Archive for stop motion animation

Hell and Back

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

At a rundown pier carnival, idealistic promoter Remy (Nick Swardson) is desperate to bring in business. He is friends with the overweight and odd carnival repairman Augie (T.J. Miller) and the insolent assistant manager Curt Myers (Rob Riggle). After Curt discovers that the bank has foreclosed the carnival, a frustrated Remy heads down to the boat of a fortune-teller named Madame Zonar (Kerri Kenney-Silver), who is in possession of a crying Devil book. Seeing an opportunity to bring in business, Remy tells his friends that people would come around to see the Devil crying and sets the book up at The Gates of Hell, the park’s main ride attraction. When Curt requests a mint Remy has in his possession, Remy forces Curt to take a blood oath so he can pay Remy back with a mint only for Curt to callously admit that he doesn’t have a mint. While Remy and Curt argue, Augie sees strange weather and soon, Curt is sucked into Hell itself through the ride and Remy and Augie take a car from the ride into the portal to rescue Curt.

After landing in Hell, they discover that it is full of green lost souls and aggressive demons. After being discovered, they are taken to the Devil (Bob Odenkirk) himself, who reveals to be an aggressive, if comical being, who is just coming from a meeting. He encounters the duo and while speaking with them, mentions the Greek legend Orpheus who has a reputation for bringing mortals out of Hell. He forces the duo to hide while meeting with an angel from Heaven named Barb (Susan Sarandon) who he is infatuated with. When Barb mentions that she is aware of the mortals in his domain, he tries to show them to her, but discovers that they have escaped and calls out a search for them. Remy and Augie try to use a contraption to escape, but are discovered and are about to be apprehended by demons. Just then, a ship appears and captures them and a demon. On the ship, a mysterious figure disposes of the demon. When the duo tell the figure why they’re here, the figure reveals herself to be a female demon named Deema (Mila Kunis) who Augie becomes infatuated with. She agrees to take them to Curt if they take her to Orpheus They track him using the Devil’s cell phone (which Remy and Augie snagged from his office).

Meanwhile, Curt meets the Devil and hits it off with him pretty swell, but when mentioned that he is being sacrificed for not living up to his blood oath, he persuades the Devil to not sacrifice him via a contract if he puts on a show to win the favor of Barb who had a fling with him while she was dating God. It was God sent the Devil to Hell for this. Remy, Augie, and Demma locate the way to Orpheus which is guarded by Deema’s mother Durmessa (Jennifer Coolidge), but they manage to make it past her. Before Deema passes through, Durmessa warns her that Orpheus isn’t what she expects him to be. They use a submarine to find Orpheus and eventually locate him when he finds them through a giant robot. They discover that Durmessa was right about him as Orpheus (Danny McBride) reveals to be an eccentric slacker who is retired from bringing people out of the Underworld. Remy is the only one who seems to enjoy his lifestyle. After passing 2/3 of Orpheus’s ridiculous tests, he reveals himself to be Deema’s father, as he had a fling with Durmessa, but never came home. Annoyed with Orpheus, Deema leaves and Augie decides to go with her upon being fed up with Remy’s selfishness. After sharing a romantic moment, they discover from the Devil’s cellphone that Curt is being sacrificed at the crossroads and head out to save him.

When Remy finds out where Curt is via Orpheus’s TV, he leaves to find him and uses a Purgatory boat to catch up with his friends and reconciles with them. The Devil goes back on his deal with Curt and decides to sacrifice him anyway. After the Devil retires to the bathroom after he ate Curt’s contract, Remy, Augie, and Deema manage to make it past the Demons guarding Curt and reunite with him. They find themselves at the mercy of the demons and the Devil who decides to sacrifice them all. Having a change of heart, Orpheus attempts to rescue them while disguised as the leader of a demon band, but is also captured. Barb, who the Devil called and showed her the mortals, comes to Hell via a stripper’s pole and she becomes attracted to Orpheus because of his song when he disguised himself. A jealous Devil tries to use a bazooka cannon full of T-shirts to kill Orpheus. When they are escaping, a T-shirt hits Barb, knocking her unconscious. While they are falling, Remy slaps Barb awake, but the group find themselves in the lower regions of hell full of living sex-offender trees. One sex-offender tree (H. Jon Benjamin) had raped Orpheus (which he mentioned multiple times earlier). Orpheus will forgive him if he rapes the Devil, which he does later on.

Remy, Augie, Curt, and Deema are caught and bounded by the trees and when Remy is eventually held down by roots, Curt, while hanging upside down from a tree, drops a mint onto Remy. Although upset at first about Curt keeping this from him, Remy is told that if he eats the mint, the blood oath will be paid. The Devil and a demon try to stop him, but Remy eats it reopening the portal that brought the mortals to hell, sending them back to the land of the living with Deema going with them. When the Devil asks them where Barb is, she eventually appears with Orpheus flying on her, telling him about their relationship, much to his distress. On the surface, the group discovers that Remy’s idea to keep the park open is actually successful as people are lining up with coins in their hands to watch the Devil cry.

6 months later, Remy uses the money to renovate the carnival with attractions that are similar to what is seen in Hell, including an attraction called the “Gates of Heaven” with Orpheus and Barb in it.

The ending credits show a lost soul in Hell and a Demon who keeps misleading him (as he does this many times in the film) with the occurrences ending with the demon saying “Welcome to Hell.”

REVIEW:

Back in the fall, I heard a few things about Hell and Back, a small animated film that most definitely is not for kids. Once it left the theater, though, that was the last I heard anyone speak of it, until it popped up on Netflix a couple of weeks ago. Curiosity finally got the better of me and I caved this evening. Hopefully, this won’t be a mistake.

What is this about?

After their buddy is accidentally sucked into hell, two friends set off on a wild quest to rescue him. In the process, the duo encounters more than a few strange spirits, including an alluring angel and the devil himself

What did I like?

Theology meets mythology. Mixing Greek mythology with the theological notion of hell is not something that is done often. When was the last time you heard of Charon ferrying people to the gates of hell, or Orpheus and the devil fighting over an angel? That is what you get here and, while I thought the filmmakers were just trying to cram all character associated with the Underworld, somehow it works!

Location. Everyone has their own personal idea of hell. These filmmakers decided that the portal to hell is located in an amusement park ride called “The Gates of Hell”. Interesting place to have it, right? I actually liked that it was there and didn’t just pop up in some random abandoned warehouse, some unsuspecting person’s house, restaurant, etc.

