At the same
time as he was directing Dark Shadows, Burton was also remaking
his own short film, Frankenweenie, as a feature length
stop motion movie. Despite misgivings from some that Burton was so berift of ideas he was remaking his own movies now, it would turn out to be his most Burtonesque
films since Corpse Bride and his most emotionally
satisfying since Big Fish. It would also go places the original film wouldn't (or couldn't) go.
|The fact that
it's in black and white and the first of his films in nine years
not to star Johnny Depp gives it a breath of fresh air. The
original short film is cleverly expanded to feature length by
giving the audience more buildup of Victor Frankenstein's relationship
with his dog, Sparky before the accident (any animal lover will
get teary-eyed at several points in the film) and more
interaction with Victor and his classmates (no Sofia Coppola
||It all builds to an insanely fun climax where every
kid in town copies Victor's science experiment and releases
their own monster on suburbia. There are lots of references to classic monster movies and even more recent ones like Gremlins (the sea monkeys) and Jurassic Park. Horror fans will also enjoy the Christopher Lee Dracula cameo.
|The film is
fast-paced with beautifully shot stop motion animation. It's great to
hear the voices of familiar Burton actors like Martin Short and
Winona Ryder in key roles. Martin Landau is especially good as an overly dramatic science teacher (". . . your children's heads, I can take them and crack them open. This is what I try to do, to get at their brains!").
||There's even some discussion on
how science is viewed by narrow-minded people. If there's any disappointment, it's
that several key characters (especially Victor's Japanese rival)
are nothing more than caricatures. But the central relationship
works and the extra length gives the film more of an emotional
kick than the live action version.
earned great reviews, but unfortunately, despite Disney's best
marketing efforts, audiences rejected it in favour of Adam
Sandler as an animated Dracula. However, I believe it will go on
to be remembered as one of Burton's best. Like his greatest films, it's an intensely personal work, and almost like looking through a window into Burton's 1960's suburvan childhood. Frankenweenie was also nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. The film definitely brought some disillusioned fans back into the fold. And the 3D looked real pretty in black and white.
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