With a snappy sense of childish curiosity and lavishly skilled animation, Tim Burton makes one of his most endearing and enjoyably offbeat movies in years. It's actually a remake of a half-hour short he shot in 1984, fleshed out with terrific side characters and a much grander plot. But it's also been painstakingly made with detailed stop-motion animation that's both artistic and witty.
Set in what looks like the suburb from Edward Scissorhands, it's about lonely teen Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Tahan), whose best friend is his dog Sparky. When Sparky dies suddenly, Victor gets an idea from his science professor (Landau) to reanimate him. And it works! Victor hides this from his parents (O'Hara and Short) and the nice girl (Ryder) next door, but chatterbox classmate Edgar (Shaffer) blabs to some other kids in school, who decide they need to make their own science projects a lot more interesting. Suddenly the whole town is under siege by undead pets.
The film looks like a classic monster movie, shot in black and white with deep shadows and expressive faces, plus a hilariously entertaining attention to detail that will make you want to see the film over and over again. It's also packed with gags about the genre, including the names of characters, sudden sight gags (like the Bride of Frankenstein hair of the zapped poodle next door), and more witty references such as Gremlin-like sea-monkeys and a Godzilla-like reanimated tortoise (named, of course, Shelley). There's even an old Christopher Lee Dracula film showing on the TV. But the best thing about this film is the way it never relies on us getting the jokes: Burton has created his own classic too.
Continue reading: Frankenweenie Review
And so Burton takes a third stab at the remake game with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, an update/remake (call it what you want) of the beloved 1971 movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Roald Dahl's classic children's novel. But the stakes here are far greater than they were with Apes. That was a campy sci-fi movie that no one really cared about. In fact, the original Apes had long since killed itself under the weight of four increasingly awful sequels. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory frequently tops "Favorite Movie Ever" lists, and news of the remake has met with nothing but scorn from fans (including 1971 star Gene Wilder, who later retracted his scathing remarks).
Continue reading: Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005) Review
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