Ratatouille follows the adventures of a rat named Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt) who dreams of becoming a great chef despite his family's wishes and the obvious problem of being a rat in a decidedly rodent-phobic profession. When fate places Remy in the city of Paris, he finds himself ideally situated beneath a restaurant made famous by his culinary hero, Auguste Gusteau (Brad Garrett). Despite the apparent dangers of being an unwanted visitor in the kitchen of one of Paris' most exclusive restaurants, Remy forms an unlikely partnership with Linguini (Lou Romano), the garbage boy who inadvertently discovers Remy's amazing talents. They strike a deal, ultimately setting into motion a hilarious and exciting chain of extraordinary events that turns the culinary world of Paris upside down.
Remy finds himself torn between following his dreams or returning forever to his previous existence as a rat. He learns the truth about friendship, family and having no choice but to be who he really is, a rat who wants to be a chef.
With a runtime just under two hours it really amazed me that at no time was I looking at the clock wondering how long there was to go. In fact, I would have been happy to see this movie extended even further such was the joy of being in Remy and Linguini's world.
One thing that really astounds about this movie is the brilliant animation. Pixar are pushing new boundaries with this film and while it may not have the 'realism' of Final Fantasy it certainly has a lot more character and artistic merit. It's not just the main characters that look great, but even the background characters, and environments. Paris has been stunningly recreated right down to the detail on the roads and footpaths while even the 'look' and romance of the city has been captured perfectly with some gorgeous lighting effects.
No matter what your age Ratatouille is a movie that is sure to delight. The story, characters and audio visuals all combine to make this one of the, if not the, greatest CG movie of all time. Even if you missed it in the cinemas then do yourself a favour and check out this movie on Blu-Ray now.
Ratatouille is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 and has been encoded using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. Throughout the film the colours are vibrant, detail in shadows remains high and there is no compression artifacting at all. In fact the visuals on this release look no better then when you have close ups of Remy or any of the other rats with each individual hair on their bodies as clear as day.
As one would expect from a CG movie this disc has been transferred directly from a digital source which means there isn't a single moment of grain or dirt on the print and grain is non-existent as well. Finding faults with this transfer is nigh on impossible. Actually, scratch that, it is. This is, for all intents and purposes a perfect transfer and the finest we have seen on the Blu-Ray format to date. For that, Ratatouille gets a perfect score and, as with Pixar's Cars, this is reference quality all the way. Absolutely stunning.
Ratatouille on Blu-Ray includes two main English audio formats. The first is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 640kbps while the second is a Linear PCM track encoded at 4.6Mbps. Both audio formats are extremely impressive although the edge has to be given to the PCM track due to a slightly more lively sound field and more punchy bass frequencies. No matter which track you use though Ratatouille includes frequent use of surround sound channels and sub woofer, crystal clear dialogue, lively music and entertaining effects, particularly when the chefs are cooking up a storm in the kitchen.
If there is one ever so slight disappointment with the audio on this disc it has to be that we have 'only' been given a PCM track at 4.6Mbps which compares to the 6.9Mbps audio on the US release. We assume the reason for this is the increase in non-English tracks. Ratatouille includes French and Dutch DTS tracks at 1.5Mbps, and French, Dutch and Vlaams (Flemish) Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks at 640kbps. Needless to say samples from each showed consistently high quality across the board.
Subtitles on the disc are provided as English, English for the Hearing Impaired, French and Dutch. The text is accurate to the dialogue on screen.
Animated Short: Lifted (5:01/HD): To me, this is one of Pixar's weaker animated shorts. Still there is no denying how gorgeous it looks in High Definition.
Animated Short: Your Friend The Rat (11:16/HD): An entertaining look at the history of the rat and how, in reality, they are friends of humans. According to the rat the Black Plague was actually caused by fleas! Perhaps the most interesting is that most of this short movie is hand drawn (there's even a segment in the Documentary Shorts about making this short film).
Fine Food and Film (13:54/HD): A short featurette featuring director Brad Bird and Chef Thomas Keller, one of America's top chefs. It looks at the art of cooking, and using this experience in real kitchens to help develop Ratatouille. Quite an interesting feature.
Documentary Shorts (50:58): Consider this the bulk of the extras with almost an hours worth of development footage split into ten sections. These documentaries include interviews and behind the scenes details. Well put together this looks at many aspects of developing Ratatouille. These shorts can be viewed through the Cine-Explore feature.
Deleted Scenes (15:06): These three deleted scenes are use 2D drawings which have been roughly animated with a 3D process which gives them quite a bit of life, but not the full rendering from the final movie. Quite fascinating with members of the production crew detailing why the scenes didn't make it into the movie. A brilliant inclusion on this disc.
Deleted Spots RIP (3:12): A great little montage of scenes that were shot and the 'effect' that it had on the animators when they heard it was being cut. Actually this is very amusing. I love it.
Remembering Dan Lee (3:00): A nice tribute to Dan Lee who passed away at the age of 34 during the making of Ratatouille. It's great to see brilliant artists such as this remembered in such a way.
Gusteau's Gourmet Game: A Java based game which will have some people interested, for a little while - particularly youngsters. Not great, but one of the better Java games to date on Blu-Ray discs.
Easter Eggs!: Should you go to the main menu where all the extras are listed and press Left a couple of times you will notice 5 new options appear. These are short outtakes or clips showing some other amusing aspects of production. A few more minutes worth of fun is to be had here, but we'll leave the content to be a surprise!
Review By: Dave Warner