It comes as no surprise to audiences that Tim Burton has garnered much of his inspirations from many of the classic Universal horror movies (“Dracula,” “Frankenstein” and “The Wolfman”) and some of their monumental set designs and imagery.
This has been proven through movies like “Ed Wood” and “Edward Scissorhands.” He has used that inspiration as the driving force behind his newest movie about the sweet and simple tale of a boy and his dog.
“Frankenweenie” played as a spoof of “Frankenstein” (surprise!) as well as other black and white monster movies. It told the tale of a young boy scientist (Victor Frankenstein) whose beloved dog was hit by a car, at which point he reanimates him using the technique of using lightning to revive the body, (At this point in history, I’m surprised there aren’t many cases of this actually being attempted.) bringing his dog back to life.
Other creepy town children like Edgar, who was the slightly demented, adolescent version of Igor, as well as another child who acted as a young Boris Karloff (“The Mummy,” “Frankenstein”), attempted to mimic Victor’s procedure to win a science fair.
Now the trailers made it seem as if this were just a story about a boy trying to reanimate his canine friend, but that was only the motivation. The true story of this movie embodied the classic horror movies of old that emphasized the folly of ambitious science and trying to play God. However, those movies focused on just the negatives of trying to create something out of greed or lunacy, whereas this went down that road but mainly showed the more sentimental side of the coin—a boy who did it out of love.
The style was very much reminiscent of the movies it honored. Burton’s had worked with stop-motion before on “Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Corpse Bride,” but it was much bigger and more impressive here with the dog, Sparky, and many of the other strange creatures that inhabited the final act as the selfish, monstrous creations by the other students terrorized the town. The color palette was black and white with some nice, creepy shadowing throughout. That being said, fans of Burton’s crazed set designs are in for a rude awakening as a desire for a much simpler story gave us a simpler Burton.
The shame in Burton’s animated work was that, unfortunately, it was not really for kids. He had done whacky work with “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” but that kind of humor wouldn’t have really worked in this movie. The movie wasn’t as entertaining as it should have been for its audience nor as funny. This was more geared toward adult audiences who would understand its inside references and emo kids who like Burton’s works and will follow him to the grave.
Yes, it had a cute puppy, which may be enough to satisfy the toddler crowd, but the children who want more Pixar-esque stuff would most likely fall asleep head first into their popcorn.
This was Burton’s remake of his own short of the same name made back in 1984. This was before he got, you know, all crazy haired and married to a 1700s’ English innkeeper. Its roots were wholesome and purely reminiscent of the movies he grew up watching. It was simple, sweet and a bit whacky in its characters but may not be the movie that its audience wanted, maybe not even what the older audience wanted. Its intentions were honorable and true, though, which counts for a lot nowadays when studios just want to show Liam Neeson’s family members being taken, again.
On a good note, all the people who like to attend Westminster dog shows dressed like Bela Lugosi and Elvira are in for one hell of a Halloween treat.