It looks a lot like THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, but it has almost as much in common with BEETLEJUICE, in its colorfully humorous approach to the afterlifeE. Like NIGHTMARE, it’s a dark demented Halloween trick with even better stop-motion animation, but it’s not quite as delightful a treat, due to a weaker script.
UPDATE: The film has earned a 79% approval rating on Rotten Tomato’s “Tomato Meter,” with 19 positive reviews and 5 negative ones. The “cream of the crop” rating was even higher: 89%.
Echoing my comments upon seeing the trailer, Manohla Dargis of the New York Times calls the ilm “a necrophiliac entertainment for the whole family to enjoy.”
On a simillar note, Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers writes, “In the guise of a family film, Burton evokes a darkly erotic obsession that recalls edgar Allan Poe and Hitchock’s VERTIGO. It would be a test for any filmmaker, and Burton aces it.”
Sadly, the Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan proves once again how hapless the critics at that paper are: “The film does have a fairy-tale aspect, but like many of its characters, it is more dead and buried than fully alive.”
To be fair, he was not the only negatron. LA Weekly’s Mark Olsen called the film “a rather unblessed union,” and Dustin Putman wrote in TheMovieBoy.Com that it was “the season’s first unadulterated disappointment.” (I guess he missed THE BROTHERS GRIMM!)
LATER UPDATE: Although not listed on Rotten Tomatoes, Salon.Com posted a largely favorable review here (you must watch a brief ad first), that acknowledes the romantic longing and graveyard eroticism of the film. More importantly, critic Stephanie Zacharek seems to be alone in making a solid case for the subtle beauty of the film’s Land of the Living. Almost everyone else, including me, finds it drab compared to the obvous fun of the Land of the Dead. It’s always nice when a critic can open your eyes to something you missed on first viewing.