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Burton is a cartoonist. I don't mean this as a putdown. He is at his
best in short sketches, and his main talents flow from that:
imaginative as a toymaker and has a knack for comedy, both short-term
effects, both a matter of tinkering in the small, but he puts his heart
I pass on his big 'storybooks' like Big Fish because layered long-term narrative is another thing altogether. In Burton's case, it is something he stumbled over as the only financially viable format to convey his sketches, so he treats narrative as only the canvas instead of as itself the sculpting matter.
Some of his other cartoons fail to reach me pure, because they are still big and polished studio-work and that all but defeats the intention. This is just the right size, an appendix of sorts to Ed Wood. It is a sketch, his first ever, this time reworked into a feature. And naked enough (no Depp, no Hollywood excess) to see the wirings and so appreciate what he loves about his work.
As you flip through this sketchbook, you will find the following:
The film opens with footage of a young Ed Wood's homemovie shot in his backyarda giant monster movie, the kind that a kid (who we can presume is Burton) growing up in the 1950's can be expected to admire.
A teacher who looks like Vincent Price and inspires him to perfect his 'science', in the film it is supposed to be real science, but is actually viewed in the context of 1930's horror and Shelley before, a kind of cinematic magic.
This kicks off the Frankenstein story proper with the dog, which includes additional references to both Bride and Son, Mummy and Invisible Man, and the fiery windmill conclusion of the Karloff original. (also reused in Sleepy Hollows)
Eventually, this leads to an actual giant monster movie, where different classmates, essentially using the same 'science' of cinematic magic, bring to life different monsters: one is a Godzilla-type creature (kaiju fans will know it is really Gamera), there are Gremlin- type critters, and a cat-bat creature that I couldn't pinpoint.
So, there you have it: 1930's Universal horror, 1950's sci-fi, 1980's pop Hollywood, all of it sketched here that influenced the man's career.
Typical for Burton: the story goes nowhere, the ending is Disneyfied like the first time, it is fun in short spurts, and he has nicely sketched the world of his childhood, which is my favorite bit herea clean and modernistic 1950's suburbia as was advertised to housewives of the time, it is amazing some of the textures and light they managed to capture. Stop-motion trumps cg animation in my mind, physical presence carries energy into the eyethis looks so real, it feels like it is taking place down the street from Ed Wood.
Overall, I don't know if releasing this confirms the nagging suspicion that Burton is over and done with as a creative voice and is really scrapping for material, but it is nice to watch, and reminds why he was at one time an interesting guy. What will it take for him to bounce back?
Greetings again from the darkness. Being a huge fan of Tim Burton's
1984 short of the same title, news of a feature length feature was very
exciting. It's obvious from both films that director Tim Burton holds
the story and project close to his heart. The obvious guess is that
young Victor Frankenstein has much in common with the enigmatic
director's childhood experience ... a social misfit who finds joy in
less than popular outlets (science, sci-fi, filmmaking).
The story begins simply enough, Victor - a socially inept boy, whose only friend is his loyal dog Sparky, quickly connects with the new science teacher, Mr. Rzykroski (who bears a striking resemblance to the late, great Vincent Price). Victor's parents try to get him more engaged and that leads to a tragic accident that kills Sparky. Victor is heart-broken but his scientific mind leads to a shocking development thanks to a local lightning storm. Soon enough, Sparky is back! Of course, the secret gets out and the Science Fair takes on quite a competitive nature.
Burton really treats the film as an homage to old monster, horror and sci-fi films. We get tributes to Frankenstein, The Mummy, Dracula (complete with Christopher Lee), Godzilla, Bride of Frankenstein, Gremlins, Jurrassic Park and others I certainly missed on first viewing. But this is so much more. Mr. Rzykroski gives a less than PC speech to the local townspeople, and though it is straight to the point, that point is lost on these fine folks. The importance of science and learning and accepting the differences of others is all touched upon, but not in a preachy way.
