Nothing delights a boy more than things that require electricity or the undead!
by Kevin Gaussoin, Editor-in-Chief
In 1984, before his upcoming fame, Tim Burton proposed and directed a short live-action film for Disney called Frankenweenie starring Barret Oliver (The Neverending Story, Cocoon) as Victor Frankenstein. After spending a million 1984 dollars on a black-and-white twenty-nine minute film, Disney fired Burton and shelved the film domestically. Eventually Burton gained the passionate fame he still enjoys today and the reason you’ve probably seen this original live-action film is that Disney included it as a DVD extra on Burton’s flagship fan-favorite: The Nightmare before Christmas.
Now nearly thirty years later, Disney and Burton are clearly best pals and give us a feature-length stop-motion animated remake: Frankenweenie. The initial question to most must be “Is it worth it?” Frankly I didn’t think that yet another Tim Burton film would be worth the time of anyone outside his rabid fan base dwelling within every Hot Topic in every mall in America. Was I wrong, or is Disney simply giving the world’s kindergoths another stop on the Burton Merch Train?
Frankenweenie (2012) features some excellent voice acting talent. Victor (Charlie Tahan – I Am Legend, Fringe) plays the perfect everyboy in this idyllic 1960s American suburbia setting. Victor’s love of making movies is second only to his love for his dog Sparky (Frank Welker – Transformers‘ Megatron). Victor’s mother (Catherine O’Hara – Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas) and father (Martin Short - InnerSpace, Mars Attacks!, The Spiderwick Chronicles) are concerned that Victor doesn’t have any real friends, and make Victor join a baseball team. During a baseball game, Sparky chases a baseball out into the street and is struck and killed by a car. It’s easy to see why Victor might not have any strong friendships, as his class seems to be solely populated by a creepy bunch of goth-leaning maladjusted archetypes including the obligatory but hilarious Igor-type (Atticus Shaffer – Hancock, The Middle) and the necessarily least effed-up girl-next-door Elsa Van Helsing (Winona Ryder – Edward Scissorhands, Dracula, Star Trek).
Naturally, we know the basics of how this or any Frankenstein story goes. Victor reanimates his dog, and while everything goes fine for a while, eventually there’s mob of townspeople burning down a windmill to destroy the “monster.” What we don’t bring with us are the specifics on how Frankenweenie gets us there, and if everything resolves the same as the book, the classic Frankenstein movie, the original live-action Frankenweenie movie, or something altogether different.
Saruman is gonna get staked!
Audio and Video
Frankenweenie is a Disney film, so we already know it’s going to have the best audio and video available. As expected, the Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D versions feature 1080p resolution and English and French 7.1 DTS audio (solamente 5.1 en espagnol) to get the most out of your home theater system and Danny Elfman’s moving musical score. Keep in mind that this film is all stop-motion animation, so while we might forgive any mistakes such a style might expectedly bring, the Artists and animators behind Frankenweenie deliver such a smooth movie that it feels on a par with Disney’s Pixar releases.
- Original Short: Captain Sparky vs The Flying Saucers – Watch another of Victor and Sparky’s short films!
- Miniatures In Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie To Life – A solid and entertaining featurette on the creation and animation of the Frankenweenie puppets and sets.
- Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit – Return to San Diego Comic-Con 2012 to visit the Frankenweenie booth!
- Plain White T’s “Pet Sematary” Music Video – Maybe no one beats The Ramones, but this is a fun video.
- Original Live-Action Frankenweenie Short Film – Wow, all those actors were way younger back then.
Whether you live in your Jack Skellington jammies or you’re a Burton-verse skeptic like I am, Frankenweenie is sure to please. With its genre and literary easter eggs and shout-outs all artfully arranged in a fun familiar framework, Frankenweenie is sure to bring to life even the coldest heart.
ComicsOnline gives Frankenweenie 4.5 out of 5 gothgasmic animagical triumphs.