Sunday, 4 January 2015

'Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death’ Review

Wallace and Gromit were a pretty big part of my childhood, as they were and continue to be for a great many people. I remember how excited I was as a kid, desperately searching the Christmas TV listings for a sign of the hapless duo. ‘A Grand Day Out’, ‘The Wrong Trousers’ and ‘A Close Shave’ remain three of the best short films ever created, animated or non.

As you would imagine I was excited for the feature film follow up, ‘The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’. However I found myself disappointed by the film for a variety of reasons. I felt that the core of what made Wallace and Gromit great had been lost. The friendship between the leads had been watered down by the focus on the expanded cast and the story felt far too stretched to support the extended running time. It was fairly obvious to me that the spark of the early shorts had been lost, passion to create replaced by a sense of inevitable obligation.

Therefore when ‘A Matter of Loaf and Death’ came out I really wasn’t that enthused for it. I completely ignored it, ignored it that is until now. So is ‘A Matter of Loaf and Death’ a return to form for the comedy duo or a continuation of the curse?

So Wallace and Gromit have changed business once again, with the pair now working as bakers. It is an unfortunate time for the baking industry however as a killer is on the loose, one who only targets bakers. Wallace meets and falls in love with a woman named Piella Bakewell, but is she all she seems? 

Now when I said earlier that I considered the three original shorts classics I really should have added an * next to ‘A Close Shave’. Because as much as I like ‘A Close Shave’ it just feels lazy to me compared to the earlier two. It feels like it is trying to copy what made ‘The Wrong Trousers’ good and only partially succeeds. It succeeds only because ‘The Wrong Trousers’ was so good that a reproduction of it still feels pretty darn good.

Unfortunately a photocopy of a photocopy will only keep so much of the original quality and ‘A Matter of Loaf and Death’ feels anything but fresh out of the oven. The story is just an amalgamation of the previous two shorts, ‘The Close Trousers’ or ‘A Wrong Shave’ if you will. Now just imagine Wallace falling in love with the penguin from ‘The Wrong Trousers’, that’s what this film is. Oh and change Shaun the Sheep for a poodle while you’re there, done.

The story of this film couldn’t feel much more like it was going through the motions. This is a shame because technically speaking it’s very hard to fault ‘A Matter of Loaf and Death’. The animation is brilliant as always, as is the cinematography, music and production design. Even the script is pretty strong, in terms of dialog at least. It’s just the plot, it feels completely lifeless and even a somewhat revitalised Wallace and Gromit can’t save it.

‘A Matter of Loaf and Death’ isn’t bad, far from it. It’s just unnecessary, which is something that the originals I excitedly searched the TV listings for weren’t. It’s a shame to see a series of films focussing on invention having none of their own.

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