The voice work is stellar thanks to Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Winona Ryder, Charlie Tahan, Martin Landau and Atticus Shaffer (Brick on "The Middle"). The style and texture of the film is extraordinary. The shadows and lighting provide an atmosphere that adds just enough creepiness. The detail involved with the characters and setting is remarkable for stop-motion animation. Not just that, but how many movies have you seen recently that include a cat-bat, sea monkeys, and a giant turtle? The suburban setting is almost identical to the neighborhood seen in Burton's Edward Scissorhands, just without the 1960's color palette.
This is excellent movie entertainment for adults and children alike. Unfortunately, the black and white presentation has meant a lack of interest from today's kids. Sure it has some darkness to it, but the PG rating means nothing too heavy. This is Tim Burton at his finest ... and without Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter! Also, Danny Elfman's score perfectly compliments the story and characters, and stay for the credits to hear a very odd Karen O song.
If anywhere there was a braver ending needed, it's here. Kids could
have learned that life is but fleeting, we all suffer heartbreak sooner
or later, say goodbye to the ones we love... This is an important
lesson indeed. But, no. In the interest of a few mums and dads having
to tolerate some waterworks on the way home from the cinema, Burton
decides to go for what is essentially a cop out. Rather cowardly, if
you ask me.
The whole film has the feel of an old B movie (but is set in the present day) as it is shot entirely in black and white and contains more than one horror reference. Spookiness pervades the atmosphere, as Danny Elfman's Gothic score meanders in the background like a funeral march. Poor Victor loses his dog, and his mourning and subsequent resurrection of his pet carries real emotion weight.
This doesn't last though, as the plot stretches to Victor's classmates experimenting on other deceased creatures, turning them into freaks of nature that invade the town. This is an arresting spectacle, but a betrayal of what transpired before... turning the movie from a personal tale about a boy and his half-dead canine, into an OTT monster movie. It feels like a different film, and not one that matched up to the poignant first half.
Not for one minute would I suggest I could tell Mr Burton how to do his job. But I think less action, and more storytelling would have improved the final reel no end... As well as a more courageous conclusion. Oh well, everyone's a critic (Most don't enunciate their thoughts as well as I do, though)... ;) 6/10
Tim Burton hasn't been making any of his original ideas since 2005. His
recent films are adaptations that most of them are not outstanding nor
creative like his own stories. Tim Burton's returns to his original
roots with this. Frankenweenie is based on a short he made decades ago.
He remade it into a full length animated feature film with sheer
campiness. It's great when it goes there but when it tries to be
emotional, it works in a short while but it is more interested to its
craziness and the storyline doesn't know where to go. The director may
return to his style but he still has his old flaws.
The concept is fascinating. It sounds like it's going to be a heartwarming family fun film. It obviously tries to capture the old horror movies with black and white. Most of the characters are based on iconic horror movie characters. Tim Burton is always highly imaginative but somehow he's lacking something. In family films, he creates a charming innovation but he couldn't bring enough depth to it. There are things that could have been interesting. This is about a kid who brings his beloved pet back to life. There could have been more genuine cherishing moments of Victor and resurrected Sparky. There are times like that but it immediately skims to the comedy. The storyline doesn't quite know what to do until it hits to the big climax.
The voice performances were good. Martin Landau's is probably the best among them who gratifies and delights his character with his campy accent that reminds you of his role in Ed Wood. The stop-motion animation is simply majestic. The black and white effect makes it a lot more fascinating. The character and monster designs are magnificent. It's wonderful enough as a Tim Burton animated film.
Frankenweenie suffers with the same problem of Edward Scissorhands. Don't get me wrong, Edward Scissorhands is a beautiful film but there is a little depth to its concept and serves an awkward climax leads to an underdeveloped romance. At least there's an endearing performance by Johnny Depp. Frankenweenie is fun but it's kind of empty in the end. It's not bad, it just could have been better. The darkness of the film could have been something affecting instead of an impaled cat. The sad parts seem contrived for the idea's sake. The film messes around the rest of the runtime. I guess the throwbacks and the filmmaking are the only merits of the film. Fans of Tim Burton's dark and crazy vision would enjoy. Since we don't see a lot of stop-motion animation these days, I guess that what makes this appealing. To think about the story, still not satisfying.
