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“Frankenweenie” – Early Review (POSITIVE)

October 2, 2012

Tim Burton just doesn’t really do it for me much anymore, in my opinion he’s become the Adam Sandler of directors. Everything after “Big Fish” just became a huge disappointment after disappointment. Then, one day, I see the announcement of a feature length animated adaptation of his 1984 short, “Frankenweenie”. Did Tim suddenly find religion? Have his self-righteous eyes opened? Did he realize that maybe instead of adapting/remaking other works, that shouldn’t be touched, perhaps he should tackle something that’s more close to home? Thank goodness for “Frankenweenie”!

“Frankenweenie” is a throw back to the classic Universal Monster movies, with a dash of Kaiju cinema, I’m also extremely relieved that Mr. Burton decided to keep the film 100% black and white, which adds to the authenticity to what the movie is paying a homage to. But, it’s not just respecting those movies, it’s as if this movie was directed by someone else and was doing a homage to Tim Burton films. In comes the self-righteousness, but where this would some times leave a sour taste, it’s actually quite refreshing and fun to see the classic Burton-esq Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the film; some “Beetlejuice” here, a little “Batman” there, and a clever cameo of Burton favorite, Christopher Lee.

For the most part “Frankenweenie” follows the same plot to the original ’84 classic short; a boy named Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan) loses his beloved dog, Sparky, in a tragic accident, with the inspiration of his electrically crazed science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (voiced by Martin Landau), Victor devises a way to bring back Sparky through the power of science! Lightning! Once Sparky sparks back to life, that’s when the fun/terror really begins. Victor’s classmates learn of his secret on how to bring dead pets back to life. It’s not until later when they learn that their creations will create far more havoc and destruction than poor Sparky ever could.

Visually, this is a delight on the eyes; Burton doesn’t fail to bring such a captivating stop-motion animated picture. The characters are ripped straight off the pages of Burton’s sketchbook, each look uglier and bizarre than the next. The creature designs are 10x more twisted than anything “Nightmare Before Christmas” could ever throw at you. It’s a fun watch kind of creature feature, making the look and feel of an old fashion monster horror film adds to the enrich detail the movie needs to be successful.

The story itself follows the short film the first half, which is fine, but once it goes off into a new tangent, that’s where I think the character development loses itself. There’s not much present here, the film hurries itself from point A to point B, it seems like the main point is to bring on the monsters! And I’m not going to deny it, it’s fun, the last half of the movie is fun, but I wish there was a better character act between Victor and Sparky. Once the emotional loss scenes come into play, it almost comes off as forced.

Needless to say, the movie still packs a wallop of thrills, scares, and silly laughs that the entire family will enjoy. Even if you’re not a fan of kids films, you should still check it out, since Tim Burton is not your normal kids movie creator, he makes them dark, twisted, and disturbing, just because it’s a Disney movie, it doesn’t mean he holds back by any means.




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