25 March 2013

Movie Review: Frankenweenie by Tim Burton

Title: Frankenweenie
Director(s): Tim Burton
Genre(s): Animation, Comedy, Horror
Rating: PG
Release Date (USA): October 5, 2012

"Nobody likes scientists" -Victor Frankenstein

"They like what science gives them, but not the questions, no. Not the questions that science asks." -Edgar 'E' Gore 
Victor loves his dog. I mean, what kid doesn't? They do everything together --- from science projects to making homemade horror movies--- they are the very best of friends. But one tragic day, all that will change. After Sparky's untimely death, Victor immerses himself in his schoolwork, taking a particular fascination in the sciences. Inspired by one of his eccentric teacher's electric lessons, Victor decides to test his theories the only way he knows how--- by trial and error with gruesome experimentation. And what do you know? It actually works! He's alive! He's really alive! There's just one problem now that Sparky's back... how do you make people accept what they don't understand? Victor and Sparky are challenged to prove that despite his terrifying looks, Sparky is still the loyal pal he's always been. And behind-the-scenes, unbeknownst to them both, there are more sinister forces that want to wreak monstrous havoc to the town. Can Victor and his undead friend stay in tact long enough to save the day?

I am an unabashed fan of Tim Burton's movies. Big Fish, The Corpse Bride, Edward Scissorhands, The Nighmare Before Christmas --- all works of cinematic art. I'm here to tell you that Frankenweenie is no exception. Pretty much, the man is a genius, especially when it comes to animation. For all the limitations that animated movies have to offer, Burton excels at creating an essence of creepy originality and gothic creativity. You'll find that Frankenweenie is much inspired by some of the more classic horror films, only its told in a more kid-friendly manner. That's not to say that the movie is completely age-appropriate (it does delve into death, afterall), but Burton does a decent job of dealing with the more serious issues in a darkly humourous way.

What I really love is that Burton wasn't afraid to examine his debut short and re-imagine it into this grandiose and ultimately captivating film. I will admit, at times there are those familiar echoes, script-wise, but it's touched by Burton's unusual eccentricity which keeps it from feeling too monotonous. In it you'll find the usual cast of characters, of course---the social misfit with a good heart, the quietly weird girl, the eccentric sidekick and the dastardly villain--- but what makes the film so unique is the addition of Victor's loveable, yet horrifying dog. Seriously, the reanimated Sparky will steal your heart with his adorable mannerisms and gruesome quirks. There were two key moments where I had tears in my eyes. I guess if I had one big criticism of the film, it's that there wasn't enough characterization into Victor. Frankenweenie barely scratches the surface on questioning his actions which renders the plot as somewhat hollow.

The voicework was outstanding, featuring the return of several Burton alums and the music is eerie perfection. I loved the dark atmosphere of the stop-motion which adds layers to the story's creepiness. And perhaps even more remarkable is subtle homage to films of horror movie's past. If you look closely enough, you'll also find some clever referencers to Burton's other cinematic achievements. Though I wouldn't say Frankenweenie was my favourite Burton film, I found the ending be a bit too empty, it still found a place in my heart with it's quirky charm and extraordinary vision. At best, I felt some of the feels and was very happy for my own fuzzy canine friend!
Summary Prognosis
Frankenweenie is basically, you know, Frankenstein but for kids (sorta). The story might be just as ugly as the original, but its definitely not lacking in heart .Featuring some stellar voice talents, remarkable animation and one very cute puppy, this film is a winner for families and those that share a mutual appreciation for classic horror. Not quite a masterpiece, but still a wonderful achievement for one of my favourite directors.

Rating: ★★★★

Watch It: Amazon | Target
Discuss It: IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes
View the Trailer:


  1. Good review Nikki. Being a dog lover definitely helps this flick's story a lot more, but also does the love and knowledge for the old-school horror movies that Burton so obviously loves. Great return-to-form for him, let's just hope he can keep it going.

    1. Thank you, Dan! I've always loved Burton's distinct and eclectic style and was super pleased to see him turn this short into a feature-length film. And being a big horror fan, it's always fun to spot nods to the classics. I have faith that he'll keep on rocking it out for quite some time!

  2. I really want to watch this! Love Burton

    1. You should, Belle! Just keep a box of tissues nearby!

  3. Great post Nikki. I'm a Burton fan too. He has such a talent for creating darker, quirky and beautiful characters. Ones that are never forgotten. Edward Scissorhands is a fav.

    1. Though I think I'll always love his earlier works the best, he's done some really amazing things and NEVER tries to be someone he's not. You can always tell when you're watching a Burton film, which I love.

  4. Great post for blog best movie review information sharing.
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