Creativity. Maybe this was done so that we could tell lost souls from the demons and our mortal stars, but it was a nice touch to have said souls looks like some sort of ghost-type shadow. I wonder if that is what our souls actually look like, since I doubt we will bare any resemblance to these mortal coils in the afterlife. Also, the one soul that was being tortured by the most mundane things, such as no pizza at a Pizza Hut/Taco Bell.

What didn’t I like?

Douche cast. I don’t know if it is how these characters are written or if it is the people voicing them, but I found it hard to like anyone. T.J. Miller’s character may have been the most likable, but that was only because he was often targeted for being a bit on the chubby side. Have we, as a society, reached the point where these are the kind of characters that will populate every film from now on? Who wants to see sarcastic douchebags in everything, as opposed to normal people?

Devil. At first, we see the devil as we all imagine him, a big red, scary guy. Then he changes into something that resembles Fred Astaire, in my opinion, but he’s also pink and one of his horns is bigger than the other. All this to impress the angel, Barb. I get the changing your look and all, even if you are the devil, but pink, seriously?!?

Sex offender forest. This is hell, and every evil thing imaginable is supposed to be down here, but was it really necessary to have an entire forest of rape trees? What’s worse is that we nearly see a rape happen! It was one thing to mention this place in passing and all, but to actually show it seemed a bit much for my taste. Maybe I’m alone in thinking this way, though.

Final verdict on Hell and Back? Not knowing what to expect when I started this film, my expectations were low. As the film went on, I didn’t become anymore enamored with this flick. I believe this was made just as a satire on everyone’s concept of hell, or maybe it was counter programming to all these conservative Christian films that are being released right now. Who knows? If you were to ask me, though, if I would recommend this flick, my answer is no. There just isn’t anything here worth watching. If you want to see a modern take on hell, check out Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, Lucy Daughter of the Devil, or even go back and watch George Burns’ Oh, God! You Devil franchise or either Bedazzled films.

2 out of 5 stars

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The Boxtrolls

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the European town of Cheesebridge, rumors abound that subterranean trolls known as Boxtrolls kidnap and kill young children. Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) strikes a deal with Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris), offering to exterminate every Boxtroll in exchange for membership in the White Hats, a group of cheese lovers led by Lord Portley-Rind that serves as the town council.

The Boxtrolls prove to be peaceful creatures, wearing cardboard boxes, who emerge from underground at night to scavenge through the trash for items they can use in their inventions. A baby boy named Eggs lives among them, cared for by a Boxtroll named Fish (Dee Bradley Baker). As he grows up over a period of ten years, Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) learns that the population slowly decreases due to being captured by Snatcher.

Lord Portley-Rind’s neglected daughter Winnie (Elle Fanning) grows frustrated at being ignored and throws his white hat out a window. Leaving the house to retrieve it, she sees Eggs rummaging through trash with two Boxtrolls. Snatcher and his men chase the trio and capture Fish. Devastated, Eggs puts together a disguise and sneaks back up to the surface to find him. Eggs emerges in the midst of an annual fair to commemorate the disappearance of the Trubshaw Baby eleven years earlier – presumably kidnapped and killed by Boxtrolls. Disgusted by the town’s inaccurate portrayal of the creatures, he follows Winnie away from the fair. She recognizes him as the boy she saw the previous night and directs him to Snatcher’s headquarters, an abandoned factory.

Sneaking into the factory, Eggs finds Fish locked in a cage and frees him. Meanwhile, Snatcher holds a cheese tasting with his men Mr. Gristle (Tracy Morgan), Mr. Trout (Nick Frost), and Mr. Pickles (Richard Ayoade) as preparation for becoming a White Hat, but proves ironically to be allergic to cheese, causing his entire body to swell. Eggs and Fish try to sneak out of the factory only to be caught by Mr. Gristle. Snatcher recognizes Eggs as the Trubshaw Baby and reveals that all the captured Boxtrolls are still alive and building a machine. Winnie overhears this exchange upon having followed Eggs to the factory. They and Fish escape from Snatcher and take shelter in the Boxtrolls’ underground cavern.

Winnie is surprised to learn the truth about the Boxtrolls, and convinces Eggs that he is not one of them. His father had given him to them as a baby in order to keep him safe from Snatcher. Winnie agrees to help Eggs tell Portley-Rind the truth. At a ball that night, Eggs narrowly avoids capture by a disguised Snatcher and inadvertently knocks a giant cheese wheel down the stairs so that it rolls into a river. Eggs announces himself to the crowd as the Trubshaw Baby, but no one believes him and Lord Portley-Rind throws him out in a fury over losing his beloved cheese.

Eggs returns to the cavern and tries to persuade the remaining Boxtrolls that they need to flee for their own safety. Snatcher digs into the cavern using his machine, captures the entire group, and takes them back to the factory. Eggs, imprisoned in a cage in the basement, awakens to find his real father Herbert Trubshaw (Simon Pegg) hanging upside down next to him when it turns out that he was held captive for years by Snatcher. He sees the Boxtrolls stacked in a crusher and begs them to run, but the crusher activates and flattens all the boxes.

Snatcher drives his machine to Lord Portley-Rind’s house, shows him the flattened boxes as proof of the Boxtrolls’ deaths, and demands Portley-Rind’s white hat once he kills the last one (actually Eggs dressed up as a Boxtroll). Winnie persuades Mr. Trout and Mr. Pickles to redeem themselves by not killing Eggs. The Boxtrolls suddenly arrive with Trubshaw, having sneaked out of their boxes just before the crusher activated, and free Eggs. An infuriated Snatcher tries to take Portley Rind’s hat by force, but Eggs, his father, and the Boxtrolls disable the machine. Eggs and Snatcher are thrown clear, hitting the giant cheese wheel as it is pulled out of the river, and Snatcher swells into a grotesque giant and forces Lord Portley-Rind to give up his hat. Snatcher triumphantly enters the cheese tasting room, but unconcerned about his allergy, explodes after taking one bite.

The townspeople no longer see the Boxtrolls as monsters and come to live peacefully with them. Winnie tells the tale of Snatcher’s end to a crowd of people, while Eggs and Fish drive off in one of his father’s contraptions

REVIEW:

Is it me, or has this year been a little light on the family faire? What little there had been hasn’t exactly lit the box office on fire. Hopefully, The Boxtrolls will change that fact, or at least provide an alternative to the revenge flick that is The Equalizer and the horror-comedy Tusk (in the areas where it is still showing). Can this British kiddie flick charm enough adults to bring them back for more?

