Archive for the ‘Tim Burton’ Category

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory

April 14, 2010

What Is It?

The book by the odd and talented Roald Dahl brought to the big screen by odd and talented Tim Burten with odd and talented Johnny Deep in the lead. You can see where this is going….

It’s a surreal version of our world going on a journey into the hyper odd world of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

This movie seems to go out of it’s way to avoid any line that was used in the first adaptation starting Gean Wilder. Out side of the name and occupation, theses do not seem to be the same characters and are not in the same movie. In fact this film has much more in common with the first Burten/Deep film, Edward Scissorhands, than Wilder’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Here Willy is an insecure recluse who is bulled by the children he has invited into his world. He is mocked for the very eccentricity that makes him the spectacle they came to see. The tour reveilles the wonder of the factory, the headstrong nature of the children, and the inner struggle of Willy who is plagued by childhood flashbacks.

How Was It?

My expectations were so wrong for this movie, it took some time to adjust. Despite the resumes of the big name’s involved, this is not a dark movie. It is a fun weird film that looks at the idea of parent – child interaction.

An example of the deft social criticism is the introduction to Mike Teavee. He spurts off a bunch of info about video games and there technical workings, which are then balanced by a nerves father saying that sometimes they don’t understand what he is saying. Mike, now playing his game, cries out “Die! Die! Die!” As his parents desperately try to hang on to the delusion that they don’t understand.

From the over indulgent, to the overly competitive, there is a lot for people to see in this mirror held up to modern parenting.

We find out that “candy isn’t supposed to have a point” but that is not life, there are things that are important in reality and in this film..

Is It Good For Kids?

The kids here are often nasty and bad examples. Still you see there negative traits leading directly to there demise (figuratively).

Parents are either shown as sportive and protective producing good kids, or destructive by letting there kids get “what they want.”

Once, when Grandpa goes on a cussing rant, we are protected with Charlie as the audio is that of his mother’s hands muffling his ears.

Check www.ScreenIt.com for a complete break down of elements shown on the screen.

How about Spiritual Issues?

In almost every Tim Burten film I have seen, there is usually some slam against Christians. Thankfully this film seem void of such open hostility.

Halloween is shown in a flashback, but it is just used as a device to introduce Willy’s dad , an uptight candy phobic dentist. All the candy is raped in paper with skulls and spiders, echoing Dr. Wonka’s sentiment on the subject.

The major theme of this film (and this may be a spoiler, it took me totally by surprise) was the need for properly working, loving, healthy families. This is a fantastic idea, it’s just to bad that the thing most able to bring this about is the faith Burton rejects in his other films.

What Is Your Recommendation?

First: Tell your self that this is NOT the book or the Gean Wilder Movie. (and does not have the unfounded character change at the end.)

Second: Go and enjoy a colorful film with a enlightening back story that may remind you of things in your past but…

Third: Have a great conversation with the people you see it with about the need for family and the examples of parenting put forth as well as there dramatic results.

….Annasophia Robb playes Violet Beauregarde. She was also Opal in Becasue of Winn Dixie. She’s 2 for 2 so far!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory

Danny Elfman

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory …

Gene Wilder,

Because of Winn-Dixie

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Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

March 23, 2010

What Is It?

In this version, A 19 year old Alice, escaping from a public Marriage proposal, Falls down a rabbit hole to learn that it has been foretold that she will defeat the Jaberwalkie and set the land free from the oppressive Queen of hearts. Thus Tim Burten sets out on his quest to show us how he would have done “Lord of the Rings.”

How Was It?

This is a “re-imagining” sequel of sorts. The characters are mostly from Louis Carol’s books but if Mr. Burton half watched the old Disney cartoon, then skimmed the books looking at the pictures a lot … it would have been enough to come up with this movie. This is not a criticizer of the movie at all. The world Louis Carol’ builds in his books is imaginative, but the story is terrible.

This movie on the other hand, is a fun magical adventure through a land that is familiar in a way. Curly trees, Danny Elfman soundtrack, and a great Johnny Deep performance still come together with fantastic costumes and sets to make this unmistakably Burton. Still this film has heart and follow through that is sometimes missing or lost amidst the layers of his “cool pop-goth stuff.”

