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Hogfather (DVD)

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Genre: Children's DVDs / Theatrical Release: 2006 / Parental Guidance / Director: Vadim Jean / Actors: David Jason, Ian Richardson, Nigel Planer, Michelle Dockery, Peter Guinness ... / DVD released 2007-11-19 at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

    8 Reviews
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      16.12.2011 13:32
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      Better than The Colour of Magic... but only just

      A Discworld film is something that has been talked about for year, but has so far failed to materialise. The closest we've come is adaptations by Sky of two of Pratchett's books: The Hogfather and The Colour of Magic. When I saw The Colour of Magic, I was deeply disappointed by the way it had been translated to the big screen. Thankfully, The Hogfather is marginally better... just.

      For a start, the casting is better (although still a long way from perfect) and the selection of book wiser. The Hogfather is one of Pratchett's best Discworld titles from that golden period in the late 90s when he was on a real roll. It's also one of the more accessible Discworld books (a parody on Christmas) and requires viewers to have no prior knowledge of Pratchett's world. As such, it holds a wider appeal.

      The plot sees the Hogfather disappear on Hogswatch night (the Discworld Christmas). In order to ensure that children continue to believe in him (so that he does not die), Death decides to take over his rounds. Meanwhile, a deadly and unbalanced assassin, Mr Teatime, is seeking to make sure the Hogfather dies and Hogswatch does not happen.

      As with so many Pratchett books, the plot doesn't actually make a huge amount of sense and you will spend quite a bit of time scratching your head with only the most general idea of what is happening. In the book this was not such a serious issue, as Pratchett's musings on all sorts of topics made for a frequently amusing book, full of delightful observations and humorous diversions. Sadly, the story is slightly different with this TV adaptation.

      Inevitably, in order to fit the plot of the book into an audience-friendly three hour format (2 episodes of 90 minutes each), a lot of the colour has been drained from Pratchett's original tale. One of the funniest things about the books is the constant asides and observations about human nature. These often have little to do with the actual plot, but are amongst the funniest sections. Here, all such meanderings have been lost. The need to keep the episode down to a reasonable running time means that The Hogfather simply concentrates on the plot and some of the book's funniest sections are missing.

      Sadly, this means that a lot of the richness and much of the humour has also gone Read The Hogfather and you will frequently find yourself laughing out loud; watch The Hogfather and you will occasionally smile. The humour is more sporadic and less funny, a watered down version of its written word self. If this was your first experience of Pratchett, you'd probably find it passable enough, but wonder what on earth all the fuss was about.

      Sadly, even though a lot of the book's asides have been excised, The Hogfather still feels a rather pedestrian and drawn-out affair. Perhaps this is because I'm already very familiar with the plot of the book and so the story contained no surprises for me. It does feel very slow-paced, however, and there were times when I wished that they would just get on with it! 3 hours sometimes feels like a very long time.

      It's also fair to say that the film makers' ideas are a lot bigger than their budget. Pratchett's Discworld books display a lot of imagination and, without the big budget of a Hollywood movie, it was always going to be difficult to capture that sense of awe and wonder with the medium sized budget of a UK TV show.

      In fairness, they do their best with what they have got and make a pretty good stab at translating Pratchett's world from page to screen. The shots of the Discworld itself are impressive, whilst the Tower of Arts in Ankh-Morpork (and Ankh Morpork itself) are well constructed. Elsewhere, things are somewhat dodgier. The shots of Death (as the Hogfather) or Binky (Death's horse) flying over Ankh-Morpork are clearly either composite shots filmed against green screen or models and don't look terribly impressive. Similarly, where scaling down of characters takes place (to make one character appear very big; another small), things look rough indeed. The Verruca Gnome, for example, would not look out of place in an old Ray Harryhausen effects film circa 1975. The sad truth is that to do justice to Pratchett's creations, the Discworld books either need to be a mega Hollywood film or an animated tale, where imagination costs a little less! British TV is just never going to be able to do Discworld justice.

      Thankfully, the casting of the characters (an essential part of any Pratchett book) is a lot better than in The Colour of Magic demonstrating a much better understanding of Pratchett's world. Ian Richardson makes a far better job as the voice of Death than Christopher Lee managed in the Colour of Magic, although he still doesn't quite capture the true essence of the character. David Jason is strangely miscast as Death's assistant Albert (although he is better here than in the Colour of Magic), not because he's not a good actor; more because he is the wrong actor for the role. In the books, Albert is a grumpy, cantankerous old man with a deeply cynical perspective which offsets Death's strangely naive and optimistic view of life. Of course, you can't have David Jason being that sort of person, so instead, Albert becomes a lot lighter, laughing frequently (and never cynically). Whilst there are odd attempts to pretend Albert is grumpy (mainly by occasionally getting him to say "buggar"), it's not consistent and means that the crucial dynamic between Death and Albert is sadly missing.

