In 1992 Danny DeVito released his third directorial effort, Hoffa. That summer, he also appeared in Tim Burton‘s Batman Returns as a sludgy, grotesque version of the Penguin. What many people don’t realize is that the films connect through a talent beyond DeVito, as Burton was recruited for a very small cameo in Hoffa. Appropriately, DeVito had his Batman Returns director play a corpse.

Check out video below featuring Burton’s prep for the scene, and an alternate take of the cameo. Read More »

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With Frankenweenie, Tim Burton goes back to a couple periods of his own history. One is his childhood, during which he was alienated from average school life, and found solace in monsters and movies. Another is his early career, when he created a short film for Disney that, creatively, was his first big success, and professionally his first major failure. Meant to run before the re-release of Pinocchio, the original Frankenweenie, about a boy who reanimates his dead dog, was deemed too dark and weird, and shelved for years.

Today Burton sees the release of a new, feature-length version of Frankenweenie in which the characters are gloriously rendered via stop-motion animation. The film is a nostalgia trip on many levels, but it is a loving one. Burton came to Fantastic Fest a couple weeks ago to present the film, and he and I sat down for a conversation about going back to your past, and the reliability of memory. Read More »

Frankenweenie is an unusual film, which is the sort of thing that people always used to say about Tim Burton movies. In this case it is unusual because unlike Burton films such as Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice, which seemed like uncontrollable explosions of the director’s own childhood impulses, Frankenweenie feels like a very calculated trip back down memory lane. It’s less a meander than a guided Star Tour.

To an extent, the calculated feel is pretty typical of Burton’s recent output. It is also an unavoidable byproduct of the stop-motion animation employed to recreate Burton’s early story of a boy who reanimates his fallen dog, Frankenstein-style. Stop-motion, particularly when using models and sets as intricately detailed as those in this film, requires meticulous planning, and while it can create stories that feel spontaneous and uncontrollable (see A Town Called Panic), Frankenweenie simply isn’t that sort of film.

Instead, this is a movie about gaining control. As a return to the story idea that famously saw Burton fired from Disney, Frankenweenie is more than ever a movie about doing things right the second time, whatever the consequences may be. In Burton’s case, the consequences are likely pretty good, as this is his first movie in some time that points directly to what people liked in his films in the first place. Frankenweenie is a pleasing, endearing movie, even when it fails to follow through on some of its own best ideas. Read More »

Now that Dark Shadows has come and gone, Tim Burton fans have another film to look forward to later this year. It’s called Frankenweenie. The 3D black and white stop motion animated film version of one of Burton’s early short films will be released October 5, right in time for Halloween. And, if you’re heading to Fantastic Fest 2012 in Austin, Texas, you can see it there as it has just been officially announced as the opening night film of the awesome festival taking place from September 20-27.

Last month, I was lucky enough to see a large selection of footage from the film and it really impressed. You can click here to read a bit about that and watch a video blog. I also had the pleasure to speak to Burton himself at the event and, along with a handful of other journalists, we discussed the making of this film, his personal connection to it, casting, various types of animation, a slew of rumored upcoming projects (Pinocchio, Beetlejuice 2, Big Eyes, etc.) and more.

With the film appearing at San DiegoComic-Con in a few weeks, a new trailer just released, and the Fantastic Fest opening night screening, now seemed like the perfect time to run our interview.  Read More »

Tim Burton has been in something of a slump these past couple of years. Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows both received mixed to negative reviews, although the former went on to make tons of money anyway. And his latest producing efforts haven’t fared much better: 9 proved a forgettable flop, while this past weekend’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter left audiences rolling their eyes.

But there is one Burton movie on the horizon that could turn things around. Frankenweenie, a black-and-white stop-motion animated feature based on Burton’s own short film from 1984, looks like a return to the weird but warm Burton of old. The early promos focused mainly on young Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan) and his attempt to bring his deceased dog Sparky back to life, but Germain revealed after watching a 26-minute preview that the story actually becomes much bigger than that. The newest trailer gives us a better idea of what exactly happens next. Watch it after the jump.

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We’ve got handful of sequel-related quick hits for you. After the jump:

  • Tim Burton “would love to revisit” Beetlejuice sometime
  • Want to be an extra on Iron Man 2, Machete Kills, etc.?
  • A blazing-hot new Expendables 2 poster hits the web
  • When will the second trailer for The Hobbit debut?

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So far, the footage we’ve seen from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has been, well, pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a movie called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The “secret history” of our 16th president’s double life as a hunter of supernatural monsters is a premise that’s deeply silly but potentially entertaining, and accordingly, the first trailers have been both kind of dumb and kind of cool.

But I do have one big quibble, and it’s that we haven’t seen nearly enough actual vampire hunting. Honest Abe (Benjamin Walker) wields his axe pretty much constantly in the footage we’ve seen so far, but where’s the satisfying splatter of blood and guts? Fortunately, the new red-band trailer rectifies that situation, offering up plenty of bloodshed, several explosions, a couple of decapitations, and even a bit of what the MPAA might call “brief sensuality.” Watch the NSFW video after the jump.

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Today’s Sequel Bits features all kinds, from Depression-era gangsters to noirish femme fatales to drunken school bus drivers. After the jump:

  • Nick Swardson and Cheri Oteri board Grown-Ups 2
  • Sin City: A Dame to Kill For gets its first teaser poster
  • A new G.I. Joe: Retaliation image shows Cobra Commander
  • Seth Grahame-Smith is a little intimidated by Beetlejuice 2
  • Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz talk Tron: Uprising
  • Paramount is letting a Godfather (book) prequel go forward
  • Jon Favreau likes where Shane Black‘s Iron Man 3 is headed

Read More »

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