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2012 is the year of animated horror films and this film, Frankenweenie
might just be the best of the bunch. Tim Burton is at his best and is
most effective here and this film gives off Corpse Bride and Edward
Scissorhands vibes and that's a good thing. Filmed in stop-motion
animation, this is a story that is creepy and borderline scary, but
also funny and sometimes emotional.
Burton's film is a story that digs deep. It's about a boy and his dog but there are some underlying themes prevalent such as friendship and tight, life-long bonds. Victor loses his dog, Sparky to an unfortunate accident, so Victor decides to reanimate his dog's corpse and things may not be the same afterwards.
This film doesn't have many recognizable names here, but there are several Burton regulars here such as Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, and Winona Ryder. They all do a good job here.
Overall, Frankenweenie is an excellent film and a good spoof of horror classics. I like the use of black and white because it adds to the film and almost make it seem fifty years old. This is a creepy but sometimes funny film. A great animated film for adults, but perhaps a bit too scary for kids. I rate this film 9/10.
Victor Frankenstein is an strange boy from strange world. Written by
Tim Burton (Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow). Victor's only friend is the dog
named Sparky. Victor's parents are worry because their son is so lonely
and they want that Victor should find a human friends. One day Victor
starts playing baseball with few boys as same ages like him. The first
game became such tragic and suddenly Sparky is gone. Victor is so sad
that he wants bring Sparky back to the life. Then the experiment went
to wrong way and the horror is on the loose. Warning: spoiler alert.
Frankenweenie is the new version Burton's short story from 80's. But the scales is now bigger and storytelling is more deeper. In visual side the movie looks good and black and white style made the look even better. Burton used same stop-motion technique like what he used for Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and Corpse Pride (2005). Burton loves horror flicks and Frankenweenie's story is full of classic horror elements and the characters. The script is clever and different characters made movie more interesting.
Somewhere the film can't handle full scales and the crew loosed they ideas and none knew how the movie should have ended. I don't know what kind of ending Burton wrote in first place. It felt that Burton's original idea watered down and he wanted more "kid friendly" ending. Unfortunately ending is typical sappy/Hollywood ending.
For a stop-motion animated film, Frankenweenie has a lot of things
going for it. Comprising of over 200 puppets strung to about 30
individual puppeteers, the result is a top notch, fluid animated
feature that is very realistic to the naked eye. What is surprising is
the fact that it took director Tim Burton two years to literally
animate the story of a boy and his dog and the bond they share - an
incredible feat when considering that a week of filming produces only
five seconds of animation! Entirely shot in black and white, the
setting is perhaps Burton's greatest triumph a throwback to
Hollywood's past while experimenting with the undead. Set during 1970s
in the town of New Holland, it is the story of young Victor
Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) and his beloved dog Sparky. As is typical
of boys his age, Victor loves his dog and even uses Sparky as the
protagonist in his home-made stop motion animated films. All this
changes the day Sparky is killed in a tragic accident. Inspired by his
science teacher, Victor does the inevitable. Sparky is resurrected (no
surprise, given the title) but soon attracts the curiosity of his
classmates, who are all vying for the ultimate science fair project.
Once they figure out how Victor brings Sparky back to life, clandestine
trips to the pet cemetery results in grotesque consequences for the
sleepy town of New Holland.
With a fascination for the macabre and the morbid, I can't say this is Tim Burton at his best, nor his most original. No doubt, filming a stop motion animation in black and white, and in 3D, is a cinematic first but there are too many similarities to his 2005 animated film Corpse Bride, another stop motion film dealing with, well, the undead. The characters (or puppets) look almost identical with Burton relying on his signature Gothic dark circled eyes. Curiously, Sparky looks almost the same before and after his death. When it comes to originality, there's not much you can expect in terms of the story when the premise itself is an obvious homage to the 1931 classic, itself inspired and titled after Mary Shelley's seminal Frankenstein story. Knowing this, the black and white setting becomes a necessary aspect and a vital component in Burton's grand scheme of things. Another questionable flaw is the film's juvenile PG rating. Given the premise of Victor, his class mates, and their collective morbid curiosity, few children watching the film are going to be entertained. The bigger question is whether children are old enough to be entertained or fascinated when dealing with the subject of death or the possibility of life after death. Although there are funny moments, albeit very few and very dark, the subject shifts to an illustration telling children how to deal with the death of a pet and the ensuing process of letting go. Yet somehow, this does not appear to be the intended message if Sparky is meant to be brought back more than once.
Considering its absolute scope and production value, Frankenweenie can be justified as a painstaking film made with grand ambition. There is also Burton's panache for anything that goes bump in the night with various references to the early days of cinema monstrosities. To this effect, Danny Elfman's score is a perfect consummation further accentuating Burton's moments of intentional homage. And considering the sheer nature of its making, this film is a marvel to watch and recommended for a mature audience but not necessarily for kids. Speaking of which, there used to be a time in modern cinema when children were told not to try at home what they saw at the movies. But going by the last scene, Burton seems to be saying that it's OK for kids to go back home, dig up a dead cat, stick kitty's tail in the wall socket and yell "It's alive, it's alive!!"
