Saturday, 27 October 2012

Film Review: "Safety Not Guaranteed" (2012).

"Wanted: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll get paid when we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before." 
Which is what Safety Not Guaranteed is all about. This comedy film directed by Colin Trevorrow; written by Derek Connolly; inspired by a 1997 Backwoods Home Magazine classified ad - itself written as a joke filler by Backwoods employee John Silver - by a person asking for someone to accompany him in time travel. The film follows three magazine employees as they head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified advertisement seeking a companion for time travel.

The original classified ad upon which the film is based first appeared in Backwoods Home Magazine in 1997. It was written as last-minute filler by John Silveira, an employee of the magazine, who is credited in the film as "Time Travel Consultant" and also has a cameo. The ad was later featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1992) in the "Headlines" segment, and eventually turned into an Internet meme before being developed into a screenplay. On a remarkable budget of $750,000, the film was shot in Seattle and Ocean Shores, Washington, and other locations within 30 miles of Seattle. It is also partially set in Seattle. The film was shot with a Sony F3 camera using old Panavision lenses, which gave the film a desired "Hal Ashby look" for director Colin Trevorrow.

The film stars Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson and Karan Soni. The cast gave fantastically witty and emotionally dramatic performances. With each cast member displaying their own unique witty and emotional flair and depth. As you genuinely feel emotionally invested in each character as they go through their own personal journeys.

Safety Not Guaranteed is a heady blend of time travel, romantic comedy, and human emotion. Like a time portal, the film creates a whole new world of stories and possibilities for film, and stands as one of the most exceptional movies of 2012. The skill, the guile and the humanness to turn a ridiculous, outlandish gimmick into a dense and emotional piece makes it the freshest thing the cinematic world has seen since Reservoir Dogs (1992). The film has an impressive feel for the odd, quiet rhythms of small-scale story-telling and little time-travel. The movie never looks cheap, because every shot looks as it must look. But the homemade feel is part of the point. Expertly shot and acted, the film gives the audience a simple plot and then piles on layers of drama, twists, and emotion before pulling out the rug from underneath. Interesting, funny, emotional and exciting, it could take you to a deeply emotional place lying dormant in your soul.

Simon says Safety Not Guaranteed receives:

Friday, 26 October 2012

Film Review: "Frankenweenie" (2012)

"Science is not good or bad... But it can be used both ways. That is why you must always be careful." This is at the heart of Frankenweenie. This 3D stop motion comedy-horror family film directed by Tim Burton. Based on Burton's 1984 short film of the same name and is a parody of and an homage to the 1931 film Frankenstein. In the film, a boy named Victor loses his dog, named Sparky and uses the power of science to resurrect him.

It is a remake of Burton's 1984 short film, Frankenweenie. It starred Shelley Duvall as Susan Frankenstein, Daniel Stern as Ben Frankenstein, Barret Oliver as Victor Frankenstein and a young Sofia Coppola as Anne Chambers. After the film's completion, Burton was fired by Disney; the studio claimed that he had wasted company resources and felt the film was too scary for young audiences. It had been scheduled to debut theatrically in the U.S. before a re-release of Pinocchio (1941) on Dec. 21, 1984, but was shelved. It did play U.K. theaters in 1985 in front of Touchstone Pictures' Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend (1985). After the mainstream success of Burton's features Pee-wee's Big Adventure (1985), Beetlejuice (1988) and Batman (1989), the film was given a home video release in 1994. It is currently available as an extra, along with Burton’s other short film Vincent (1982), on The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) DVD, Blu-ray and UMD for PSP.

The performances in the film were all superb as all of the cast members individually held the film together based the role(s) they played. But in a stop motion film, the animators themselves deserve as much credit as the actors as they painstakingly animate and breath life into every single characters in the film. Also I loved the creature designs and set designs as they themselves harbor back to the classic horror films that Burton has paid homage to in this film. As Sparky reminds us of the original Frankenstein Creature in the original 1931 film. The Wererat reminds us of the Original Wolfman from the classic 1941 film. The mummified hamster Colossus reminds us of the Mummy from the 1932 film. Sea-Monkeys looks asthetically reminiscent to the Creature of the Black Lagoon from the 1959 film. Last but not least, my favorite, the turtle Shelley is a massive tribute to Godzilla and Gamera from the classic Japanese Monster films. The set themselves also harbors back to the original Frankenstein film and German Expressionist Cinema which haunted Burton as a child growing in Burbank, California in the 1960s.

Frankenweenie is a visually delightful work of stop-motion animation. It is filled with Burton’s trademark imagination that carries us into a unique world. This dazzling mix of fun and fright also explodes the notion that animation is kid stuff. It's 87 minutes of classic horror movie homages with a touch of Burton’s gothic and whimsical nature. The film has something to offer just about everyone. For kids, it's a touching story between a boy and his dog. For adults, it's an opportunity to experience some rather dark entertainment in a children’s movie.

Simon says Frankenweenie receives:

Also, see my review for Dark Shadows.