REVIEW: Frankenweenie

Once upon a time there was an eccentric filmmaker who developed his own creative and visionary style that became a huge influence within a generation in aspects of cinema, art and the way that a lot of people live today. Tim’s most recent works consisted of Alice In Wonderland, a totally misinterpreted feature with great visuals and Dark Shadows, another film with impressive effects but went totally out of hand. He needed another breakthrough and things have not been going too good for him. However, upon learning that his next motion picture will be another one of his stop-motion animated features, hope was restored. There have been high expectations since then and although Frankenweenie does not quite become the film that we should have had; it is still another decent addition to Tim’s successful stop-motions list.

Of course, any stop-motion film involving Tim Burton is going to receive a wide audience and has successfully achieved this over the years. His newest work, one that is, in fact, a remake of his own creation, is filmed in a much darker tone than his previous works with the animation technique. The black and white picture made Frankenweenie much scarier for kids, especially when its release was approaching the Halloween season. Also, the slightest bit of colour would have killed the film’s dark touch. However, certain moments within the story and some of the characters felt a little out of place on occasions. For example, the build-up to the science fair and the somewhat romantic connection between Sparky and poodle Persephone were rather awkwardly shoehorned into what, at times, appeared a shamble. Considering this, Frankenweenie still provides a lot, effects-wise, and is worth seeing in 3D.

Whether physically or emotionally, Tim Burton has given us some very bizarre characters in almost every film he has done. In Frankenweenie, were introduced to another hero – Victor Frankenstein, an ordinary but extremely creative young boy. ‘Victor’ follows after the protagonist in Burton’s previous stop-motion feature Corpse Bride and short Vincent as well as his former collaborator – Vincent Price. Also, he relates to Burton’s reinterpretation of Charlie in his adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic novel. In that sense, Victor has a kind but very heart. His relationship with his beloved dog Sparky was very cute, which the kids would love. However, there was something slightly missing. It wasn’t quite emotionally engaging or realistic enough. Both are interesting characters but when united as one, it did not quite connect and it was rather underwhelming.

Following the absence of recent, frequent collaborators Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, the supporting cast includes more of Tim Burton’s on-screen associated; most of whom he hadn’t worked with for many years. Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short took on the roles of Edward and Susan Frankenstein, Victor’s parents, as well as two additional supporting characters between them. Furthermore, Winona Ryder reunites with Tim Burton for the first time since Edward Scissorhands in 1990, but only provides her voice as Elsa Van Helsing. Unfortunately, her presence within the film as well as Elsa’s character was not necessarily relevant. Victor’s relationship with Elsa was not developed enough and isn’t the film really about the friendship between a young boy and his dog? On a more positive note, Martin Landau makes his presence known once more in a Tim Burton’s feature. He portrayed Mr. Rzykruski, Victor’s unique but wise science teacher. This character plays homage to Burton’s childhood hero Vincent Price as well as Landau’s own Oscar winning performance as Bela Lugosi. Therefore, Rzykruski is the strongest character in Frankenweenie and is a rather original addition from Burton.

Despite Frankenweenie was originally a short film, this feature remake unusually works to a certain extent. The film has a lot to offer, effects-wise, and is Burton’s darkest stop-motion project since Vincent. Furthermore, if you are an avid of Burton’s past works, you would recognize the familiar concepts of particularly settings within Frankenweenie and appreciate them. The film may have squeezed past Alice In Wonderland and definitely Dark Shadows, but we still aren’t getting the old Tim Burton. Finally, it may not have surpassed The Nightmare Before Christmas nor Corpse Bride, but Frankenweenie is still a satisfactory treat for kids and adults to enjoy.

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~ by SJMJ91 on 05/11/2012.

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