'Frankenweenie' and 'Dredd 3D' are Fantastic

The 2012 Fantastic Fest got underway last night in Austin, Texas with the premieres of Frankenweenie and Dredd 3D, both of which entertained in more ways than you can imagine. One of the things we love about Fantastic Fest is that it's a festival where you not only watch movies, you experience them. The fest, which screens the best new (and sometimes old) genre fare (horror, sci-fi, action, etc) from across the globe, goes out of its way to enhance the moviegoing experience in ways you'd never expect with each new premiere. For the Frankenweenie premiere, they hosted a red carpet costume contest for dogs, and then took it a step further by reserving an entire theater for the dogs and their owners.

For Dredd 3D, since much of the film plays around with an advanced slo-mo filmmaking technique using a specialized Phantom camera, the festival set up its own Phantom slo-mo booth outside so that fans could recreate the crazy, badass scenes from Dredd in slo-mo after they watched the movie. Check out video below ...

Frankenweenie is the Best Tim Burton Movie in Years

Those old-school Tim Burton fans who adore films like Edward Scissorhands, Beeltejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas will find plenty to geek out on in Burton's latest stop-motion effort, Frankenweenie. It's the filmmaker returning to original material for the first time in awhile; a film that feels refreshing and personal -- one oozing the spooky, inventive spark that first transformed Tim Burton into one of today's most imaginative filmmakers.

Very much inspired by all the classic monster movies that made Burton want to be a fillmaker in the first place, Frankenweenie is a spin on the classic Frankenstein story featuring a boy named Victor who loses his beloved dog in a car accident, then attempts to bring him back to life with a little science and lightning. Fortunately for Victor it works, but as his top secret science experiment becomes harder to contain, those around him -- including his cagey schoolmates, who want their own dead pets brought back to life -- slowly unravel Victor's plans to quietly reunite with his best friend, and instead force the duo to team up and rescue the town from a monstrous invasion.

Visually stunning and full of enough dorky monster references to keep you grinning for 90 minutes, Frankenweenie is soft enough for the little ones and spooky enough for their older siblings. It's not as deep and layered as, say, Paranorman or a Pixar movie, and it's not a franchise starter like Despicable Me or How to Train Your Dragon, but it is a perfectly entertaining movie with just enough edge to remind us that Tim Burton isn't finished creeping us out just yet.

Frankenweenie hits theaters on October 5.

Dredd 3D is This Year's Most Badass Comic Book Movie

For those who overdosed on The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises all summer, and are kind of itching for a dark, gritty and violent comic book movie that plays by its own rules, then look no further than Dredd 3D. Throw out everything you remember about the Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd because aside from one or two things, this doesn't resemble it at all. Instead, this version of Dredd -- itself based on the comic about a Dirty Harry-like police officer from the future who has authority to act as a judge, jury and executioner when hunting down bad guys -- ups the violence and bloodshed considerably while telling a somewhat familiar story that's more about its off-the-wall action sequences than its plot beats.

Karl Urban plays the hard, rigid Dredd, while Olivia Thirlby plays a rookie with psychic abilities who, along with Dredd, gets trapped in a massive housing complex full of creepy drug pushers (lead by a twisted Lena Headey) who throw everything they've got at Dredd and his little partner, resulting in a bloody, face-squashing brawl that just explodes on screen non-stop for the film's entire running time. Utilizing a unique form a slo-mo that's also incorporated into the story in a pretty nifty way, the film is slick and stylish, if a little predictable at times. Definitely worth it for those who desire an injection of badass R-rated action straight into their movie-loving hearts.

Dredd 3D hits theaters this weekend.

Keep following Fandango for additional Fantastic Fest coverage, as well as our sister site Movies.com. And you can follow my exploits on Twitter @erikdavis.

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