What is this about?

THE BOXTROLLS are a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who have lovingly raised an orphaned human boy named Eggs in the amazing cavernous home they’ve built beneath the streets of a city called Cheesebridge. The story is about a young orphaned boy raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors who tries to save his friends from an evil exterminator, the town’s villain, Archibald Snatcher. When Snatcher comes up with a plot to get rid of the Boxtrolls. Eggs decides to venture above ground and “into the light,” where he meets and teams up with fabulously feisty Winnie. Together, they devise a daring plan to save The BoxTrolls family.

What did I like?

Stop motion surprised. This is stop motion animation. If you are an avid reader of this blog, then you know how much I turn into a drooling fanboy when it comes to stop motion, so no need to say that I liked the fact that it is stop motion and not CG. However, there is something about the animation that I have to mention. About midway through the credits scene, two of the henchmen start talking and one of them says something along the lines of, “what if someone was controlling us?” The camera pans back and you can see one of the sculptor animators working on him. I found that to be totally awesome and I don’t believe anyone has ever done this before, at least outside of Rey Herryhausen documentaries or stop motion classes.

Trolls. The Boxtrolls don’t speak in anything more than grunts and random sounds, and yet they have just as much life in them as the humans, perhaps more. I didn’t catch on at first, but they are named for the kind of box they are wearing. For instance, one of them wears a box marked “Fragile”, thus his name is Fragile. As far as the personality of each is concerned, they show heart and innocence that makes you care for them, even perhaps shuddering when something nearly happens to them near the film’s end. I won’t spoil it, but I will say that it is life threatening for them.

Henchmen conflict. “Good always triumphs over evil.” “We’re the good guys, right?” These are a couple of conflicting thoughts that the henchmen, well 2 of them, wonder about as the film goes on and they commit more and more heinous acts toward the Boxtrolls and nearly kill some humans! We’ve all wondered about how henchmen join up, I’m sure. Before the Star Wars prequels, I wondered were all the Strom Troopers came from. This is the first time, though, that I can recall henchmen actually questioning what they are doing, even if they have apparently been tricked into thinking Boxtrolls are evil. It makes for some interesting conversation between the two and gives them character, rather than brainless yes men.

What didn’t  I like?

Girl. The film is moving along at a nice pace, the audience is moving along at a nice pace and then BAM! We are introduced to an annoying little girl with a smart mouth and a penchant for death, apparently. For me, things would have been so much better without her, as she does nothing to make her forced entry into the goings on worthwhile. The best way I can describe her is when Arcee was brought in to the 80s Transformers cartoon. The only reason she existed was for the female fans. I believe this little girl exists for something similar, just so little girls can have a female presence on the screen.

Design. While I do love the animation of this film, I wasn’t too pleased with the design of the characters. These are some ugly human beings. The Boxtrolls actually look better. Now, when I say that, I am speaking from an attractiveness angle and not aesthetically. I know that British people are stereotypically known for having horrible teeth, but good grief! Also, the upper crust of this town sure didn’t look any different from those that lived in the slums. How is that?!? Think about Rango for a minute. The animals in there are horrible looking, yes, but remember that is a bit of a western and they have that dirty, dusty western look that many people had in westerns (unless they were a major character). The same kind of thought process should have been used with these people. It appears that this was set in the Victorian era, so make the people look like that, rather than sewer rats in nice clothes!

Importance of cheese. Cheese, oh wondrous cheese! I love cheese, be it by the slice, on a sandwich, toast, burger, or in block form, but I have nothing on the people in this town. Wow! They take cheese to a whole new level. Up until now, I thought the most cheese obsessed character was Monterey Jack from Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers, but he has nothing on out villain Archibald Sinister, who ironically has some kind of allergy to the stuff. What I find most appalling, though, is how cheese takes precedence over the hideous little girl, for the leader of the White Hat society, and apparent mayor of the town. Can we say problem?

When I first heard about The Boxtrolls, I thought it was going to be some light, fun flick, but this turned out to be far from the truth. This is a fairly dark film, but it has its cute moments. Recently, I rewatched Mary and Maxand it had the same tone, if you will. The voice cast is outstanding, though I couldn’t help but think of Moss from The IT Crowd everytime I heard Richard Ayoade’s voice. Both kids and adults will find something that appeals to them. In the theater I was in tonight, the little kids were cracking up through a lot of it, so there you go. Do I recommend this? Yes, very much so. It is most definitely worth a watch!

4 out of 5 stars

James and the Giant Peach

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the 1930s, James Henry Trotter is a young boy who lives with his parents by the sea in the United Kingdom. On James’s birthday, they plan to go to New York City and visit the Empire State Building, the tallest building in the world. However, his parents are later killed by a ghostly rhinoceros from the sky and finds himself living with his two neglectful aunts, Spiker and Sponge.

He is forced to work all day and they threaten him with beatings to keep him in line and taunt him about the mysterious rhino and other hazards if he tries to leave.

While rescuing a spider from being squashed by his aunts, James meets a mysterious man with a bag of magic green “crocodile tongues”, which he gives to James to make his life better. The soldier warns him not to lose the “tongues” and disappears. When James is returning to the house, he trips and the “tongues” escape into the ground.

A peach is soon found on a withered old tree, and expands into immense proportions. Spiker and Sponge then use the giant peach as an attraction, making lots of money as James watches from the house, not permitted to leave. That night, James is sent to pick up the garbage. While doing so, he grabs a chunk of the peach to eat as one of the “crocodile tongues” unknowingly jumps into it. A large hole appears inside the peach and James crawls inside, where he finds and befriends a group of life-size anthropomorphic bugs who also dream of an ideal home (Grasshopper, Centipede, Earthworm, Miss Spider, Ladybug, and Glowworm), and is also turned into a more animated form. As they hear the aunts search for James, Centipede manages to cut the stem connecting the giant peach to the tree and the peach rolls away to the Atlantic Ocean with James and his friends inside it, seemingly crushing Spiker and Sponge’s antique car as they try to chase it.

