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DVD cover for Dreamworks edition

This DVD, released by Dreamworks, features the first 3 Wallace & Gromit short films, plus 10 Cracking Contraptions short films

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Amazing Isn't Doing These Adventures Justice

  • Oct 23, 2010
Rating:
+5

My journey to W&G fandom is a rare path indeed, beginning with my acquisition of the Ardman/ DreamWorks collaboration feature film Flushed Away.  It was scooped up in a binge purchase of CGI animated features and while I enjoyed it well enough, I noticed the special features were packed with references to the stop-motion clay duo that put Ardman and creator Nick Park on the map: Wallace and Gromit.

Nobody seemed to have a negative word to say about the franchise, in fact quite contraire: Many of the personalities interviewed said they came on board the Flushed Away project sheerly out of respect and admiration for Wallace and Gromit.  What was this wacky twosome consisting of an absent minded inventor and his silent but super intelligent dog all about anyway? That’s what I intended to find out.

Just by luck I happened to order this, Wallace and Gromit: Three Amazing Adventures, which turns out to be a collection of the first three W&G feature films (The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave, and A Grand Day Out), the behind the scenes (and audio commentary) for all three films, all of the Cracking Contraptions shorts (which are spectacular by the way), and two episodes of the Ardman spin-off series Shaun the Sheep.  Serendipitously, I selected the ultimate starting point of this wonderful franchise if, for nothing else, it’s unrivaled entertainment value.

A Grand Day Out kicks the whole phenomena off with plans of taking a vacation for our inventor and his dog being influenced by a moment of desperation when Wallace runs out of cheese.  Remembering that the moon is made entirely out of the stuff, the decision to build a rocket to transport both he and Gromit to the moon so as to replenish his cupboards.

The Wrong Trousers finds Wallace forced to rent out a room in his house due to a lack of funds.  A shady penguin becomes their new tenant and in the process, forces Gromit to take up residence in his doghouse.  Turns out said penguin is an escaped convict plotting a diamond heist that only Gromit, and the robotic-legged techno-trousers Wallace gave him for his birthday, are up to the task of shutting down.

Lastly A Close Shave opens with Wallace having created a sheep-shearing machine called the Knit-O-Matic, capable of spinning the wool from a sheep right onto the loom. The trouble is a wool shortage causes our tag-team to seek part-time employment in the window washing industry. While on assignment, Wallace finds himself falling for a lonely wool shop owner.  When conspiracy begins cropping up involving the sinister dog Preston, Wallace, Gromit and iconic Shaun the Sheep find themselves in a desperate struggle to save both human and sheep-kind.

If plot summaries don’t do it justice, rest assured that as far as charming story telling, simple yet engaging plotting, and timeless appeal, these films set the precedent!  Advocates of the theory that big budget, highly stylized visuals are a requisite to entertaining animation need look no further to be proven entirely incorrect. 

Nick Park displays a simply uncanny knack for capturing the intricacies of life in his modeling.  The patience revealed here in the very filmmaking process is absolutely staggering and yet the finished product has such a natural fluidity (laced with genuine humor) that the 30-minute runtimes of each movie fly by while leaving the viewer begging for more.  There were moments when returning to the title screen to select the next film were painful enough, the nearly decade-long wait fans had to endure between releases must have been mind boggling!

Being my first encounter with the legendary duo, I think its safe to say that as much as this DVD captures the essence of what makes this material so enduring throughout the years, it also serves as digitally mastered chronicle of Nick Park's ever-increasing sophistication as an animator.  As charming as the initial 1989 film, A Grand Day Out is (even after all these years), the technical bar is raised once more in 1993's The Wrong Trousers, which itself pales against 1995's A Close Shave.  By the time you enjoy the Cracking Contraptions shorts, it’s clear the Ardman/ Nick Park operation was a well-oiled machine.  As if all of this weren’t convincing enough, this disc contains a nice preview for 2005’s Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which, in case you haven’t been paying attention, elevates the formula once again. 

