Review: Frankenweenie

luke kalamar and lauren stern review the latest from tim burton…

Plot: A young introvert named Victor conducts an experiment to bring his dog Sparky back to life. But once Sparky’s revival is revealed to the town, it inspires other students to conduct similar operations with very disastrous results.

The story of how Frankenweenie came about was an interesting one. In 1984, a young Tim Burton made a 30 minute live action version of the film for Disney. After viewing the film, Disney concluded that it was too horrifying for young audiences and fired Burton for wasting the company’s resources. Now almost twenty years later, a much older and more experienced Burton was hired back to create a longer stop-motion version of the story. With this longer version, Burton has created a truly heartwarming tale that also pays homage to classic horror figures.

Stop-motion is a sort of lost art amongst major filmmakers nowadays, but Burton keeps it alive on the silver screen with absolute precision. The amount of detail that went into making this film is truly phenomenal. Several hundred individual puppets were used during the creation of this film, but it’s so impeccably done you wouldn’t even notice while watching. From the movement of the characters down a street to the simple shaking of the Mayor’s rotund body, Burton has everything set to a tee. The style is very akin to other Burton classics like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. If you like those two films, than you will absolutely love Frankenweenie.

The voice acting is incredibly top-notch as well. Surprisingly enough, several voice actors portrayed a variety of unrelated characters with all their own unique mannerisms. For example, legendary actor Martin Short was the voice of Victor’s father Edward, Victor’s classmate Nassor, and the mayor of New Holland Mr. Bergermeister. The other actors/actresses such as Catherine O’Hara, Martin Landau, and Winona Ryder also provided their talents to bring their characters to life. The voices were so masterfully done that it wasn’t until the credits where the audience actually learned who the actors were. There were no, “That character is totally voiced by Martin Short” moments, which definitely created a much deeper experience.

Another great element of the film was that classic horror elements and figures were prevalent throughout the film. All characteristics from the tale of Frankenstein’s monster were featured (obviously) as well as separate figures that have appeared in other horror tales, such as mummies and giant reptilian beasts. It was amazing to see all of these trademarks interwoven into one story.

Unfortunately, this film does have it’s questionable moments. First and foremost, there were some scenes that were very disturbing, even for adults. Some might say that the problems Disney had with the original film still stand. Considering Burton’s immense popularity now, Disney probably has no problems with the content, but it is very interesting to see that nothing really has changed. There were also some unnecessary scenes that Burton could have left out because they had no real place in the story. Some of them were probably added solely for shock value and definitely felt out of place for a PG movie. On the bright side, there’s a good chance kids won’t even notice this.

All in all, Frankenweenie is another strong Burton film. It is obvious this tale is very near and dear to this very famous director and is finally getting the recognition it deserves. Not even some out of place scenes can take away the immense quality of this film. It is definitely great for all audiences and not just for the hardcore Burton fans.

Rating: 8 out of 10