‘Frankenweenie 3D’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 18th, 2014 at 4:13 am,

Tim Burtons Frankenweenie Review Frankenweenie 3D Review

Frankenweenie is a welcome return to form for Burton, and is bonafide good time at the movies for the old, young, and everybody in between.

Frankenweenie tells the story of young Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan), a boy infatuated with two things in life: science, and his pet dog, Sparky. With a big science fair coming up, Victor is working on big things, but his parents (voices of Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara) would rather see him on the baseball field with other boys. Victor indulges his parents and their misplaced wishes, but the result of said “experiment” is the tragic demise of poor Sparky.

However, Victor is a man of science and cannot simply accept the loss of his canine companion – not when he has the means of mind to resurrect him from the dead. But life, death and science are a combustible concoction, and when word gets out of Victor’s feat, it catalyzes a chain reaction of consequences that could spell nightmarish doom for the town of New Holland.

Charlie Tahan in Frankenweenie Frankenweenie 3D Review

Frankenweenie is the latest film from Tim Burton (based on a short film he co-wrote and directed in 1984), and in my opinion it is  his best film in years  - far above and beyond his recent live-action work (Dark ShadowsAlice In Wonderland). The difference isn’t so much in technique, but rather in soul: Frankenweenie has an actual beating heart and soul to it, and Burton’s passion for the material shows through, the entire time. At its core the simple story of a boy and his dog, Burton builds a unique (but very Burton-esque) and immersive 3D world around that strong center, and populates it with fun characters and warm Gothic humor.

In terms of spirit, the film recaptures the magic of ’80s-era Burton films like Beetlejuice - a perfect balance of dark humor and twisted imagination. Visually, the movie looks like a cross between Edward Scissorhands (a satirical vision of 1950s-era American culture); Corpse Bride (stop-motion animation using elongated, Gothic-style figures); with ’50s-era sketch comedy thrown in for good measure, resulting in something that is distinctly Burton, but genuinely fun and engaging, as well.

Frakenstein in Frankenweenie Frankenweenie 3D Review

The script – by frequent Burton collaborator John August (Big FishCorpse Bride) – is equally as fun and riffs on a vast multitude of classic horror films, comedic acts (Abbot and Costello), in addition to some modern sci-fi and/or horror flicks. The characters (many of whom are also homages to classic movie characters or personalities) are lively, unique and often hilarious, while the overall direction of the film is as technically sound and wonderfully imaginative as Tim Burton is at his best.

The combination of ’50s-era black and white filmmaking, Tim Burton imagination and design, and the added 3D dimension is strangely harmonious in its eclecticness; Frankenweenie truly looks and feels like its own kind of animal, which is a refreshing distinction from the line of cookie-cut CGI animated features we’re getting each year. From visual gags, to wordplay, to insider jokes based on cinematic allusion and homages, the level of humor in the film is surprisingly sharp and witty – in some ways aimed more at cinephiles than impressionable young children (though the movie is still perfectly appropriate for younger kids).

Winona Ryder in Frankenweenie Frankenweenie 3D Review

Voices provided by the human cast (many of them former Burton collaborators) are pretty impeccable. Young Charlie Tahan is not a stretch as a little boy with childlike concerns; Martin Short (Mars Attacks!) and Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice) aren’t that impressive as Victor’s parents, but get to flex some of their true talent voicing supporting characters like the scene-stealing “Weird Girl,” or the Vincent Price-spoofing “Nassor.” Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice) is more of an Easter egg treat for Burton fans than a memorable voice performer, but Martin Landau (Ed Wood) kills it dead as Mr. Rzykruski, Victor’s stern Russian science teacher who has poor grip on the finer points of English phrasing.

While fairly tight in its execution, Frankenweenie does go a bit over-the-top in its third act, staging an unabashed homage to classic movie monster films that – while amusing – lands on the side of hollow blockbuster spectacle, rather than sticking closer to the more focused emotional through line that Burton weaves up until that point. The ending of the film is also a bit more saccharine than it should be, sacrificing poignant life lessons (which it teases for all of a second) for a conclusion that’s much more ‘happy Hollywood’ in nature. Regardless of those nitpicks, Frankenweenie is a welcome return to form for Burton, and is bonafide good time at the movies for the old, young, and everybody in between.

Frankenweenie is now playing in 3D and 2D and IMAX 3D theaters. It is Rated PG for thematic elements, scary images and action.

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Our Rating:

4 out of 5
(Excellent)

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  1. Kofi will u rave about new episode of 30rock on the podcast?

    • It had a Bane joke and a Lost Dharma Initiative visual gag. You KNOW I will! ;-)

      • YES! My day has been made!

