R.L Stine’s Books Come to Life In A Fun, Simplistic Tale

Goosebumps

            Remember when you were a kid, and your parents told you to read something? Chances are you were like me and chose Goosebumps as your series, enjoying the juvenile horrors it brought. R.L. Stine’s band of ghouls, goblins, and dummies left me with chills many years ago, along with many memorable stories to enjoy. Now years later, following reprints, spin-offs, and more reprints a movie surrounding Stine’s creatures has emerged, and just in time for Halloween. What thrills, or chills, does this installment have for audiences? Read on to find out.

For those who grew up with the series, the main benefit this movie brings is a sense of nostalgia. Director Rob Letterman has placed iconic monsters (such as Slappy, Werewolf of Fever Swamp, and Lawn Gnomes) throughout the movie that will take you on an adventure that screams R.L. Stine. I felt the crew did a nice job integrating some of the characters into the story, providing plenty of “exciting” moments that young and young at heart will enjoy. Many of these scenes make a reference to a part in the book, be it in the form of a quote, iconic scene, or some other mark representative of our monsters. Unfortunately…they limited their monsters to only a few of Stine’s horror champions, reducing others to quick cameos that lasted mere seconds. I’m knew that it would be impossible to adequately provide all sixty four books proper screen time in 103 minutes, but was hoping for a few more appearances.

The second strength of Goosebumps is how fun the story is. It’s a very simplistic adventure that after a cliché’ opening gets pretty exciting. Chases through grocery stores, battling ceramic ornaments, and attempting to escape the clutches of massive mantis are just some examples of the bouts our heroes go through. The plot is of course obvious, but is certainly representative of an R.L. Stine plot. There are a few highly predictable twists in the film, but there are a few lessons that will hit home to audiences of all ages. Humor was injected into the sequences as well, mostly juvenile antics and over the top screaming that had little kids screaming in delight. However, there are a few witty puns and lines dropped at the right time that got some laughs from the older generation. All of the fun takes away from the “scariness” of Slappy and his crew, and wraps the whole film in a cute package.

Acting wise our cast has done their jobs of bringing the kids series to life. Jack Black was by far my favorite of the crew, capturing both the look and persona I envisioned of the famous writer. Black’s theatrical, overdramatic delivery works well in this film, building up the comedy in the scenes and adding some punch to the punch lines. He even does some voice acting in the film, bringing some humorous elements to Slappy and the Invisible Boy but still adding a little menacing atmosphere to the mix. Dylan Minnette’s performance as a struggling teenager was spot on, and was perhaps the most balanced character of the bunch. He held his emotions in check, and made for a relatable hero to latch on to. The lovely Odeya Rush helps ground the silliness and excitement, resetting the moment to keep the adventure fun instead of overbearing. As for Ryan Lee, well his role is the opposite of Rush’s, primarily escalating the scene to ridiculous levels with screaming, panicking, and more screaming. He was funny at times, but his characters antics got old after a while.

Filming wise the movie is has decent quality, in both special effects and camera work. The animation and design of the monsters is decent, personalized to mimic their expected natural movements. Slappy moves in a jerky, blocky, and somewhat stiff motion much like you would see in a ventriloquism dummy. However, the werewolf’s digital design is sleek, with fierce, fluid movements seen in wolves. The camera work is also decently stable, only going into a chaotic frenzy once or twice during the adventure. Our team maximizes the intensity and emotion in each scene, making sure to use the best angles to film the scene. There are numerous shots that are obviously designed for the 3-D version of the film, many of them involving something coming out of the screen to “terrorize” the audience. At this point I will say I don’t see a need for watching this movie in 3-D, but for the full cinematic effect you’ll need to spend the extra cash.

Overall Goosebumps is a fun Halloween adventure that families will certainly enjoy. Nostalgia runs deep in the veins of this movie, and fans like me will enjoy the adventure Hollywood has set up for us and be thoroughly entertained. Would I recommend a trip to the theater? For the special effects and fun, yeah I would recommend it, especially in the 2-D version. It is at least worth a NetFlix or RedBox rent whenever it joins their library in the future.

My scores for Goosebumps are:

 

Action/Adventure/Comedy: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

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