First Early Details on Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox
Three evil, angry farmers, tired of sharing their chickens with a sly fox, band together in order to get rid of their opponent and the rest of his family. That, in short, is the story behind Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson's latest film set to release November 6th of this year. Following The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox is both a departure and an expected evolution for Anderson. And since we haven't heard much about this yet, it's a perfect time to introduce everyone to the story and this particular adaptation. That is the official logo above, courtesy of a shot by JoBlo, that comes from the show floor at ShoWest in Vegas.
As an adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl book, this is the first time Anderson has tackled something other than his own intellectual property. However, the story of Fantastic Mr. Fox isn't all too out-of-bounds for him - though it involves woodland animals instead of dysfunctional humans, at its core it's still a story about family. To expand a bit on the plot, Mr. Fox, when thwarted by the three angry farmers, must find a way to provide for his wife and children, but quickly finds that the siege waged by the farmers is also causing the other woodland creatures to starve as well. So it's up to Mr. Fox to outwit the farmers and save his family and new-found friends. Tonally, I'd expect something very similar to the rest of Wes Anderson's catalog, but it's the visuals that will set this film apart.
Though he dabbled in animation with The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, this is Anderson's first foray into the world of feature-length animation. Fantastic Mr. Fox uses a whole gamut of animation styles, though stop-motion animation is most prevalent throughout. The crew who animated Tim Burton's Corpse Bride was tapped to bring Anderson's vision to life and Henry Selick was even attached to the project for a bit, though he left in 2006 to tackle Neil Gaiman's Coraline. So, it seems, Anderson is at least surrounding himself with the right people to make this a success.
And what of the people behind the characters? Anderson has gathered a knock-out cast list to breathe life into these animals. George Clooney and Cate Blanchett are voicing Mr. and Mrs. Fox, Bill Murray is Mr. Badger, and Meryl Streep and Anjelica Huston will be lending their talents as well as the contractually-obligated-to-appear-in-every-Wes-Anderson-film Jason Schwartzman. As a departure from the norm, Anderson chose to record the voicework outside the studio, venturing into the woods, underground, and up to an attic with his actors. (Which is just really, really cool anyway.)
So how will it all play? This past weekend, Fantastic Mr. Fox was screened for a small test-audience in New Jersey. According to The Playlist, not a whole lot is floating around the web about how it all went down. They were, however, able to glean a bit from the often terrifyingly ludicrous IMDb message boards. A user wrote that it was screened with only about 50% of its animation complete, some missing voicework, but all that aside, it played very well. He went on to say that it looked "absolutely fantastic" and that "all of the models and backgrounds are intricately detailed … you can see the individual hairs on the foxes' faces move about in the wind on close ups… the action scenes were both good to look at and fun to watch."
Also, apparently the plot is said to not deviate too far from that of the book, though the ending had been changed slightly. However, since this is a very early test screening, the ending is most assuredly going to see some transformation before anything if finalized. Bill Murray is said to be brilliant, as well as whoever plays Farmer Boggis, who is being kept a secret at the moment.
I know I'll be keeping my ear to the ground for more on Fantastic Mr. Fox. 20th Century Fox is distributing and that logo above is the first time we've seen anything in the wild. While I haven't been a fan of Anderson's most recent work, there's no denying that he's a talented filmmaker and one with something to say. Not to mention, I'm a sucker for stop-motion films. And woodland animals. So, has this peeked your interest yet, whetted your whistle, or made you hope that Mr. Badger, as played by Bill Murray, gets blown up in an ironic twist of time-traveling fate by Carl Spackler, as also played by Bill Murray? What say you?