Frankenweenie – Is it a Movie for Dog and Cat Lovers?

Frankenweenie – just another boy and his dog movie?  Not really.  Not when it’s from the hands and mind of creative genius Tim Burton.  His latest eagerly anticipated B&W 3-D animated film opens today in theaters, just in time for what has now become the month of Halloween.  We love Tim Burton.  The movie?  Read on.

Four of us attended a preview screening, shown in its best possible scenario -  on a gargantuan screen with full surround sound (OK, there wasn’t wine but beggars can’t be choosy).   As a long time fan of Tim Burton’s slightly twisted and unique style of story telling,  I was especially excited to get a sneak peek.

The opening scene doesn’t disappoint.  Harking back to the days of shooting and editing film before everything became digitized was a really nice touch. Combined with being filmed in black and white, it had beautiful visual appeal.

From there on, though, something went just a little flat.  There were cool references to horror classics and the original Frankenstein – the boy is Victor, the dog’s name is Sparky, another character’s name is Shelley, a funny take on Godzilla – well, we don’t want to ruin the fun.  But what makes a great cartoon, horror movie, any movie isn’t the cool factor – its the characters and story line and both were a little one dimensional and not quite “fleshed” out.  As for the 3-D effect, it was vastly underutilized.

As soon as the lights went up, the first common question all four of us had was “who’s the audience?”.  This is a tough one.  For young children, there are upsetting scenes of a dog being hit by a car, death, a creature being impaled, among others.  Maybe teenagers.  Tim Burton fanatics.

We give it a “Two Paws” rating out of four.  Liked it, didn’t love it.  Let us know what you think.



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  1. sheryl
    Posted October 5, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I think Tim Burton and Johnny Depp need to be stopped. Haven’t like a Burton film since “Edward Scissorhands” and let’s not get into the abomination that was “Dark Shadows,” or the mess he made of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” by choosing the worst director possible.

  2. Adrianne Linhares
    Posted November 16, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    I really love TB’s films and, unlike many, I loved Dark Shadows – one’s got to consider it is a satyre, and it was based on a 70s series. Having said that, it was amazing. Great sarcastic humour, luxurious production. I’ve just seen Frankenweenie and have to say it was a bit disappointing to me. The original Frankenweenie, a 1984 live action production which is 30min long, is far superior in all aspects. It is okay though. It got me thinking that maybe TB doesn’t like cats, ahah, but this is another story. It is worth watching I guess. The short-film is amazing, and that one I highly recommend!

    • Carole
      Posted November 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Adrianne, we’re looking forward to seeing the original short – thanks for the tip! Yes, we got the same feeling about his relationship with cats. Haven’t seen the Dark Shadows movie yet – loved the original TV series and would rush home from school to catch it.

  3. Posted January 11, 2013 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Karen O told Rolling Stone, Tim [Burton] wanted an unconventional unconditional love song. My music inspiration came out of the same era of B movie fright film references sprinkled throughout the film. I went in the direction of exotica and calypso stylistically because it’s quirky, good vibes music of that era and when you throw in a theramin solo it’s a marriage made in heaven. I remember Beetlejuice introducing me to the genius of Harry Belafonte’s calypso record so I wanted to give a nod to that too. We ended up with a love song for the end of the film to the film! Frankenweenie is so special, it’s an unbelievable honor to be involved with it. In addition to Karen O s Strange Love, the Frankenweenie Unleashed! collection features original songs and one cover inspired by the stop-motion film event. The diverse range of artists includes Robert Smith, Neon Trees, Mark Foster, Plain White Ts and Kimbra.

  4. Posted May 16, 2013 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    Victor decides he won’t let sleeping dogs lie — literally. After a spot of impromptu grave-robbing, he rigs up a science laboratory to harness the lightning storms that affect the area and resuscitates Sparky.

  5. Posted May 17, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Early in his career, Tim Burton began to use a familiar theme that would re-occur later throughout his work. The use of a dog, either alive or dead, comes across many a time in a Burton film. This is a look at three movies in which dogs play a major role -Frankenweenie, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride.

  6. Posted June 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    In Frankenweenie, this pure love is apparent between the spunky dog Sparky and young, socially-awkward Victor Frankenstein, who would rather make super-8 movies starring his pet than play sports — much to the chagrin of his loving-but-concerned parents. The untimely demise of the pointy-nosed canine crushes the boy.

  7. Posted June 8, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Burton: No, it helped that the budget was lower than most of Disney’s projects. [laughs] That does help. It takes the focus off of you a little bit. But I think they understood the root of it. It’s about a boy and his dog. That’s the heart of it and there are moments like the dog getting hit by a car, but ultimately the story is quite positive. The thing I’m always amazed at, if you look at Disney movies from the beginning of time, they all had a sense of darkness in them. Snow White to The Lion King. The father gets killed, the guy gets killed, someone wants to kill the kid. [laughs] And that was rated G. People tend to forget the darkness of Disney films.

  8. Posted December 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    In some senses Frankenweenie is the film Burton has been making all his life. A beautiful and big-hearted stop-motion animation in black and white, about a boy in a bland and sinister American suburb who brings his beloved pet dog back to life, it was the first film Burton ever properly imagined. He did a short version of it 28 years ago, when he was working as an animator at the Disney studios soon after he left college in California. It was not released back then because Disney considered it too macabre a tale; soon afterwards Burton was let go by the studio. That he has returned to Disney to make it now – after grossing for the empire more than a billion dollars with his last film, Alice , the 12th highest-earning film of all time – no doubt feels a little like a score finally settled. Burton laughs when I suggest as much, but he doesn’t deny he’s enjoyed getting his own way in the end.

  9. Posted February 1, 2014 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    The exhibition is divided into three parts. The first part, titled Surviving Burbank covers his younger years from 1958 to 1976. He was born Timothy Walter Burton in Burbank, California, United States. He was an introvert with a wild imagination that often gave birth to unique creations. The second, Beautifying Burbank, covers the years 1977 to 1984 including his time with Cal Arts and Walt Disney. Most of his work in that period was based on his fascination with childhood fantasies, inspiring the wacky but humorous Tim Burton characters that many of us recognize today. The last segment of the exhibition, Beyond Burbank, covers his most productive years from 1985 to the present. This is the period in which he created the great movies that made him world famous.

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