on September 26, 2009
Update: This film has one big problem. The third film, A Close Shave is in the 16:9 format on this disc while the original was in 4:3. This means the original film has been cropped to fit a widescreen TV. Pretty upsetting that they wouldn't include the three original videos in their original form. The first two, A Grand Day Out and The Wrong Trousers are in their original 4:3 format.
This is a great collection of the Wallace & Gromit films. The films all look excellent in HD and the behind the scenes features and commentary tracks are wonderful to listen to and really provide a lot of insight into the creation of the films.
For example, the commentary track for A Grand Day Out, the first film, talks about its production over about 6 years and the tricks that Nick used to film each shot. I'm pretty sure that these commentary tracks are taken from the DVD release, so they are nothing new if you have that version. The film also has several behind the scenes features which are also a lot of fun to watch and give good insight into the animation process, Nick Parks career, and the growth of the Wallace & Gromit franchise.
The packaging consists of a standard blu-ray case with a paper sleeve that has the same art as the case. There is no booklet with the film, just the disc.
I think the only thing missing from this collection is the full length feature film, but I think Wallace & Gromit works best in this shorter format.
I would recommend this collection to any Wallace & Gromit fan. The noticeable improvement in quality when viewed in HD and the behind the scenes and commentary tracks make it a joy to re-watch these excellent films and notice all the little details in the sets and animations.
on October 17, 2009
I'll leave for others to talk about Wallace & Gromit themselves and focus here on the Blu-Ray offering.
There are four "movies" included on the disc. Each of these is about 30 minutes long. The first three were previously included on the DVD, "Wallace & Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures." Also included on the BR disc are the features that were on the DVD. New to this release are the short "A Matter of Loaf and Death," the episode of Shaun the Sheep, "Off the Baa!," and at least one of the short features. A game demo is also included, but you need a BR player on your computer (PCs only) to play it. The first two features are full frame and the second two are widescreen. The features all look great on BR (though I don't know if they were remastered for this release).
The disc doesn't include "The Curse of the Were-Rabbit," so one might quibble that it doesn't include all the W&G material, but it does include all the shorts (including the two that won Academy Awards).
Overall, I thought this was a very good presentation for a very funny duo and well worth the price.
on September 23, 2009
I have always been a fan of the intelligent wit of Wallace and his faithful dog Gromit. I did not expect to see the series on blu-ray, but it is a joy that we now have 4 of their exploits on high definition. I had to travel over 30 miles to find a store (Best Buy) with the item in stock and was able to price match Wal-Mart, making each movie just $5.
I've watched two of the films so far (A Close Shave and A Matter of Loaf and death) and Wallace and Gromit has never looked or sounded better than on blu-ray. I can give a hearty thumbs up on this collection - it is well worth owning.
Some items of note: This is a 1 disc blu-ray release, not 4 discs (which would not make any sense). This collection is also not "complete". We are missing Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Curse of the Were Rabbit has to be their best film, so it is sad that it is not included here. The films we do get are great.
Forget this disappointing release and stick with "Three Amazing Adventures." Not only are the first three W&G films cropped down to 1:33 full-frame, but the new short (yes, it's a 30-minute short, not the 87-minute "feature-length" film advertized (they apparently included the extras in the timing)), filmed and released in widescreen, is likewise cropped to full-frame. This is unforgiveable treatment of classic material. A pox on the corporate suits who plotted this rip-off.
on November 24, 2009
Nevermind the full screen presentation of the first three shorts, as far as I know they do not exist in another aspect ratio. But that they include the fourth short only in a pan&scan version when even the making-of feature is presented in 16:9 - what a shame! All those commercials that can only be skipped one after the other and an "autoplay" feature that appears to be running even if you unselect it, they just come on top of it.
on November 14, 2009
We bought this set to replace a single CD of the 3 original short films, which got scratched. The single CD version has no commercials at the beginning, so you can navigate pretty quickly to the actual film you want to see.
This set has each film on a different disk, and each disk has about 5 minutes or more of commercials before you can view anything else. These include a promo for some kind of Wallace and Gromit game, a Saun the Sheep video, another W&G video _which is included in the set_, a Bob the Builder video, and a Thomas the Tank Engine commercial. And I may have forgotten some others....
So, if you don't have kids, or don't mind being harassed to buy yet more videos and games and toys every time you want to watch Wallace and Gromit, this set should be fine to you.
Otherwise, DON'T BUY IT!
on December 26, 2012
What can I say? I love Wallace and Gromit. I don't really know what it is about this series that's just so great. It is in some ways sort of run-of-the-mill kids' stuff, but something about it just elevates itself way above pretty much everything. It may just be the attention paid to the tiniest details, both in storytelling and action/animation, I don't know, it's just so satisfying. I want to mention that I watched the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, too and though I loved it deary, I didn't think it was as satisfying as the shorts. I feel that the short story format works better with Wallace and Gromit.
on April 26, 2011
Pay no attention to the negative reviews for this movie. Most of them are referring to the DVD version. Three of the movies are in widescreen HD format, and A Grand Day Out is presented in fullscreen. I don't find this to be an issue since this stays true to the original format. Would you expect to watch Casablanca in widescreen?
Seeing these old favorites in HD is simply amazing. It's so clear you can even see the fingerprints in the clay. A great deal of time and effort was put into the visuals for these films, and finally, seeing them on the widescreen can do them justice. The sound is another great attribute. Hearing the sounds of Wallace's lab in surround sound really puts you in the moment. Bottom line, even if you have these movies on DVD, seeing them on Blu-Ray feels like a whole new movie.
