Movie Review: Frankenweenie by Jason Burleson

Frankenweenie is an animated remake of the 1984 Disney movie of the same name, directed by Tim Burton.  Frankenweenie is a visit to Tim Burton’s past and uses his stop motion animated talents where as the original used live action.  It is a modernized parody and homage of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and draws inspiration from many of the great classic horror stories including Frankenstein, The Curse of the Mummy, and Count Dracula.

Frankenweenie tells the story of Victor Von Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan), a creative young scientist from New Holland.  Victor’s life involves making cinematic stop motion movies with his best friend and loyal pet, “Sparky.”  His parents, Ben and Susan (Martin Short and Katherine O’hara, respectively), feel young Victor needs to make more friends and get him to play baseball.  While playing, Sparky runs out into traffic and ends up dying.  Inspired by his science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau), request for science projects, Viktor sets out to use electricity to bring his dog back to life.  He creates a series of machines and uses lightning in order to do so.  Amazingly, he manages to reanimate his canine companion; however, this is not without its problems, as other children try to steal Viktor’s project.  While focusing his attention on keeping his dog a secret so as not to frighten his friends and family, others manage to figure out what happened and attempt to bring back their own pets.  This climaxes in several pet experiments going awry and exposing his dog to his entire town, who convene into an angry mob very reminiscent to that of the Frankenstein novel.

This movie is an excellent example of Tim Burton’s film making ability and creativity.  I stand firm when I say there is absolutely no other director that makes movies the way Burton does or even dreams of coming close to looking like it.  Burton exemplifies imagination in all of his films. Some of my favorites are Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare before Christmas, and PeeWee’s Big Adventure.  This continues to be shown in Frankenweenie.

The wit of Burton’s characters always amazes me. Tim Burton makes an art out of his characters.  From a sly Igor to a nemesis who looks a lot like Mary Shelly’s monster, complete with flat head, they are all there but joined by Burton’s twisted mind.  Needless to say, a lot of Tim Burton’s films find a deep seat in my childhood and what I love most about this movie is the fact that it’s bringing stories that may unfortunately disappear back to the younger ages.  Burton creates a shrine for classic horror culture while presenting it in a kid friendly manner.  Many kids don’t even know who Frankenstein, Van Helsing, or even Dracula is today.  Sadly even more of the movies being put out there today are unoriginal.  Tim Burton takes a classic scary story and puts his own special twist on it. Many might say “how is this different?”  I say take a look at Frankenweenie, and you will understand.  This film is complete with Burton’s characteristic dark creepiness, twisted characters, goofy humor, and all around awesomeness.  It would make the most loyal Burton fan happy while still being able to grab kids and give them nightmares while making them love it at the same time.

In my opinion, you really can’t be disappointed with a Tim Burton film. If you are, I don’t want to be your friend.  Young and old will enjoy this movie.

I give Frankenweenie 4 “Psychic Cat Turds” out of 5.

by Jason Burleson

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