Review: Burton's 'Frankenweenie' comes to life
by Phoebe So
Published February 21, 2013
If there ever existed an unspoken rule that remakes, sequels or prequels were worse than the original and were bound for failure, Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” has most definitely broken it.
Released on Oct. 5, “Frankenweenie” is a black and white stop motion animated remake of Burton’s own 1984 short film of the same name.
An homage to Mary Shelly’s beloved novel “Frankenstien,” Burton’s “Frankenweenie” reinvents one of the world’s best known monsters in the most playful and childlike of ways while adding that signature creepy-crawly Burton-style flare.
The plot is fairly simple. Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) is an introverted boy living in the quiet suburban town of New Holland. Although lacking in the friendship department (who could blame him, all of his classmates are freaky), Victor holds the deepest of bonds with his loyal and energetic dog, Sparky. However, when Sparky is killed by a car, Victor is crushed by the death of his best friend. But all hope is not lost. For the movie can’t be over until at least one thing is brought back to life. After his slightly eccentric science teacher, Rzykruski (Martin Landau), gives a lesson about electricity, Victor realizes what he must do in order to revive his beloved dog back to life. By hooking up his dead pooch to an assortment of metal wires, muffin pans and blenders, Victor successfully resurrects Sparky from the dead.
Victor’s classmates are vying for the top prize at the upcoming science fair, and after hearing about his little experiment on Sparky, they all demand to know Victor’s secret. And thus disaster ensues.
Although “Frankenweenie” is a children’s movie, one must keep in mind that this is Tim Burton they’re dealing with. Burton, who’s original 1984 “Frankenweenie” was shelved and got him fired after Disney found it too unsuitable for children, has not toned down the macabre one bit. Although not as dark as other of Burton’s works, such as the bloody “Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” “Frankenweenie” is grisly in its own way. From spider-fingered and hunch-backed Edgar “E” Gore (Atticus Shaffer) to wide-eyed and appropriately named Weird Girl (Catherine O’Hara), almost all of the characters have a morbid feel about them. However, rather than scaring away the audience, Burton uses his talents to take advantage of the dark nature of the film. Luring the audience even closer into his gothic creation, Burton creates a masterpiece containing a captivating storyline and irresistible characters, regardless of how scary or freakish they appear.
“Frankenweenie” is also entirely in black and white, and the monochromatic color scheme gives the film a classic feel.
Additionally, the movie critiques many of the flaws pervasive in America’s current society. Rzykruski, who initially comes off as eerie and sinister, became one of my favorite characters after he preaches about the power of knowledge and condemns the townspeople for their ignorance. Highlighting one of the most pressing issues facing America, the film pushes for greater education and illustrates the disastrous results that can come with blindness and refusal to understand.
Despite “Frankenweenie” being a story about the dead, Burton has never created anything so alive or real before.
1 hour 30 minutes
Rated PG for thematic elements, scary images and action
Directed by Tim Burton
With Charlie Tahan, Frank Welker, Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Robert Capron and Atticus Shaffer
Here is the official trailer by Disney Movies: