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Annette Kellerman From Fantastic Fest 2012: DREDD And FRANKENWEENIE!!

 

Hey everyone! I'm back again with some coverage from this year's Fantastic Fest.  If you've read my past reviews, you may recall that I like to keep it short and sweet- I'll gladly leave the 2000 word diatribes to my colleagues.  So on that note...
 
 
 
FRANKENWEENIE
 
So I know this movie is getting a ton of coverage around here, but I just had to chime in as well.  Many geeks have been complaining that Tim Burton lost his mojo.  Now, while I never drank the Dark Shadows or Alice hater-ade, I have to admit that those films (among a few of Burton's more recent outings) did lack that lightning-in-a-bottle he so perfectly captured in his earlier work.  That being said, I've always been 100% in love with the universe he lovingly creates with each and every one of his films.  There are only a handful of directors whose stylistic stamp permeates every frame with such gusto, and to me Burton's wondrous world just never gets tiresome.
 
FRANKENWEENIE is about Victor, a loner kid whose home movie-making, loving parents, and loyal dog Sparky amply make up for an apparent lack of friends or "normal" childhood interaction.  Even when he is approached by a classmate who wishes to partner up for their school's science fair, Victor shuns the advance preferring his solitude over camaraderie.  
 
When a rude twist of fate results in a tragic accident that takes the life of his beloved Sparky, Victor takes a cue from his creepy science teacher and sets out to reanimate his aptly named dog. Oh, and did I mention that the boy's last name is Frankenstein?  With a name like that, its no big surprise that Victor's experiment is a smashing success.  His pup once again barks and plays, though confined to the secrecy of the family's attic.  Soon enough, however, Sparky ventures out into the world revealing himself to one of Victor's classmates, setting in motion a series of events that culminate in the films' monstrous climax.
 
From beginning to end, FRANKENWEENIE  is an absolute delight.  Shot in stark black and white with gray scale puppets the stop motion animation is incredibly captivating.  As in all Burton films, the cast of characters range from endearingly bizarre to the downright macabre.  While every player has the signature ashen skin and wide-eyed weirdness of the Burton universe, each personality exudes a kind of wholesomeness that balances his or her grim facade.  The story is perfectly complete with nary a loose end, hole, or unnecessary aside distracting from the overall arc.  There's a reason why formulas work, and Burton has once again embraced this fact to terrific, heartwarming effect. 
 
FRANKENWEENIE is such great fun.  The festival audience here at Fantastic Fest positively ate it up, but I am very interested to see how the general public responds.  I think the timely fall release just before Halloween definitely sets the right tone for such a dark-ish family film with its lovely yet strange aesthetic.  Like many others have trumpeted, Burton is back to fine form and FRANKENWEENIE is not to be missed. I know I can't wait for my kiddo to check it out.  
 
 
 
DREDD 3D
 
Though I do hang with the comic book nerds, I have never really been an avid follower myself.  As adaptation after adaptation hit the big screen, I rely on my comic book guys and gals to inform me as to whether or not the film is true to the text.  So far, word on the street says that this Dredd adaptation accomplishes this feat.  For me, it succeeds simply as a terrifically bloody shoot-em-up.
 
Right off the bat, it becomes apparent that this is only one installment in the Judge Dredd saga.  If you're unfamiliar with the Dredd stories, they take place in the "Mega City" of the future where the cops also serve a judges, handing down instant sentences ranging from incarceration to swift death.  One of the gargantuan housing structures in Mega City One is being controlled by a crime boss who recently dropped the skinned corpses of three of her adversaries from from an upper level balcony to their bloody demise on the floor of the building's atrium.  Oh yes, I did say "her", and MaMa (pronounced Maw Maw) is an ex-hooker who rose through the ranks of the underworld and now controls the biggest manufacturing and distribution outfit for a new narcotic named Slo-Mo.  When Dredd and rookie enforcer Anderson arrive to investigate, MaMa intends to take them out but soon discovers that she has picked the wrong duo to mess with.
 
The simple storyline provides a perfect backdrop for some crazy violence.  As the blood and bullets continually fly, the imagery is just as stunning as it is graphic.  Director Pete Travis utilizes some epic visual effects to demonstrate the influence of Slo-Mo, and luckily for us, some serious splatter happens during those sequences as well.  I must refer to Harry's lovely Yoko here who compared the Slo-Mo effect to a kind of nightmarish Lisa Frank (ask a girl) world where everything appears super shiny, sparkly, and intensely colorful. Oh yeah, and super slow.  Again, this provides a vehicle for some of the most fun and gory kills I've seen in a long time.
 
Lena Heady's performance as MaMa is completely ruthless.  She is one mean baddie.  Karl Urban's perpetual frown and throaty delivery capture Dredd's seriousness.  The standout performance, however, belongs to Olivia as the rookie Anderson.  Thirlby imbues a sort of raw innocence in Anderson, but allows her to be a total badass as well.  Though there are a few light moments sprinkled in, neither Urban or Thirlby ever betray the utter grimness of their chosen plights to provide justice in their crime ridden mega city.
 