The other thing Burton does well is assembling a cast. Everyone fits well in their parts and with each other as well as seeming perfectly natural amidst this CGI enhanced fantasy world. The characters themselves are very creative with the perfect mix of classic archetypes and witty characterization. All of this goes together, seemingly with out effort, to create a fun movie.

Did you pay the extra $3 to see it in 3D?

Yes I did, and I’m glad. When they were in the real world at the beginning, the 3D effect reminded me of the 3D in an old view master slide. The people seemed flat but cut out and seperate from the background. It was a little less natural than Coraline 3D which was stop frame animation. When you got to Wonderland though, it was all worth it.

Is It Good For Kids?

The hard part about many of Tim Burton’s films is his mixture of child hood playfulness and fairy tale fun with dark and sometimes horrific elements. Labeling Tim Burten’s work as “Kids Films” would be like trying to put the original Grimm’s fairy tales in the same basket with the Disney cartoons they inspired.

Alice in Wounderland has Monsters and danger. The action is less harsh and more whimsical than the Narnia Movies, though This film does more things for the shock value of the action. Early on a monster has it’s eye plucked out by mouse with a needle  (mallyumkin carries a hat pin that she borrowed from the hatter*) and there was a scene where Alice crosses a mote on stepping stones that are actually the heads that have been “offed” by the Queen of Hearts. Both things have zero gore but conceptually could be disturbing.

Some parents may be concerned by Alice’s criticism of social norms. It really is a healthy skepticism of following popular fashion but could translate to younger children as simple rebellion.

We do see a married man kissing “another woman.” This is shown as offensive, but may not be “punished” fully enough for everyone’s liking.

But on a good note… Despite Alice contently changing sizes and her clothing staying just the same size, she is always filmed with modesty, even if it takes a 6 foot shrubbery to do it.

What About Spiritual Issues?

Tim Burton has explained that his childhood included being sent to church because it was the thing to do and finding nothing but empty hypocrisy there. This has translated into an insulting and belittling of Christianity in virtually all of his movies.

Oddly enough, that criticism is not only absent here, but the story at points seems to parallel Biblical concepts. Most notably is a scroll that foretells Alice fighting the Jaberwakie on the frabjous day. At one point Alice goes to save the Hatter and her bloodhound companion is afraid that this course of action will not be following the prophesy. At this point I feared that it would turn into some heavy handed message about not letting others tell you want to do, even if it’s sacred writings. Actually, where they went with it was that the more she did what seemed scary because it was the right thing to do, the more she became who she was meant to be. We are also told that her going to save the Hatter actually put her more in line with the prophesy. Prophesy was not something that could be deviated from. 2 Peter 1:19-21 This concept also made me think about Gandolf’s explanations of fulfilling prophesy from the end of “The Hobbit.” (Of course, the fact that their rendition of Louise Carol’s Jaberwalkie illustration looked just like a illustration of Eowyn fighting the ringwraith further put me in the Tolkien frame of mind. )

We also get the Absalom (Hebrew for My father is Peace) the Caterpillar giving a lesson in death being the entering into another world of life

Then there is the spiritual lesson of Alice’s belief. She feels that her defeating the Jaberwalkie is impossible. So she starts reciting all the “impossible” things she has found to be true in this world. We would be well advised as Christians to follow her lead. The next time something God wants you to do seems “Impossible” start listing off “Impossible” things you know he has done from His word and your life.

What Is Your Recommendation?

This is a fun movie with a few good things to talk about and nothing very bad to say. It even shown that living in a fantasy world is not a way to live your life. Though marketed for everyone, it’s clearly made for hip teens and above but told in the classic story book format.  Alice is worth checking out.

Alice in Wonderland

*Thank you Emily.

Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride

April 7, 2009

What Is It?

Another dark fairy tail from the man who created “A Nightmare Before Christmas.” Extremely stylistic characters, all with a Gothic cartoon edge, play out a tail of love life and death. The Van Dort family has a plan to marry there son into a rich family to raise there status. The Everglot family have been pretending to be rich even though they have lost there fortune. They plan to marry there daughter to anyone in an attempt to create another family to support their own. Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp) and Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson) become the unwitting pawns in this Jane Austin-Esq social experiment which is simply the “Sub Plot”!

After the towering ghoul of a pastor berates Victor with the booming yet eary voice of Christopher Lee, Victor stumbles through the woods trying to get his vows right. Upon the exact restoration of his entire vow he excitedly places his ring on a finger like tree proclaiming “With this ring, I ask you to be mine.”

