Follow us on:





RSS Feed to all our Blu-ray Reviews



THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX ($40) is a fairly delightful and rather elegant looking computer animated film, that I found myself like quite a bit. Despite my overall enjoyment of the film, I feel that THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX could have used some streamlining in the story department, as the movie introduces too many plot threads and characters for its brief running time. Based upon the book by Kate DiCamillo, THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX opens with the arrival a rat named Roscuro (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) in the kingdom of Dor. The kingdom known for an annual event known as "Royal Soup Day" during which a spectacular potage is served. Roscuro’s eagerness to sample this year’s offering, results in tragedy and a royal decree banishing all rats.

Into this very same kingdom, a mouse named Despereaux (voiced by Matthew Broderick) is born. Unlike the other mice, who scurry and cower, Despereaux displays no fear and is considered something of an outcast amongst his own kind. As part of his mouse training, Despereaux is brought to the palace library and told to consume the pages of the books. However, instead of eating the books, Despereaux begins reading and is taken with the stories, especially those involving the knight's codes of honor- with emphasis on such virtues as chivalry and courage. Ultimately, Despereaux’s un-mouse-like activities result with his banishment to dungeons… the only place in the kingdom where the vicious rats have been able to take refuge. The vocal talent behind THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX also features Emma Watson, Tracey Ullman, Kevin Kline, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, Ciarán Hinds, Robbie Coltrane, Tony Hale, Frances Conroy, Frank Langella, Richard Jenkins, Christopher Lloyd, Charles Shaughnessy and Sigourney Weaver.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation is truly wonderful. As I stated above, the computer-generated animation is really quite elegant and the high definition rendering allows one to fully appreciate its beauty. Clarity, texturing, image sharpness and fine detail are all quite impressive. Colors look terrific, with the hues favoring a softer pastel look, as opposed to something more cartoon like. Blacks are inky, while the whites appear crisp and stable. Contrast is as perfect as a computer animated film can be. There are no flaws or apparent grain in the image.

THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Appropriate to the material, the sound design is quite nice, but it is not as big, loud or boisterous as many other animated features. Sure, there are more action oriented moments where the track springs to life, engaging the outlying channels, but much of THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX is dialogue driven, with the sound coming across in a rather subdued fashion. By virtue of the lossless encoding, fidelity is very good in regards to the musical component and sound effects. The bass channel keeps the sound grounded, but it doesn’t call undue attention to itself. Voices are cleanly rendered and the dialogue is totally understandable. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some extras. Scene Progressions With Filmmaker Commentaries offers a look at various sequences going from the beginning to the end of the animation process. Featurettes include: The Tale Of The Tale Of Despereaux: A (Mostly) Non-Fictional Making-Of (eleven minutes) and Top Ten Uses for Oversized Ears (one minute). Other supplements include: Two All-New Songs (that didn’t make it into the finished film), Make Your Own Soup Game (for the kids) and Card Creator (make personalized greeting cards). Universal's U-Control interface is utilized for an interactive version of the movie that provides in context picture-in-picture, pop-up supplements (requires a Profile 1.1 player). THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

Even though the story could have been streamline, I was thoroughly enchanted by THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX. The movie is a visual treat on Blu-ray and will certainly appeal to the older animation buffs, who can fully appreciate the high definition beauty of THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX.



The Tale of Despereaux [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



Add to My Yahoo!  Add to Google  RSS Feed & Share Links