting characters. On the other hand, it has a few too many characters, grown-up themes, and requires the viewer's rapt attention. On the gripping hand, it's just not for little ones. To be clear, it's fine for young ones to watch, it just seems that they are not the film's intended audience. This is odd since it LOOKS like it's a kid's show. It was advertised as a kid's show. But my 4-year-old only watched when Despereaux himself was on the screen, and my 11-year-old spent most of the movie telling me how different it was from the book. My husband and I liked it, but we all agreed it was simply "OK."

THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX is actually a couple of tales, starting with the story of a sea-faring rat named Roscuro who loves soup. Through a horrible twist of fate, Roscuro's presence results in the queen's death (death by soup, believe it or not) and the banning of soup and rats from the kingdom. I had to wonder why no one had thought to banish the rats before but eh. Roscuro ends up in the dungeon where only the rats hang out. The second story is about Despereaux the mouse. We decided that Despereaux must be Flemish for "Dumbo" since that's pretty much who this mouse looks like. He can even fly with his giant ears. Despereaux is literally fearless and as such is banished from mousedom for fear of the other meeses learning his bad traits. Guess where he's banished to. That's right, the rat dungeon. Another story is about a peasant girl who dreams of being a princess. Apparently, this was toned way down from the novel, in that the girl's owner only sneers at her and doesn't beat her in the movie. We see how she is sold to the king's cook along with a herd of pigs. She eventually teaches us a lesson about jealousy. Then there's the king's story. He's so sad at the loss of the queen that he bans soup and rats (as we've covered) and sits in his room all day plucking a mandolin. His sadness manifests itself as gray clouds and no rain - everything dies. Then there's the princess who wishes she could fix everything, the jailer who wishes he could undo a tragic mistake, a cook who wishes he could once more make soups, an evil rat who doesn't seem terribly evil, and, and, and... As I said, there's a whole lot going on.

The short answer is that THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX itself is not offensive, but there are better options in this genre. Take a look at Dragon Hunters, for instance. It deals with the same themes as Despereaux (honor, courage, valor) but my family liked it a lot more.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2011
The plot of this movie was quite interesting...I know the book is popular. I won't go into the disturbing scenes where the princess is about to be eaten alive by rodents, or the seriously depressing parts, I'll just say the animation is terrible! The mice look...OK but the humans have ultra skinny, long faces and look really, really ugly! Every time they were like, "oh, the princess is so beautiful," I was thinking, who? the girl with the thin head? I was really disappointed in the animation, and it just wasn't a very good movie.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
beautiful artwork and charming characters; i didn't like the very prominent message: break the rules (laws?), especially since very young children will be the main viewers; all adults (parents, teachers, officials, chefs, etc) are portrayed as fuddy-duddy and, of course, end up being wrong; the hero is seen performing dangerous stunts that defy the "rules" set up to protect small children. Adults should supervise.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is a beautifully animated fairy tale centered on a yearly Festival of Soup that has a cast of mice, rats, a cat, and of course, The King and Queen and Princess of Dor.

There is an annual Soup Festival that is more popular than Christmas. This festival made everyone happy and the sun shines and music plays and laughter is everywhere.

The tale is convoluted and hard to follow for an adult, so I wonder if children can follow. They will love the animation, cute characters and some of the action, but if it is not that fulfilling as a story as it does not make sense.

We see Roscuro, the rat, leave a ship docked in Dor and he causes a terrible accident during the wonderful Soup Festival. He falls in the Queen's soup and she faints and falls in the bowl and dies. (I sat and wondered why no one pulled her head out of the bowl). The King is heartbroken. He is depressed. Suddenly the sky turns dark and no color or sunlight or even rain comes to the Kingom of Dor. Just because a rat fell in the soup and the Queen fainted - then drowned in the gourmet soup.

