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: Rango

Rango
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Written by: John Logan (screenplay)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Ned Beatty, and Bill Nighy

Go ahead, label Rango an animated vehicle for Johnny Depp driven by his Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski.   You wouldn’t be wrong, but you would be guilty of oversimplifying one of the most outlandish and downright weird animated movies to cross mainstream audiences in a long time.

It seems almost mandatory at this point to acknowledge that Rango is indeed not a product of Pixar.  However, it doesn’t come from Dreamworks either, but rather Nickelodeon.  To this end, the bizarre twists and somewhat more mature material seem more at home.  So too does Depp, voicing The Chameleon With No Name who later assumes the identity Rango when he stumbles into an Old West Town.

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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: 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: Shrek Forever After

Shrek Forever After
Directed by: Mike Mitchell
Written by: Josh Klausner and Darren Lemke (screenplay)
Starring: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, and Antonio Banderas

Outside of Pixar, the Shrek franchise is probably the most famous digital animation escapade.  The first Shrek is widely considered a classic, an uproarious send-up of the Disney fairy tale.  The subsequent entries have all had their share of laughs, but none have matched the first one for blending heart-warming story with beautifully done satire.

The same is true with Shrek Forever After, the fourth and (they say) final installment in the series.  This one finds Shrek (Mike Myers) discontent and emasculated as the head of his new ogre family.  His first part in the movie begins with an intentionally redundant montage sequence showing the repetitiveness of his every day life with his three kids and his wife Fiona (Cameron Diaz.)

The rest of the movie follows Shrek as he pays for his discontent by making a fool’s bargain with Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) and trades one day in his life for one day as an unhinged ogre.  The impish Stiltskin tricks him, taking back the day he was born and sending him to a world where he never existed.  From here on out, it’s a not so wonderful life.

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