Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie wasn’t always the black-and-white animated dog we see in the upcoming film. At first it was a 1984 live-action short film that got Burton fired from Disney. It appears that Burton will have the last laugh, though. The film is an adaptation the classic Frankenstein horror story in canine form using stop motion animation and old school black-and-white to craft an homage to the Hollywood monster.
Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) doesn’t have many friends and spends most of his time doing science experiments in his parents’ attic. His best friend is his beloved dog Sparky. One day Sparky has an unfortunate run-in with a car, leaving Victor devastated. Love is a very powerful thing, though, as Victor devises a plan to resurrect Sparky during a stormy night. The experiment works and Sparky is alive once again, but Victor must keep his undead dog hidden from the rest of the public.
Frankenweenie is a visual masterpiece. The black-and-white style of the film works amazingly well with the stop-motion animations and horror theme to give it a style similar to Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. The characters themselves are strictly Burton-esque, with elongated limbs and wide, doll-faced eyes. It’s actually quite creepy to watch and may be a bit too scary for the little ones.
The story revolves around the tale of Frankenstein and how the scientistcreated a monster from a random assortment of limbs only this time around it’s a child’s beloved pet that becomes the so-called monster. When the other kids get word about Victor’s experiment, they too want to resurrect their long gone pets. Pretty soon the entire town is in chaos as were-rats, giant sea monkeys, and a Godzilla-like turtle, run amok. While the story itself is nothing special, it does pay homage to the classic movie monsters from the early days of Hollywood. It could definitely use a bit of work, though.
There aren’t many surprises, making Frankenweenie about as straight forward as they come. It’s a story about a boy and his love for his dog, wrapped in a Halloween shell. As I said before, it may be a bit too scary for the kids, but for the adults it’s not scary enough. It sort of plagues this middle ground where it’s just entertaining enough.
Tim Burton shines brightest with his animated films and Frankenweenie is no exception. The visuals alone make it worth watching even though the story suffers. It may not be as great as some of Burton’s other masterpieces, but it definitely blows Dark Shadows out of the water. Then again, that wasn’t that difficult to do in the first place.