      Michelle Dockery is adequate (if slightly bland) as Death's Granddaughter, Susan, whilst Joss Ackland turns in a good performance as Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully, capturing his loud, larger-than-life shouty personality well (although personally I think that Brian Blessed was born to play the role!).

      It's Marc Warren as unhinged assassin Mr Teatime who steals the show, however. Warren is one of the few actors in this who appears to have read and understood the tone of the book and his performance is absolutely spot-on. He is charming and deadly in equal measure, capturing the way in which Mr Teatime's skewed view of the world allows him to think, say and do things which would never occur to any normal human being. Speaking with a soft, American accent, Warren plays the role to perfection. Indeed, so convincing is his performance that it took me most of the way through the first episode before I realised it even WAS him (despite the fact I knew he was in it) - always the mark of a good performance!

      On the plus side, you can pick this up second hand for around £2 used or £5 new, so it's not going to break the bank. Personally, I'd advise you to pick it up as cheap as you can. Although it's not as disappointing as the following year's adaptation of The Colour of Magic, it's still very much a one-watch wonder and not one of those Christmassy tales that you'll put on every year.

      Basic Information
      ------------------------
      Hogfather
      2006
      Director: Jean Vadim
      Running time: approx. 185 minutes
      Certificate: PG

      (c) Copyright SWSt 2011

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        05.10.2011 18:23
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        Not a masterful adaption but still funny with its own British charm

        Based on the same-name Discworld novel by Terry 'the father of British Fantasy' Pratchett, Hogfather plunged you deep into a magical world filled with quirky and funny characters, obnoxious wizards and supernatural elements that all combined to make you laugh but at the same time marvels at the author's imagination about he managed to create a vivid world such as Ankh-Morpock.

        The Hogfather is the our equivalent of Santa Claus except for reindeers and a fat-bearded old man, we have the pig-faced Hogfather who deliver presents to all children on the eve Hogswatch in his chariot pulled by flying hogs.

        The story takes place on the night where children are getting ready to hang their socks and waits for their presents but due to some devious machinations by the other-worldy beings described themselves as the Auditors, they hired an assassin guild to kill the Hogfather in order for people to stop believing in the spirit of Hogswatch.

        While the Hogfather has dissapeared, Death has to impersonate the Hogfather in order to maintain the Spirit of Hogswatch and the belief in the Hogfather and at the same time ordered her grand-daughter Susan to find out what really happened to the Hogfather.

        While Terry Pratchett's work are very difficult to adapt on-screen, the Hogfather managed to bring the essence of the story to newcomers and clearly stays faithful to the novel with the help of some good casting and a decent-but-not-heavy CGI. The city of Ankh-Morpock, the Unseen University and the costumes are well designed and you can never escaped the humourous tone and twisted dialogues of the story throughout.

        The Hogfather may not be the best adaptation of a Discworld novel in the opinion of the fans, as the pace suffers through the middle notably during the scenes in the Unversity and some of the plots and characters can be confusing to new viewers but ovearall Jean Vadim (Director) managed give us an entertaining and humourous take on the Discworld novel with the a solid performance from Ian Richardson as Death.

        If you want to bathed yourself into the work of Mr Pratchett, then I recommend bravely to start with the Hogfather followed by the Colour of Magic.

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        18.09.2010 16:45
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        good value at the moment, excellent screen version of a well loved series

        Where to buy...
        I got my discs on Amazon - this is available elsewhere, but for £4.66 on Amazon, you can't really argue. There are various editions of this available at different prices, and there is also now a Blu Ray version - i would imagine that the colours, costumes and bizarre settings would look good on Blu Ray, so worth a thought.

        I originally watched this on Sky, and no doubt it will be repeated at various times as well.


        The Story...
        Well, what can you say about Terry Pratchett's wonderful imagination?

        Discworld is an alternative reality, with some similarities to Earth as we know it and some completely alternative ideas - such as the notion that the world rotates on the back of 4 elephants who stand on a giant turtle - who knew?!

        Anyway, in Discworld, there is an equivalent to Christmas, called Hogwatch. In this Discworld adventure, the Hogfather (similar to Santa), disappears and Death (man in a black cape with a scythe) fills in for him. Death's grandaughter, Susan, is a very important character.

