Tim Burton has taken on quite a few adaptations in his career: Batman, Sleepy Hollow, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd and, yes, even Planet of the Apes. Sure, the man has a groovy vision, but do we really want him to do variations of every story ever?
Only if that story is personal to him, I say.
The more personal, the better.
When Victor Frankenstein loses his dog Sparky to a car accident, he tries a last ditch science experiment to bring him back to life. When it works, the other kids in his class wish to try this on their own. When they do, the results are quite monstrous. In the end, it’s up to Victor and the undead Sparky to save the town.
Another way of putting it – Frankenweenie is Frankenstein with a twist.
I have to say that it is really refreshing when a famous director does a project that is clearly personal to them, after having done commercial movies for so long. Based on his earlier short film, Frankenweenie seems to be something that could’ve only been done at this point in Tim Burton’s career. It features non stop references to his other movies (the good ones, mostly), and some wonderful influences from monster films – the kind that probably made him want to make movies in the first place. Victor even makes stop motion animation himself! I’d be willing to bet that Tim had a dog as well…
Stop motion takes a lot of time and talent to pull off – hours and hours just to record a few seconds. Imagine adding to that the work of framing / lighting scenes to reflect the feel of those late night B movie sci fi horror flicks. Lots of effort went into this, people.
The time this took to make…
The ending is such a cop out. I don’t really want to spoil things too much, so I’ll just say that it goes for the Love Conquers All finish, instead of something that would’ve meant more.
See, the movie starts with Victor showing a stop motion film to his parents. This was a wonderful scene that not only expressed Mr. Burton’s early love of cinema, but also how few friends he had. What I was expecting was that it would end with Victor finishing or making a new animation with other kids, and moving on to the next phase of his development.
Instead, our hero gets what he wants, not what he needs. Such a shame, considering the emotions of the previous 90 minutes.
An example of love conquering all.
Despite the last few minutes, this is a wonderfully enjoyable movie that film fans ought to appreciate. Maybe it will do better on DVD.
Take a Drink: for every reference to a classic monster movie.
Take a Drink: for every reference to a previous Tim Burton movie.
Do a Shot: if you relate to Victor’s plight.