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'Fantastic Mr. Fox' becomes the second animated movie to join the Criterion Collection

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Fantastic Mr. Fox Criterion CollectionThe Criterion Collection has been around since 1984, making 2014 the thirtieth anniversary for the film collection that all but invented the modern idea of DVD bonuses. During those three decades, as the collection added "important classic and contemporary films," they included a single animated feature, despite releasing nearly 700 movies on Laserdisc, DVD and Blu-Ray.

That changes with the movie with 700 on the movie case's spine in the collection, which will be released Feb. 18. Wes Anderson's adaptation of Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox becomes the second animated feature to join the prestigious collection.

Criterion Collection, February 18, 2014, dual format Blu-ray/DVD (3 discs, 87 minutes, color, 1.85:1 ratio, English) Criterion store price $31.96

Correction: The original headline implied Fantastic Mr. Fox was the first animated feature in the collection. The Criterion Collection released an out of print Akira Laserdisc, making Fantastic Mr. Fox the second animated feature in the collection. Sorry for the error.

The release will feature a DVD and Blu-ray version of the movie, as well as a third disc of extra features. Anderson (who also voiced the character of Weasel in the movie) will provide an audio commentary. Other extras will include a storyboard animatic for the entire film, behind the scenes footage, interviews with cast and crew, photo galleries, a recorded reading of the original book by author Roald Dahl and "other ephemera." The movie will come with booklet featuring essays by and about Anderson, as well as a White Cape comic book only seen as a prop in the movie.

Fantastic Mr. Fox was released in 2009, a year with a strong reputation for animation, and Anderson's movie is one of the movies credited with helping to create this reputation. Though critically acclaimed, it was not a box office hit. It tells the story of a retired bird thief fox and his family and the trouble they get into with three local farmers when Mr. Fox decides to pull one last heist. The movie was animated using stop motion puppets.

Fantastic Mr. Fox won and was nominated for multiple critics' awards for Best Animated Feature (and Anderson produced animated acceptance speeches for them as his character Weasel, which will be available for viewing in the bonuses), and was nominated for the Best Animated Feature Oscar (where it lost to Up) and Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture at the Ursa Majors (where it lost to Avatar).

Fantastic Mr. Fox was Anderson's sixth movie as a director. It will also be his sixth movie in the Criterion Collection. His seventh movie, Moonrise Kingdom (which made this contributor's top ten movie list for 2012), is the only movie of Anderson's released so far not a part of the collection. His eighth movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel, will have a limited release later this year.

Besides his Animated Feature nomination, Anderson has been nominated twice for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars for The Royal Tennenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom. Fantastic Mr. Fox is his only adaption.

Though furries are rare in both the Criterion Collection (they do have a list of "animal" movies) and Anderson's filmography, the director has said he has ideas for further animated movies in the future.

Comments

Your rating: None

I didn't like Wes Anderson at all until this movie. The stageyness of his directing of live actors just felt so contrived, I couldn't enjoy it at all. I thought the animation medium brought out everything good and none of the bad in his directing style.

There was a premiere event for the movie here in San Francisco and the art director was there. We had fun getting some beers afterward. He told a few interesting stories about creating sets in ways that aren't usually done for stop motion animation. For example. A scene with one of the young foxes seen from below used forced perspective (something you will see in set design for creatively made stop motion animation, like Nightmare Before Christmas), except it also used a set with ceiling at an angle that was not conducive to the puppet armatures. I think it had to do with the way armatures are usually tied down to a floor plane that has hidden pegs or magnets that keep them anchored so they don't slide around from frame to frame.

Apparently Wes had his ideas of how to make the medium fit his vision, not the other way around... good for his movie, while possibly awkward for working with experienced artists used to certain methods. I had an impression that he was not easy to get along with as a director and it may have caused conflicts, but I can't confirm. Such is the nature of auteur driven film making. When it succeeds, it looks original and brilliant- when it flops, it looks like indulgence and vanity. Some train wreck movies are hard to watch but super interesting that way. (I still have to see the director's cut of Heaven's Gate.)