Even though I had heard raves about DREDD 3D, I am still a bit surprised by how much I really liked.  So many times I feel like adaptations are made (rightly so) specifically for the fanboys, but DREDD 3D was a ton of fun for me too.  
 
I'll be back soon with more coverage from Fantastic Fest '12.
 
 
 
Annette Kellerman
 
 
Readers Talkback
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  • this is why as EXTREMELY progressive as I am, i strongly feel women can't properly review action/scifi movies.

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 9:21 a.m. CST

    Dreed 3D is flopping in US box office

    by Rupee88

    Sad because sounds like they made a good film. I will probably see it at the theater myself but clearly, I don't have much time to do so.

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 10:07 a.m. CST

    Dredd flopping...

    by deathvalley69

    ...but let's hope it has the second life it deserves.

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 10:24 a.m. CST

    Bums on seats

    by RocketFuckingMan

    folks,you'll love it.

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 10:51 a.m. CST

    Crap, crap, crappity crap! (The box office, not the film.)

    by Lord Albion

    Shocking box office, which not only means no sequels likely to Dredd, but will it scare studios away from future Hard R comic book films - I am clearly thinking Deadpool here. Nuts!

  • I didn't even know it was out in the UK the first week; the advertising was so bad.

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 11:20 a.m. CST

    Dredd should've been widely available in 2D.

    by Gary Makin

    I have a lazy eye - 3D doesn't work on me.

  • People flock in droves to see the latest "girl possessed" PG-13 horror flick of the latest PG-13 disposable action film but a REAL hardcore film like Dredd will never bring in theater money. It's a cult film made for the home audience ala Robocop, Escape From New York, An American Werewolf In London etc. Plus US audiences are NOT risk takers. I would estimate that 75% of people in the US have no idea who Dredd is or what he's based on. Most probably think this is a remake of the Stallone film. Hopefully Dredd will rock the home market and that sequel could still happen (remember Taken did almost nothing in the theaters but made a ton of money on dvd, so now we have Taken 2). Dredd will find its audience but not in the popcorn-chomping, texting teenage, crying baby filled cineplex.

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 11:32 a.m. CST

    The critical reviews of Dredd are shockingly positive.

    by Quake II

    Entertainment Weekely gave it an 83, Variety gave it a good review, NPR gave it a 95! and audience reaction is mostly great. The problem is that the average morn that looks up at marquee is NOT seeing Dredd. It's doing poorly because people are avoiding it, not based upon any word of mouth. I wouldn't be suprised if word of mouth after a week or 2 really HELPS Dredd find an audience. Remember, most people who post on this site are the minority of theater fans. We are lovers of cinema, we don't just "go to the movies".

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 11:44 a.m. CST

    Hardly saw any of the actors do the media...

    by dj_bollocks

    for Dredd in the UK, dunno what it was like in the US. It kind of needed better marketing in my opinion because the promos and trailers didn't really do a great job. Could they not get Urban and Headey onto a few shows ? I'm not even sure Jonathan Ross had anyone on and he's a huge comics / 2000AD fan...

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 12:08 p.m. CST

    Making films "specifically for fan boys"...

    by MovieManStill

    ...is often a box office curse. The industry reaction to this film's weak numbers is interesting, considering the positive reviews. However, an increasing number of online reviewers are, themselves, fan boys. The film will succeed via rentals, I'm sure. The marketing, and 3D aspect, have really hurt its theatrical chances. I do think that it's time for the ComCon (or whatever it's called) frenzy to die down - it's not the best litmus test for a theatrical run, and the industry is finally coming to grips with that fact.

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 1:55 p.m. CST

    Gk1

    by annettekellerman

    It's just fun when a movie I like can be true to source material and still be a blast for the uninitiated.

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 2:36 p.m. CST

    Dredd is fantastic. See it while you can.

    by Mr. Waturi

    Finally, somebody did a dark, gritty, violent, stylized comic book movie right. Unfortunately, there have been so many lame ones (Punisher, Sin City, Max Payne, Constantine, etc. etc.) that audiences were probably wary. It's not perfect, but it's a great movie. Surprised at how little coverage it's been getting on this site.

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 4:56 p.m. CST

    Not thrilled with Dredd 3D...

    by Token

    But it could'a been worse. My main problem was the rudimentary [to put it nicely] plot. Would it really have been so hard to come up with a few twists or surprises? Also, I know it's a departure from the comic, but I would have liked seeing Karl Urban's face for at least one brief moment. I'd watch a sequel, if it comes with an actual story...

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 7:39 p.m. CST

    Sorry Waturi, Sin City bests Dredd any day of the week

    by john

    and fucking twice on sunday.