I could have written a review sooner. But it is now that I wish to say
a few things. 1. to everyone who complains about a lack of logic: you
obviously don't realize that with animation, especially stop-motion,
you can even be totally metaphoric and logic has no place in it, other
than how to switch on the camera. have you seen Estonian stop motion?
Makes. no. Sense. and does life make sense? does it? Nope. yet
Frankenweenie rings so true about all the things we have lost. that
regret, wishing to bring them back, always remembering them. 2. what
Tim does with stop-motion is a miracle. 3. I actually don't have
anything very reasonable to say, just that this film went straight into
my heart next to Edward Scissorhands. I haven't been so emotionally
invested for a long time.
I am so glad there is a person like Tim who still does real films. yes, he has experimented with that incomprehensible motion capture too, but stop-motion has this tangible quality, that makes you actually feel the touch of a filmmakers hand. you can see what he actually does. I am so glad he has the patience and will to do this. he is an artisan! a deep bow to him and his team.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(WARNING: spoilers) A full-length version of a short television film,
Frankenweenie is basically the same subversive suburban vision of
Frankenstein but with lots of other horror and monster movie clichés
weaved into the background to give it a longer running time.
Our protagonist Victor is sullen, introverted and otherworldly in the mould of many other Burton heroes such Edward Scissorhands. His parents and surroundings are deliberately-clichéd depictions of suburban America (again, slightly Scissorhandish) and into this mix are all sorts of clever references to characters and concepts that are more usually found in Hammer films. From the strange science teacher to the neighbour's dog's haircut, the strength of cinema Frankenweenie is in blending this additional Gothic layer onto an already-familiar template.
There are some additional sub-plots thrown in such as a school science fair, but these remain sideshows and the original main elements of the story dominate it.
But is the cinema Frankenweenie better than the original television Frankenweenie? There's only one way to find out, fiigh... no, let's compare them instead.
The original short is punchier thanks to its shorter running time, and has the same core joke of something a child might mistakenly believe (that they can bring back dead loved ones) actually turning out to be true. On top of that, in many ways it's far more disturbing to see a live action child actor digging up his dead dog (also played by a real life canine). This might well be what made Disney go ballistic when Burton presented it to them back in the 1980s, but it's also what makes it stand apart from mainstream America and why Burton was an interesting young director to watch. This starkness probably put some people off who expected Disney films to be easily digestible, and without the happy ending the original Frankenweenie would be a fairly bleak film about lost innocence. It definitely wasn't the kind of thing to help sell lunchboxes.
The modern full-length Frankenweenie is much more mainstream, easier to handle, easier to accept, probably because the stylised animation adds another protective layer between you and the gore: if a dog starts falling to pieces it's much less distressing when it's animated, just as Tom & Jerry is more acceptable than Sam Peckinpah. Cinema Frankenweenie is clearly much more compatible with both the Disney branding and the merchandising that accompanies it. Whether that accessibility makes it a better film depends on your own personal requirements from a work of art (and maybe your mood too).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tim Burton is a brand name by this point. His signature Gothic style,
of black-and-white spirals and character who don't own combs, has
become so widely replicated that the director can't help but rip-off
himself. The diminished creative returns for his most recent films
attest to this. So why was I so excited for "Frankenweenie?" I like the
original short film a lot. Even if Henry Selick was the real genius
behind "The Nightmare Before Christmas," Burton's stop-motion films are
usually a good bet. The cast was exciting and not a single Johnny Depp
or Helena Bonham Carter in sight. Maybe just the idea of a kid's film
inspired by and visually patterned after classic horror was enough to
excite me. (And, hey, I love dogs too.) I'm happy to report
"Frankenweenie" met my somewhat reserved expectations.
Of course, it's hard to say how much of "Frankenweenie" Burton is even responsible for. Trey Thomas is credited with "animation direction," which sounds to me like he did most of the work. The story is ostensibly set in the modern day, if a brief line of dialogue about Pluto's dwarf planet status is any indication, despite possessing a wholly 1950s nostalgic atmosphere, recalling "Edward Scissorhands." One character, known only as Weird Girl, looks like she stepped right out of one of the "The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories." I can't help but feel this is less a proper Burton film then it is an animated movie in his so instantly recognizable style.
Anyway: Is the movie good? I thought so. It doesn't take a lot to make a "Boy and His Dog" story tug at my heart, even if it's fair to say the movie undersells the emotional core just a bit. Mainly because the movie has to stay inside the standard kid's movie runtime and, since the entire movie revolves around bringing the dog back to life, you can't spend too much time getting to that point. The movie isn't really about coping with grief or accepting death anyway. Instead, it deals with the much more kid-manageable theme of the transcending power of love. Tying that theme of love into the other theme of responsible science is one of the movie's bigger gaffs. For what it's worth, the movie does a decent job of selling the love between boy and pet, as well as the budding romance between Victor and his equally goth-y, quirky neighbor.
