Given Wes Anderson is about to release another stop-motion animation picture, Isle Of Dogs, let’s dive into reviewing his very first animation, Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Based on Roald Dahl’s children’s book of the same name, the plot follows the life of a thieving but good-hearted fox, who is simply trying to provide for his family. Unfortunately, he is thieving from three of the meanest and wealthiest farmers in the area, who become tired of Mr. Fox’s criminal activities and decide to think up a scheme to get rid of him once and for all. You might already gather that the story does feel very much like it was intended for children, and I mean duh, it was based on a children’s novel, but unlike most children book to film adaptations, this is a film that can be pleasantly enjoyed by adult’s as well.
This is thanks largely to its marvelous director, whose filmography is one of the best in the business. In his first venture to stop-motion animation, Anderson’s eye for detail is matched with an amazing production design. From the set pieces to the tiniest amount of character traits that have been precisely manufactured, everything in this world that Anderson oversees is amazing to look at. Since everything has to be animated, later on, it just staggers me how much effort would have to be put in to make it all happen. It might also have helped that Anderson directed a crew that also worked on Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, another stop-motion animated film, so I’m not surprised by how great everything looked.
Another great aspect, which should be no surprise, is the obvious skill of Anderson’s shot selection. Apart from being a director who loves to have symmetry in his films, he’s also one of the best users of the lateral tracking shot. Often these scenes, which employ this type of shot, will follow sideways with the characters for extended lengths of time, taking with it all the beautiful visual design in the background. It’s even crazier to think that whilst there was a large amount of effort put into building these set pieces, the shots whizz by so quickly and the set piece is never seen again. These extremely small one-percenters, that have an incredible amount of work behind them but only are used for a few seconds of the runtime, is why I love this film and this director.
There’s not much else to say when it comes down to it because, at the end of the day, when you hear the name of Wes Anderson, you know exactly what you’re getting into a great film. He’s one of the best working in the business and he’s been growing strength to strength with every movie that he’s made. I’m happy to see him return back to the stop-motion animation platform with his latest about to be released, and the fact that’s it set in Japan and has dogs in it is putting almost all of my favorite things in this world together. So, before you go and enjoy that film, make sure you revisit Fantastic Mr. Fox, especially since it’s on Netflix and easily watchable.