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Monday, December 22, 2008

Review: THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX



I have not seen an animated film like this in a long time.

Watching Despereaux is like watching an old fairy tale animated movie classic. There is a hero that is not yet a hero who goes on a quest becoming the hero he was always meant to be along the way. While this story has been told in almost every animated movie, Despereaux is different. They don't go for the jokes, pop culture gags, and fart humor. They tell a story and if a joke happens to come out of it then all the better. Finally, this gives an animated movie a full story, one we haven't heard or seen in a while.

Despereaux is the tale of a mouse with large ears who isn't afraid of anything. He lives in the Kingdom of Dor, which has always loved Soup and Rats (?). One day though, a rat ruined the soup, causing the death of the queen - and leading to both being banned from the kingdom. Years later (apparently - cause nobody ever seems to age) tiny Despereaux is set with the task of bringing all of these things back with the intent of being accepted into his community in the process.

This is not done with out flaws.

You never catch the name of any character besides Despereaux, there are a few too many plots happening at the same time, and the ending just seems to happen coincidentally - not for any real reason or chain of events. It just wraps up to nicely. Also there is a terribly overbearing Narrator - voiced by Sigourney Weaver, who chimes in literally every five minutes with a new moral to say - but then taking it back later so the next moral will make sense. It gets annoying fast.

However, the art is astounding. The backgrounds are some of the highest quality I have ever seen, and while the character animation and models are nothing special, they do have a certain charming aesthetic to them. Especially the rats, the leader of which looks so much like Anton Ego from Ratatouille, it is absurd.

Overall I enjoyed the movie a lot, but it could have been better. It certainly is a film that the whole family can enjoy though, and hopefully other studios take a tip from the key points of what made Despereaux good, and don't just gawk about what is missing.
2 stars

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