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.
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:
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.
When I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower in Grade 9, I was a slightly awkward freshman just like Charlie, trying to make friends and get involved in school. Even though I didn’t deal with the same problems as the book’s protagonist, there were evidently times when I felt alone.
The book’s author, Stephen Chbosky, knows these feelings all to well. On hand to present Perks’ film adaptation at TIFF (which Chbosky also directed), he reminded everyone in the theatre they should never feel lonely. “I’m so proud to be sitting in a room with 1200 people. Whether you like this movie at the end of the day or you don’t, just know that no one in this room is alone.”
His book gathered a cult following when it was released in 1999 and still resonates with many young people who deal with the universal challenges of growing up.
The film stars Logan Lerman as Charlie, a bright yet awkward teen about to enter his freshman year of high school. Having spent time at the hospital to deal with the recent suicide of his best friend Michael, Charlie decides to cope with his loneliness by writing anonymous letters.
Hopeful for the upcoming school year, Charlie’s reserved and introverted nature initially makes it difficult for him to make friends. But once he meets the eccentric Patrick (Ezra Miller) and his beautiful stepsister Sam (Emma Watson), he’s soon introduced to a new world featuring mix-tapes, parties, sex, drugs and alcohol.
As things begin to look up for Charlie, curveballs continue to be thrown his way. He fights his growing feelings for Sam and struggles to push away unresolved memories of the past, all while realizing his friends have problems of their own too.
Things I loved:
The chemistry between actors is crucial in a coming of age story that focus a great deal on love and friendship, and the film couldn’t have chosen better leads. While Watson may forever be known as “that girl from Harry Potter,” it’s nice to see her tackle a more challenging role like Sam, a troubled girl who sleeps with boys for validation. Although she experiences a few challenges with her American accent, Watson flawlessly depicts Sam’s insecurities about getting into university while trying hard not to be Charlie’s dream girl.
However, it’s Lerman and Miller who shine in the movie. While Miller steals scenes as the cynical and sarcastic Patrick, Lerman hits all the right notes by providing a heart-wrenching performance that’ll make you tear up. Also appearing, are Paul Rudd and Nina Dobrev as Charlie’s English teacher Bill and his sister Candace.
Featuring songs such as The Smiths’ “Asleep” to 80s hits such as Midnight Runners’ “Come on Eileen” and New Order’s “Temptation ‘87”, the songs in this film will either take you back to another decade or make you want to create your own mix-tapes.
How it stays true to the novel (includes photos from the premiere below!) Read more…
As hilarious as the first movie was, I didn’t have high hopes for this film. Sequels are never as good as the originals, and in this case, I predicted that the film would be the exact same format and journey the ‘Wolfpack’ took in the first film. I was correct.
Let’s get the plot out of the way, though. This time around, right after the bachelor party in Las Vegas, Phil, Stu, Alan, and Doug jet to Thailand for Stu’s wedding. Stu’s plan for a subdued bachelor party, however, goes seriously awry when they wake up the next morning. In a hotel. In Bangkok.
Of course, out-of-this-world revelations are discovered throughout the movie, such as face tattoos and missing body parts. Funny things happen. People die. But the film is almost exactly the same as the first; they wake up, someone is missing, they try to find him, then funny things happen. The end.
The film tends to push the envelope even further this time around (I won’t give anything away, but it’s definitely up there in shock-factor.) I will say the movie definitely delivers on that front, providing even more shocking and crazy situations. But aside the shocking moment or two, the film really is the same bag of tricks at the first one.
I know, I know, what did I expect from the flick? An oscar-worthy plot line? But they could have at least come up with some new material. Hey, it if it worked the first time, I guess they’ll keep milking it while they can.
Of course, Zach Galifianakis’ character Alan saves the film with his off-beat humour and very, very stupid comments. He is worth the price of admission alone.
So if you’re looking for a good laugh or to be entertained, by all means see the film. It’s a great movie to see with your friends. But don’t expect to be blown away or to laugh harder than the first film, because you won’t.
In fact, you’ll laugh less, unless you’re the kind of person who can watch something 80,000 times and laugh at it every time. I give the movie 3 out of 5 stars, just because it made me laugh a few times and delivered what I expected it to.