Short Reviews: Clue, Frankenweenie, Little Shop of Horrors

Clue | Jonathan Lynn | 1985 | ★★★
There is no doubt that of all the boardgames out there, Clue is the most cinematic as each round you play offers a different story of murder and mystery. So, in 1985, before the studios decided that it was cool to give hundreds of millions of dollars to a board game adaptation, Clue was adapted into a film.

The result was not a great film, but one that continues to be a ton of fun. Thanks to its awesome cast and some clever and hilarious writing, Clue manages to keep us interested and guessing as if we were actually playing the game. And then in the end, in order to keep in line with the intentions of the game, they provide us with three completely different endings, each one as fun and as logical as the others. With that said, there is no denying that the experience of playing the game is better because each time around you get a different result and you can come up with your own story as it goes along. Still, it’s a worthwhile film on its own merits.

Frankenweenie | Tim Burton | 2012 | ★★★

Ever since 1996, when Tim Burton released Mars Attacks! his career has been devoted to adapting other people’s work into film (with the exception of Corpse Bride). And even though this period saw him make his three greatest films (Sleepy Hollow, Big Fish, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of of Fleet Stret), and all other have been at the very least eye-pleasing spectacles, these films still lacked a passion that his earlier films like Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and Ed Wood. But he has found it, and I guess that all he had to do literally go back to his roots as a filmmakers.

Frankenweenie is not without its problems as its narrative is barely enough to cover the 90-minute running time, and as a result it drag from time to time. But even so, John August’s screenplay is filled to the brim with ideas and social commentary that keep things interesting enough. With this, the black-and-white cinematography, purposely ugly character design, and detailed sets, Frankenweenie becomes Burton’s most inspired and passionate film since Ed Wood. While watching the film it felt like for the first time in a very long time Burton personally cared about the story and was doing his very best to make sure his vision would be admired by all. Also, for a mainstream animated release by Disney, Frankenweenie is quite bold, and that alone would be enough to admire if it wasn’t such a beautiful and thought-provoking film.

Little Shop of Horrors | Frank Oz | 1986 | ★★★★

Little Shop of Horrors is one of those films that you simply have to see in order to realize how great it is, so I won’t waste many words on it. I’ll just say that is incredibly fun, with catchy music, surprisingly deep themes (especially given its plot) and great atmosphere. But the film’s best asset is easily the cast. Everyone, from Rick Moranis as the lovable Seymour to the puppeteers behind Audrey II give fantastic performances. But the best performance belongs to Ellen Greene as Audrey, who gives her character a touching vulnerability that I did not expect to see. Plus her voice (both speaking and singing) is just incredible.

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