In New Holland, the boy Victor Frankenstien is a bright but outcast
student without any friend but his dog Sparky. When the newcomer
science teacher Mr. Rzykruski challenges the students to participate in
the science fair, Victor's father forces him to play baseball otherwise
he would not sign the necessary authorization for his son.
During the game, Sparky chases the ball and is hit by a car. Victor recalls Mr. Rzykruski's class about the effects of electricity and successfully resuscitates Sparky using lightning. Victor hides Sparky in the attic but the weird Edgar sees the dog on the garden and blackmails Victor to learn how to bring the dead to life. Edgar does not keep the secret and soon Victor's envious schoolmates revive several creatures to win the science fair contest. When the town is invaded by the monsters, Victor and Sparky are the last chance to rescue the girl Elsa van Helsing from the claws of Mr. Whiskers.
"Frankenweenie" is another stop-motion animation by Tim Burton in black and white with a great tribute to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with a happy ending. The story is actually an adorable tale of loyalty and friendship and it is delightful to see the frolic of Sparky. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Frankenweenie"
There was a time when Tim Burton was systematically churning out great,
original, quirky movies that endeared him to the general public and
earned him a large amount of die-hard followers who hung on to every
last idiosyncratic trademark. These followers have had a particularly
hard time these last few years, ever since Tim Burton started to spoil.
True, he was still using all of the unique little devices that made us
love him, but his heart was not in the movies, and they all turned out
commercialized and soulless, the cool "Tim Burton-ambiance" mocking us
by hinting at how good he used to be.
I'm glad to say now that has all changed.
"Frankenweenie" starts by showing the audience the ordinary life of an extraordinary kid called Victor, a young boy with no friends, but a burning passion for his specialist subjects (horror movies, film making and science), a childhood that will surely resonate with both Tim Burton and the majority of his fans. Then, to the surprise of no-one who has seen the poster for the movie or heard the title, his beloved dog dies, and Victor conducts an experiment to bring him back to life, á la Frankenstein. From that moment, everything gets deliciously out of hand and grows into a classic "there is an imminent problem at hand that we need someone to deal with before this all goes down the toilet"-movie that we all love.
While the movie does not really develop its characters deeply and sometimes drops certain plot lines we would have liked to see more of, it makes up for it tenfold with the thing that Tim Burton has more of than anybody else: imagination. So many moments in this movie are truly original, clever and, best of all, funny. "Frankenweenie" is a giant tribute to old horror flicks, set against a sweet story of a kid and his dog. It will find its way into the great list of "Must see childhood movies" and will remain there for the ages, much like his previous hits "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Edward Scissorhands". I'm giving it a very high rating, not just because it is a great movie, but because it is proof of that Tim Burton still has great things inside of him, that might well be brought back to life one dark and stormy night.
After 26 years of the short movie, Tim Burton brings us a movie with his name written all over it. Creative and original, Frankeweenie illustrates its writer's original roots.
The concept is fascinating. Most of the characters are based on iconic horror movie characters, like Frankenstein and Van Helsing. In addition, the movie is set in black and white, trying to capture the old look of horror movies. And yes, I don't think this film is suitable for children, more like teenagers and adults, containing some scenes that may disturb children.
It's the story of Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan), who, after losing his beloved dog Sparky, tries to revive him using lightning. The experiment is a success, but no one should know about what happened. Things start to get messed up when Edgar (voiced by Atticus Shaffer) discovers Sparky.
The animation is great. Tim Burton brings us a stop-motion masterpiece, paying attention to every detail from the movie's beginning to its end. The decent overall voice performance does the job just fine, giving us spooky character, Atticus Shaffer's voice gave me the chills. Tim Burton's fine job and the voice actors' performance give us the horror atmosphere necessary for the movie.
