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Wallace & Gromit: The First Three Adventures

review by Zach B.


Not Rated

Studio: Fox

Directed by Nick Park


Retail Price: $29.98

Features: Four of Nick Park's Early Animations, Excerpts from "Inside The Wrong Trousers", BBC Christmas Interstitals

Specs: 1.33:1 Full Frame, Dolby Surround English, English Captions, Spanish Subtitles, Chapter Search

Aardman Animations is one of those best known little studios. They're not so mainstream in America, but they do have their loyal fans such as myself. Though over the summer of 2000 they did score a major hit with "Chicken Run" (and are under contract with Dreamworks for several more films, including a "Wallace and Gromit" feature length film) and made them more of a household name in the States, most people got a glimpse into the brilliant world of Aardman with these Oscar® winning (well, two of them are. The other was only nominated but Park won that year anyway) short films.

This "Wallace and Gromit" DVD features all three of the shorts. All of them are brilliant, and great fun for all ages alike. For those unfamiliar with Aardman, they specialize in clay/stop-motion animation. It's an incredible tedious proccess, since you have to shoot a frame, stop and adjust the models and whatnot and repeat. Still, the process is pretty neat, and these short films show how much of a reward it can be.

The first one which started it all, is the Oscar® nominated "A Grand Day Out". Being the first of the series, you'll probably notice that this is sort of a test run, and that the other two shorts have evolved since this. Meaning, characters and technical aspects are a little different, but no make no mistake, this is still an excellent short. We meet Wallace and Gromit, as well as Wallace's love for cheese. In spite of this, the two decide to build a rocket and venture to the moon to get cheese, since, as everyone knows, the moon is indeed made of cheese. However, a little trouble comes their way with a skiing robot with some bad memories... As stated, this short is very enjoyable. It's fun, it's light, and I'm sure many of you will enjoy it.

Next, is the Oscar® winning (and my personal favortie of the three, plus the first "Wallace and Gromit" I saw) is "The Wrong Trousers". Wallace, our nutty cheese loving inventor, is running a little low on funds and decides to rent a room in his house. He does get someone, a penguin... who is really a crinimal mastermind! Gromit is feeling a little rejected from Wallace, but learns the dangerous truth about the new lodger. The penguin plans on using Wallace's Techno-Trousers for a big heist. Not if Gromit can help it! This is my favorite. Most likely because we meet Gromit and Wallace a little more, and get to know them. The short film is whimisical and has some great scenes and moments, especially the finale, which I thought was amazing.

The final one, also winning an Oscar®, is "A Close Shave". This one has a more darker edge to it, and does feature some really nice moments too. It has an interesting story, and is an excellent "Wallace and Gromit" adventure. This one has Wallace falling in love with a woolshop owner, and Gromit becomes framed for kidnapping sheep. However, Wallace's love's dog is the real crinimal, and is up to no good with Wallace's latest invention, the "Knit-O-Matic".

All of these are wonderful, and run around a half hour each. Also for your convience, each short has chapter stops, which I was a bit surprised to see since the running times are short. Still, I was happy to have them anyhow. "Wallace & Gromit: The First Three Adventures" should be in any animation fans DVD collection.

Presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, all three of the films look really decent. Colors are a little murky now and then, as well as the occasional speck of dirt. Still, detail is really good and the picture is pretty crisp. The resolution is also wonderful. The transfers are very nice, and a lot better than I thought they would actually be.

The English Dolby Surround is decent. There was a little background noise now and then, but I didn't find the surrounds to be so good. Dialogue and music is clear. It's nothing spectacular, it simply fits. It could have been better though, and was expecting more with the surrounds. Ah well.

Surprsingly, Fox has graced us with some nifty features for us "Wallace and Gromit" fans! (I was expecting a bare bones release!).

Most notably are the Four Early Animations by Nick Park. These were stop motion films Nick Park, the director of the "Wallace and Gromit" shorts. The quality ranges, but they are old, so they are not the best. They are quite an interesting watch, and shows he was just as creative as he is now as when he was a kid, and had potential to be a filmmaker...

On the more disappointing side, only Excerpts of "Inside The Wrong Trousers", which go behind the scenes and how that one was made. It's really cool to see how it was done, but it would have been nice if the whole hour long documentary was included. On the subject matter of the making, it would have been great if Park recorded audio commentaries for all three, but oh well. Still, the excerpts are here, and is a nice addition to the package.

Finally, there are BBC Interstitals, basically short promos saying you're watching BBC (British Broadcasting Company) or BBC 2. They are all Winter/Christmas themes.

Wallace and Gromit fans should be really pleased with this release. The sound is average but the picture is pretty sharp. The extras are a nice filling, and the price to get all three of these charming short films on one disc is excellent. Animation and Aardman fans, pick this disc up! Also, if you're thinking of getting this disc, act now! Due to the new BBC and Warner alliance, this disc will be going out of production.

(4/5 (all three), NOT included in final score)




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