Frankenweenie (2012)

frankenweenieStarring Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Winona Ryder, Robert Capron, James Hiroyuki Liao, Conchata Ferrell

Directed by Tim Burton

Expectations: Fairly low. I’m only watching this because my girlfriend thought I should see it because I love the Universal Monster movies.

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The simple fact of Frankenweenie‘s existence as a 2012 feature brings up some questions in my mind. Having spent the last decade or so making adequate to poor movies, Tim Burton decided to return to his roots and remake his 1984 short film, Frankenweenie. It’s a great idea for a film, and with the short never having the release it deserved, this version of Frankenweenie represents a good way for fans to experience this inspired homage to the Universal Monster movies from the young/old mind of Burton. But to return to his roots at such a creatively bankrupt time in his career is also somewhat distressing. Is this merely a remake aimed at eliciting some response from those that grew up adoring the likes of Beetlejuice, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure or Batman?

The answer, for me, was a bit of both. Frankenweenie is a gloriously made film, perfectly evocative of the era it seeks to recreate and pay homage to. At the same time, it also seems to be aimed directly at fans already familiar with his work, with visual, audio and story references to his previous, iconic works. But despite my reservations, this resurrected version of Frankenweenie does have that old Burton magic throughout. It’s easily his best film in years, and one hopes that this is a sign of things to come in the future. The fact that his next film will reunite him with the Ed Wood screenwriters for a biopic starring Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams definitely piques my interest more than most of this other recent films have.

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Dark Shadows Blu-Ray combo pack Giveaway!

Do you like free stuff? Do you like Johnny Depp? Oh, but not so keen on modern Tim Burton films, you say? Well, two outta three ain’t bad, so you should totally enter my giveaway for a copy of the Dark Shadows Blu-ray combo pack!

All you have to do is take the “Are You Creepy Enough” quiz in the app below, and then post a comment about the results in the comments section! I’ll throw the names into a hat and pick a winner! How easy is that? The contest here will run through Monday, October 15th, so get your entries in early! Good luck!

The contest is only available to residents in the US and Canada.

Batman Returns (1992)

Starring Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Michael Gough, Michael Murphy, Cristi Conaway, Andrew Bryniarski, Pat Hingle, Vincent Schiavelli, Steve Witting, Jan Hooks

Directed by Tim Burton

Expectations: Moderate. The last time I saw this, it wasn’t all that hot.


Batman Returns is proof positive that bigger is not always better. I’m sure there are people out there that thoroughly enjoy this one, but I found it overlong, stupid and without much of the charm of the original. There’s a lot of potential here for a good Batman movie, but therein lies my biggest problem with Batman Returns: it’s not a Batman movie, it’s a Penguin movie. If they wanted to title it correctly they’d have gone with something like Penguin Begins or The Dark Penguin Rises, or perhaps they could have gone completely obvious and went with Penguin and Catwoman.

Batman Returns opens with Paul Reubens and his wife, disgruntled with their flipper-handed infant. They decide to throw him off a bridge, thus giving rise to the most annoying Batman villain ever to make it on-screen. I’ve never been a Penguin fan, and this fucking movie isn’t doing him any favors. There’s also the Catwoman’s origin as a sub-plot and Batman’s literally just along for the ride. Michael Keaton probably had no more than twenty lines in the entire movie… give or take a few.

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Batman (1989)

Starring Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Pat Hingle, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough, Jack Palance, Jerry Hall, Tracey Walter, Lee Wallace, William Hootkins

Directed by Tim Burton

Expectations: High. This was THE movie when I was a kid.


Like Alien, Tim Burton’s Batman is a film I saw a lot as a kid. I will be unable to truly critique it objectively, but I’ll do my best to make the review something more than an adult reminiscing about his faded childhood years. I haven’t seen this one in many years, as I’ve always been somewhat afraid to do so, fearing that its ability to completely enthrall me would be lost. This is definitely not the case, though, as Batman continues to be a solid piece of superhero cinema. This isn’t the gritty world of Christopher Nolan, nor is it the wholly comic style of Adam West’s era, instead it is something of a middle-ground between them both. It works like a charm, and still remains one of film’s best examples of the superhero genre. Superman may have kicked off the genre in earnest, but Batman took that shit to the next level. I was a tender 8-year-old boy when I walked into the local cinema to view Batman for the first time, and I emerged with a new outlook on the world. The comics that I loved so dearly were up on the big screen; it was a glorious thing to watch two great loves of mine join forces. Tim Burton’s Batman has its share of flaws and missed opportunities, but it was the perfect film of my youth.

Watching the film today, I instantly noticed what was so great — and refreshing — about Batman. Where every first film in a series nowadays spends most of its time devoted to the character’s origin story, Batman just jumps into Batman being Batman right from the first scene. As Vicki Vale becomes more interested in Batman and Bruce Wayne, she eventually explores his past and some of the moments that made Wayne become Batman are revealed. Burton doesn’t spend too much time on these; Batman’s origin is nothing more than another of the film’s running sub-plots to be explored in the down moments. If only another superhero movie would have the balls to do something like this. As I write this the newest Spider-Man film has just been released. We’ve had three Spider-Man movies over the course of the last 10 years or so, not to mention 50 years of comics and general mainstream awareness of the character. But yet we are still faced with a Spider-Man movie that insists on re-telling the origin story. This is a big reason why I don’t care to see it in the slightest. Maybe I’ll come around to the sequel after all the bullshit is done.

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Mini-Review: Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas

Directed by Tim Burton

Expectations: Extremely low.


I normally would have avoided this but for some unexplained reason I decided to give it a go. I’m a fan of the original Alice story and I was curious to see how Tim Burton would film it, but the ridiculous amount of CG told me to steer clear. Burton’s later work for me has been fairly hit or miss, so I didn’t go into this with any expectations that I would enjoy this at any meaningful level. Like many things that your intuition tells you to avoid, Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is definitely one to go into treading lightly.

I was intrigued quite a bit by the opening 40 minutes or so. It was paced well and it was interesting to see how the older Alice reacted to the various things in Wonderland. The CG work is actually pretty good and lends the film an animated quality. That’s not to say that it isn’t excessive though. Virtually everything in the film is CG, including the horses that characters ride upon. Surprisingly the computer imagery is not my main beef with the film though. It’s Burton’s complete lack of emotion or energy with this film. If there’s ever been a guy that needs to take a few years off and reconnect with his passion, it’s Burton and this should be Exhibit A. It’s lifeless and the plethora of CG doesn’t help. No thanks.

Oh, and it has what is probably Danny Elfman’s most tired, boring, passionless score as well. Maybe they were going for passionless as a motif?

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