Learning that you have to be careful with such declarations, the corps of Emily (Helena Bonham Carter) takes shape. With the ring on her finger and her dress in place (though showing a bit more of her decomposing ribs than she had once intended) Emily gratefully accepts Victor’s offer. Now stuck between two women and two worlds Victor’s world becomes much more complicated, and a lot weirder.

How Was It?

Now the animation in “A Nightmare Before Christmas” was stunning. Not only is the look of the whole thing macob ly beautiful, the technical advances are huge. To do a camera move in stop frame is near impossible. With that being said… “Corpse Bride” improves on “Nightmare“s stylistic and technical brilliance at least 10 fold. Even the difference in the color schemes between the two worlds is amazing. Not only that but “Corpse Bride” adds elements totally alien to “Nightmare” like a plot that makes it all the way to the end and, while we are there, an ending that actually makes sense. Though, with some characters you are supposed to see what is coming, I did not know which bride or state of being Victor would have been linked to until it was revealed.

Though this is an animated musical, it’s main audience is not little kids, but teens who buy shirts at Hot Topic. This parody of a children’s movie uses almost every line to deliver a clever pun linked to a visual joke. The music is great. (Danny Elfman is wonderful.) The song to introduce are decomposing bride is a bit like the Boogie Man’s theme, but it’s still all wonderful. To top everything off, Emily has her own Jiminy Cricket equivalent; The Maggot that lives in her head.. Waite, it gets better… The Maggot is a perfect rendition of late actor “Peter Lorie!” (How great is that?)

Is It Good For Kids?

This would depend on your kids. Like I said this may be advertised to kids but it was made of teens. I would think lots of children would be disturbed by the constant jump scenes and dead creatures showing off there demise. (There is a man who we realize was cut in half, the long way, when he splits reveling all his organs.) Many characters have knives and swards still in them, and disembodied limbs and eyes are not uncommon.

You can check Screenit.com for a complete break down of what is on the screen.

Still even if you child can handle such visuals with out nightmares or dark obsessions, The spiritual content is still worth considering.

What About Spiritual Issues?

First of all this wedding party gets many points right. There is a desire among the adult children to honer there parents even though there parents have poor motives. Love and Marriage are held up as good things. (Slight Spoiler) Victor even offers to give up what he actually wants to keep a promise!

Still the ideas around the afterlife are very contrary to Biblical descriptions. There is a slight chance the ending implies a “heaven” other than the lower world, but purgatory isn’t that appealing a belief either. For “the Corps Bride” The world of the dead is an odd combination of the Greek underworld, a Shanty Town, and a friendly local bar. None of this is very unlike Burton’s original look at how the other side lives, “Beetle Juice .”

Though all that would be enough to be leery of, Burton throws in one of his favorite archetypes… the evil Christian. There are 4 major baddies in this film. Not the least of them is Pastor Galswells. He is first seen being just horrible to the like-able Victor. Later when Victoria discovers the state of things, she goes to the pastor for council. He tells her he can help, then forcibly delivered her to her family telling them to keep her locked up. Finlay (spoiler) when the Pastor is faced with an assemblage of the dead coming to his church, The Pastor commands “Back, ye demons from Hell!” but is quickly proven powerless as the ghost pass him by simply commenting “Keep it down, will yer? We’re in a church.” So, Pastor’s are here shown as mean, creepy, incorrect, and spirituality impotent.

Once again, Burton holds forth lofty ideals of love, honesty, chivalry, and self sacrifice, but then denies the power to actually do any of it. In this case I think it would be wise to head the advise of 2 Timothy 3:5.

What Is Your Recommendation?

I would steer your children in another direction. Unless they at the point intellectually to be able to separate the thrill of the art from it’s message, so that the movie could be used as a spring board for understanding opposing views and prejudices against Christians as well as there ideas… I don’t see any value in exposing some one to this film.

You are much better off with the family friendlier Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Where Burton, Depp, Lee, and Bonham Carter all stick to ideals that we agree on with out inserting the “evil Christian” character to muddy the waters.

Though if you are going to see this film, do so with discussion and discernment, and rent the Maltese Falcon first so everyone knows who Peter Lorie is…