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Review: Frankenweenie is a sweet and creepy homage to old cinema

Posted on October 6, 2012 by
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Bringing a corpse back to life is often (if not always) extremely creepy.  But in Tim Burton’s new film Frankenweenie, resurrection is just as cute and endearing when it involves a boy and his everlasting love for his dog.

Plot

Set in the fictional town of New Holland, Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan) is a bright and curious boy who doesn’t have many friends. Spending much of his time cooped up in the attic doing science experiments, the only companion he has is his beloved dog Sparky.

Together, the two are inseparable.  So much so, that Victor’s caring parents (voiced by Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara) convince him to make friends and try different things.

Everything changes when Sparky dies unexpectedly after an accident. Trying to deal with his grief in science class, Victor is suddenly inspired when his eccentric teacher Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau) shows how a dead frog’s limbs still work when electrocuted.  Motivated, Victor rushes back home to devise a plan to bring his dog back to life.

When the plan  works and Sparky lives, Victor tries to keep his resurrected pet a secret.  But when Sparky gets out, havoc breaks and it’s up to Victor to save the day.

Things I loved:  

The characters

It just wouldn’t be a Tim Burton film without some quirky characters, and with their bulging eyes and oversized heads, these ones are especially so. Some favourites that come to mind are Victor’s classmates, Edgar (Atticus Shaffer) and Weird Girl (also voiced by Catherine O’Hara), who try to tamper with his scientific discovery.

Winona Ryder on the other hand, seems to play the sanest character on the bill as Elsa Van Helsing.  She holds the most sympathy for Victor during his loss, but is way too distracted dealing with her tyrant uncle, who just so happens to be the town mayor (also voiced by Martin Short).

But the most interesting character in the movie is none other than science teacher Mr. Rzykruski.  Sounding like a European Dracula, he  steals the show, applying strange and unsettling teaching methods to his class.

The Special Effects

I’m not a big fan of 3D because I find it hardly ever works.  But coupled with the film’s beautiful set designs and art direction, Frankenweenie is worth seeing in another dimension.

Despite being in black and white to pay homage to Old Hollywood, this film never ceases to amaze me. While it’s a stop-motion animation, at times the scenes are so real you can almost feel the sweat dripping from the characters’ faces.

The Humour

While the plot felt a bit short in terms of character development, I was thoroughly entertained with the film’s oddball humour displayed through the characters’ behaviours. From Weird Girl’s disturbing antics to Edgar’s sinister-sounding trademark phrase of “It’s alive!!,” the film will definitely leave you in fits of giggles.

Takeaway

Overall, Frankenweenie is a heartwarming story that’s just creepy enough to let you bring your little siblings or cousins along to the theatre. With Burton’s tribute to the classic horror films of Old Hollywood, this 3D flick is the perfect Halloween entertainment for people of all ages.

But as charming as this film is, I just hope young kids don’t consider electrocuting their beloved pets to bring them back to life.  Although I agree that the concept is sweet and kind of heartbreaking, I hate to be the bearer of bad news by saying the film isn’t the most scientifically correct.

But to be fair, Burton does make the project seem quite convincing.

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