Remembering his dream to visit New York City, James and the insects decide to go there with Centipede steering the peach claiming he sailed the world as a “Commodore”. They use Miss Spider’s silk to capture and tie a hundred seagulls to the peach stem, while battling against a giant robotic shark. They escape just in time. While flying, James and his friends eventually find themselves hungry and soon realize that “their whole ship is made out of food”. After gorging most of the inside of the peach, Miss Spider, while using her web to tuck in James, reveals to him that she was the spider he saved from Spiker and Sponge. James then has a nightmare of him as a caterpillar attacked by Spiker, Sponge, and a spray the aunts used that resembles the rhino. When he wakes up, he and his friends find themselves in The Arctic, lost and cold. The Centipede has fallen asleep while keeping watch, resulting in them drifting further away from their expected destination. It is then revealed that the Centipede has never traveled the world and has lived on two pages of the National Geographic. After hearing the Grasshoper wishing they had a compass, Centipede jumps off the peach into the icy water below and searches a sunken ship for a compass but is taken prisoner by a group of skeletal pirates. James and Miss Spider rescue him and the journey continues.

As the group finally reaches New York City, a storm appears. A flash of lightning reveals the rhino approaching them. James is frightened but faces his fears and gets his friends to safety before the rhino strikes the peach with lightning; The strings keeping the seagulls attached to the peach break and James and the peach both fall to the city below. James coughs up the crocodile tongue as he reawakens, transforms back into his normal form, and emerges from the peach realizing it has landed directly on top of the Empire State Building.

After being rescued by police and firefighters, Spiker and Sponge arrive, supposedly having driven their car across the seabed, and attempt to claim James and the peach. James stands up to Spiker and Sponge, and they attempt to kill James. Using the remaining seagulls, the bugs arrive in New York City. They tie up Spiker and Sponge with Miss Spider’s silk and they are taken away. James introduces his friends and allows the children of New York to eat up the peach.

The peach pit is made into a house in Central Park, where James lives with the bugs and has the friends he could wish for. Centipede runs for New York mayor, Grasshopper becomes a professional violinist, Earthworm becomes a mascot for a new cream, Ladybug becomes an obstetrician, Glowworm lights up the Statue of Liberty, Miss Spider owns a nightclub called “Spider Club”, and James celebrates his 9th birthday with his new family.

In a post-credits scene, a new arcade game called “Spike the Aunts” is shown, featuring the rhino.

REVIEW:

Stop motion animation is still my favorite style of animation. For some reason, after all these years, I was under the impression that James and the Giant Peach was early computer animation, but that turns out to not be the case. This is one of those films that has gained quite a following over the years, but is it any good?

What is this about?

When young orphan James spills a magic bag of crocodile tongues, he soon finds himself in possession of a giant peach that flies him away to strange lands. But that’s not half as odd as the oversize talking insects he finds living inside the peach.

What did I like?

Bugs. There must be something about insects over there in England that makes them not so creepy. With a few exception, every anthropomorphic bug we have here in the states (Spider-Man doesn’t count HA!) is not the kind that you would want to hang out with or watching your kids.  This group of giant insects is quite the collection of characters, each one with their own pros and cons, but all very likable.

Influence. This is not a Tim Burton directed film, but he does serve as producer. His influence is clearly obvious in the animation and in some ways the mixture of light and dark elements. A recent film that has the influence of the producer is Man of Steel. Although Zak Snyder directed it, the dark, depressing nature of Christopher Nolan was there (and hurt the film, in my opinion). Burton’s influence doesn’t hurt. As a matter of fact, be on the lookout for Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Mixture. The bookends of this film are live-action segments. First off, let me say that the transition of James to stop motion was kinda interesting. Nothing special, just him crawling through the peach and changing to stop motion. Second, the animation is ahead of its time. Smooth movements, realistic look, and no visible strings all contribute to what Disney was about to unleash a few months later. Perhaps you heard of a little film known as Toy Story, which they released with a little company known as Pixar.

What didn’t I like?

Rhino. So, James’ parents are killed by a rhino from the sky. All through the film, we hear about the rhino and what he did, but he doesn’t appear again until the last stop-motion scene. Thing is, the rhino is on screen for about 30 seconds total, which is criminally short for the thing that is the living embodiment of all evil in this film. No information is given about this thing, its just a scary thing in the sky.

Shark. Similar to the rhino, there is a shark that we come across once the giant peach set out to sea. Now, this is no ordinary shark, as it is clearly some kind of robotic menace. Question is, who is behind it? Where did it come from? Why did this filmmaker decide to not give us that info if they were going to put it in there? I don’t have anything against the robotic shark, but it had to come from somewhere. I don’t care if it is a trap set by pirates, the creation of a mad scientist, or some kind of abomination that was brought to life by a fluke accident. As an audience, we need to know a little something, otherwise it might as well have just been some kind of useless henchman.

All the way live. The live action segments, while innovative change of pace from what one would expect in this film based on the trailers, went on way too long. This is especially true of the opening segment. The film is barely over an hour, was it really necessary to give us 20 minutes of live action? That could have been cut in half very easily. The last scenes weren’t as bad, but they felt as if it was just tacked on and not very well thought out, but the peach pit thing was pretty nice.

The town where I spent many of my formative years has a peach festival every summer. Because of this, I can only take peaches once a year. I can see James and the Giant Peach becoming a film that families pull out once a year, but it isn’t the kind that you would watch over and over again, contrary to what everyone seems to think it is. Yes, it is a good family film, but there are so many plot holes, it takes away from the enjoyment that this flick should have provided. So, I must say that this is an average flick that you should read the book. Now that I think about it, so should I!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Revisited: Jason and the Argonauts

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Pelias (Douglas Wilmer), under the protection of the god Zeus (Niall MacGinnis), usurps the throne of Thessaly by storming the palace of King Aristo and killing him; but learns a prophecy that he will be overthrown by a child of Aristo wearing one sandal. In an attempt to thwart the prophecy, Pelias kills one of Aristo’s daughters, Briseis (Davinia Taylor), which angers the goddess Hera (Honor Blackman) because the murder profaned her temple. Before Briseis is killed, she places the infant son of Aristo into the arms of the statue of Hera. Zeus, angered by Pelias’ attempt to confound his designs, determines that Pelias shall fall and the infant son of Aristo shall be his instrument.

Twenty years later (“but an instant of time on Olympus”), Jason (Todd Armstrong), Aristo’s son grown to manhood, saves Pelias from drowning during a chance encounter, but loses a sandal into the depths of the river so that Pelias recognises him. Upon learning that Jason means to obtain the legendary Golden Fleece, Pelias —concealing his identity from the innocent Jason— encourages him, hoping he will be killed in the attempt.

