Director: Tim Burton
Writers: Tim Burton, John August, Leonard Ripps
Voice Cast: Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Winona Ryder, Robert Capron, James Hiroyuki Liao, Conchata Ferrell, Tom Kenny, Dee Bradley Baker, Jeff Bennett, Frank Welker
Cast: Christopher Lee, Melissa Stribling
Synopsis: Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements, scary images and action
Vincent & Frankenweenie
In an entertainment world that seems to be lacking in creativity these days, filmmakers such as Tim Burton stand alone, as arguably one of the few creative minds out there. Some might call his style of making movies to be weird, and kind of creepy; while others look upon his work, and see a work of art. Whether you like Tim Burton's style or not, one thing for sure is that you'll never find another filmmaker like him.
Back in 1984, Tim Burton released a live action short film entitled, "Frankenweenie." The movie was only about thirty minutes long, but it paid great homage to the original "Frankenstein" film; while even being shot in the classic black and white format. The story essentially follows a young boy named Victor Frankenstein, who loses his dog, Sparky, due to a horrific accident. Distraught over losing his dog, Victor decides to use science to bring his dog back from the dead; after learning about the effects of electricity can have on the dead.
In ilk of all classic horror films, the experiment was a success, but it comes with a price. Although Victor does get reunited with his dog again, the rest of the suburban populace doesn't understand, as they see Sparky as a threat; thus he's chased down by the residents. Do the townspeople ever come to their senses to realize that Sparky is just a harmless dog that only yearns to be with his master again? Or will they burn the poor little dog alive in effort to protect themselves from a monster they have yet to understand? I can't really say, as you'll have to see the film to find out.
Needless to say, the 2012 remake follows the same exact story, with a few scenario changes here and there; while also expanding it with subplots that heavily pay homage to other classic horror films. One of the scenario changes, in the remake, is the circumstances of how Sparky died initially.
In the original, Victor was merely playing fetch with Sparky, and accidentally threw the ball out into the street. As soon as Sparky runs for the ball, he gets struck by a car. Granted, Victor didn't mean for that to happen when he threw the ball that far, but needless to say, it does create strong empathy for Victor. On the one hand, nobody ever loves the idea of losing their pet dog that way, but the mere idea of how children will often assess blame upon themselves, in dire situations, plays a very crucial part in the original film.
Although the original short movie never mentions it, you can still sense that part of the reason that Victor may have wanted his dog back so much might have been because of the extreme guilt he felt, by putting Sparky in that situation to begin with. Sure, he missed his dog, but when you add to the fact that he put Sparky in that situation to begin with (accident or not), it only adds to the drama of the story on many levels.
In the remake, Sparky is more of a victim of circumstance than anything else. In the animated film, Victor is a kid that loves science, and needs his father to sign a permission slip, so he can enter the annual science fair. His father reluctantly agrees, but signs it only on the condition that Victor tries out for the little league baseball team. Indeed, like all stereotypical fathers in a 1950's suburban type scenario, Victor's dad isn't too fond that his son is only interested in science, as he'd much rather have his son become the next Babe Ruth; not another Albert Einstein.
Long story short, Victor makes the team, as his family cheers him on from the rafters. Sparky is there as well, as his leash is tied to those same rafters. But when Victor hits the game winning home run, Sparky becomes so over joyed with excitement that he manages to break free. The ball flies into the middle of the street, as Sparky chases after it. Sadly, he gets hit by a car, and dies that very same day. Granted, like the original, Victor still cries and mourns the loss of his dog, and you can sense how deeply he misses his beloved furry friend. However, the circumstances of Sparky's death, in the original, were far more potent, and heart breaking when put into context.
As for the stop motion animation, it was simply amazing to say the least. Not only was the animation very fluent, but it was also very creative and original. Each of the monsters presented payed great homage to classic monster films of the past, while also adding in a few other references as well like the kid that bears the name Edgar 'E' Gore; complete with a squinted eye, and a trademark hunchback to boot. Heck, there's even a kid rival to Victor, who bares the resemblance of a mad scientist archetype. Also, the black and white cinematography was also a very nice touch as well.
Granted, it's been said that the film contains too many homages to classic horror movies; which tends to bog down the plot a bit. To some extent, I'd have to say I agree with that logic, as the references do tend to distract from the story at times. However, it's still a very fun movie to watch ; regardless of whatever age range you fall into.
If you haven't seen "Frankenweenie" yet, then you're definitely missing out, as it's a great family film at a rating of three out of four.