REVIEW: Life of Pi

Life of Pi
Directed by: Ang Lee
Written by: David Magee (screenplay), Yann Martel (book)
Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Rafe Spall and Gérard Depardieu

Because of the horrendously vague marketing campaign, the only draw to Life of Pi for me was the Ang Lee directing credit.  Though Lee’s directing career includes some misses (Taking Woodstock, Hulk) he is a master storyteller and when he’s on (Brokeback Mountain, The Ice Storm) few contemporary filmmakers can touch him.

Life of Pi is neither masterwork nor miss.  It is, however, a stunningly gorgeous movie about survival at sea, and all the problems and symbolism that entails.  An inquisitive young boy named Pi (Suraj Sharman) is moving away from his home in India with his family to escape mounting political tensions.  The ship is caught in a storm and sinks.  Pi and four animals from his family’s zoo stowaway on a life boat and drift across the Pacific.

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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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