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Posts Tagged ‘movie’

Halloween Tree

Based on a Ray Bradbury story, this enchanting Halloween special takes a group of kids on a journey through time to learn about the holiday’s origins and other ancient traditions.  The story is a bit mysterious, enough to keep the youngest viewers from figuring out what’s going on half the time, but there’s nothing truly frightening about it all.  It’s part education and part thrills, and there’s a sweet ending.  The narration was done by Bradbury himself, so that’s an interesting bit of trivia for fans.  There’s plenty of Halloween shenanigans, the music is suitably enthralling, and the voice acting isn’t half bad, especially where Mr. Nimoy is concerned.  The animation is well done, too.  This is a Halloween classic for any list.

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This Disney tv movie series was originally based on a children’s book.  The first film is cute and fun and has some light humor and light action.  The acting isn’t the greatest, but it’s all meant as light-hearted fun, and there are definitely some bright spots.  Debbie Reynolds was her usual sweet self, and her daughter and granddaughter weren’t half-bad, either.  There are a few plotholes, but it’s not really meant to be intelligent fare, just family-friendly Halloween fun.  If you can’t stand kids show acting and cheap practical effects, this one isn’t for you, but it does have an interesting plotline.

The first sequel pits our witches against the son of the villain from the first film.  There’s a different tone from the original, and the town itself looks different.  Most of the characters don’t have much to do, but there is some fun time-travel shenanigans.  Basically, it’s more light Halloween fun and a teensy bit of character development.  There’s also a change made to the way between-world magic works, and that’s interesting.

The third movie in the series doesn’t have anything to do with the town itself at all.  The tone is entirely different, and there’s a whole crop of new characters to keep you busy.  It’s still cute and fun, but the environment is more normal, and so are the people.  It’s a completely different story from the first one and has less to do with Halloween than either of the first two films, but it does have a nice ending.

There’s one more movie in this franchise, but I haven’t seen it.  The main character was recast, and the whole thing looked like a rip-off of Harry Potter, including a completely new tone, environment, and hardly any of the original characters.  I skipped it.

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Sleepy Hollow

Another Tim Burton classic, this one is highly stylized without losing the humor or the scares.  The acting is well done, if a bit over the top.  The music is suitably creepy and enchanting.  The writing is a bit stilted at times, but it’s meant to copy an old-fashioned style.  The effects are good, although the blood is a bit too bright and excessive, but I suspect that was done on purpose.  The story is altered from the original to make Ichabod more of a hero, albeit a squeamish, jittery one.  There’s also a clear villain other than the horseman himself.  The mystery is compelling, and there are true moments of fright.  It’s not too terribly Tim Burton-y but still has his signature doom and gloom.  It evokes the appropriate amount of tension and excitement.  If you’re looking for a genuinely scary version of the Sleepy Hollow tale, this is the one to choose.  Definitely not for younger viewers, but it can still become one of your Halloween favorites.

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Frankenweenie

This one is the old live-action version that Tim Burton made with Disney before he became popular enough to command his own people.  Unhappy with the results, Disney never made much of it, at least until Burton got really famous.  It has a few familiar faces and some decent acting and cinematography.  It’s a cute little story about a Frankenstein dog, as you could probably guess.  The star of the show is the young protagonist who brings his best friend back to life.  There are some classic Burton-style shots, but it’s mostly missing the uber-creep factor that most of his stuff has.  It’s more family-friendly than a lot of his movies and almost feels like a parody of older Frankenstein movies.

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If you’re a fan of Tim Burton and/or weird stuff, you’ve already seen this modern classic.  Our hero Jack grows tired of Halloween and tries to take over Christmas, while secondary protagonist Sally tries to prevent the disaster she sees coming as a result of his actions.  The music is enchanting, the voice acting is superlative, and the stop-motion animation is eye-catching.  Some of the creatures are a little gross, and there are some scares that might be a bit much for the youngest viewers.  But overall, it’s delightful, creepy fun and perfect as the bridge between holidays.

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Monster House

This new Halloween classic is loads of fun.  The story involves a possessed house that comes to life and eats people.  The kid across the street and his friends take on the mission of putting an end to the house’s terrorism.  There’s comedy and suspense, and the characters are very sympathetic.  The voice acting is excellent, helped along by the realistic and detailed animation.  Movements are scarily real-life, and even facial expressions are believable.  There isn’t an attempt to make everyone look like a photograph, however, so there’s no creepy valley effect.  The action is exciting, and there’s a satisfying ending.  Altogether, it’s great fun for the whole family, except maybe the very youngest, who might be frightened by the terrifying house.

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This version of the classic, well-known story is much gentler than most.  It also sticks a lot more closely to the original book.  Our protagonist Ichabod Crane is more of an impractical narcissist, and his adventures consist mainly of him trying to get the most out of his meager adopted community.  The ghost of the headless horseman is seen only once, at the end of the story, and his existence is highly suspect, but the result is the same.  There is more historical accuracy in this film than you find in most versions of the tale, but it’s still not perfect.  The worst part is how the female characters are portrayed.  While none of the men are taken in by Ichabod’s faux intelligence, every single woman falls for his every pompous move.  Katrina is at least afforded a minor bit of common sense and wit, and she even displays a small amount of logic but never really utilizes it.  Beyond that, the movie is entertaining and amusing.  It’s definitely not your typical Sleep Hollow story when it comes to tv and movies, but it’s safer for audiences that are easily scared, just as long as they don’t internalize its simplistic and offensive portrayal of women.

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