        If you have an imagination, like Harry Potter, The Nightmare Before Christmas or The Grinch - watch this.

        Here on DooYoo, this DVD seems to be under 'children's fims' - i wouldn't put it there! I would say this is definately for grown ups, as much of the humour is very dark, but also mocks life a fair bit.


        The actors and actresses...
        David Jason plays Albert, a caretaker kind of character. Marc Warren is Mr Teatime - a Discworld assasin and Ian Richardson is the voice of Death. Michelle Dockery plays Susan, Death's grandaughter.

        The idea of Death having a grandaughter called Susan just makes me so happy!!

        (As an aside, i thought Michelle Dockery was great in the TV adaptation of The Turn of The Screw - well worth a look).

        The acting is very good, however it really is outshone by the maddness that is Discworld and the special effects that make it come to life.


        Other bits...
        This is a two part dramatisation. There have since been other Terry Pratchett novels made into TV series - The Colour of Magic and Going Postal. In order of prefernce - i would put Hogfather at 1, Going Postal at 2 and The Colour of Magic at 3.

        This is PG rated.

        I have the 2 disc edition, which has the two feature length episodes and features including deleted scenes, the making of Hogfather and 12 featurettes.


        My Opinion...
        Brilliant, writing genius, adapted well for TV, appealing to various audiences (although imagination preferable), good value for money and great fun!

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          27.04.2010 19:18
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          Bit strange but enjoyable

          If you like Terry Pratchett's books then you will love this DVD adaptation as for me it's another strange tale that you really need to open your mind to otherwise you may not enjoy it. I have always been someone that every now and again gets into fantasy stories. Sometimes I love them and sometimes I just can't get into them. When I watched the Hogfather when it was released in 2006 I enjoyed it though and found it to be entertaining. I must confess I am not a big follower of Terry Pratchett but I don't think you have to be to be honest with you. This particular story is based on one of the stories in the popular Discworld book series. They all take place in a parallel universe where magic is second nature.

          In this world called Discworld the winter holiday is called Hogswatch which is the equivalent of our our Christmas. However, this particular holiday season something isn't quite right. A contract has been taken out on the life of the Hogfather aka Father Christmas. How do you go about killing a potentially imaginary creature though? The craziest assassin is Teatime played by Marc Warren and he is sent to do the job.

          As he goes about his mission the body count also starts to rise. This catches the attention of Death who is voiced by Ian Richardson. He sets out to fill in for the Hogfather who has gone missing. In turn, Death's antics capture the attention of Susan played by Michelle Dockery who is his grandaughter. When she learns exactly what is going on she sets out find the Hogfather and save his life. This mission takes her to the Tooth Fairy's castle. However, will she be in time and succeed in her mission?

          Despite the killing at times this is generally a light-hearted tale and features some great acting and some great scenes and colours throughout. I really enjoyed this although it can be hard to keep up and make sense of it all at times. I think I'll read a bit more Terry Pratchett books now.

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            03.02.2010 19:01
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            Definitely watch this if you're a Pratchett fan

            The Discworld. That word itself conjures images of wizards, the Watch, Rincewind and luggages, Death and witches and great big flying turtles with four elephants all supporting the world. The stories are rich with British humour, keen observances and lampoons of the real world, and often very deep subtexts on the human condition.

            So how on earth do you make a film adaptation of such a book? How do you introduce these characters into film, and where do you start?

            Well, according to Vadim Jean, it's with Pratchett's 20th Discworld novel - Hogfather, which takes place during the Discworld's celebration of winter Hogswatch, which is strangely familiar to our Christmas. The Auditors of Reality - beings which like the universe to be monotonous and dull - wish to have the Hogfather, the spirit of Hogswatch, killed. The Assassin's Guild decide to give the job to the very bizarre Jonathan Teatime (Marc Warren).
            Meanwhile, Death (voiced by the late Ian Richardson) and his assistant Alfred (David Jason) must stop this from happening. Dressing up as the Hogfather and enlisting the help of his granddaughter Susan (Michelle Dockery), they must keep belief of the Hogfather around long enough to make the new day dawn. But how will they stop Teatime and his hired muscle, and why are they going into the Toothfairy's castle?

            OK, so if any of that made no sense to you, then you haven't read the book. And I think this is the biggest problem with this feature. Released in a four-hour run over two days, there's nothing wrong with the pacing or the storytelling aspects of the film. It's just, unlike the actual books, which you can pick up in any order and still get some good enjoyment out of, this film kind of seems like it was made exclusively to the fans. There are in-jokes and references to characters from the books, and you can tell Jean is a huge fan of the series, but he makes no real attempt at trying to convert the people who haven't read a Discworld book. None of the character interactions are really explained so you're left feeling a bit confused.

