Friday, August 26, 2016

Movie Review: "Frankenweenie" (2012)

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Director: Tim Burton
Year: 2012
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes

When his dog Sparky is hit by a car and killed, the intelligent and inventive Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) develops an experiment that brings him back to life. Now, other kids hoping to win the science fair try to duplicate his experiment with horrific and unforeseen results. 

"Frankenweenie" is a stop motion animated film directed by Tim Burton. It is based on a live action short film Burton made in 1984, and it is also draws inspiration from the classic Universal horror film "Frankenstein." It boasts the voice talents of Charlie Tahan, who plays Victor Frankenstein himself, as well as Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, and Martin Landau. All of these actors, with the exception of Tahan have worked with Burton in the past, and we know he's one of those directors who loves using the same storied actors over and over. Burton is no stranger to stop motion animation and has directed it before with "Corpse Bride" and the short film "Vincent." Stop motion is often used for these darker themed animated films, so much so that it has almost become a tradition. This movie is yet another film we would describe as "Burtonesque." The classic Burton films contain the same look and tone with macabre, twisted imagery, and this is definitely not a complaint whatsoever. We have seen characters like this in past Burton directed and produced affairs, as well as in his artwork and concept designs for his projects. To let "Frankenweenie" maintain the same feel as the 1930's monster movie, the entire film is done in black and white, which we think really aids in telling this story.

At its core, "Frankenweenie" is about the love, friendship, and devotion a boy has for his dog, and vice versa. Anyone with an animal can relate to this, even the most hardened movie watcher. This story takes place in one of the weirdest towns we've ever seen spring out of someone's imagination and put into a movie. Every resident of New Holland seems a little off in some way or another. This helps the movie maintain its creepy but light feel because what fun would a Burton romp like this be without a little oddity? When Victor's beloved dog Sparky is hit by a car and dies, he is understandably devastated. While conducting a science experiment, Victor comes up with the idea to bring his pup back to life, and to his shock, he is successful. The only difference this time is Sparky looks like a patch-worked version of himself. While this story is mostly straightforward, there is enough here to keep even the littlest viewer interested. Hell, if you're a dog lover, this might even bring a tear to your eye. Burton always takes such painstaking time to craft his characters just the way he wants them whether they are a human or an animal, and even Sparky gets a boisterous personality. The animation is striking and gorgeous, as most of Burton's stop motion efforts are. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect movie and its biggest flaw is its pacing. Despite its extremely short run time, "Frankenweenie" still manages to feel a little long, but in the end, this is still a solid offering from a talented director who always seems to put a little bit of himself into his work. Dog lovers will especially relate and love this mildly twisted, odd, ominous story.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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