So as the Kingdom of Dor falls apart, a hero is born - It is a small mouse by the name of Despereaux. He is one of the cutest animated subjects with ears as big as Dumbo the Elephant. Despereaux is a worry to his parents and teachers because he is not afraid, he does not crouch or hide. He has no knowledge or reason to be afraid. He reads books on brave and noble knights and chivalry. You wonder why they make such a big deal of not hiding or running from everything. In later scenes is is clearly afraid of a cat the rats release.

Then Dexpereaux is banished from his mouse home for not behaving "mousey" - scared and frightened and ready to run.

We realize there is a mouse level of civilization and another level below ground is the rat level. The story gets a bit off track. It is also confusing to see Roscuro the Rat as Despereaux's friend (who is sort of a rebel in the rat world) - and then later - Roscuro turns into an enemy - because the Princess did not like him as a rat. It seemed odd or off kilter from the story.

A sub-plot in this story is a jealous maid to the princess who wants to be a princess. She is reunited with her dad who gave her up as a baby. He finds her by seeing a birthmark on her neck - calls her his "Princess" - this also seems off the focus of the story.

Even though the story is blah and a bit meandering - the characters are cute and interesting. Big name stars do the voices: Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Kline, Richard Jenkins, Robbie Coltrane, William H. Macy, Tracey Ullman, Sigourney Weaver, Frances Conroy, etc..

The tale is not bad, but not that good. As in most fairy tales it shows that good triumphs overall.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2008
Despereaux is a mouse who seeks a heroic quest based on the values of honor, justice and courage. He finds his mission after being booted out of Mouse World for not being sufficiently timid and cowering. Despereaux escapes from the Rat World dungeon and seeks to return sunlight to the Kingdom of Dor. The kingdom has been in mourning since the death of the Queen due to an unfortunate incident involving soup and a rat named Roscuro.

Meanwhile Roscuro seeks the forgiveness of the Princess. But, when his apology is refused, Roscuro turns bitter and seeks his revenge by manipulating a jealous chambermaid named Millery Sow. Eventually Despereaux, Roscuro and Millery find their "happily ever afters" and the Kingdom of Dor is restored to its former greatness.

This is an intelligent, ambitious kid's story that touches on the themes of bravey, kindness and mercy. These are values worth teaching. But the movie has so many sub-plots and metaphors involving soup, rain and a spool of thread it's easy to get confused. Perhaps these were better explained in the book. In any case, this is a better than average movie that most children and many adults will appreciate.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I ended up enjoying this movie a lot more than I expected. The animation meets very high standards, but there's a lot of good animation around these days. Instead, it features characters that I really like and a surprisingly complex plot.

I liked the premise, too, that the brave little mouse lives in Mouseworld society where bravery is actively discouraged. He even talks to humans - an unconscionable act of bravery. He goes through life blithely unaware that there's anything wrong, until his antics earn exile from his timid world. That's about when things start getting complicated. A third society, the rats, adds itself to the mouse and human worlds, with plots moving along in each and between them. Another movie might have collapsed under the weight, but this one managed to tie all the threads together and finish them off neatly.

A number of dramatic moments might be a bit much for skittish kids. Perhaps the book would help prepare your little one, but you'll know best. The right kid will enjoy it a lot, but there's plenty here for the grown-up buying the tickets, too.

-- wiredweird
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2010
We rented this movie based on it's high reviews and G-rating, as we have very young children. It turned out to be a huge disappointment. The movie is far too dark and frightening for very young children. And though it may not have had any swearing in it, the darkness and the violence definitely did not coincide with a G rating, I felt. There were many violent scenes and very frightening images. We ended up turning it off and finding a better movie, but even so, some of our kids had nightmares. It was violent, frightening, and just altogether unenjoyable for our family. Older children may enjoy it, but I would not recommend it for young ones. To be honest, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, as I didn't enjoy it at all, either. In its defense, the animation is good and the scenery is rich and lovely/gruesome, but I don't feel this earns it a high rating, as it is supposed to be a good family movie.
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