Jason is taken to Mount Olympus by the god Hermes (Michael Gwynn) to speak with Zeus and Hera. Hera wishes him well, but adds, as decreed by Zeus, he can only call upon her aid five times. She directs him to search for the Fleece in the land of Colchis. Zeus offers his direct aid to Jason, but Jason declares that he can organize the voyage, build the ship, and select a crew of the bravest and most able men in all of Greece by holding an Olympics. Zeus, observing that those most worthy of the aid of the gods are those who least call upon it, agrees and sends Jason back to Earth to make preparations for the adventure.

Men from all over Greece compete for the honor of joining Jason; men who, because their ship is named the Argo after her builder Argus, (Laurence Naismith) and his helper, the goddess Hera, are dubbed the Argonauts. Among those chosen are Hercules (Nigel Green) and Hylas (John Cairney). Acastus (Gary Raymond), the son of Pelias, is sent by his father to sabotage the voyage.

On the third occasion of summoning Hera’s help, she guides Jason to the Isle of Bronze and warns him to take nothing but provisions; but exploring the island, Hercules steals a brooch pin the size of a javelin from a treasure chamber surmounted by a statue of Talos, which comes to life and attacks the Argo. Jason again turns to Hera, who guides him to open a cylindrical plug on the back of Talos’s heel, releasing the latter’s vital ichor. Defeated, Talos falls to the ground, crushing Hylas; whereupon Hercules refuses to leave until he ascertains the latter’s death. The other Argonauts refuse to abandon Hercules, so that Jason calls on Hera again. She reminds Jason this is the last time she can help him and confirms that Hylas is dead and that Hercules is not to continue with the others, and directs them to seek the blind soothsayer Phineas (Patrick Troughton), whom they find tormented by two Harpies sent by Zeus to punish him for misusing his gift of prophecy; these winged females would steal Phineas’ food leaving him only noisome scraps. In return for imprisoning the Harpies, Phineas gives Jason directions and presents him with an amulet. To reach Colchis, they must sail between the Clashing Rocks which come together and crush any ship attempting to pass them. When Jason undertakes rowing through these dark rocks, his ship becomes trapped in the violent sea. In despair, Jason calls upon the end of the gods and throws Phineas’ gift into the water; whereupon the god Triton rises from sea foam and holds the rocks in place long enough for the Argo to pass. They pick up three survivors of another ship, among them Medea (Nancy Kovack).

At Colchis, Acastus and Jason disagree on how to approach the King of Colchis, and eventually fight. Disarmed, Acastus jumps into the sea to escape. Believing him dead, Jason and his men accept an invitation from King Aeëtes (Jack Gwillim) to a feast, where they are captured and imprisoned. Thereafter Medea, enamoured of Jason, helps him and his men escape.

Acastus tries to steal the Fleece himself, but is fatally wounded by its guardian Hydra, whom Jason kills to take the Fleece. Aeëtes, in pursuit, sows the Hydra’s teeth after praying to the goddess Hecate, producing a skeletal warrior from each. When Medea is wounded by an arrow in the resulting battle, Jason uses the fleece to heal her. He orders Argus to take Medea to the ship, while he and two of his men fight off the skeletons. When his two companions are killed, Jason jumps off a cliff into the sea, “drowning” the skeletons, and escapes to the ship; whereafter he, Medea, and the surviving Argonauts begin their return to Thessaly. In Olympus Zeus tells Hera that in due time he will call upon Jason again.

REVIEW:

One of the greatest stop-motion adventures ever to be put on film is Jason and the Argonauts, a film that brings the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece to life. I could be mistaken, but I believe this is the only film, with the exception of a similarly named TV miniseries, to do so.

What is this about?

Ray Harryhausen, the grand pooh-bah of stop-motion animation, presents Jason and the Argonauts, which follows Jason’s epic quest for the Golden Fleece. Harryhausen phantasms abound, including a multiheaded hydra, a gigantic living statue and a justifiably famous army of sword-swinging skeletons.

What did I like?

Stop-motion. You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of stop-motion animation than myself. I am constantly being asked what it is that I like so much about it, which leads to an example of present (Paranorman), past (the California Raisins), and of course, anything done by Ray Harryhausen, especially this film which he has said is his best work. Yes, these effects aren’t for everyone, especially those brainwashed by today’s CG, but I appreciate the time and effort it takes to create each creature, let alone animate them.

Sense of wonder. Often time with action films that have great scenery, such as the Pirates of the Caribbean films, I will bring up how wondrous they make the audience feel. Well, that goes back to these flicks. There is a sense of awe and wonder one gets when watching this. I can only imagine what it would have been like to pay the 50 cents (or however cheap it was in 1968) and see this on the big screen. I know my jaw would have dropped! You just don’t get that feeling from films these days, which really is a shame. The few times I have gotten that feeling weren’t from the movie itself, but from seeing things I grew up with come to life on the big screen such as the helicarrier in The Avengers, Oa in Green Lantern, or the Autobots in Transformers.

Mythology. If this film were made today, I think we can all agree that they mythology parts would all but be removed so that the film could focus on some pretty boy actor (who can’t act), totally forgetting the basis for the why the film is being made in the first place. Luckily, we don’t have to worry about that here, as this film sticks to the mythology. Well, it does change a few things, but that is because if you read the actual myth, it is a pretty dark…filled with murder, backstabbing, betrayal, and anything else you can think of. Remember, this was made in the 60s when people didn’t go to movies to get even more depressed, but rather, they went to enjoy themselves. A film like this, full of sword and sandal action surely delivered and did so while subliminally educating audience on the legend of Jason and the Golden Fleece.

What didn’t I like?

Hera. I have noting against the way Hera was portrayed. It was quite the departure from the way we tend to see her nowadays, as a bitchy, vengeful witch goddess. Having said that, the statue that was placed on the Argo was creepy. First of all, the thing looked like it belonged on a high school homecoming float. Second, the way she whispered when she spoke made this thing seem creepier than it really should have been.

Medea and King Aeetes. In the myth, Medea is portrayed more in the vein of a villain. The filmmakers opted for her to be more or less the token eye candy and initially a damsel in distress. King Aeetes I felt was never fully developed as a character and as a result, the sequences with him just seem to come out of nowhere, much like the betrayal by one of Jason’s crew.

