JWM SPOOKATHON 2018: Monster House (2006)

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Three teens discover that their neighbor’s house is really a living, breathing, scary monster. (IMDb)
Love the spooky fun premise and the classic Stand By Me-esque kids-solving-mystery trope but the execution underwhelms: cop duo aside, the humour is lacking (a lot to do with the often awkwardly stilted dialogue and animation I think) and the payoff for the haunted house intrigue is a bit of a downer that clashes with the film’s comedy-horror tone. The first two acts are still decent enough though due to the strength of its concept and a few good elements (Buscemi’s voice is on point).
6/10 (Mediocre)
CREEPY QUOTE: Bones: “Everybody knows what he did to his wife.” Zee: “Why? What? What did he do to her?” Bones: “He ate her!”
SPOOKY STILL:
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The Polar Express (2004)

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On Christmas Eve, a young boy embarks on a magical adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express, while learning about friendship, bravery, and the spirit of Christmas. (IMDb)
The compelling atmosphere on the train–a mix of thrilling action (see the ice ride), mystery (see the hobo by the fire on top of the car), fun (see the hot chocolate song and dance), and magic (see Hanks’ mysterious conductor)–makes it by far the best part of the film, as the latter half at the North Pole shrinks all the surrealism into a basic “belief in Santa” message-though that little kid sure is precious. The animation, meanwhile, is inconsistent (the faces often look a little funny).
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

Back to the Future Part III (1990)

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Enjoying a peaceable existence in 1885, Doctor Emmet Brown is about to be killed by Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen. Marty McFly travels back in time to save his friend. (IMDb)
The clever little recurring elements from the first film (clock tower, “Hey McFly!”, mom wake-up, etc.) and the continued fixing-the-future plot are extra enjoyable here as they’re repeated again in the different and fun Wild West setting. There’s some character growth too–Doc falls in love and Marty backs down (kind of)–and another great climax; only a lame crowd-pleasing ending that squashes the film’s previous discussion on the dangers of time travel taints this solid end to the trilogy.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

Back to the Future (1985)

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A young man is accidentally sent thirty years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his friend, Dr. Emmett Brown, and must make sure his high-school-age parents unite in order to save his own existence. (IMDb)
Superbly written: Seemingly inconsequential early happenings gain new significance as Marty’s trip to the past calls them back to mind in delicious deja vu moments and hilarious ironic one-liners (“Better get used to these bars, kid”); the “80s kid in the 50s” aspect provides some great scenes (see the final guitar solo); and the time travel logistics are (mostly) well-constructed. It’s an entertaining and exciting film with great turns from Fox and the hilarious Lloyd (“… some serious shit”).
8.5/10 (Amazing)