Tim Burton brings back his 1984 short film and turns it into a stop-motion feature. The question is, did it need to be? Let's find out.
Frankenweenie is a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town learn that getting a new ‘leash on life’ can be monstrous.
I was hesitant about whether Tim Burton 'should' take a heartwarming film he did in 1984 and convert it to stop-motion. Did it really need to be made again? Why rehash an idea that was fine to begin with? There were so many baffling questions on why Tim Burton, who is creative as can be, needs to remake a film. I know it's the new thing in Hollywood to try to make something better, but Frankenweenie was fine the way it was. Also, take into account that the original short was only 30-minutes in length, so Burton would have to triple the time without compromising the story. It's tough to do and have your audience satisfied with the results (see critics views on The Hobbit, if you need an example).
Having said that, I think Tim Burton put together a better story and was able to do things he couldn't do (at least not well) in the 1984 version. Ultimately the 2012 film turned out better than the 1984, despite the lack of Barret Oliver's presence (the kid was gold in the early 80s).
What I particularly liked about the 2012 Frankenweenie is that Burton geared all the children after Universal studios monsters. For example, our protagonist is Victor Frankenstein looks like a prototypical 'Victor Frankenstein'. His friends are Edgar 'E' Gore (just what you think) and a guy that looks like Frankenstein himself. Martin Landau even makes an appearance as Mr. Rzykruski, who just looks creepy. The feel and tone of a monster theme is very much intact.
As for the story, as warped as it might seem (especially with small parts popping off of Sparky (Frankenweenie)), it does have a touching message like the original short. You get a balanced story that firmly establishes the love Victor has for Sparky, how devastated he is after Sparky is killed and how much he will go through to get his best friend back. Love brings things back to life and keeps them in your life for a long time. In between the emotional moments of the film, Burton also adds his touch of creepy humor that is predominantly horror, which makes it all the more charming. If you're concerned a bit about kids watching this, let me reassure you that your kids will love it. Strangely enough, my kids re-watched it about three times this past week. Either my kids are really warped or it's not so horrifying that kids will enjoy it.
Anyway, Frankenweenie is a wonderful remake that actually works better than the original. Tim Burton's canvas is much bigger this time around and he used every bit of it to make a great film.
The Blu-ray brought one of the nicest pictures that you could hope for from a stop-motion film. The textures of the characters are very detailed (see the crying scene for example), the little details really shine through and the picture in general just looks clean and crisp. There's a lot to love about this HD transfer. The folks at Disney did a fantastic job with this one and they should be proud of the outcome. There's no graininess, artifacts or imperfections with this film, even though it's sporting a black and white image. Anyway, you'll be pleased with the HD you get from the Blu-ray.
(Reviewed with Passive 3D)
As for the 3D portion of the Blu-ray, it was pretty darn impressive. While it's no Avengers, it still has some very good depth in the 3D content. You'll have moments where the lack of color actually helps bring a bit greater depth to the 3D content. For example, when Edgar 'E' Gore (played by The Middle's Atticus Shaffer) brings back a fish from the grave that becomes a see-through fish, you get really good depth and quality from the black and white that it actually improves the 3D experience. This being the first black and white 3D film that I've seen, it makes me want to see more (come on down, Young Frankenstein!). As for stop-motion's affect on the 3D experience, it isn't quite as bland as what we got with The Nightmare Before Christmas. I can't imagine that the technology has improved by leaps and bounds in the stop-motion industry to say that there's much difference in technique between The Nightmare Before Christmas and Frankenweenie. Having said that the 3D looks a lot more smooth, rich and deep in Frankenweenie in comparison to The Nightmare Before Christmas. Again, it's not quite the head ducking fest you'll get from movies like The Avengers or Men In Black 3, but it's still very impressive.
Finally, here's what you should look for in terms of features:
· All New Original Short
· “Miniatures In Motion
· “Frankenweenie” Touring Exhibit
· “Frankenweenie” Original Live Action Short
· Music Video—“Pet Sematary” performed by Plain White T’s
While there isn't a lot here in terms of quantity, there's plenty of quality. The short is really solid for kids. It extends the laughs a bit. The touring exhibit is quite cool, as you get to see some of the props and whatnot in the film. What I'm really happy about is how Disney decided to include the original 1984 short that Tim Burton did. It's a good film that deserves some praise and love for a great idea. It's a bit different than the 2012 Frankenweenie (mainly because they used live actors in 1984), but nonetheless a welcomed sight for this Blu-ray set.