The extras on this disc aren't much to brag about (the drawings are kind of lame) but I really enjoy the "Cracking Contraptions" and more so, I'm glad they filled the disc with special features as opposed to just the 4 films.
Chicken Run and The Curse of the Warerabbit were enjoyable, but can't hold a candle to these four movies. Any Wallace and Gromit fan should definitely pick up a copy of this, and those new to Nick Park's work will really enjoy seeing these classics in HD.
on March 20, 2011
Though aware of their existence and somewhat curious about them for some time, I had not previously see any of the Wallace & Gromit shorts prior to seeing "Curse of the Were-Rabbit" when that hit theaters. The movie made me a fan and soon enough I grabbed the DVD collection of the first 3 shorts. More recently, I grabbed the Blu-Ray Collection to grab the 4th short, and to get the HD versions. This Blu-Ray Collection is absolutely THE way to see Wallace and Gromit. The colors are much more vibrant, and details hidden previously by the overly dark presentation on the DVD set now stand out and make this so much more enjoyable to watch.
The 4 shorts are often reported as being presented in the aspect ratio "as intended", and that was the impression I was under for quite a while, but that is debatable with regards to one of them. "A Grand Day Out" and "The Wrong Trousers" are shown in 4:3 aspect ratio, as they are on the DVD release. The short "A Close Shave" is shown in an odd 1.66:1 ratio that is not quite the more standard widescreen of 1.78:1 that the final short, "A Matter of Loaf and Death", is in. On the DVD release, "A Close Shave" is shown in a 4:3 aspect ratio. If you watch the DVD and Blu-Ray versions side-by-side, it's a lot more obvious that the Blu-Ray version was simply cropped at the top and bottom to make it "widescreen"... and clumsily so in retrospect. I had thought before that they simply opened up the framing on the sides and cropped a little on the top/bottom, but that's just not the case. It's easy to overlook how badly the cropping is since the Blu-Ray version looks a LOT nicer with the colors more accurate and details popping out that were hidden on the DVD. Why they did this is rather baffling.
So, what about the videos themselves? Starting with "A Grand Day Out", it's obvious from the get-go that this was an early effort from the animators as they were refining their skills. The production is lower in quality, with the animations being somewhat jerkier than the others, and the characters' features a bit cruder than what we know and love today. The pacing I feel is a bit stilted, and it seems to me that the video serves largely as a showcase for demonstrating some of the more complex animations that had to be difficult to pull off. This doesn't mean that the video wasn't enjoyable. Quite the contrary, despite being something of a freshman effort, it was full of the witty little bits and pieces that their work is so well known for.
The second video, "The Wrong Trousers", is my personal favorite. The character animation is much smoother than before; their features developed to how we know them today; and the story was a fair bit more complex and paced much better. It feels like the animators had really gotten comfortable with their craft and, rather than devising a series of scenes to show off their animation skills, paid much greater attention to the story than before. It's truly a great piece. The same can be said for the latter two shorts, "A Close Shave" and "A Matter of Loaf and Death".
In addition to the four short films, they've included as extras the 10 Wallace & Gromit short shorts collectively known as "Cracking Contraptions", and an episode of "Shaun the Sheep", a spinoff series featuring Shaun, a character who was first introduced in "A Close Shave". I didn't watch "Shaun" all the way through, so I can't comment much other than it being in standard def and is basically there to promote the DVD set for that series. The "Cracking Contraptions" extras were rather disappointing in that they appear on the Blu-Ray in standard definition (480p). Compared to the feature short films, the CC shorts (which are 1-3 minutes long each) are noticeably blurrier on my 50" HDTV and much of the little details that the W&G films are known for don't stand out like they do in these HD versions of the featured short films. For as short as the "Cracking Contraptions" episodes are, roughly 20 minutes or so in total, surely they could have been remastered in HD along with the featured W&G short films. For this reason, along with the butchering of "A Close Shave", I consider this worth a 3-4 star rating out of 5 stars, rather than a full 5 of 5. Hopefully we'll see "A Close Shave" re-released in HD without the butchering some day. I'd especially like to see "Cracking Contraptions" remastered in HD and released perhaps as a digital download also. Better yet, as extras on a yet-to-be-announced-but-hopefully-is-coming-soon Blu-Ray edition of "Curse of the Were-Rabbit" (please pretty please!!!).
This looks to be the best collection of Wallace and Gromit short films yet. First off all of the films will have a commentary by Nick Park. This should be a treat for fans. You also get a number of documentaries:
- "Amazing Adventures of Wallace & Gromit" featurette
- "Inside The Wrong Trousers" featurette
- "How It Was Done" featurette
- "How They Donut" The Making of A Matter of Loaf and Death featurette
You also get an episode of Shaun the Sheep: "Off The Baa" and all ten of the Cracking Contraptions shorts that aired on the BBC website and AtomFilms back in 2002. Technical aspects include MPEG-4 AVC video in 1080p with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.
Just a little bad news. It looks like it's confirmed that the short film "A Close Shave" is the altered version that doesn't have the Happy Birthday song in it. Instead of that song another one is dubbed just like in the WB DVD release. Kinda sucks that they won't pony up the royalties to make this disk as true to the original broadcast as possible. Oh well... it's a small detail.
If you like Wallace and Gromit and have any of their previous disks this collection may be worth the double dip.