Film Review: Frankenweenie

Posted in Film, Reviews
By Sam Bathe on 15 Oct 2012

You could look at the poster, and know this was a Tim Burton movie. Even a quick description of the plot and alarm bells would be ringing. Hell, the title alone would probably do it. But even for Tim Burton fans, this is one step too far, one step that’s pretty much identical to every other movie he’s ever made in his career.

Young Victor Frankenstein is one of the smartest kids at school, but it’s back home where he really lets his imagination (and science experiments) run wild. With the Science Fair coming up, he tries his most audacious experiment yet, and sets about bringing his beloved dog Sparky back to life. When it works, however, and his classmates steal his technique for experiments of their own, the monstrous creations that come out the other side put the whole town in danger, meaning Victor must push the boundaries even more to try and save them.

So starved of ideas he’s remade his own 1984 short film, only stop motion-animated this time, rather than live action, Tim Burton’s career is in need of one hell of a jolt. Frankenweenie feels like every other Tim Burton film and there’s no flair, no surprise, no real life to it. The latter comes from the choice to shoot in black and white, as rather than bringing a creepy, mysterious tone to the film, Frankenweenie feels starved of life and never really gets going.

The animation is nice enough but Tim Burton has simply become boring. Regurgitating the same stories, aesthetics and themes for so long, he’s lost all of the imagination and flair that once made his name. Tim Burton movies have simply become tedious.

Victor’s hunchback friend Edgar and rival Toshiaki are nicely designed but a dreadful Mr. Rzykruski and others heavily outweigh the good work with lazy, half-baked execution.

There’s enough plot in there for the original 30 minute short, but nothing like the detail to sustain an 87-minute feature film. I never thought I’d say this about a Tim Burton movie but Frankenweenie feels amateurish and lazy. The voice acting doesn’t feel bonded to the visuals while it didn’t suit 3D at all.

This film not just becomes boring long before then end, but it’s actively frustrating and a tedious experience to endure. Audiences have been crying foul at some of Burton’s movies of late – “all style, no sub stance” – well here the style fails too. Burton has become the go-to name for gothic in Hollywood, hopefully by now there’s someone waiting in the wings to take his mantle.


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