Sunday, February 24, 2008

REVIEW: Beetlejuice


Year: 1988
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder, Michael Keaton, Catherine O'Hara
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG

Before he gave us Batman, he made Beetlejuice. This was probably director Tim Burton's first real shot at the horror/comedy genre and its really his first film that kind of launched his career to stardom. While the movie didn't break any box office records, it did manage to gross an estimated $73 million on a budget of $15 million. The movie has never been kind to critics with some loving it and some hating, but Beetlejuice garnered its fans when it first debut on VHS. This was one of the first VHS films I had so I was more than thrilled to eventually pick this up on DVD. Beetlejuice is one of those old school films that has grown a soft spot for me. Its considered a classic and one of Tim Burton's best film when he was still early in his career.

Plot Outline:
Adam (Alec Baldwin) and Barbara (Geena Davis) were in a fatal car accident. Their spirits return home, only to find they're invisible and that their home's been overrun by an unpleasant family. Charles Deetz (Jeffrey Jones), his artist wife Delia (Catherine O'Hara) and funereal daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) move in on Adam and Barbara's house. All the couple's got for guidance is a strange book called "The Handbook for the Recently Deceased". Things turn to the worst when Adam and Barbara get help from the bio-exorcist, Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton) when they repeat his name three times.

The story of Beetlejuice is pretty good. This was Tim Burton's first dark movie that's also a mixture between comedy and horror. His creativeness is excellent with everything in the world of Beetlejuice having that gray feeling to it. The plot gets very interesting as we get these entertaining characters that really prove to be quite funny in some ways. I don't know if Beetlejuice has an original story, but its still something that Burton should be proud of because the movie is a blast to watch. While the story is good, its not perfect as these interesting characters don't have alot of dept to them. We don't know as much about them as we should of so the characters really go no where in terms of back story. Still, as an early movie for one of the best creative directors out their, this is still a fun movie to watch, but it shouldn't be taken too seriously.

The cast of Beetlejuice is also pretty good. Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis play as Adam and Barbara. Both are mildly entertaining with both of them looking great together. They both have that couples look which makes their chemistry all more too real. Michael Keaton plays as Beetlejuice and hes the real star of the movie. He plays the character of Beetlejuice flawlessly and really puts a show for the audience. Its such a pain to see an underrated actor like Keaton not being appreciated of for his wonderful performance. I say it right now and Ill stand by it, no one can play Beetlejuice except Michael Keaton. We also have Winona Ryder playing as Lydia and she looks very young considering the age of this movie. She seems like shes still developing her acting skills and still not at that level where she can start giving out Oscar performances. However, she still does an OK job in her role, but nothing ground breaking. Catherine O'Hara plays as Delia and shes pretty funny early on in the movie, but then starts to get alittle annoying. I was more than overwhelmed by the cast, I thought they gave a good effort.

The visual look that Beetlejuice has is dark. The movie is still half horror so the work shows it. The movie consists of a dark, but grayish feel to it with colors looking washed out. Detail is still pretty good for a film of its age. Burton's visual style that we have now come use to shows alot here with many of the environments and clothing looking dark, but just right. Beetlejuice is a movie that is in need of a remastering. While the DVD looked marginally better than its VHS counter part, It was no way near as good as it could have looked. The movie is now 20 years old and it really shows. Warner Bros. needs to hurry it up and crank out a special edition version with alot of thought put into it because Beetlejuice has many fans out their that would kill for a new copy.

The music in Beetlejuice is great all the way. Creative mastermind composer Danny Elfman really delivers a very imaginative score that makes this film have its own legs. The music is engaging, but also very in tact with the feel of the story. Their are other soundtracks that also give Beetlejuice leverage because it goes with whats in the scene. Here is another aspect of the film that Warner Bros. seriously needs to remaster. A great score like this definitely needs to sound its best. Bass is also on the short side, but honestly Beetlejuice isn't the type of movie that would give a run for its money on surround sound. While the dialogue is crisp and clear for the most part, its still alittle fluffy. All in all, Danny Elfman composed of a great score that definitely belongs to this movie, but I just wish Warner Bros. would remaster this movies soundtrack.

In the end, Beetlejuice is another good film from director Tim Burton. Its as every bit fun as Batman or Edward Scissorhands. The story although lacking some character developments is still quite enjoyable. The cast is also pretty good with Michael Keaton giving a memorable performance as Beetlejuice. The visual look of the movie is dark and pretty grainy. The soundtrack is great with Elfman composing a fantastic score that really plays well with the story and setting of Beetlejuice. I only wish Warner Bros. would release a special edition of Beetlejuice with the picture and sound quality being remastered. I recommend you check this movie out for if you are trying to watch an entertaining film.

Grade: C+

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