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.

threestar


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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Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Richard E. Grant, Cary Elwes, Billy Campbell, Sadie Frost, Tom Waits

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

Expectations: I expect to still love it.


It is always with a resigned sigh that I start to review a film I’ve seen a multitude of times. It’s always hard to find what to say, as my perceptions of the film are inevitably shaped by my previous experiences with it, and are therefore somewhat suspect. But even though I’ve seen Bram Stoker’s Dracula several times throughout my life, I’m still drawn back to it, and I still enjoy it every time. That says something right there about the power of the film, even if some of that power is just pure nostalgia.

I’m sure it has something to do with first seeing the film while I was a young, impressionable kid, but this has always been my favorite telling of the story, and it remains so. This version was billed as being true to the novel, and while it’s not exactly that, it’s definitely much closer than the previous adaptations. This time through, I noticed that Bram Stoker’s Dracula felt in spots almost like an amalgamation of the previous Dracula films, creating a distinct and unique version of the tale, but still paying homage to what had come before as well. Specific shots reference Nosferatu, Oldman’s Dracula voice contains shades of Lugosi’s, and the Gothic overtones and vivid color scheme remind me greatly of the work of the Hammer studio on 1958’s Dracula.

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Alien: Resurrection (1997)

Alien: Resurrection (1997)
AKA Alien 4

Starring Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Dominique Pinon, Ron Perlman, Gary Dourdan, Michael Wincott, Kim Flowers, Dan Hedaya, J.E. Freeman, Brad Dourif, Raymond Cruz, Leland Orser, Carolyn Campbell

Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Expectations: Ugh.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


OK, hear me out. I know that Alien: Resurrection is a total piece of shit, and you know it too. What I didn’t know was that watching this 15 years and a shitload of B-Movies later, I would actually get a kick out of Alien: Resurrection. It’s still shitty, but there’s a lot to like about the film if you’re able to completely divorce yourself from the idea that this is a part of a franchise that you love. That’s simply the only way to enjoy this one, and really, they’ve already done the heavy lifting for you. Ripley died at the end of Alien³, and the somber, horrific tone of the series died along with her. Alien: Resurrection is a cash-in movie grasping at straws to create another moneymaker in a successful series, but damn if it isn’t a fun B-movie too.

Alien: Resurrection opens with some evil scientists cloning Ripley, and while they were at it, they whipped up a big batch of cheese balls… and the alien queen growing inside her. Due to some flawed logic cloning practices, Ripley is now something of a hybrid, gaining some of the alien’s curious traits such as acidic blood and superhuman strength. The real goal was to get the queen and start doing the bio-research the entire series has hinted at, but the scientist’s master plan hinges on some cargo being delivered by a bunch of space pirates led by Ron Perlman, and when they arrive shit starts to go down.

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Black Swan (2010)

Black Swan (2010)

Starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder, Benjamin Millepied, Ksenia Solo, Kristina Anapau, Janet Montgomery, Sebastian Stan, Toby Hemingway, Sergio Torrado

Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Expectations: Very High. I don’t know why really, I never even saw the trailer. I’ve just got a feeling.


Ingredients:

1 Carrie
1 Suspiria
1 Swan Lake
1/2 Tbsp. Mind-Fuck

Mix well. Serve at room temperature immediately.

All kidding aside, Black Swan is easily one of the top American films of the year. It’s definitely one that will split audiences, with some reveling in the glorious mystery of it all and others wondering when the arthouse invaded their local multiplex. Whichever side of the fence you find yourself on, one thing is certain. Black Swan is sure to get many highly coveted nominations during awards season while actually being good enough to warrant receiving them. Imagine that.

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