Frankenweenie delights with visual comedy
Though predictable, the Tim Burton flick still entertains
Frankenweenie, the latest animated film by Tim Burton, is a charming adaptation full of Burton’s usual weirdness that is only hindered by a feeling of predictability.
It’s the story of Victor, a lonely scientist in the making, whose only friend is his beloved dog, Sparky. When Sparky meets a grisly fate, it’s up to Victor to bring his best friend back to life. But through his efforts, Victor unwittingly opens a Pandora’s Box that threatens to destroy his entire town.
Frankenweenie was originally a live action short film made by Burton in 1984— the movie doesn’t feel needlessly stretched out, though. It’s well paced, thanks to the addition of several subplots involving a science fair and puppy love that smartly merge into the main plot in an entertaining climax.
Victor is a typical Burton character, a talented loner who learns something about himself and life when faced with an otherworldly situation. The central relationship holding the movie together is the one between Victor and Sparky.
The film does an excellent job of demonstrating their bond, so that by the end one is entirely invested in what happens to the pair. Sparky comes across as being a believable canine companion, thanks to subtle mannerisms and quirks that reminds viewers of real life dogs.
Their bond helps to deliver the movie’s main theme, namely the difficulty of letting go of the things you love.
A comedy is only as good as the jokes, and Frankenweenie delivers. There are a number of laugh-out-loud sight gags and comedic lines, accompanied with references to classic movie monsters guaranteed to bring a smile to a horror fan’s face. There is a certain saucer-eyed cat whose antics nearly steal the show.
The largest issue with Frankenweenie is that due to it being an adaption there is a limit to its weirdness and unpredictability. That’s not to say the movie isn’t weird; it shares Burton’s morbid sense of humour with some fairly disturbing gags. However, it just seems a bit tame compared to Burton’s previous animated films.
The Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas were original and very unpredictable, leaving the viewer feeling like they were descending further and further down the rabbit hole. This feeling is something Frankenweenie never captures.
However, much like Burton’s previous animated films, the character and set designs are superb. While the high legged, bug eyed slender characters populating Victor’s town are beautiful to watch, it’s the eccentric looking character designs that make the cast memorable. These characters are a treat to behold, from Victor’s hunchbacked classmate Edgar, to his long faced mad scientist of a teacher.
It’s the little details that help sell the characters and world; how the male’s eyes have slightly more wrinkles around them than the females.
Setting the movie in black and white is a genius move that gives it a classic Universal movie monster feel and, along with the terrific music, presents a creepy atmosphere. The voice acting is perfectly suited to the characters. The 3D pop-out effects are used sparingly and help to alter the depth of field to make the characters seem to be actual puppets on a stage.
Despite the issue of being semi predictable, Frankenweenie is still a great movie for kids and horror loving adults alike. Go watch it.