In a month that’s already overcrowded with supernatural themed animations, Hotel Transylvania is the runt of the litter. Frantic, over-manic direction, a severe dearth of laughs and a predictable plot are bad enough, but when you factor in Adam Sandler trampling all over proceedings and doing another Stupid Fucking Voice, then you’ve really got problems.
Frankenweenie sees Tim Burton return not only to his 1984 short-film of the same name – and not only to the stop-motion animation style he utilised on Corpse Bride – but also to the sort of smart, Gothic quasi-horror that made his name. And the results are, pleasingly, very much the Tim Burton of old.
Throughout their cinematic careers, zombies have been variously utilised as brain-munching bogeymen, rage-addled viral threats and social-political analogies. Don’t let ParaNorman‘s PG-rating fool you, this is a movie with a subversive streak that George A. Romero himself would be proud of.
Lazy performances, ugly babies and false sincerity abound in the third film adaptation of Jeff Kinney’s hideously successful series of children’s tales. Though oddly proficient in the realm of physical slapstick, Dog Days falls flat even in the eyes of tiny humans addled with sugar; one shining musical interlude, however, rescues this film from joining the ranks of insults to child-IQ such as Ice Age: Continental Drift.
Ice Age 4 hurtles from one boring and entirely unoriginal scenario to another, justifying its glaring historical and chronological inaccuracies, hopeless characters, tedious plot and joyless slapstick by covering them in frozen precipitation. It’s just a rehash of previous Ice Age themes and scenes from other, better films, but told by prehistoric animals that existed millions of years apart. Sure it’s for kids, but a cinema full of children could only muster the occasional half-hearted chuckle and even the sound of Sid regurgitating something into his paw couldn’t mask the sound of artistic integrity quietly dying.
Top Cat: The Movie should have been like going to have dinner with an old friend and finding out they were happily married, working away at their dream job and as pleasant and courteous as you’d always remembered them. Instead, it was like bumping into an old friend in a darkened alleyway and finding out that they’re now a crack-addled prostitute with no qualms about eating people’s faces. Seriously.
With a plot as cheerfully convoluted as its title, viewers might start to feel sea-sick trying to keep up with the ridiculous twists and turns of The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists. But does it matter? Not really. This is home-made Aardman animation at its most visually dazzling, and the love, humour and detail locked in every frame ensures that story quibbles are soon tossed over-board.
We’ve gone far too long without anyone playing the music, and don’t even get us started on what’s happened to the lights. Thank goodness then that The Muppets are finally where they belong – back on the big screen and firmly in our hearts. The story might not be the most ambitious one around and the great Frank Oz’s absence can’t help but be felt, but when you’ve got Fozzie Bear in fart-shoes, Dave Grohl on the drums and our ol’ pal Kermit at the centre of it all, it’s difficult to imagine more wholesome family fare.