            I had been a massive Discworld fan for years when this came out, and if you've been reading them too then you'll get massive enjoyment out of them. There's no doubt that Ankh-Morpork here really feels like Ankh-Morpork should. The characters are spot on, especially Michelle Dockery as Susan, and Joss Ackland as Ridcully. It really does feel like the Discworld

            So while this piece is exactly what you would expect when watching the Disc on screen it really isn't for those new to the experience. Definitely read some of the books first

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            27.12.2009 20:26
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            Record it and keep one finger on the fast forward button!

            The Hogfather is a film based on a novel by Terry Pratchett. I've not read any of his books but generally like all things fantasy-based so decided to sky-plus this when it was on over the Christmas break.

            The Hogfather is a tale set in a mythical city called Ankh Morpork which is an important city in the DiscWorld. It is Hogswatch time (a winter festival in which gifts are exchanged, not unlike Christmas). The Hogfather - DiscWorld's equivalent of a certain fat man in a red suit is busy distributing presents on his sleigh to children on Hogswatch Eve. However the Hogfather has a bounty on his head. Something or someone wants to end Hogswatch and much more. The Hogfather's colleague Death decides to take his role and delivers presents aided by his side-kick Albert who brings some much needed comedy to the situation. Whilst presents are being delivered Death's grand daughter Susan tries to save the day. Meanwhile Mr Teatime (pronounced Te-ah- timeh) captures the tooth fairy and sets in motion a cunning plan to not only end Hogwatch, but the world as they know it.

            The film was an adaptation made for Sky viewers although it is also available on DVD. I've not read the book so can't really comment on how true to the book it is. The film was split into two, two hour long programs, which for me was way to long. I found the story slow to unfold and because of this at times I began to lose interest. Despite the slow pace of the film I found the story a little confusing and started to get lost. I got around half way through the film and found myself only watching this because I'd come so far and wanted to know what happens at the end. I also needed to free up my sky box as it took up a whopping 8%! Frustratingly, the story only started to move forward in the last hour. The rest of the film was just padding. I think it could have done with some serious editing and lost at least an hour, if not more.

            Visually the film was excellent to watch. The DiscWorld was brought to life in an imaginative way and filmed in a Victorian Gothic style. Even then there are plenty of parallels to the modern world as we know it, such as the supercomputer at the university that has 'Ant Hill Inside' (Intel Inside)!

            The adaptation features an all-star cast including Sir David Jason, Michelle Dockery, Ian Richardson, Mark Warren and Tony Robinson to name a few. The acting for the most part was great with an excellent performance as usual by David Jason. I also really liked the character of Death and how he struggled to spread Christmas cheer. I found the assassin Mr Teatime quite annoying. To look at he looked quite creepy with his one glass eye and the other alien eye but the moment he opened his mouth to speak he really started to grate me with his high-pitched voice, which reminded me very much of Johnny Depp's take on Mr Wonka in Tim Burton's version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. There was also some back-story with a group of Wizards but they didn't seem to be doing much to help the story progress so I'm unsure of their role.

            Overall I was not too impressed by this film and with the cast it was boasting I expected better. The story was too slow to get moving and I found myself getting bored. I'm glad I recorded it as it allowed me to watch it in batches rather than in one sitting. One positive that has come out of the film is that I will now be looking out for this book the next time I visit the library.

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              05.08.2009 09:22
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              A terrible adaptation of Pratchett's world....

              Being a semi-big fan of the work of Terry Pratchett, and those of you who regularly read my reviews will know I often blow a bit hot and cold with his books though I tend to like more of them than I hate, I was actually quite excited by the news that Hogfather was going to be made into a two-part mini-series for Sky. Course I don't have Sky, so had to wait until it came out on DVD, but I was kind of hoping it would be worth the wait. Unfortunately I am afraid to say this was a waste of £2.50; the price it cost me to borrow it from the library.

              The Hogfather is Discworld's equivalent of Father Christmas and can only exist as long as people believe in him. When children begin to waiver in their belief, his powers begin to wane but this is all part of a much larger plan. Someone or something wants rid of the Hogfather permanently and has hired The Guild Of Assassins to perform this foulest of all deeds. Enter Mr.Teatime, an apprentice to The Guild, who begins his search for the mysterious mythical figure by hunting down the lair of the Tooth Fairy. Only by completing his assignment can Teatime hope to become a full member of The Guild so there is a lot riding on his success!

