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Frankenweenie

  • 2012
  • PG
  • 84min
  • 87%
  • 7 / 10

A socially awkward but smart boy must cope with the monstrous consequences of revealing that he revived his beloved dog back from the grave.

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Tim Burton’s inspiration for Frankenweenie is a personal one; as a young boy, Burton had a dog that died from distemper – a viral respiratory, gastrointestinal and neural disease found in dogs. He says that their relationship was ‘very strong’ and ‘pure’ but he had always known that the dog would one day pass away. He believed that the film was a safe way to help kids process the death of not just their pets, but even their loved ones. He also says that there is no rationale for using stop-motion animation in his films, but rather he prefers it because of the intimate feeling it gives to see puppets on set under all the lighting. He says, ‘It’s like actually bringing something to life. It’s not the same feeling you get with a computer, where you can do amazing things, but there’s something about moving something and then seeing it come to life that connects you to the beginning of movies. That’s just a feeling; you can’t even really describe it.’

Frankenweenie movie review

In the adaptation of the 1984 short film of the same name,  Tim Burton returns to his earlier and more personal work in Frankenweenie.  The story does not get caught up in visuals and quirky ideas. Instead, the director brings together horror, comedy, and drama to - once again - point that death isn't scary. It is a part of life that we should, albeit reluctant, to welcome when it comes calling. Burton fans will also be pleased to see that the director returns to his original style of drawing.

They will see the familiar neighborhoods and the oddball characters that inhabit it. It is the same oddballs that fear the abnormal when they themselves are not parapets of normality. They are visual representations of the joy in imagining new things versus the fear of it. In the center, Burton finds a heartfelt arc - the simple love between a child and his dog.

Frankenweenie is a campy homage to the classic Mary Shelly novel, Frankenstein. It follows a young science nerd whose closest thing to a confidant is his dog, Sparky. When Sparky dies in an accident, Victor attempts - and succeeds - to bring him back to life. However, havoc ensues after other kids resurrect their own beloved pets. Viewers will see that the other children fall for the hype of resurrecting their dead pets. Whereas, Victor resurrects Sparky because he feels that a part of him has died.

Frankenweenie should not be mistaken to be Burton's greatest comeback. It is, however, unlike some of the works that came before it. The film's tone flows out of the genuinely likable characters, albeit that the subtext does not always pay off. The pacing is a bit off at times, but not so much that it hurts the film. In the end, Frankenweenie is much like Victor's best friend and pet, Sparky. Viewers can let themselves get distracted by off-putting scenes or - like Sparky - accept everything for what they are and enjoy the company of an old friend.

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about the movie

Frankenweenie (2012) is an American 3D stop-motion-animated fantasy horror comedy remake of Tim Burton’s 1984 short film of the same name. The fictional story has a tongue-in-cheek element as it frequently references and parodies the 1818 book Frankenstein by Mary Shelly and other horror literary classics. The remake was also directed by Tim Burton and it stars the voices of Winona Ryder, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, and Martin Landau. The film is the first black-and-white feature film and the first stop-motion animation to be released in IMAX 3D. It won Best Animated Film from different critic circles across the United States namely the Saturn Awards, Boston Society of Film Critics, Florida Film Critics Circle, Kansas City Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the Nevada Film Critics Society. It was also nominated for several major awards, namely the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film and the Annie Award for Best Film.