The Halloween season is now in full effect, and what better way to kick it off than with Tim Burton? He brings to us his latest creation in the form of Frankenweenie. Inspired by his early work of the same name and in the tradition of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride, Tim Burton has once again found a great mix of the hilarious, morbid, and emotional. After the critically panned Dark Shadows, Frankenweenie feels like a return to form for Burton.
Frankenweenie tells the story of Victor Frankenstein and his faithful dog Sparky. One day when tragedy strikes and Sparky passes away, Victor discovers that he could bring his best friend back to life. However, Victor’s classmates are onto him and are determined to outdo his latest experiment. Which, of course, leads to all sorts of chaos in their town of New Holland (which is very reminiscent of the town in Edward Scissorhands).
Even if a story of a boy and his dog could be considered something simple, Tim Burton knows which emotional buttons to push with it. He makes the story of Victor and Sparky feel like it is something everyone has experienced in their life. He is also able to bring you from the brink of tears to laughter throughout the story. However, the film is not just a story of a boy and his dog. It is also a big nod and tribute to the classic monsters that many, like Burton, grew up with (Dracula, Frankenstein, Mummy, etc.). We even get to have Martin Landau once again channel his inner Bela Lugosi (which helped him win an Academy Award previously for his portrayal in Ed Wood) in the form of Victor’s science teacher Mr. Rzykruski. The film also makes for a great introduction of the classic monsters to a new generation of fans.
As mentioned before, Frankenweenie feels like much needed return to form for Tim Burton. It feels in the vein of earlier works like Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, which introduced Burton to many of his fans. Being shot in black & white and 3D, it makes the film the first of its kind. The filmmakers were able to really make the 3D work for the film. Not only does it enhance the look of the film, it really brings the characters out in front of you for a truly fun cinematic experience.
The film also features a soundtrack composed by frequent collaborator Danny Elfman. His signature sound is present as always in Burton films and really adds to the emotion and action of the film. Also, Elfman’s influence from classic film composers really help bring that older monster movie feel to the story.
Frankenweenie is rated PG for some images and scenes that may be a little intense for very young viewers, but overall it is a story many can relate to and enjoy.
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