2012 has been a very productive year for director Tim Burton. It has only been a couple of months since his Dark Shadows came out. His latest flick, Frankenweenie, however, is different in various aspects. Those who are familiar with Burton’s work might know that this is in fact a remake of his own short film with the same title of 1984 which was shelved by Disney because it was too dark and which resulted in Burton being sacked. The old short was a live action film, but for this year’s Frankenweenie the director returns to his beloved stop-motion animation (Vincent, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride). Both versions are in black and white.
Young Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) is somewhat of a loner. He has no friends and spends most of his time working on science projects and movies in the attic of his house. Even his own parents (Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short) do not really understand him all that well. His best friend is his dog, Sparky. On one day Sparky is run over by a car while trying to catch a ball. Victor, devastated by the loss of his beloved pet, decides to bring his dog back to life using the teachings of Mr Rzykruski (Martin Landau) and the power of lightning.
There is no doubt about it that this film is far better than the very disappointing Dark Shadows. Frankenweenie is better in all aspects. It is way funnier and it is a lot scarier, but most of all it is very, very beautiful. It would not be entirely fair to compare these two films with each other, though. It is probably much more useful to take ParaNorman for comparison. Not only are both films stop-motion animated, but they are both about a misunderstood child who is confronted by death. Frankenweenie contains even more noticeable references than ParaNorman. When watching the film, note the names of side characters, animals, buildings, shadows etcetera. All these references added to the fun greatly.
Just like ParaNorman, I would not recommend watching Frankenweenie with young children. It is far too dark and scary for that. Some people might find the last quarter a bit over the top. I have to admit that it is at least a little odd. I do not want to give too much away about the plot, so let us just keep it at odd, but hilarious. You will know when you see it. Even this part of the film, however, keeps its emotional beauty.
I had huge expectations of Frankenweenie and I am very happy to say that director Tim Burton did not fail to meet these for a second time this year. It is very soothing to know that the animated film is not completely in downfall. While Pixar has started making films which are not so good, Laika Entertainment and Tim Burton just made two of the best animated films in years. Thank you for that!