Movie Review: Frankenweenie 3D

Frankenweenie, the Tim Burton short film in which a young imaginative boy raises his dog from the dead, is enjoying a gorgeous reincarnation as a feature-length stop motion film that showcases Tim’s signature art design and stark, stunning black and white photography.  It’s his greatest treat for the eyes since his splendid take on Sweeney Todd.

If you are familiar with the original Frankenstein inspired short, this is not simply a stretched out version of the original.  It may feel at times as though it is thinning out story wise, but there are plenty of great characters and extra movie monster chaos to aid the narrative, plus it’s just so nice to look at.

I’m happy that they made a conscious choice to move away from the original while maintaining the key, most memorable factors.  I like that I feel as though I can still watch the original and get something else out of it.  At the same time the trade-off gives an alternate, more fleshed out and fantastic tale using the art form Tim has become so associated with since Nightmare Before Christmas.

Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, and Winona Ryder are a few of the voice talents that empowered this much more populated spin which  includes my favorite new character, Mr. Rzykruski (voiced by Martin Landau).  Also part of the cast are a host of movie monsters a la Burton and quite an assembly of classmates in an Edward Scissorhands type suburban town called New Holland.  The adaptation was written by one of my favorites, John August, who also wrote Big Fish and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

This is a fun seasonal family film with some freshness tossed in with the well rehearsed bits and 3D to compliment the staging and photography while entertaining the old and new fans alike.  I’d definitely get the coffee table book on it too.

Review: The Amazing Spiderman

Fantastic?  Incredible?  I’d say that The Amazing Spiderman truly lives up to its name.  Besides earning points for best Stan Lee cameo ever, The Amazing Spiderman takes the cake as best Marvel based film of the year, beating the thoroughly enjoyable MIB 3 and the mildly disappointing Marvel’s The Avengers.

It turns out Marc Webb wasn’t just chosen for his name.  His sensibility brought Spidey to life in the best vision ever shown, live action or animated.  Borrowing heavily from Chris Nolan’s take on the Dark Knight while retaining Sam Raimi’s horror and comedic influence,  Webb created a world for spiderman that is genuine and exciting.  Andrew Garfield matches him bringing everything to the table to creat the perfect Spiderman.  Add to him, the gifted cast including Emma Stone, Martin Sheen, Sally Field, and Denis Leary and inspired staging and visual effects and you’ve got more than a blockbuster.  It’s a true classic.

In this take, which retells Spiderman’s origin, Peter Parker wants to know why his father, a secretive scientist mysteriously disappeared.  In the process of investigating the matter, he comes in contact with some of his father’s life’s work, a radioactive spider.  gene splicing is researched in the lab to find a way to use the advantages of certain animals to heal humans.  Dr. Conner, a former colleague of Peters Dad hopes to use reptile DNA to regenerate his lost forearm… but something goes terribly wrong.  Peter’s character is much more complex and satisfying this time around, making both good and bad choices, while remaining true to his perspective as a teen with a lot of questions.

James Horner sets the mood beautifully throughout the film with his masterful score and Alvin Sargent returns as co-screenwriter to Basic, The Losers and soon to be Robocop scribe James Vanderbilt.  The film was wonderfully paced and well-balanced thanks to the remarkable work they did pre and post production to build and enhance the character of this fine story. A+