              Meanwhile, in a bid to stave off the end of The Hogfather's existance, Death steps in to fill his shoes for the night aided by his manservant, Alfred. Death's grand-daughter, Susan, is less than impressed when she discovers her grandfather's new vocation but nonetheless decides to aid the pair in trying to foil the nefarious plot that has been put into motion. And so, Hogwatch Eve begins to take on a very strange and life-changing air... one thing is for certain, this holiest of annual celebrations will never be the same again!

              Starring a whole host of well-known names that includes David Jason and Hustle's Marc Warren, the show had a lot of promise but I am unhappy to report that the end result is a colossal failure. If you are unaware of the Discworld and it's characters this will probably hold very little appeal and, even for fans, there is more wrong with this than right! The humour of the novels is sadly missing and the Wizards of The Unseen University have been reduced to a group of doddering, miserable old men with no sign of the Librarian, turned into an orangutan in the books after one paticular magical incident. Death, pardon the pun, is a mere shadow of his presence in the books and the whole plot moves along sooo slowly that after the first half, which lasts for 90 painful minutes, I decided to give up the ghost! I really could not bear to watch anymore and I have sat through to the end with some very dire and awful films ~ Deep Water anyone? I didn't think so....

              This is not the first time Pratchett's work has been adapted; previous attempts include a PS0ne computer game series and an animated Channel 4 series that featured the voice of Jane Horrocks. Neither of these were a resounding success either though they didn't do too badly commercially, and the saddest fact of them all is that Pratchett has his name attached to this latest travesty. Certainly I will not be rushing out to hire the second mini-series loosely based on Discworld novels The Colour Of Magic and The Light Fantastic which also stars David Jason who never appears to be off our screens for long anymore with turns in Frost and all his other ITV dross that nonetheless pulls in the viewers.

              As for this, all I can say is AVOID, AVOID, AVOID! It is soo bad that it has even put me off the novels which I have yet to pick-up. And that really is a crying shame...

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                08.05.2009 21:50
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                A great adaptation

                The Hogfather:
                Being a huge Terry Pratchett fan I was thrilled when they announced that there was going to be some dramatisations of his books. They had been tried in the past but, in opinion, they didn't work well. Now with new fancy effects and much bigger budgets they had a better chance of portraying that Pratchett magic.

                The Hogfather first came out as a two part drama, (each part approximately one and a half hours long), on Sky One over the Christmas period of 2006. I watched it with glee, seeing the magical story come to life before my eyes; finally something to do justice to the great Terry Pratchett who is arguably the best comic-fantasy author of all time.
                The story of the Hogfather is all the about the magical Discworld holiday, Hogswatch. It's a lot like our Christmas but with a big, jolly fat hog-man and people celebrate by eating pork-products and giving gifts. Anyway a bad man, Mr Teatime, (pronounced Tee-Er-Tar-May), wants to "kill" the Hogfather and other anthropomorphic personifications of human belief, (think the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy etc), by making people not believe. Little does Teatime know that greater powers than he want the same thing. Neither of them count on an unlikely hero saving the day!

                As I said this "film" was commissioned by Sky One and they certainly threw plenty of money at it. The sets are magnificent depicting the Discworld, (the fictional reality where the Hogfather and most of Pratchett's books are set), almost exactly the way I saw it in my head. I was worried about what it would come out like and I was very pleased with the results and I think most Pratchett fans will be too.
                The casting is great. British favourite David Jason is cast as Albert, a lovely man who is the assistant to Death, (Death is quite nice himself on the Discworld). David Jason suits this role perfectly and is likeable and believable. Death is really played by a man in a big cloak and a mask but the voice is done by Ian Richardson who captures his monotone, indifferent manner very well. The most wonderful characterisation comes from Marc Warren, (of Hustle fame), as Teatime. His acting is amazing and he really makes the character disturbing and deeply creepy. I really love what he did with the character. The only small doubt I had with regards to the casting was Michelle Dockery as Susan, she seemed too pretty and too polite but once I'd watched it I was pleased as she did the character justice and brought out Susan's sensible, bossy side.

                I think most Pratchett fans will be quite happy with the way the Hogfather turned out and will relish the chance to see such a great story on the small screen. Non-fans maybe won't get it as much as fans but I think it is an enjoyable Christmassy film in it's own right. I think there is something in it for all ages and I am sure it will be a Christmas favourite for years to come.

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