Tim Burton is no stranger to stop-motion animation. We all know of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “The Corpse Bride“, even “James and the Giant Peach” which Burton worked on as a producer. His latest film, “Frankenweenie” does not lack in what you would come to expect from a Tim Burton stop-motion film. It does come to a surprise, however, that the film is not a musical as his other stop-motion animation films have been. Did it really even need to be a musical to feel like a Tim Burton stop-motion work of art? Not at all.
Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) had the best dog in the world. His name was Sparky, and he would do anything for that dog. Victor and his family liked to make their own monster movies starring Sparky himself, but when Sparky is hit by a car while the family is off at a baseball game, Victor loses it. Inspiration sets in when his scientist teacher presents what happens to muscles after death when they come in contact with electricity. So off to the pet cemetery Victor left, and exhumed Sparky’s mangled up corpse to attempt to bring it back from the dead. It worked, but who can keep a zombie dog secret for too long? Yes, before too long, hunchback Edgar ‘E’ Gore (Atticus Shaffer) finds out, and that is when things worsen.
You see, Edgar ‘E’ Gore was a blabber mouth, and because the entire class was assigned a science project, every one of the kids decided that necromancy is a good enough theory to win the project. Only none of the other kids had the heart or passion that Victor had, so without that love, you can only imagine what happens. It was that love and passion that created a scientific variable that couldn’t be repeated, at least not the same way. However, this film portrayed a snowball effect. You do one bad thing with disastrous implications, bad things are sure to follow.
This movie, first of all, is in black and white, as the original 1984 short film was (also a Burton flick). This was a brilliant move, because there is just no other way you can see “Frankenweenie” portrayed. This isn’t just a re-telling of the “Frankenstein” story, this is a parody on a number of other horror films with references to such films as “Frankenstein“, “Bride of Frankenstein“, Steven King’s “Pet Sematary” “The Mummy“, Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds“, “Godzilla“, and “Gremlins“. There is also shout-outs to classic Tim Burton films such as “Edward Scissorhands” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas“. Also feel free to put this into the category of parodies done right. Good parodies are allowed to have a plot for a majority of the film, and this film had a good, solid plot.
It does take a second to get to the point, at least more than what you would expect from it. Once it does, however, you will be pleasantly surprised at how heartwarming the film is. It shows a good amount of respect to classic horror films while not distracting from the main story. This is a story of loss and acceptance, with that all-too-familiar Tim Burton twist. For those of us that have lost loved ones or pets, who wouldn’t have wished to bring them back from the dead? This film is both satisfying and important to those that have lost loved ones. If you take a deeper look into the film, it might even be telling you that death is not the end, it will happen, sure, but don’t fear it. You may not see this message, but is it possible that they may have been shooting for that at some point while filming? Sure, anything is possible.
You may not be a fan of Tim Burton films, and that is fine. There are a lot of people that can’t stand nor understand his stuff. There are others, however, that would never miss an opportunity to see what else he has come up with, and is planning to in the future. This film is for the Burton fans and those looking to see if they could one day be a fan. For those that aren’t fans, just know one thing, you don’t have to worry about Johnny Depp making a cameo. We all know that can be a bit exhausting.
“Frankenweenie” comes to life on Blu-Ray and DVD on Jan. 8!