Wool over our eyes. Does anyone really know what the Golden Fleece actually does? It seems in every incarnation that I see of it, the thing has some new power. For instance, in the God of War games, it provides some sort of reflective shield but here it is said t be able to heal the wounded, as it does with Medea, but can also stop famine and whatnot, if I understood correctly. I just wish they would have given us a more definitive definition of its powers.

If you’re in the mood for some good, old-fashioned stop-motion, sword and sandal fun, then Jason and the Argonauts is for you. The film is pretty fast paced wit plenty of action and very few slow sections. Now, if you’re looking for some deep character introspective with CG laden special effects, this is not for you. Still, I very highly recommend you check it out. This is most definitely a films you should see before you die!

5 out of 5 stars

One Million Years B.C.

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , on June 19, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!)

Akoba (Robert Brown) leads a hunting party into the hills to search for prey. One member of the tribe traps a pig in a pit, and then Akoba’s son Tumak (John Richardson) kills it. The tribe brings it home for dinner and Tumak is later banished to the harsh desert because of a fight over a piece of meat with Akoba. After surviving many dangers such as a Megalania, ape men, Brontosaurus and a giant spider, he collapses on a remote beach, where he is spotted by “Loana the Fair One” (Raquel Welch) and her fellow fisherwomen of the Shell tribe. They are about to help him when an Archelon (which is three times the size of the actual prehistoric Archelon) makes its way to the beach. Men of the Shell tribe arrive and drive it back into the sea. Tumak is taken to their village, where Loana tends to him. Scenes follow emphasising that the Shell tribe is more advanced and more civilized than the Rock tribe. They have cave paintings, music, delicate jewellery made from shells, agriculture, and rudimentary language – all things Tumak seems to have never before encountered.

When the tribe women are fishing, an Allosaurus attacks. The tribe flees to their cave, but in the panic, a small girl is left trapped up a tree. Tumak seizes a spear from Ahot (Jean Wladon), a man of the Shell tribe, and rushes forward to defend her. Emboldened by this example, Loana runs out to snatch the child to safety, and Ahot and other men come to Tumak’s aid, one of the men being killed before Tumak is finally able to kill the creature. In the aftermath, a funeral is held for the dead men – a custom which Tumak disdains. Leaving the funeral early, he re-enters the cave, and attempts to steal the spear with which he had killed the Allosaurus. Ahot, who had taken back the spear, enters and is angered by the attempted theft, and a fight ensues. The resulting commotion attracts the rest of the tribe, who unite to cast Tumak out. Loana leaves with him, and Ahot, in a gesture of friendship, gives him the spear over which they had fought.

Meanwhile, Akoba leads a hunting party into the hills to search for prey but loses his footing while trying to take down a goat. Tumak’s brother Sakana (Percy Herbert) tries to kill their father to take power. Akoba survives, but is a broken man. Sakana is the new leader. While this is happening, Tumak and Loana encounter a battle between a Ceratosaurus and a Triceratops. The battle is eventually won by the Triceratops which fatally gores its opponent. The outcasts wander back into the Rock tribe’s territory and Loana meets the tribe, but again there are altercations. The most dramatic one is a fight between Tumak’s current love interest Loana and his former lover “Nupondi the Wild One” (Martine Beswick). Loana wins the fight but refuses to strike the killing blow, despite the encouragement of the other members of the tribe. Meanwhile, Sakana resents Tumak and Loana’s attempts at incorporating Shell tribe ways into their culture.

While the cave people are swimming – seemingly for the first time, and inspired by Loana’s example – they are attacked by a female Pteranodon. In the confusion, Loana is snatched into the air by the creature, and dropped bleeding into the sea, when a thieving Cearadactylus intervenes. Loana manages to stagger ashore while the two pterosaurs are battling and then falls down. Tumak arrives but is only greeted by the sounds of the Cearadactylus eating the Pteranodon’s young (the latter had lost the battle), actually believing it is eating Loana.

Tumak initially believes her dead. Sakana then leads a group of like-minded fellow hunters in an armed revolt against Akoba. Tumak, Ahot and Loana (who had staggered back to her tribe after the Pteranodon dropped her into the sea), and other members of the Shell tribe arrive in time to join the fight against Sakana. In the midst of a savage hand-to-hand battle, a volcano suddenly erupts: the entire area is stricken by earthquakes and landslides that overwhelm both tribes. As the film ends, Tumak, Loana, and the surviving members of both tribes emerge from cover to find themselves in a ruined, near-lunar landscape. They all set off – now united – to find a new home

REVIEW:

It seems like everytime there is a compilation of best bikini scenes/posters in film, the two that seem to always be poised at the top are Ursula Andress in Dr. No and Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C. I don’t need to tell you that both of these are extremely entertaining visuals. The poster featuring Welch is still a popular pin-up/wallpaper to this day!

What is this about?

Tumak (John Richardson) is banished from his tribe after angering their leader (his father), Akhoba. After wandering for several days, he comes upon the Shell Tribe, a group that lives on the coast. There, he meets Loana (Raquel Welch, in a fur push-up bra and form-fitting loincloth). She nurses him back to health through all kinds of romantic grunting and groaning. No words are spoken in this prehistoric saga that features moments of pure camp.

What did I like?

Silent. A couple of years ago, I watched another film about prehistoric times, Cavemen. The thing about this and that film is that no words are spoken, other than a few grunts and cavemen speak. With that being said, somehow the audience doesn’t lose interest. Perhaps that has something to do with the scantily clad women, or the sheer beauty of a young Raquel Welch, but I believe it is more a testament to the performance of these actors. It isn’t easy to keep a captive audience with just some grunting and stuff.

Bikini. I don’t think I need to mention it, but Raquel Welch is quite the Betty. Aside from running around half naked, she is just plain gorgeous. It is no wonder that guy went crazy over her. Hell, they still do! She definitely is the selling point of this film, at least in terms of the poster, but don’t be fooled, she isn’t the focal point of the film, but that’s ok, she has enough screentime that it can be forgiven.

Stop-Motion. I was not expecting to get a dose of stop-motion animation, but I was more than happy to see it. I love the work of Ray Harryhausen, may he rest in peace. This isn’t his best selection of creations, but they still were fun to see and far superior to the CGI crap that pollutes the film industry these days.

What didn’t I like?

