Sunday, August 18, 2013

Science!

Frankenweenie: written by Tim Burton, Leonard Ripps, and John August; directed by Tim Burton; starring the voices of Catherine O'Hara (Mrs. Frankenstein/Weird Girl/Gym Teacher), Martin Short (Mr. Frankenstein/Mr. Burgemeister/Nassor), Martin Landau (Mr. Rzykruski), Charlie Tahan (Victor Frankenstein), and Winona Ryder (Elsa Van Helsing) (2012): Enjoyable black-and-white cartoon fom Burton, in the animation style of other Burton-produced projects such as Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas. The whole thing is based on Burton's first short film for Disney back in the 1980's, before he got his first feature directorial gig on Pee Wee's Big Adventure. How time flies!

Burton and his writers recast Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as a suburban horror-comedy in the vein of Edward Scissorhands. Frankly, it could be the exact same street. Copious references abound to movie monsters from Boris Karloff's Creature to Gamera the flying turtle. One of the oddities of the movie is that it offers a heartfelt plea for science education, painting anti-science citizens as dangerous loons.

The whole thing is set in New Holland, which while it has nothing really to do with Frankenstein novel or film, does apparently resemble Burton's childhood home. Perhaps more importantly, New Holland also allows for an explanation of why there's an oldey-timey windmill around to stage the climax within. Because Tim Burton loves windmills (though it's also an homage to the 1930's Karloff Frankenstein movies).

All in all, breezy and enjoyable and surprisingly non-misanthropic. And much, much better than a lot of Burton's recent live-action films. The reanimated dog is a real charmer. I'm still trying to figure out if the Dutch can sue for national defamation. Recommended.


Man on a Ledge: written by Pablo F. Fenjves; directed by Asger Leth; starring Sam Worthington (Nick Cassidy), Anthony Mackie (Mike Ackerman), Jamie Bell (Joey Cassidy), Genesis Rodriguez (Angie), Titus Welliver (Dante Marcus), Elizabeth Banks (Lydia Mercer), and Ed Harris (David Englander) (2012): Enjoyable heist film that's easy on the brain. Sam Worthington again makes for a somewhat bland protagonist, as he did in Avatar and Clash of the Titans. Ed Harris is suitably wormy as a Donald Trump-like real-estate mogul who frames cop Worthington for a crime he didn't commit. Genesis Rodriguez's bustline plays a major supporting role. Lightly recommended.

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