Frankenweenie (2012)

Frankenweenie
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Scary scenes and infrequent mild coarse language

Director: Tim Burton
Actors: Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Winona Ryder

Frankenweenie, a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life - with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor's fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new leash on life can be monstrous.

DVD
Status: QuickPick
Run time: 87mins
Origin: UNITED STATES
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Audio Formats: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
Back from the dead
by Simon Miraudo,

When I declared Dark Shadows "Tim Burton's best film in a decade," I didn't expect to go back on my word a mere five months later. No, my affection for that nutso soap-opera has not been diminished. Rather, Burton had to go and deliver an exceptionally appealing family comedy, a stunningly realised stop-motion celebration of cinema, and an audacious criticism of America's anti-intelligentsia plague in one. He did it all by returning to his roots and remaking, expanding, and animating the Disney short so strange it got him fired from the studio back in 1984. His new-and-improved Frankenweenie is Burton's best film since Ed Wood, and thus, the best thing he's done in nearly two decades. Screenwriter John August has been charged with lengthening the original 30-minute tale, itself an adaptat...

When I declared Dark Shadows "Tim Burton's best film in a decade," I didn't expect to go back on my word a mere five months later. No, my affection for that nutso soap-opera has not been diminished. Rather, Burton had to go and deliver an exceptionally appealing family comedy, a stunningly realised stop-motion celebration of cinema, and an audacious criticism of America's anti-intelligentsia plague in one. He did it all by returning to his roots and remaking, expanding, and animating the Disney short so strange it got him fired from the studio back in 1984. His new-and-improved Frankenweenie is Burton's best film since Ed Wood, and thus, the best thing he's done in nearly two decades.

Screenwriter John August has been charged with lengthening the original 30-minute tale, itself an adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and he does a fine job of it. Young Victor (Charlie Tahan) may be lacking in friends, but he's got the world's best dog, Sparky, to keep him company instead. In the town of New Holland, where all the residents double as a rogues gallery of motion picture history's most horrific monsters, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Sparky is the star of Victor's home movies, though his acting career is cut-short by the wheels of a speeding car. After receiving inspiration from his intense science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau), Victor decides to bring his dog back to life. The pet cemetery is broken into, the corpse is dug up, and lightning is employed to resuscitate the late Sparky and wake him from his eternal slumber. He returns and is pretty much just as he once was, besides his ear and tail occasionally falling off.

Anyone with an even fleeting familiarity with Shelley's original parable can expect Victor's miracle to be repeated on another body - with disastrous results - and for the terrified townspeople to eventually chase Sparky with pitchforks and flaming torches towards a windmill. What was less expected, at least to this writer, was the way in which Burton and August reapply the tale to modern times - in spite of the black-and-white imagery that harkens to the Hammer horror of old - and comment on America's fear of scientific exploration. Mr. Rzykruski is made to answer for rousing his class to attempt such audacious experiments, and he frankly informs the local adults that their pea-sized brains could not properly comprehend the importance of their fearless trials. They like what science gives them, but not the questions it raises. Without veering into spoiler territory, Frankenweenie concludes with the people of New Holland joining forces in open defiance of God, and if that's not the most subversive moment in a children's movie you see all year, you've got to let me know what children's movies you're watching and where I can find them.

For those less interested in the Prometheus-like inspirations of Frankenweenie, there is still plenty to enjoy. The voice cast is a reunion of Burton's all-stars, including Landau, Catharine O'Hara, and Winona Ryder (Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are likely resting in their age-rejuvenation chambers). Tahan is an appealing every-weirdo, though he's overshadowed by the insane vocal stylings of Atticus Shaffer as E. Gore, an Igor-esque antagonist with the hump (both literally and figuratively). The character designs are similarly ingenious. Whether kids enthusiastically embrace an entirely colourless, ideologically complex, often spooky Frankenstein pastiche remains to be seen. That, however, is a problem for kids, and I haven't been one of those for some years. Frankenweenie is a demented delight.

4/5

Check out Simon's other reviews here.

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Member Reviews (30)