Fake. The pterodactyl that abducts Raquel near the end is obviously fake. Not the creature, but her likeness. I know part of that has to do with technology of the time, but it seriously looked like they just rolled out some clay and shoved between the dinosaur’s claws. I know they could do better than that. It didn’t have to be perfect, but at least put some effort into it!

Catfight. I will never complain about two gorgeous, scantily clad, sweaty women going at it. However, the battle between the two doesn’t seem to have the buildup to make it as climactic and epic as it should be for a film like this. Part of that may have to do with the lack of dialogue, but I don’t want to use that as an excuse.

Slipup. In one of the scenes that used real animals, there is a random cricket on the side. I am not sure what purpose he serves there, or if this is an accident. I don’t know if this is a big budget film or not, but if they wanted that cricket there, they could have least given it something to do, or turn it around!

Let’s face it, the reason people, including myself, watch One Million Years B.C. is to see a young Raquel Welch in that fur bikini. Look at the poster up there, though. Can you blame us? The rest of the film isn’t bad, but it isn’t something that is memorable. When all is said and done, this is an ok film that has genius marketing. Do I recommend it? Not really. I mean, if you want to see Raquel Welch strut around in a bikini, I hear her movie Fathom is better for that purpose.

3 1/4 out of 5 stars

Jack the Giant Killer

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the Duchy of Cornwall of fairy tale days, the sorcerer Pendragon (Torin Thatcher) plots to gain power by abducting the Princess Elaine (Judi Meredith). To that end, he has fashioned a magic toy that is actually Cormoran the giant, and which is given to the Princess. When Cormoran seizes Elaine he takes her to a ship, but before it can sail a brave farm lad named Jack (Kerwin Mathews) slays the monster and rescues Elaine. In gratitude, King Mark (Dayton Lummis) makes Jack her protector and entrusts him to safely guide her to a convent across the sea. Pendragon learns of the plan and sends his witches to intercept Jack’s ship. Elaine is captured, while Jack and his friend, Peter (Roger Mobley) are cast overboard. An old Viking, Sigurd (Barry Kelley), rescues the two and introduces them to Diaboltin (Don Beddoe), a leprechaun imprisoned in a bottle. With the help of his new allies, Jack rescues Elaine from Pendragon’s castle. As the friends flee, Pendragon sends a two-headed giant called Galligantua along their path but Diablotin summons a monster from the sea to defeat it. As a last resort, Pendragon transforms himself into a dragon, but Jack slays him in a tense battle. With evil routed at last, all sail away to live happily ever after.

REVIEW:

Ah…the wonders of stop-motion animation! There is just something about it that warms my cold, dead heart. Jack the Giant Killer doesn’t have this technique in leaps and bounds, as I was lead to believe, but there are quite a few creatures to behold.

What is this about?

Kerwin Mathews stars as Jack, a courageous hero who rescues a princess (Judi Meredith) from the evil clutches of the wizard Pendragon (Torin Thatcher) in this Nathan Juran-directed film that melds live action with Fantascope special-effects photography. Pendragon wants to be king of Cornwall and decides the only way is to force the present ruler’s daughter to marry him, but his plans are foiled when Jack slays Pendragon’s henchman.

What did I like?

Design. The design of the characters really caught my attention. The stop motion creatures are what they are, but the film’s main antagonist, Pendragon had quite the intriguing look. I wonder if this was inspired by or was the inspiration for Marvel Comics’ villainous Baron Mordo, the archrival of Dr. Strange. When you look at him, you can’t help but think so.

Lucky Charms. Leprechauns in the movies I’ve seen aren’t exactly handing out hearts, horseshoes, rainbows, clovers, and blue moons, but rather torturing poor souls and causing mischief. This is why I felt it was a nice change to see one of these on the side of good. Too bad he could only grant 3 wishes. I would have liked to have seen what else his magic could have done.

Stop-Motion. As I mentioned in the opening, I love stop-motion animation. To me it is a very pure form of creating creatures. This isn’t the best use of the technique, but it is still a sight to behold. The giants, sea creature, and final dragon are years ahead of their time.

What didn’t I like?

Special effects. Other than the stop motion, I can’t say that I was impressed with the special effects. Not being sure of how big the budget was on this, I can’t really comment on that, but it did seem to be quite cheap looking. The scene where the witches appear is nothing more than a different filter put on the camera lens. The magic from Pendragon is just some cheap theatrics. I didn’t really care for them and thought they could have done much better.

Plot. I had trouble about halfway through keeping up with what was going on because things got so befuddled. Luckily, everything returned to a steady calm, but there had to have been a better way to get through that oh-so-dreaded middle part of the film without totally losing the audience.

Jack be nimble. Kerwin Matthews wasn’t quite a believable leading man as I’m sure the studio expected him to. Yes, he did a decent job as Sinbad in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, but if I recall that one correctly, it wasn’t the best of the franchise, so that isn’t saying much. I give the guy props for trying, and you can tell there was some actual talent there, this just wasn’t the best choice for him.

For those that don’t know, that movie that came out a couple of months ago, Jack the Giant Slayer is apparently a remake of Jack the Giant Killer. I detest and despise remakes with every fiber that is my being. Do I think this film deserves to be bastardized with a remake? No, but I am curious to see what they did with it. As far as if this is worth watching? Eh…it isn’t that great, to be honest. You’d be better off checking out one of the old Sinbad movies, rather than this, but this might keep you busy for a little over an hour, if you really want to watch.

3 out of 5 stars

Frankenweenie

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on March 13, 2013 by Mystery Man

 

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Young filmmaker and scientist Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) lives with his parents, Edward and Susan Frankenstein (Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara) and dog Sparky in the quiet town of New Holland. Victor’s intelligence is recognized by his classmates at school, his somber next-door neighbor, Elsa Van Helsing (Winona Ryder), mischievous, Igor-like Edgar “E” Gore (Atticus Shaffer), obese and gullible Bob (Robert Capron), overconfident Toshiaki (James Hiroyuki Liao), creepy Nassor (also Short), and an eccentric girl nicknamed Weird Girl (also O’Hara), but communicates little with them due to his relationship with his dog. Concerned with his son’s isolation, Victor’s father encourages him to take up baseball and make achievements outside of science. Victor hits a home run at his first game, but Sparky, pursuing the ball, is killed by a car.

