REVIEW: Frankenweenie

Frankenweenie
Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: John August (screenplay), Tim Burton & Leonard Ripps (story)
Starring: Charlie Tahan, Catherine O’Hara, Winona Ryder and Martin Short

Frankenweenie is Tim Burton’s second bad movie of 2012, a tragically misguided comedy that is marketed at children but may have trouble finding an audience outside of Burton’s die-hards.  As its title suggests, it is that infamous story of creating life out of body parts, with man’s best friend replacing discarded human remains.

Various parts of other old horror movies creep their way into Frankenweenie’s black-and-white stop-motion world, though the lightheartedly morbid humor and Burton’s stock character types mark it as his.  The emo avatar standing in for him this time is young Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan), a curious scientist-in-the-making whose dog Sparky is hit by a car after retrieving the home run ball in the game Victor’s dad (Martin Short) made him play.

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REVIEW: The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by: Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright & Joe Cornish (screenplay), Hergé (comic)
Starring: Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig and Nick Frost

Steven Spielberg is back in rollicking good form after his three-year break following the unfortunate fourth Indiana Jones escapade with the jaw-dropping animated epic The Adventures of Tintin.  It comes as somewhat of a surprise that Spielberg aims a directorial rebound with motion-capture animation, and yet while you look at the gorgeously rendered surfaces and the extraordinarily lifelike human characters, it appears he has achieved his goal.

Like Martin Scorsese did with Hugo, Spielberg utilizes the latest 3D technology to adapt a family-friendly story of a young boy solving mysteries while at the same time paying homage to the art he loves so much.  Tintin is less a tribute to filmmakers past than it is to this directors’ past adventures, though, which is egotistical but nontheless pays off.

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BEST PICTURE NOMINEE: Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3
Directed by: Lee Unkrich
Written by: Michael Arndt, John Lassetter, and Lee Unkrich (screenplay)
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, and Don Rickles

You always know the latest entry from the people at Pixar is going to be a marvel.  To see how great they are, like a Hattori Hanzo sword, you compare it to every animated movie that wasn’t made by Pixar.  In that respect, the Toy Story trilogy is the greatest animated trilogy animation has ever seen, with help from the exceptionally brilliant third entry.

Adult themes are always under the beautifully varnished animated images of the best animation, and nobody does it better than Pixar.  Last year’s Up was probably enjoyed more by adults than it was by children for that very same reason.  Though this is a story about play-things, the despair over uselessness has never been done quite so well.  Though the film is hilarious, it is at times also heartbreaking.

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REVIEW: Tangled

Tangled
Directed by: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard
Written by: Dan Fogelman (screenplay), Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (fairy tale)
Starring: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, and Ron Perlman

You’ve seen this place before.  The polished forests, trickling streams, song birds chirping in a synchronized melody- you’re in Hell, only this time it looks more polished.

That may be a bit hyperbolic to describe Tangled, the latest Disney princess delusion to sweep children up on waves of fantasy and take them to a perfect world that will never exist.  The images are distinctly old school, reminiscent of Sleeping Beauty or Snow White.  These days, though, Pixar is the bulk of Disney animation, and their technical and story wizards work behind the scenes (the company’s John Lasseter serves as producer) to salvage this movie from destroying itself.  It’s not a bad pairing at times, with beautiful images and story-telling subversion that are well above this movie’s call.

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REVIEW: Despicable Me

Despicable Me
Directed by: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud
Written by: Ken Daurio, Sergio Pablos, Cinco Paul
Starring: Steve Carrel, Russel Brand, Jason Segel, Will Arnett, Kristen Wigg

Maybe our generation is spoiled. Given Pixar just eleven-peated at the box office and in reviews with the latest Toy Story installment, it seems like audiences can’t stomach any other brand of animation. It’s nearly impossible to read a review of an animated movie (Pixar or not) that doesn’t bring up the success the company has with blending sentiment, humor and cinematic beauty into its layers of computer generated imagination. So when any other work outside of Pixar comes out with one-note characters, cheesy karaoke or dance scenes, celebrity voice actors and the promise of a heightened 3D experience, it’s hard not to find it… despicable.

With Despicable Me, it seems no different. There’s the corny villain, the cute non-talking sidekick character(s) and the ‘everybody dances’ scene in the end because filmmakers couldn’t think any other clever, satisfying or touching way to end the story they just told for two hours. But luckily it is mildly saved in mild sentiment, mild story and mild humor of Steve Carrel. Continue reading