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Well, I liked Anderson before he started making movies about talking foxes, but I can see your point about contrived nature of his directing, and also agree that animation was kind of an obvious step for him. If you're going to go with an "artificial" look, you might do well in a medium that is artificial by its very nature.

It's not so much that he's an acquired taste as you either don't like his movies or you do, and I don't think its not "getting" his movies, either. He's a director you can totally "get" and like even less than if you didn't "get" him than if you did. It's probably why he lost the Ursa Major; Cameron made a movie designed from the ground up to appeal to every single human being on the planet while Anderson made a movie designed to appeal to, well, Anderson, mostly. I mean, if some other people end up liking it, that's gravy and all, but it's his movie.

I also hear he did piss off some of his animators when he left the set for a trip to Paris. I believe the trip was business related and he just didn't take off on a lark, but I don't think he'd done such things on his previous movies, so the implication some of the animators took was that he wasn't taking his animated movie as seriously.

Your rating: None

A minor correction... Criterion did release the anime film Akira back in the laserdisc days (but has not re-issued it since). Even so, Fantastic Mr. Fox is the first animated feature from the company in the DVD/Blu-Ray era, and is exciting news for fans of this film.

When I purchased the original Mr. Fox DVD release I knew it would only be a matter of time Criterion would offer their own version (considering their track record of Wes Anderson films). Will I double-purchase this? Yeah probably, especially for the commentary and greater extras, not to mention that their releases often feature exquisite packaging (love the new cover painting).

Advance warning for fans: Get ready for sticker shock. Criterion editions hover anywhere between 30 to 40 dollars per release (depending if ordering online or in big-box stores). If patient, Barnes and Nobles offers half-off price deals for Criterion discs in the months of July and November.

Your rating: None

Yes, apparently I would have figured this out if I'd been lazy, made a quick Google search and just swiped the Cartoon Brew story's info instead of actually going to the Criterion website and checking it out myself. They don't list their old Laserdisc movies on the site (because they can't sell them, natch); so I'll get with Green Reaper and we'll run some sort of correction.

Try not to read a moral into that story.

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The Criterion website seems to have removed laserdisc information from their website, and started their spine numbering system fresh with their DVD titles. It can be easy to forget their laserdisc titles ever existed.

As a kinda-related side note... There is a possibility that the company's next animated release could be a collection of the stop-motion works of The Brothers Quay. I am making this assumption because when Criterion films guests visiting their library of titles, it often means they are in talks of a deal to release the artists' material. This might be only of minimal interest to furry fans, as there are only a few anthropomorphic characters among the Brothers Quays' works (such as the rabbit in this music video).

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...and photos have just been released of the packaging. Looks sweet!

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Any bet says Criterion would rather regard this as a Wes Anderson movie and not an animated movie (which, let's be honest, they despise).

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Ok, I swear this is my last input on this topic. I just so happen to be a furry AND a Criterion fan :)

Here is a trailer created specifically for the new Blu-Ray/DVD release

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Hey, if you register and login, you can submit future updates to the Newsbytes, and they get sent out on Twitter and whatnot and so forth. More news is good news.

I've already taken the liberty of Newsbyting this and your previous Newsbytes, with credit to you, but I am lazy, and if you do it, I don't have too!

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Thanks for the newsbytes. Yes, I should probably register by this point.

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Wouldn't Fantastic Mr Fox make a brilliant stage musical? - like they've done with Matilda or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

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Maybe, if it's better than the "Fantastic Mr. Fox" grand opera by Tobias Picker, which is so bad that it hasn't been performed since its original production. (Or at least it hadn't the last time that I checked, which was admittedly several years ago). Here is my review.

http://anthrozine.com/site/lbry/yarf.reviews.u.html

Fred Patten

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About the author

crossaffliction (Brendan Kachel)read storiescontact (login required)

a reporter and Red Fox from Hooker, Oklahoma, interested in movies, horror, stand up comedy

Formerly Wichita's only furry comic.