Helen
says
Brilliantly clever animated creation by Tim Burton. I was amazed the whole way through, as well as very moved by this story and the characters. Stunning.
Posted Sunday, 15 June 2014 See my other reviews
Cute, warm fuzzy little story :)
Posted Friday, 31 January 2014 See my other reviews
quite simply, delicious.
Posted Sunday, 6 October 2013 See my other reviews
caznjj
says
Having seen the original short (it's an extra on some editions of the Nightmare before Christmas) this was probably a bit overdone. I love that it was done in black and white - just like the original. I think that perhaps the creatures were overdone, as the original story was nice and simple, but I guess when you want to turn a short into a full movie you need to flesh it out..... I think you just need to sit back with this one and appreciate TIm Burton's genius.
Posted Monday, 2 September 2013 See my other reviews
Pieta
says
I enjoyed this movie it was entertaining. Would of preferred it to have been in colour.
Posted Friday, 30 August 2013 See my other reviews
uncster
says
The family enjoyed this twist on the Frankenstein plot, where a young Victor Frankenstein loses his best friend and must bring him back to life by inventing a lightning conductor. The clever use of the names in this film is very good.
Posted Wednesday, 21 August 2013 See my other reviews
Pfurball.
says
This was a typical offering from Tim Burton and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Aimed at kids but funny enough for an adult to enjoy and get a giggle out of.
Posted Saturday, 3 August 2013 See my other reviews
hmmm..well i loved coraline.. but this one not so much,.... it was ok...i wouldn't recommend for young children some bits are scary... ..but those who might like darker side of life 12 and up would love it......
Posted Wednesday, 24 July 2013 See my other reviews
Stuart
says
I love nightmare before Christmas and the corpse bride, so of course I loved this move. Great 'retelling' of the classic Frankenstein movie
Posted Wednesday, 10 July 2013 See my other reviews
Adam
says
Quite funny .
Posted Tuesday, 9 July 2013 See my other reviews
darthdorian
says
My nine year old loved it and said it's on his top 10 list. It was better than I thought it would be.
Posted Monday, 24 June 2013 See my other reviews
Alison Grills
says
Victor Frankenstien as a child, wonderfully imagined by Tim Burton. If you've ever loved a pet it can't help but move you.
Posted Friday, 7 June 2013 See my other reviews
Andrew
says
Very Tim Burton, so if you like his work you should enjoy this.
Posted Sunday, 2 June 2013 See my other reviews
Jason
says
This might have gotten 3 stars if not for the ending. You can almost see the hand of the studio reaching in and 'correcting' the ending that focus groups thought was too sad.
Posted Sunday, 19 May 2013 See my other reviews
The kids loved it and we parents enjoyed the references to old horror movies, its is lovely to look at and great animation but very dark, better than Nightmare Before Xmas (no singing).
Posted Friday, 10 May 2013 See my other reviews
Kate
says
While I love Tim Burton's creativity and films,really didn't like this film.Give it a miss and watch Corpse Bride instead.
Posted Monday, 6 May 2013 See my other reviews
Peta
says
Very cute movies, but somehow it seemed like an animated version of "Steven Kings" Pet Cemetery. Little scary for smaller kids
Posted Tuesday, 30 April 2013 See my other reviews
Good but very sad. It's not a kids movie despite the way it's been marketed.
Posted Monday, 29 April 2013 See my other reviews
Melzy
says
I didn't watch it ... but my 5 year old said it was a bit scary ... but then asked to watch it again so it couldn't have been that bad lol
Posted Monday, 15 April 2013 See my other reviews
Gordon
says
This was good, but out 6 year old found it a bit scary. Should have realised, what with it being Tim Burton and all :-)
Posted Monday, 8 April 2013 See my other reviews
Jessica
says
Not a kid movie. It terrified my usually not scared of anything daughter. She actually cried :(
Posted Sunday, 7 April 2013 See my other reviews
t
says
Adorable and dark. The B&W was perfect.
Posted Friday, 5 April 2013 See my other reviews
Steve
says
I liked it and the youngest loved it, but the rest of the kids said it was boring. Also a bit dark. Good story about people's fear of what they don't know.
Posted Saturday, 23 March 2013 See my other reviews
benmarshall-wordpirate.com
says
Disappointing. Mainly because, as a story, the makers had a failure of courage. I'm guessing the original script had as its theme, "letting go". Accepting death. Tough call for a kids' movie but they could've pulled it off. I thought there was too much wrong with the film all the way through actually, but they could've won me back, just, if they'd fulfilled that theme at the very end, then had a cheerful epilogue showing the young protagonist moving on with his life or whatever. But they choked. Stylish, a few smiles, but the only character I liked left half way through and didn't come back. There's not enough to recommend in this for me, except as an exercise for film students - "What's wrong with this movie? Discuss."
Posted Monday, 18 March 2013 See my other reviews
AndyT
says
You can tell it is a Tim Burton's movie. If you like science you should enjoy this one I think. My 9 y.o. liked it even though it gets a bit spooky at times ( somehow it reminded me of Coraline ).
Posted Monday, 11 March 2013 See my other reviews
sp
says
Really disappointing and not at all what I expected....
Posted Saturday, 9 March 2013 See my other reviews
gerd
says
The artistry that went into the making of this movie is simply amazing. It's an enjoyable fantasy, at least until it gets too fantastic, in the sense it goes over the top and becomes silly, such as all the ridiculous creatures that are created and go wild. Otherwise, it's very easy to fall under the spell of this stop-motion puppet magic and almost forget it's not real.
Posted Saturday, 9 March 2013 See my other reviews
kimbo
says
Frankenweenie is a weird movie and really is a disappointment to animated films. Some scenes of the movie are very good but most part of it just a waste. This movie could have been better if directed by Gore Verbinski or not-Tim Burton. From starting to end movie was just nothing but not also full waste of time. It's animation is also horrible, in times like these even video games has better visuals than this movie. Nothing is extraordinary about this movie and nothing is too bad about this movie but I expected something better from Tim Burton, not this c**p. I just wish that movie do not get any sequel or any prequel. It looks something similar to the movie Paranorman, while not comparing to Paranorman movie is not too good as I expected it should be.
Posted Friday, 8 March 2013 See my other reviews
Amanda
says
Yet another Tim Burton masterpiece - I thought this was cleverly done and cleverly scripted. If you are a fan of Tim Burton's work and enjoy his dark sense of humour you will enjoy this film. An absolute definite for fans of the Corpse Bride and A Nightmare Before Christmas
Posted Wednesday, 6 March 2013 See my other reviews
Johnson
says
Cute, cute movie... not one for the kiddies, but a joy for adults who enjoy a bit of monster mash.
Posted Tuesday, 5 March 2013 See my other reviews
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