“Frankenweenie”: Tim Burton’s 1984 short film about a young, suburban Victor Frankenstein who resurrects his pet dog receives a big budget 3D remake. By returning to his earliest influences and making a whimsical, heartfelt tribute to the gothic horror films of his youth, Burton makes his most effecting film in years. That’s not saying much given the bland listlessness of his recent output but the film is the most Tim Burton Tim Burton movie in years. Maybe it’s because the handmade warmth that comes with stop motion animation or that the film isn’t a summer tent pole film or a reimaging of an aged piece of pop culture that didn’t need $100 million makeover or because long time Burton collaborator Johnny Depp sits this one out. It’d be too much to say that “Frankenweenie” represents a creative resurgence for the “Dark Shadows” director, after all the film is still a remake, but if he stays the course and keeps making films that only Tim Burton can make instead of being a studio hired gun, he might craft a respectable third act for his career. Featuring the voices of Charlie Tahan, Catherine O’Hara, and Martin Short.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, a 3D presentation of the film, a music video, an all-new short, the original “Frankenweenie” short, and one featurette.
“Dredd”: Adaptation of John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra’s long running 2000AD comic strip “Judge Dredd”, wherein the title character (Karl Urban), a supremely hard-core lawman, plays judge, jury, and executioner in futuristic dystopia. As with most comic book adaptations, the film is really just a mélange of elements including a relatively faithful representation of the main character, a comic book flavored visual aesthetic, and mix bag narrative drawn from the property’s decades long history. While having its lunch eaten by thematically similar “The Raid: Redemption” and suffering from an over reliance on slow motion, color saturated SFX, the film is an entertaining pop art actioner that’s anchored by strong leading performances from Urban and co-star Olivia Thirlby. “Dredd” is a rare film that could have used a bit more senseless violence. Read my full review here. Also starring Wood Harris, Lena Headey, and Domhnall Gleason.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, a 3D presentation of the film, a motion comic prequel and seven featurettes.
“House at the End of the Street”: Elizabeth Shue moves her young daughter (Jennifer Lawrence) into a cheap house in a nice neighbor, foolishly expecting the fact that the house was massively discounted because years earlier it had been the site of a brutal multiple homicide. As with every other horror that’s shared this premise, things get pretty rough on the home’s new occupants. The film is a typical piece of C grade schlock that just happens to star a newly minted A lister, its only notable quality being how egregiously it sexualized Lawrence. Also starring Max Thieriot, Gil Bellows, and Eva Link.
Special features: An unrated version of the film.
“Hit & Run”: Dax Shepard writes, stars, and co-directors this ‘70s throwback action comedy about a witness protection attendee (Shepard) who leaves the program to help his girlfriend (Kristen Bell) get to an out-of-state job interview, which sets his vengeful old crew chief (Bradley Cooper) after him. While not a groundbreaking genre revival, the film is a charming road movie with a more than a few, largely unseemly laughs. Clearly the film is passion project for Shepard but it could have benefited from a less laid back, more assured leading performance. Like “Pineapple Express”, the film places an everyday schlub in an action movie context to comedic effect and it works better in this film then it did there but it’s still unfulfilling to watch uncharismatic lead bungle through standard action tropes. Also starring Kristen Chenoweth, Tom Arnold, and Beau Bridges.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, deleted scenes, and three featurettes.
“Stolen”: Nicolas Cage stars as an ex-thief whose estranged daughter is kidnapped by his deranged ex-partner (Josh Lucas) who demands that he produce the ten million dollars they stole on their last job. Of course Cage doesn’t have the money and is forced to rob a bank to get the money which is a premise that would have might have made for an exciting action movie in the hands of a director like Pierre Morel or the Neveldine/Taylor team but “Stolen” is directed by hack action filmmaker Simon West so it has all the intelligence and visual dynamism of a ‘90s Sprite commercial. Hopefully, Cage will sort out his financial situation soon so he can stop saying yes to every single script that crosses his agent’s desk. Also starring Malin Ackerman, Danny Huston, and Samu Gayle.
Special features: A digital copy of the film, a making of and two featurettes.
Mario McKellop has written about film on Examiner for the last three years and can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org