Suffice to say, I had no idea of the charm and majesty I had been missing out on in my apparent W&G ignorance.  I have been gobbling up as much of Nick Park/ Ardman’s material since and this collection here has earned a top position on the entertainment center.  Very highly recommended!!

Amazing Isn't Doing These Adventures Justice Amazing Isn't Doing These Adventures Justice Amazing Isn't Doing These Adventures Justice Amazing Isn't Doing These Adventures Justice

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January 12, 2011
Great review! I love these guys...it's good to know that they get the respect they deserve. Thanks for the breakdown!
January 12, 2011
My pleasure Sam. I was a latecomer to the W&G party but better late than never for sure! Long time no talk, how's everything going?
January 12, 2011
Better late than never for sure! It has been a while...life's going well. A little busy but, good- I've got a wedding and a degree to get in the next few months LOL. How's life treating been you, Jason?
January 13, 2011
Thankfully weddings and degree capturing have already been completed for this guy! I would like to say I'm doing my best to retire here in the early 30s but it turns out society frowns upon such things. So in the mean time it looks like continued devotion to the daily grind and lots of high definition goodness for a while. Great to hear from you Sam!!
January 13, 2011
Good to hear form you, too and it's good to be back! Well, I'm jealous that you have those two handled ;p I'm right there with you and the high definition goodness lol...
 
November 01, 2010
How did I miss this? Very nice. I love W&G.
November 01, 2010
Thanks count! Me too. I was late to the W&G party but I made up for lost time but gobbling up everything I could find. I attempted to branch of into Creature Comforts but found I couldn't quite get into it. Have you ventured into those waters or Shawn the Sheep at all?
November 01, 2010
I've been a fan since I saw "The Wrong Trousers" back in 1992 or 1993. For the most part, I've been a fan of all of Aardman's stuff. I have seen a few of the "Shaun the Sheep" episodes, but not many. I haven't made up my mind on that one yet. It's clearly aimed more at the kiddie audience than W&G, but the animation is still really well done.
November 01, 2010
I am the same way! I did all their feature films (Chicken Run and Flushed Away), a few Shawn the Sheeps, and like I mentioned, even ordered the Creature Comforts seasons. Ardman is just wonderful but, in my opinion anyway, hasn't quite managed to duplicate the awesomeness that is W&G.
 
October 24, 2010
Great review! Orlok also loved this one! So, Jason, where's that review for HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON? :)
October 24, 2010
Thanks William! I have no excuse for taking so long to get around to this series. It is magnificent. Oh man, How to Train your Dragon (Double pack of course) arrived today (with Predators) but my ball and chain works till Monday so I'm not allowed to dive in beforehand :( I did however catch two more CG flicks last night that I'm going to try to get to tonight. Bear with me, brother, I'm chomping at the bit myself! lol
October 24, 2010
LOL!
 
October 23, 2010
I love this set as well, Ware Rabbit with my girl Helena Bonham Carter is classic as well.
October 23, 2010
FM_A: Where the heck have I been during all this W&G stuff? I've been watching (and loving) all of them. More reviews to follow!!
 
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More Wallace & Gromit in Three Amaz... reviews
review by . December 18, 2008
Wallace & Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures DVD
In 1989, Nick Park partnered with Aardman Animation and released a twenty-five minute short film that created a worldwide phenomenon. It featured as its protagonists an eccentric inventor, named Wallace (voiced by veteran British TV and film actor Peter Sallis) and his mute dog, Gromit. Wallace (lovably inept) and Gromit (silent but emotive) would become the cornerstone of Aardman's style of stop-motion animation. Their popularity can be credited to the witty comedic writing, the …
About the reviewer
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing.      … more
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Details

Genre: Adventure, Animation, Classics, Comedy, Family
Release Date: 1989, 1992, 1995
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Studio: Aardman Animation, Dreamworks, 20th Century Fox, Hit Entertainment

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""No Cheese, Gromit!""
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