Frankenweenie (2012)

FrankenweenieRelease Date: October 5, 2012Director: Tim BurtonStars (voices): Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin LandauRuntime: 87 min.

Tim Burton isn’t my favourite director, but he has a style about him that’s usually easy to appreciate. I haven’t seen many of his classics; but I can tell lately, his charm has been lacking in many of his films. That is most prominent in 2012’s incredibly dull “Dark Shadows”. Burton also released the animated flick “Frankenweenie”, which is actually pretty damn good.

Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.

“Frankenweenie” has a real old-school charm about it, that will satisfy families and, more so, fans of classic horror. It has some attractive messages depicting science isn’t only about the facts, one must have a love and passion for it for their experiment to work properly. It also brings about ideas of the thought of life and death. It also teaches that isn’t so bad to be different. Kids’ll want to bring back their pet if (s)he died, so this movie is sure to strike an emotional chord or two with animal lovers. This movie simply works, as a fun time and a smart spin of that classic “Frankenstein” story. The beginning’s slow, but once it gets to the half-way point and many colourful (well, black and white) characters join in on the “bringing animals back to the dead”, it becomes a true blast.

This is a memorable creature feature. There might be some aspects that won’t have me rushing back to it, but it’s charming to see a stop-animation like this, coupled with an old-school feel thanks to the black and white, and its tone. On second thought, I’d probably add this movie to my collection thanks to the second half alone, because it’s an blast that doesn’t feel lazy in the way it gets resolved. I’m glad I like one of Tim Burton’s animated movies. There are some laugh-out-loud moments in this screenplay and some phenomenal voice-work in here. The most notable voice-work is from Atticus Shaffer (TV’s “The Middle”) as the hunchbacked Edgar “E” Gore, and Martin Short, who is just basically using his own sincere voice for the majority; but he is able to have a true blast as the incredibly strange Nasser, one of the school students hell-bent on winning the science fair. All of the voice performers have fun in this family movie that isn’t always easy-watching for little tykes.

Score: 75/100

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Dark Shadows (2012)

Dark Shadows

Release Date: May 11, 2012

Director: Tim Burton

Stars: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green

Runtime: 113 min

Tagline: Every family has its demons

It’s the year 1752, and Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) and his family had just set sail to America, in search of a greater life. Though, they could not escape the mysterious curse that was placed upon his family. Skip two decades, to where Barnabas is the head of Collinwood Manor, but he makes the mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), a maid who’s really a witch. When Barnabas would not love her in return, she placed a curse upon him to turn into a vampire when he dies, so he will have to live for eternity, knowing that his one true love is dead. Skip two centuries, and Barnabas is just waking up from his dirt nap after being trapped inside of a coffin. He makes his way back to Collinwood Manor, and he offers a little support to his descendants, while Angelique still roams the earth…

Dark Shadows is based on a late 60s to early 70s TV show of the same name. This is also the eighth Tim Burton-Johnny Depp vehicle, and it isn’t very good. The Burton-Depp team has brought us great films like Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow and Sweeney Todd; but they have also brought us bad films like the just okay Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the apparently disappointing Alice in Wonderland. Can you figure out which side it belongs on? It belongs on the bad side. If Shadows were to stand on its own two feet, it isn’t impressive or groundbreaking at all, and if it were to stand with the seven other Burton-Depp vehicles, it would just be awful. Burton has been known for his dark material in films and that signature over-the-topness, and this one is certainly over-the-top, but not in a very good way.

It tries to be funny, and fails. It tries to be fantastic, and fails. There are only one or two pretty good jokes, but the majority of them are big misses. There are some scenes that were meant to be action packed, but they felt really quite boring. They were over the top, but not in the great way we want Burton’s flicks to be. It feels more like a newcomer to the directing game who is experimenting with his options.

The whole vampire love story is getting so old, it’s just about been sucked to death (and brought back to life five times) by the Twilight series. It’s certainly better than the Twilight series, but not by a whole lot. There are some pleasant twists thrown at the audience, that some viewers will like, but most may say, “That’s so ridiculous, I should have saw that one coming.” The story is just a bit too uninteresting to carry itself well enough throughout the entire 113 minutes. It was a giant chore to watch. The acting is okay, and really the only interesting characters are Barnabas (Depp), David (Gulliver McGrath) and Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz). The cast is certainly attractive, but some of them don’t offer their usual chops to the table (excluding Depp and Moretz, the rest are just average).

Dark Shadows has a pretty uninteresting plot and a vampire premise that has highly been worn out, only a few likeable characters that can be counted on one hand, and a generally boring endeavour from the Burton/Depp union.

40/100

A late post for today’s birthdays!

Happy birthday to Sean Connery (82); Blake Lively (25).

Sean Connery

Sean Connery has played great characters: James Bond (often coined the first actor to portray him), but I’ve only seen him in Finding ForresterMarnie and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I’ll have to see the J.B. films before I die, but for now that’s all I’ve seen him in (that I can think of). He’s one great actor and he has a really cool voice. Connery won the only Oscar he was nominated  for; for his work as the character Jim Malone in The Untouchables.

Blake Lively

This girl is one of my favourite actresses, for both her talent and her sexiness. The only films of hers that I’ve seen have all been good (well, no, except for Green Lantern but I’m not counting that because I just couldn’t find it in myself to finish it). While she doesn’t have a very large filmography, she’s been in such films as The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (which was her breakout performance), The Town, Savages (which is still in theatres, and gets released on home media October 23, 2012) and her best known role as Serena van der Woodsen on TV’s Gossip Girl. I always like to see perform.

Other people who were born on this day are Tim Burton (54), Alexander Skarsgård (36) and Rachel Bilson (31).