Disney movies always seem to make me cry (even at the age of 20 something) – from the heart breaking opening of Bambi to that tragic moment when Mufasa is lost in the Lion King – these movies, whilst entertaining, have there ways of pulling the emotional chords linked directly to my heart, which is what a good movie aims to do, after all. And, Disney's latest and greatest, Frankenweenie, yet again, pulls all the right chords. This, when paired with Tim Burton's creative, almost eccentric (some would say genius) style, leads to one heck of a sweet-hearted, feel good movie.
Frankenweenie is the second collaboration between Tim Burton and Walt Disney Pictures, with the first being the successful 2010 live animated action film Alice in Wonderland. Burton buffs know that his films are always a little bit different. And with the film being a stop motion, black and white, 3D, some weird genre of comedy/horror/science fiction, whilst at the same time being written, produced and directed by Burton, different is what you will get - but in a good way. It is jammed pack with Burton's unique vision, black humour, meticulous eye for detail, and natural ability to tell a good story, well.
Frankenweenie is remake of Burton's 1984 same-named short feature film. In essence it is a heart-warming tale about a boy and his dog, meshed with the tale of Frankenstein. Victor (AKA Dr Frankenstein) is a lonely high school boy, who is a bit of a science genius, with his only true friend being his cheeky dog Sparky (AKA the Boris Karloff monster). When his worried parents force him to 'get out more' by joining a baseball team, there is a tragic accident and his beloved dog Sparky is lost.
But with the upcoming high school science fair Victor gets an idea and designs an experiment that will attempt to bring his best friend back to life. Lots of equations, devices and a bit of lightening later Sparky is on the verge of life, but he needs that magical ingredient – a bit of love. And then voilà, Sparky is re-born, albeit a little different, now being a home-sewn creation with a bit of maintenance required. Worried about judgement, Victor tries to keep Sparky hidden, but it doesn't even last the day. After which his 'secret formula' falls into the wrong hands and the whole town is set into chaos as giant and evil previously dead pets start destroying everything in sight. It all turns into one big mess, but with a bit of love and leadership from the beloved Victor and Sparky things get tidied up quiet nicely.
The animated characters are true to life and the 3D is perhaps the best I've ever experienced (it really is world class) and actually adds nicely to the whole Frankenweenie experience. The film is also well-cast, featuring Charlie Tahan as Victor, as well as such notables as Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Landau and Martin Short (veterans of earlier Burton works).
Frankenweenie touches on some nice themes; such as how adulthood often destroys the raw creativeness we have as children; that the bond between a person and their pet is magical; and that love conquers all. All up it is a feel good, dare I say cute, film that will both entertain and pull all the right emotional chords, first bringing a tear to your eye, then leaving you with a smile on your face and a sweet happy feeling in your heart.
Running Time: 87 minutes Rating: PG Consumer Advice: Scary scenes and infrequent mild course language