  2. Tim Burton is now on a downfall, I expected more for him with this film and more I didn’t get. The black & white film making really ruined the film, seriously what kind of kid in this day and age would watch a black & white film has Tim Burton thought of that. The 3D was alright but not so effective in most scenes. The story was not so well put as I found myself lost constantly many times for such a simple concept. In my opinion this film is too dark at least Tim Burton could have tried to lighten his tone but he managed to go over the border with every scene to say it’s my style. It’s a reminiscent reminder of his other films to the point I felt it was not needed. The script was dry the characters stereotypical at it’s best. As for a homage to other films, it tried but failed to impress. For me this is another 2 to 1 star Tim Burton flick, I wish he would just get over his style and learn how to do a proper film. At least to say to be thankful Johnny Depp was not in it at all or most of his other usual childish shenanigans.

    • You don’t seem to like anything.

    • well yeah he already made this movie and it was 5 minutes then.

    • I understand from a youngster level the black and white probably seems a little strange, as you get older however, you’ll most likely discover that this was done for an artistic effect. Sure, any movie from Justin Beiber’s new film to Battleship has great color and I’m sure you love the special effects but what Frankenweenie has is what you would call “heart” & “soul” and that is why rottentomatoes rates it 75% certified fresh where most of your favorites I’m sure are a little lower. This is classic Tim Burton and its simplicity is beautiful

    • What?!? Having a movie done in black and white is a good thing, i feel it adds a bit more soul to the feel of the movie

    • Tim Burton is a cinimatic genius

  3. I loved the original, and love nightmare before Christmas. Although I’m not a fan of button anymore, I can’t wait to see this.

    • He didn’t direct a nightmare before Christmas

  4. Loved the movie, but I thought it collapsed in its third act, I definitely agree that it felt hallow.

    And the ending infuriated me! I mean, what was the point of teasing a straight up life lesson if in the end, they ended up doing an over the top happy ending?

    I saw it in 3D, I thought it was ok, I’d definitely give it 4 stars though due to the amount of enthusiasm onscreen throughout the movie, even in the climax. Its a level of enthusiasm that’s been lacking from Burton’s previous movies.

    Maybe he should allow other people write his movies?

  5. Yes, Burton already released this in live-action format, but he had always wanted and intended it to be a stop-motion feature, but the studio only granted him a measley million bucks for it, so he had no choice but to go with live-action. Here is an article about it http://www.neatorama.com/2012/10/05/Frankenweenie/

  6. i am always impressed from the huge stop-motion sets,and i think it´s the hardest way to make a movie and also a movie art that has survived the 3d and c.g.i mo-cap aera and has involved perfectly with this 3 modern cinema technic . that is always a cool thing,handmade work combined with newest c.g.i. technic.

  7. Not for children under 13. I went to see it today with my daughter for a birthday party with 20 boys and girls between 7 and 9 years old. It is not that was it scary, they all reported that it was just plain sad. There is a great deal of violence.
    Most importantly, the movie fails at an adult level as well. The movie re-hashes the same message of the original Frankstein: science is bad and can only do wrong. Better to stay away from it, specially if it involves life and death. I does add a twist to it: competition in science can only lead to evil. What is worse, the movie if full of racial stereotypes: kids of Japanese and Chinese descent are good at science, but… of course they turn out to be the most evil characters in the plot. Oh and of course lets not leave out the chance to have the only girl that takes a crack at a scientific experiment be a dumb blond!!!! The result of her experiment turns out to be the most evil of all. The main character is of course a white boy with good intentions, as are all the grown ups in the film, and because his experiment was based on love (even if ill-conceived and selfish) only his resurrected pet turns out not to be evil. Hispanics and African Americans are not included in this racially diverse film. I assume because, of course we are not usually thought of as scientifically inclined.

    In short, do not take your children. Too much to explain and undo after the film.

    • “The movie re-hashes the same message of the original Frankstein: science is bad and can only do wrong. Better to stay away from it, specially if it involves life and death”

      Um, no it doesn’t…

      If you truly felt that way about the movie, then I’m pretty sure you missed the point of the movie.

  8. Wow, what a bunch of Debbie downers. I went with my 8 year old brother and we both enjoyed this movie from beginning to end. I was thoroughly pleased with the homages and winks while my brother said it was his favorite movie of the year over the avengers. Go figure.

  9. Wow, what a bunch of Debbie downers. I went with my 8 year old brother and we both enjoyed this movie from beginning to end. I was thoroughly pleased with the homages and winks while my brother said it was his favorite movie of the year over the avengers. Go figure. Great film.

    • i´m not proud of it. but back in time in the 80s my parents were working and my two older brothers and me have watched -dawn of the dead, mothersday,friday the 13th,lucio fulci zombie movies,cannibal holocaust, faces of death and of course evil dead and some lesser known b-movie horror movies. i think i was 9 or 10 years old. and it had no bad impact on me as a person.

  10. I was never a big Tim Burton fan but I did at least feel his better work had a lot of originality to it… wasn’t hyped up for this considering how lame Alice was (didn’t bother to see Dark Shadows) but I gotta admit, based on the trailer and this review, I might just see this.