Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Halloween 2012: "Frankenweenie (2012)" Review

Another claymated Halloween themed movie! What are the odds?

    Frankenweenie follows Victor (Charlie Tahan), a young boy that loves science and his dog Sparky. They do everything from science experiment to making movies together. That is until Victor's mom (Catherine O'Hara) and his dad (Martin Short) convince Victor to play Baseball, which accidentally leads to Sparky's death. However, when Victor uses science to bring Sparky back to life, he finds himself in the middle of a monster of a mess as he face as off with the town mayor (Also Martin Short), some neighborhood kids trying to steal his idea (Atticus Shaffer, Robert Capron, James Hiroyuki Liao and Catherine O'Hara again), and befriends the mayor niece Elsa (Winona Ryder) and his science teacher Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau).
    If you are wondering where Frankenweenie falls in the list of Tim Burton's claymated movies, it fall firmly in the middle. It's not as good as Corpse Bride and it's better than The Nightmare Before Christmas (It's really not that great). Don't worry though, Frankenweenie is a very solid movie that does a lot of thing right and only a few things wrong. Unfortunately,it's those few things it does wrong that hold the movie back from being a Halloween classic.

I bet Tim Burton has a lab somewhere...
    Now what it does right is simple. The story is great. Similar to it's fellow claymated Halloween movie from this year, ParaNorman, the bulk of Frankenweenie's plot is not revealed in the trailer, even though you can probably guess where the movie is going. Now, SPOILER ALERT if anyone hasn't seen the movie (Though, that said, it's not that big a spoiler) after the slow burn of Victor resurrecting Sparky and trying and failing to hide him from his parents and the rest of the town, the other kids steal Victor's plan for resurrecting the dead and attempt to bring back other dead animals in order to win a science fair. However, since their animals were brought back through greed and not love, they all mutate into monster, like a 50-foot high turtle or a bat crossed it a cat.
    And that's... really cool. It's a direction that isn't immediately spelled out when the movie begins and makes perfect sense when it gets there. Of course, it would end in a monster mash. Because that's the kind of movie Frankenweenie is. And the attack of the mutant undead pets is a ton of fun to watch. Plus, it backs up a great message (Albeit a slightly heavy-handed one), especially for a kids movie. The idea that science isn't just something you need to know in school and that it isn't a bad thing but something that if used right can change the world in great ways is a message that most could get behind.
    However, the movie isn't perfect. As much as I liked the message and the story and the animation and the voice acting, I can't say I ever connected with the story in any meaningful way. Sure I liked the characters, but I never really cared to much about what was going on. I just didn't feel like I did with ParaNorman. I don't really care if I see these characters again and if I had to leave the theater early before I could see how the story resolves itself I probably wouldn't have lost sleep over it either.

    Frankenweenie is a solid, entertaining movie that's great for kids (though it may be a little scary for the under 8 crowd) that I honestly don't think I will remember that much of when the year closes. It's a movie that I definitely recommend and I think a lot of people will absolutely love,but because I couldn't quite connect with the characters or story, the movies is just short of being a Halloween classic. Frankenweenie gets 5 stars out of 6.

1 comment:

  1. Thankfully, Burton comes back to form with this material and makes it a dark, yet heartfelt tale that never goes that extra-mile to pull on our heartstrings and tell the kiddies something new about life and death, but at least it’s pleasant enough. Hopefully, Burton can keep this winning-record going. Good review Alex.