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 7:55 p.m. CST

    boxofficemojo.com reminds aintitcool.com of its place

    by Nintendarth

    In sixth place, comic book adaptation/remake Dredd bombed with just $6.3 million from 2,506 locations. That's less than one-third of Kick-Ass's $19.8 million, and only a little over half of the original Judge Dredd's $12.3 million (and that movie was considered a flop 17 years ago!). It's at least up on Shoot 'Em Up ($5.7 million) and about on par with April's Lockout ($6.2 million), though those comparisons suggest Dredd is on track for less than $20 million through its entire run. The audience was predominantly male (75 percent) and older (69 percent were 25 years of age or older) and they gave the movie a "B" CinemaScore. A 3D share is not currently available. Dredd's awful performance is the latest example of how the Comic-Con/online fanboy crowd just doesn't make up a large portion of the moviegoers in this country. The movie came out of its Comic-Con screening in July with tons of online buzz and very strong reviews, and it maintained a 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes through at least its first 25 reviews (though it ultimately wound up at a more-reasonable 77 percent). As a result, the fanboy audience was very aware of this movie ahead of release, and anticipation seemed to be pretty high among this group as well. Ultimately, though, it's just not a big-enough group to drive strong business. For a good dissection of the hazards of targeting fanboys, check out this piece from earlier this year in The Hollywood Reporter.

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 7:56 p.m. CST

    It's just not a big enough group to drive strong business.

    by Nintendarth

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 7:56 p.m. CST

    Repeat - it's just not a big enough group to drive strong business.

    by Nintendarth

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 7:56 p.m. CST

    in summary, it's just not a big enough group to drive strong buisness.

    by Nintendarth

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 8:38 p.m. CST

    Saw Dredd 3-D for the second time today. Love it. Fucking badass.

    by Quake II

    It really reminds me of Escape From New York, right down to the sets, villians and music....and that's a good thing. The theater was about 20% full and it was mostly males. I really think this will become a cult classic as it has all the ingredients (ignored in theaters, great characters, jaw dropping violence, cool tech, dark humor). And as the talkbacker about stated, I too liked it better than The Avengers. It has so many moments worth seeing again....the only great standout moment of The Avengers I remember is when Hulk smashed Loki.

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 11:14 p.m. CST

    Me and 6 people in the theatre for Dredd

    by bluebottle

    Fucking fantastic film. Shame no one is going to see it. Hope they make another...

  • Why do you judge me, brother?

  • Sept. 24, 2012, 6:02 a.m. CST

    geek influence diminishing

    by Mr_P

    Just another example of gradual death of geek influence on cinema. Can't take long until the people who make movies realise that self procalimed geeks (while noisy) are actually a very small demographic, a large portion of which never actually set foot in a cinema preffering instead to slag off movies they have never seen on messageboards and only see it when they illegally download a crap cam version online. These people don't deserve a voice.

  • Sept. 24, 2012, 6:55 a.m. CST

    Dredd

    by Wu-tan Monkey

    You'd think that this site would be championing DREDD like they did for Stallone's Rambo, but no it becomes a second tier movie to FRANKENWEENIE. This site has really bombed since Harry got in bed with the studios and Moriarty left.

  • Sept. 24, 2012, 12:26 p.m. CST

    mr_p - thank you so much for seeing the truth!

    by Nintendarth

    By recognizing that we're a small demographic, instead of living in the illusion that the world is friendly toward geek ideas, we can fight correctly, from the perspective of telling the mainstream media to go eff itself. We can't criticize the mainstream if we insist we're part of it, and essential to geek culture is that it put down the mainstream banality as much as possible. People who like only the mundane deserve to be mocked, to suffer the blandness of their own material. DREDD's failure, I guarantee, is causing all sorts of obscure comic book movie projects to screech to a halt across the globe. People are terrified of flops any more, unwilling to take risks. DREDD's failure shows why. DREDD is a failure. Repeat. DREDD is a FAILURE!

  • Sept. 24, 2012, 12:26 p.m. CST

    DREDD is a FAILURE! A FLOP! A box-office BOMB! AGAIN!

    by Nintendarth

  • Sept. 24, 2012, 12:28 p.m. CST

    Oh, and FRANKENWEENIE's going to flop, big-time, too.

    by Nintendarth

    Black and white kids' movie? Um, no. Disney is taking all the wrong kinds of risks again. They're neck-deep in BLACK HOLE territory. Remember what made you succeed. LION KING. BEAUTY & THE BEAST. LITTLE MERMAID. See any self-aware mockery, weird directorial choices/color stock or obscure art-house effort in any of that list? No? Okay then. Glad we had this talk.

  • Sept. 25, 2012, 3:04 p.m. CST

    The upshot: "geeks ... are actually a very small demographic..."

    by Nintendarth

    In more ways than just one.

  • Sept. 26, 2012, 8:45 p.m. CST

    A blast for the uninitiated -

    by Nintendarth

    Except NOT ONE SOUL who was uninitiated went to see it. hence, the total apocalyptic box-office failure of its performance so far.