Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Review Round-Up - Frankenweenie and Hotel Transylvania

Following precious few releases in the first half of the year, it's been a strong summer for animation, with great films like Brave and ParaNorman - oh, and there was The Lorax too I guess. Coming up in winter we have DreamWorks' Rise of the Guardians and Disney's Wreck-It Ralph - as well as Pixar's 3D re-release of Monsters, Inc. But right now, as we turn towards autumn, we've got two big releases (and, finally, the UK release of Madagascar 3): Hotel Transylvania and Frankenweenie.

Check out our recaps, reviews coverage, and thoughts after the jump break!

Due on 28th September in the US, and at a more Halloweeny time of 12th October in the UK, Hotel Transylvania is the latest film from Sony Pictures Animation, the studio behind the brilliant Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Smurfs? What Smurfs?). Directed by Samurai Jack and Dexter's Lab creator Genndy Tartakovsky, the film has undergone a lot of directorial changeovers (six to be exact), but if anyone can make it work, it's Genndy Tartakovsky. One thing we observed in the 'Art of' book and the six recent clips, is the considered and wonderfully stylised animation - it looks to be a visually wonderful film! 

The critical consensus, so far, though, isn't all too positive. About halfway between the glacial reception of The Smurfs and the enthusiastic one of Cloudy. It currently sits at 56% on Rotten Tomatoes, some of the critiques from top critics being:

"even after years of development, the studio still doesn't have much more than a concept to offer, enlisting TV toon maven Genndy Tartakovsky ("Samurai Jack") to direct a stale overprotective-dad story set within a location that could easily house a more inspired mix of characters and events." - Peter Debruge, Variety

"Despite the proven talents of first-time feature director Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory), writers Peter Baynham(Arthur Christmas) and SNL vet Robert Smigel, and a voice cast headed by Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg, the collaboration falls flat virtually from the get-go, serving up half-hearted sight gags that have a habit of landing with an ominous thud." - Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter


Then, due on 5th October in the US, and 12th in the UK, another spooky film on the horizon is Tim Burton's Frankenweenie. One of my most anticipated animated films of the year, the black and white, stop-motion film promises to be touching, nostalgic and... well, awesome! The first animated film that Burton's directed since 2005's Corpse Bride, the film actually revives a 28 year old idea that once got the Alice in Wonderland director fired from Disney. And be sure to check out the six brand new clips for this too!

The response to Frankenweenie is definitely more positive, currently sitting at 77% on Rotten Tomatoes. But it isn't without its criticisms; to look at the same publications, responses to Frankenweenie include:

"A black-and-white stop-motion toon that pays loving tribute to Hollywood creature features of yesteryear, this beautifully designed canine-resurrection saga feels, somewhat fittingly, stitched together from stray narrative parts, but nonetheless evinces a level of discipline and artistic coherence missing from the director's recent live-action efforts." - Justin Chang, Variety

"Although this nominally clever take-off of Frankenstein, about a boy's successful effort to “re-animate” his late pet dog, is distinctive as the first black-and-white 3D stop-motion animated production of this new three-dimensional era, it is nonetheless imaginative in a highly familiar and ultimately tedious way." - Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter


We're excited for both films though, so keep your eyes here for reviews of the films next month!

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