The following review was written by Ultimate Rabbit correspondent Tony Farinella.
Your enjoyment level for Tim Burton’s “Beetlejuice” is going to depend on how you feel about Burton as a director. He is an eccentric director with a flair for style and bright, vivid colors. However, in my view, I sometimes feel as though his characters and stories can distance themselves from audiences. I realize he has many devoted fans and “Beetlejuice” is one of his most beloved films. Whenever Halloween rolls around, I know it is a film which families sit around and watch together, even though there is an F-bomb and some odd innuendos which parents might find off putting to young children. As a first-time viewer of the film, I found I liked certain elements of it, but not nearly enough to recommend it or call it a Halloween classic.
One thing “Beetlejuice” definitely has going for it is the talents of Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis and Winona Ryder. Whenever they are on screen together, the film is really hitting the right notes. The character of Beetlejuice, played by Michael Keaton, is barely in the film, which is odd considering he is displayed so prominently on the film’s poster and in its title. It is more about the dilemma of Barbara and Adam Maitland (Davis and Baldwin) wanting to enjoy two weeks of a nice, quiet vacation at their Connecticut country home. All of this is thrown for a loop when they get into a car accident and perish.
Now, they are ghosts that have returned to their home, only to find it has been taken over by the Deetz family, which includes Charles (Jeffrey Jones), Delia (Catherine O’Hara), and their daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder), although the film is quick to point out that Delia is the stepmother of Lydia. Delia has plans of her own for the house with the help of her interior designer, Otho, played by Glenn Shadix. The father, Charles, is looking to make a real estate deal with the property and its surrounding areas. Lydia is suspicious of the place when she notices the ghosts of Barbara and Adam looming over the house. Here is the catch—Lydia is the only one who is able to see or notice them.
Since Barbara and Adam want the Deetz family out of their home, they are desperate to come up with any solution. They enlist the help of Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), even though he comes with a lot of baggage, according to their afterlife caseworker, Juno (Sylvia Sidney). She is very familiar with all that comes with Beetlejuice and warns them to stay away from him. In her mind, the best way to get this family out of the house is to find creative and simple ways to scare them into moving out. When Barbara and Adam find this harder than they thought, they say the name Beetlejuice three times, and he appears ready and willing to help, as long as there is something in it for him.
The major problem with “Beetlejuice” is just that, Beetlejuice. As an audience, are we supposed to like this guy? He wants to get married to what we assume is an underage teenage girl. He is very perverted around Barbara and is not all that funny or interesting. For the most part, as a viewer, I found him quite annoying on screen. This is no fault of Keaton, as he is simply playing the character as best he can based on the screenplay he was given and the direction of Burton. Baldwin tries to carry the movie on his back along with the help of Davis, but their charms are not enough to make this film worthwhile.
It’s hard to deny the great make-up and special effects which are on display in “Beetlejuice.” The concept for the film is rather creative as well. The actors are ready and willing to do whatever they can to help the flick. However, because Beetlejuice is so obnoxious and the film is so over-the-top and filled with tricks, there is really no heart to the story. It’s not scary or funny, so it fails as a horror/comedy. It is nice to look at, filled with some clever scenes, and there is good acting on display. In the end, this is not enough to save this film which relies too much on style instead of substance.
* * ½ out of * * * *
4K Info: “Beetlejuice” is released by Warner Brothers Home Entertainment on a 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, which comes with the Blu-Ray and a digital code. The film comes in the following languages: English, Latin Spanish, Canadian French, and Brazilian Portuguese. It has a running time of 92 minutes and is rated PG. The film is presented in 2160 Ultra High Definition. With 4K, you can’t help but be impressed by the HDR (High Dynamic Range), especially on a film like this. It really stands out.
Video Info: The film comes on 2160 Ultra High Definition for the 4K Version. The Blu-Ray comes in 1080p High Definition.
Audio Info: The 4K Audio is Dolby Atmos-TrueHD: English and Dolby Digital: French and Spanish. For the Blu-Ray, it comes with Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1 and Dolby Digital: English 5.1, French and Spanish. Subtitles for both versions are in English, French, and Spanish.
Three Hilarious Episodes from the Animated “Beetlejuice” TV Series: “A-Ha!,” “Skeletons in the Closet,” and “Spooky-Boo-Tique.”
Danny Elfman Score Audio Track
Should You Buy It?
Much like my review of “The Goonies,” if you LOVE “Beetlejuice,” you will be very, very happy with the 4K update. You might not be so happy with the lack of special features. If they are going to upgrade a film to 4K, you would expect they would add some new special features which look back on the film. This is not the case here. If you are strictly in this for the visual and audio upgrades, you will get your money’s worth. If you haven’t seen the film before and are not a Tim Burton fan, this film is not going to win you over. I would say rent it just to say you have checked it out as Halloween is fast approaching.