Burton is always highly imaginative and creative, but he's somehow missing something. Don't get me wrong, the movie's great, but something would've made it better. Frankenweenie will entertain a good percentage of its watchers, making it a must see 2012 movie.
Judged as a comedy, Frankenweenie isn't really that great. The humor is
rarely more than mild. But the movie actually did a pretty good job
with the story, which is well paced and has moments of genuine - if
mild - suspense.
It's also - and this is to be expected from any Tim Burton movie - really good looking, with stylish black and white animation and a cast of creepy looking kids.
As someone familiar with the original movies, I appreciate the way it pays tribute to its source material. It is also wonderfully imaginative, most notably in the first resuscitation scene.
One criticism; even by the standards of kids cartoons or old horror movies, this thing makes zero sense. The lack of any sort of logic is, however, so in-your-face that I accept it as purposeful and thus just accept that this is a movie that's not supposed to make any sense.
With its cute, yet, decidedly creepy-looking characters, and all, I
thought that Frankenweenie was a pretty darn good "Mad Scientist" story
that's sure to be a hit with audiences of all ages.
Containing some very nice touches of warped humor, grotesque horror and several arousing moments of pathos (cleverly injected into its weird, but oddly wonderful, little tale), Frankenweenie has proved, once again, that director Tim Burton still has the master's touch when it comes to making stop-motion, animated films that seem to emerge from the very depths of the dark-side.
If nothing else, Frankenweenie certainly turned out to be a lovingly-charged homage to a variety of classic horror, monster, and Sci-Fi pictures from those glorious days of yesteryear.
All-in-all, Frankenweenie certainly had its share of flaws, but, just the same, I certainly hadn't expected to enjoy this film as much as I did.
Appropriately filmed in b&w, thank goodness that it didn't contain any musical numbers.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tim Burton has made a quintessential Tim Burton movie and the problem
is that it is a Tim Burton movie in the worst possible way.
'Frankenweenie' is a cute little movie but being cute isn't enough to
sustain it. Once the viewer has gotten past saying 'awww' at the cute
little doggie 'Frankenweenie' becomes a very boring and predictable
movie. It's gorgeous to look at but in the end Burton populates his
film with soulless characters(which for all of Burton's strengths is
his Achilles' heal).
'Frankenweenie' is a cute character and film. The dog is utterly adorable and anyone who loves dogs will love 'Frankenweenie' to a certain degree. I think the story of a boy and his dog is so classic and tugs at so many hearts that it kind of blinds people to when it is done badly as it is here. The dog is cute but the boy is boring. 'Frankenweenie' does not understand adolescence and thus it kind of fails at developing a rapport with it's audience in my opinion. Victor Frankenstein doesn't act like a real kid, he merely goes through the motions with hyper intensified trappings of childhood surrounding him. Burton loves archetypes and so instead of building characters he goes for crazy archetypes to substitute for character development. The sports vs. science fiction conflict is what is on Victor's plate for a good chunk of 'Frankenweenie' and I'm sorry but this is boring and predictable. 'Frankenweenie' doesn't have a single character in it. Burton has taken molded characters and sets them free on rigid paths. I just find this all the more disappointing in a children's movie because children's movies should give children's intelligence credit.
But at least the dog is cute.
The animation is of course stellar and Burton stages brilliant effects sequences that really showcase the quirkiness of everything. I was really hoping for something in the line of 'Beetlejuice' and while 'Beetlejuice' had a much better script visually 'Frankenweenie' does have moments that match the high points of that film. The film is at it's best when it acknowledges it's inspiration. I loved seeing scenes that hearken back to the Universal Monsters. By far my favorite sequence is the ending in the burning windmill which seems like James Whale's 'Frankenstein' on some tripped out hallucinogen right down to Victor being designed as the spitting image of Colin Clive.
Is 'Frankenweenie' worth the time? It's a Tim Burton movie and it's one of his weaker ones but I think kids ultimately will get some enjoyment out of it. The boy and his dog still has weight even if the actual story doesn't it.
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