Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Martin Short, Martin Landau, Catherine O'Hara and Winona Ryder
Review Written By: Michael Dalton
Frankenweenie had me at hello, and then lost me by goodbye. The film immediately put a smile on my face when midway through the Disney logo is given a gothic makeover. The film then has a surprisingly meta opening scene in which we are treated to a 3D stop motion film within a 3D stop motion film. Tim Burton is one of those directors whose style is instantly recognizable and the only thing stopping this from being the quintessential Tim Burton movie, is the lack of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (I know…)
If you’re a fan of the visual aesthetic of films such as Corpse Bride, it is impossible to not be charmed by this film’s creepy cinematography. There is also something endlessly endearing about the roughness of stop motion animation, a form of filmmaking that deserves much spotlight due to the attention and dedication that it requires. Visually this film is a very unique, breath of fresh air in comparison to the rest of this year’s animated fare. The only conventional part of its presentation is the fact that it is unnecessarily in 3D.
The tone of the film is also something I appreciated as well as its dark story, which deals with death. I believe that childrens entertainment should be dark and should contain within it emotionally resonant and affecting moments, the finest piece of family cinema and the ones that are most remembered and watched, are the ones that deal with emotions somebody of any age can relate to. While Frankenweenie did not move me the way it might move others, I was appreciative of the fact that this film’s dark, gothic presentation was accompanied by a dark, gothic and horror movie inflicted tone. As a seventeen year old, I didn’t find this movie too emotional or scary, however ten years ago, I may have.
The film contains many quirks both of a visual and narrative nature, something that has come to be expected of Tim Burton. These quirks range from locations such as a pet cemetery, to a dog that poops cursive and in doing so indicates who is about to experience a significant event. Some may find these quirks a bit too quirky, however to me they added to the movie’s overall offbeat charm.
The film’s horror references were fun for a fan of the genre however rather clumsily done. Instead of leaving them in the background for people to spot, Burton puts them right in your face, giving characters last names such as Frankenstein and Van Helsing.
However the film’s main flaws do not reside in the lack of subtlety regarding its references, but rather the plot, which needlessly overstretches itself. The film moves from being a personal story into a monster/disaster movie. In the film’s final movements it became something else entirely and I felt lost its heart and identity in the process. Like Chronicle, it seemed like somebody else took over for the final fifteen minutes. The film’s climax while technically well done, ultimately lost my interest and had me ready for the film to end. The film’s final scene also stretched credibility for me, I wasn’t against what happened happening, however I think it could have been done in a much more effective way.
Overall, Frankenweenie has a charmingly creepy aesthetic, tone and characters as well as a dark, horror movie inflicted story. However an out of place third act and mishandled ending mean that it doesn’t quite hit the heights that its early moments promised.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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