54 of 70 people found the following review helpful
"Frankenweenie" is Tim Burton's first stop-motion animated film in seven years, his first film not to feature Johnny Depp in nearly a decade, and his first film not to feature his wife Helena Bonham Carter since "Sleepy Hollow" back in 1999. There also aren't any big musical numbers or songs in "Frankenweenie," which seems a bit odd after watching the Tim Burton produced "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and "Corpse Bride." It's also a massive improvement over Burton's other film released earlier this year; the remake of the TV series from 1966 "Dark Shadows."
"ParaNorman" seemed to beat "Frankenweenie" to the punch by nearly two months, but the main difference is that "ParaNorman" is centered around zombies where "Frankenweenie" is more "Frankenstein" influenced. There are countless horror influences in both films, but "ParaNorman" is a bit more adult in comparison and makes you laugh out loud more often whereas "Frankenweenie" mostly just makes you snicker but certainly has a lot more heart.
This is the first time in a long time that Danny Elfman's score for a Tim Burton film doesn't feel overly cliché or obnoxious. Maybe it's because this is coming from a dog owner and from someone who loves dogs, but it was really easy to relate to Victor (voiced by Charlie Tahan) and his relationship to his dog Sparky. Tearing up is also something that doesn't happen very often, but it occurred every time Sparky was brought back to life while that somber piece of Elfman orchestration tenderly picks its moment to sucker punch you in the chest. Boys that age often look to their dogs as their best friend, but in this case Sparky is Victor's only friend and they're inseparable. Sparky's never ending energy, his ability to amuse himself, and the way he dances whenever he's happy only makes you feel for the character even more.
Most of the characters in "Frankenweenie" have these really tiny mouths and it's kind of boring to watch them talk. Victor's next door neighbor and mayor of New Holland Mr. Burgemeister (voiced by Martin Short) has this incredibly animated mouth though. His round shape helps, but his mouth movements are so extreme and fluid. The same can be said for Victor's new science-obsessed teacher Mr. Rzykruski (voiced by Martin Landau). Similar in appearance to Vincent Price, the outstretched shape of his head along with his long and awkwardly shaped teeth have you fixated on him the entire time. His eccentric speeches about lightning and the townsfolk being too stupid to comprehend science cements the fantastic nature of Mr. Rzykruski.
The classic horror movie references are all over the place; "Pet Sematary," "An American Werewolf in London," "Dracula," and countless references to the original "Frankenstein" including author Mary Shelley. You also can't go wrong with a "Gamera" or "Godzilla" reference.
The frustrating part of "Frankenweenie" is that there are many factors that feel like a safe zone for Tim Burton since he's done them so many times in the past. While the Danny Elfman score only enhances the experience, many may think otherwise since Elfman has been Burton's go to musical director for his entire career. Many of the secondary characters in the film are really familiar, as well. When you first see Mr. Burgemeister's niece Elsa Van Helsing, she looks exactly like Lydia from "Beetlejuice" so you automatically know it's Winona Ryder before she even speaks. The black cat that shows up at Sparky's grave looks exactly like the Keith David voiced cat from "Coraline." A rat is brought back to life with electricity and turns into this monster that looks nearly identical to the werewolf in "The Nightmare Before Christmas."
There is this fantastic story about the relationship between a boy and his dog at the center of "Frankenweenie," but a lot of people won't be able to look past what they see as typical "Tim Burton fluff" to fully enjoy it. If you enjoy it and your friends don't, just ask them, "When was the last time Tim Burton had a cat in his movies who could foretell the future with its poo?"
"Frankenweenie" isn't as good as "ParaNorman," but it's certainly more charming. Tim Burton has created an enchanting animated film that is suitable for all ages that is quite possibly his most accessible film in the last decade. Amusing from beginning to end, a heartwarming relationship at its core, and its love for classic horror worn on its sleeve, "Frankenweenie" is one of Tim Burton's best.
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Showing 1-10 of 12 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 25, 2012 10:20:58 AM PDT
Laura Andrews says:
Great review. I must admit I liked Paranorman a bit better than Frankenweenie. But still an adorable film. I got misty eyed a few times.
Posted on Oct 26, 2012 9:15:09 PM PDT
I loved the movie as well, but in reference to the cat, Tim Burton was in no way a part of Coraline.
Posted on Nov 3, 2012 10:57:15 PM PDT
I have not seen the movie, although I am a huge Burton fan, but I wanted to comment that Helena is not his wife....as they put it, they are "happily un-married" ;)
Posted on Dec 18, 2012 8:05:39 PM PST
Kim W. says:
Sorry, but Tim and Helena ARE married!
Posted on Dec 21, 2012 1:38:13 AM PST
I loved this movie too but I agree it felt like this one was a bit empty (character-wise) compared to ParaNorman. I find it a little odd to read that you thought ParaNorman was better but this had more heart. I felt like ParaNorman had the more heart of the two. In ParaNorman more things that felt like they came from a real place like the family relations and feelings of being an outcast. This had shades of those topics but it wasn't quite as real or given as much time to settle since it was bound to the Frankenstein story formula restraints.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2013 6:25:51 PM PST
This is how you write a review! Job well done. I liked the movie as well, haven't seen Paranorman yet, but I'll give it shot.
Posted on May 30, 2013 1:00:14 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 30, 2013 1:00:51 PM PDT]
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2013 11:36:33 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 4, 2014 1:16:15 PM PDT]
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2013 11:37:48 AM PDT
Anna Renee says:
They aren't married. They are together in "common Law" basically. They've been together for ages but they have never gotten married to each other.
Posted on Aug 4, 2013 11:39:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 4, 2013 11:42:55 AM PDT
Anna Renee says:
Just to point out, Helena has been in a lot more movies but she wasn't in Sleepy Hollow. She was in Planet of the Apes. More recent, she was in Dark Shadows. Before that, Sweeney Todd. Someone needs to look at her IMDB apparently. Sorry, there was also Alice in Wonderland and Corpse Bride. Same with Johnny Depp. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, Alice In Wonderland. The list goes on. He's had Johnny in movies in UNDER a decade.