Inspired by his science teacher Mr. Rzykruski’s (Martin Landau) demonstration of the effect of electricity on dead frogs, a depressed Victor digs up Sparky’s corpse, brings him to his makeshift laboratory in the attic, and successfully reanimates him with lightning. Seeing Weird Girl’s living cat, Mr. Whiskers, the undead Sparky escapes from the attic and explores the neighborhood. He is recognized by Edgar, who blackmails Victor into teaching him how to raise the dead. The two reanimate a dead goldfish, which turns invisible due to an error with the experiment. Edgar brags about the undead fish to Toshiaki and Bob, which, in panic of losing the upcoming science fair, inspires them to make a rocket out of soda bottles, which causes Bob to break his arm and Mr. Rzykruski to be blamed and fired due to his accused influencing and reviling the townsfolk for questioning his methods when he steps up for self-defence.

Eventually, Edgar’s fish disappears when he tries to show it to a skeptical Nassor (who was told by Toshiaki) and when Edgar is confronted by Toshiaki, Nassor, and Bob on the baseball field at school, he accidentally reveals Victor’s actions, inspiring them to try reanimation themselves. Victor’s parents discover Sparky in the attic and are frightened, causing the dog to flee. Victor and his parents search for Sparky while the classmates invade the lab, discovering Victor’s reanimation formula. The classmates separately perform their experiments, which go awry and turn the dead animals into monsters—Mr. Whiskers holds a dead bat while it is electrocuted, turning him into a vampire cat; Edgar turns a dead rat he found in the garbage into a wererat; Nassor revives his mummified hamster Colossus; Toshiaki’s turtle Shelley is covered in a growth formula and turns into a giant Gamera-like monster; and Bob’s Sea-Monkeys grow into amphibious humanoid monsters. The monsters break loose into the town fair where they wreak havoc.

After finding Sparky at the town’s pet cemetery, Victor sees the monsters attacking the fair and goes to help his classmates deal with them—-the Sea-Monkeys explode after eating salt-covered popcorn, and Colossus is stepped on by Shelley, while the rat and Shelley are returned to their original, deceased forms after being electrocuted. During the chaos, the town’s mayor’s niece Elsa van Helsing is grabbed by Mr. Whiskers and carried to the town windmill. The townsfolks blame Sparky for her disappearance and chase him to the windmill, which Mayor Bergermeister (also Short) accidentally ignites with his torch. Victor and Sparky enter the burning windmill and rescue Elsa, but Victor is trapped inside. Sparky rescues Victor, only to be dragged back inside by Mr. Whiskers. A final confrontation ensues, and just as Mr. Whiskers has Sparky cornered, a flaming piece of wood breaks off and impales him. He gives one dying screech and he windmill collapses on Sparky, killing him again. To reward him for his bravery, the townsfolk gather to revive Sparky with their car batteries, reanimating him once more. Persephone, Elsa’s pet poodle, who has a hair style similar to the Elsa Lanchester’s Bride of Frankenstein, comes to Sparky as the two dogs share their love.

REVIEW:

It wasn’t that long ago that people were commenting on how there are millions of Christmas family flicks, but very few for Halloween. Well, now we have 3 brand new, and really good, flicks to show the kids on October 31st, ParaNorman, Hotel Transylvania, and Frankenweenie. The debate over which is the best of the bunch is one that can go on and on. Take you pick!

What is this about?

When young Victor’s pet dog Sparky (who stars in Victor’s home-made monster movies) is hit by a car, Victor decides to bring him back to life the only way he knows how. But when the bolt-necked “monster” wreaks havoc and terror in the hearts of Victor’s neighbors, he has to convince them (and his parents) that despite his appearance, Sparky’s still the good loyal friend he’s always been.

What did I like?

Retro. Tim Burton’s last film, Dark Shadows, wasn’t the big success people expected it to be but seeing the masterpiece that this is, I believe he was just more concerned with making this project. As with many Burton projects, it has that retro vibe to it, complete with stop motion animation which, as avid readers of this blog know, I am a huge fan of, as it is vastly superior to CG crap.

Character design. Continuing with that retro vibe is the design and mannerisms of the characters. The kids are mostly based on classic movie horror characters and are named that way as well. Their biology teacher is obviously modeled after Vincent Price. I can’t help but wonder and Victor, though. He looks like he’s either recycled from The Corpse Bride or is supposed to be Johnny Depp. The jury is still out on that one for me.

Heart. Underneath all the laughs, classic horror references, and zombie animals, there is some true heart. Apparently, people really cotton to a boy and his dog, especially if that dog is a real friend. Throw in some hints at a slight romance and parents that truly care and you can’t help but feel something.

What didn’t I like?

Someone hates cats. I’m no dog fan, not by any stretch of the imagination. As a matter of fact, it annoys me to no end that cats are never given the chance to really be the hero, but rather often end up the villain, while dogs can apparently do no wrong. There is absolutely no reason Mr. Whiskers should have become the main antagonist. It really served no purpose, other than having a dog fight a cat. Let me tell you this, had something happened to that dog, the whole country would have been calling for Tim Burton’s head, but something happens to the cat, not a peep!!! UGH!!!!

Recycle. Burton brought back many of his frequent collaborators to voice these characters, such as Winona Ryder, Martin Landau, and Catherine O’Hara, but I have to wonder where his two muses, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (who he is also married to) were. I know they are both in the upcoming The Lone Ranger, so there is that possibility, but I believe he could have put them in there if he really wanted. They have become to Burton what Samuel L. Jackson is to Tarrantino. I’m not saying the film was worse off without them, because I’m not really sure what character they would have voiced, but it just was strange not having them there.

Experiments. So, Victor brings Sparky back to life a la Frankenstein. Somehow, the Igor-looking kid finds out and wants his fish brought back to life. In a way that isn’t really explained, other than his heart wasn’t in it, the fish becomes invisible, and eventually vanishes from existence. Then of course, there is the jealousy induced experiments that go wrong and nearly destroy the town, but those I can let slide as something to give an exciting finish.

Dare I say Frankenweenie is one of Tim Burton’s best outings? It better be, he did a version of this back in 1984, and has been working toward doing it again with more resources and better technology since then. I had such a good time with this film that it is hard for me to not recommend this, but there are some things that just aren’t appropriate for younger eyes and ears, not to mention Burton haters and those that live or die by CGI. If you don’t fall into one of those categories, then I highly recommend this!

4 1/3 out of 5 stars