For a classic horror fan, there's a lot of references, homages, and throwbacks inside of this one. The movie starts with a film-within-a-film, amusingly presenting stop-motion animation in a stop-motion environment. The Frankenstein allusions go a little deeper then the obvious. Winona Ryder plays a girl named Elsa and a supporting character is modeled after Frankenstein's Monster and speaks with a Boris Karloff lisp. They even wrap him up like a mummy at one point. There's a lot more. The passionate science teacher is visually patterned after Vincent Price. Disappointingly, Walter Matheu never attempts to impersonate Price's signature voice. In the latter half of the film, a creature that heavily resembles Gamera wanders in, as do a gang of killer sea-monkeys that leap out of pools and chomp on popcorn, Gremlins-style. The references-heavy tone even makes a closet full of wire hangers look familiar.
Of course, the black-and-white environment is gorgeous. The movie might actually be a little too scary for young kids. The body-horror-lite transformation of pet cat into monstrous cat-bat is played fairly straight, as is the Wererat stalking a gym teacher through the halls of the school. The spooky pet cemetery provides a lot of ambiance, especially in the scene where Sparky realizes his undead origins, one of the movie's best.
The movie is a straight-up remake of the original short film, some scenes copied frame for frame. To extend the story to feature length, a major subplot about rival kids creating their own monstrous pets was added. Though fun, and leading to some of the biggest laughs in the movie, these scenes feel a little shoehorned in. Especially since, once the big exciting monster attack on the town carnival is over, we still have to get to the burning windmill as seen in the original. I'll admit that neither Atticus Shaffer as Igor-expy Edgar nor Charlie Tahan as protagonist Victor really work for me. Neither kid actor has strong voices. Luckily, the rest of the cast, Catherine Keener and Martin Short in triple roles and a meek-sounding Ryder, pick up the slack. A gag about psychic cat poop is unnecessarily icky. The movie is generally better then that.
Over all, "Frankenweenie" is super cute. Sparky is adorable, it's nice to look at, and is frequently funny throughout. It would be a great movie for horror fan parents to take their kids too. If you can really credit the movie to Burton, it's one of the better films of his later-day period.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Last year animated suspense was a hit. Including movies like this.
Frankenweenie had just been reviewed on a Youtube show I seen so I got
here. So many colorful animal movies are out there, but they have some
tragedy too. It's a modern black and white movie with good use of sound
effects and music. This is the story of a young boy that looses his
dog, but he revives it with new technology. But other kids does the
same, as it ends in disaster. At the end the dog and his friends must
fight the monsters the bullies had created. By a moving scene the dog
is charged alive again after the fight. Not many mentions this movie,
but it's highly recommended anyway for kids that love a spooky cartoon.
Darkly comic. Black & white. Stop-motion animation. Creatively crafted, Frankenweenie is a wonderful tale exploring the relationship between a young boy & his pet dog in a very alive & heartfelt manner. Tim Burton's love for traditional stop motion technique in a film industry that breathes CGI & his stunning ability to add darkness to any & every element of filmmaking, plus a nicely written script, superb animation and exquisite use of humor makes Frankenweenie a friskily paced, heartwarming tale that amuses as well as highly entertains and is Tim Burton's tribute to a vast number of cinematic horror classics of the past, including his own films.
This is Tim Burton's style through and through. It's a black and white
stop motion animation film. He has set this in a nice suburbia
populated with weirdly vanilla characters from classic horrors.
When young Victor Frankenstien's pet dog Sparky is hit by a car, Victor decides to bring him back to life the only way he knows how as part of a school project. When Sparky returns and wreck havoc, he enlists his friends Edgar 'E' Gore and Elsa Van Helsing to help.
This is definitely a Tim Burton movie. It's not only the style but the material. If you're a fan, you won't be disappointed. Even if you're not, you'll probably like it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched this film on a flight to Dubai due to my mum suggesting it
and although certain parts were initially forgettable (such as the
ending), the film was intriguingly produced nonetheless.
The most memorable parts of this film were Victor (the second Tim Burton stop-motion character with this name, the other one being in 2005's Corpse Bride) and his parents watching a horror film starring Sparky, Sparky being run over (which may be distressing for people whose dogs have died) and resurrected a la Frankenstein's monster, Victor's parents becoming insulted about the resurrection and a mutant Shelley stomping around the town like Godzilla.
Other high points of the film included its black and white animation, Edgar's full name being a smart satire of Igor, the part where Sparky drinks some water that spills out of his stitches like a fountain (the funniest part), Danny Elfman's chilling and dramatic musical score, and the decent voice cast including Catherine O'Hara (Kevin's mother in the first two Home Alone films) and Winona Ryder.
All in all, this film was originally nothing compared to other stop-motion films I've seen (e.g. Coraline and Chicken Run) but it was entertaining enough to pass time on a long flight and more substantial second time around. 8/10.
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