BluRay/DVD Reviews

FRANKENWEENIE

By • Jan 6th, 2013 •

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The artistry involved with this animated film just overflows into your senses. It’s so great looking, and Black & White is such a daring choice. How could one not recommend it?

I found myself wondering, however, about what effect the ending might have on children. Can’t give away the ending, of course, but there’s an unusually potent proximity to death inherent throughout the narrative, and I’d be curious to get some kind of consensus feeling from different young age groups about how the subject matter made them feel. The original 1984 short version pretty much encapsulates the content of the feature, but the point is, the original was a short; a feature length version dealing with undead material such as this for such a prolonged time can’t help but make a more permanent impression on impressionable minds. PARANORMAN, another 2012 ghoulish stop motion dish for kids, doesn’t deal with material quite as strong as having the protagonist’s loving pet coming back to life as basically a stitched-up corpse.

Just wondering…

And then again there was THE CORPSE BRIDE…

For me, and for others of my age range, the film was also a nostalgic delight. There were so many delectable references to horror films and horror figures of the golden ages, from GAMERA to GOBLINS to (obviously) FRANKENSTEIN, and BRIDE, to the transformation scene from AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, and on and on. Really fun tributes. But as the film moved into its second half there was no longer much substance underneath. Did a lack of awareness of all the film history nods effect children’s enjoyment of the second half after the narrative lost its way, or were they so hooked by then that they just went along for the rest of the ride?

I like the looks of the puppets very much. The models of the children in Victor’s classroom are terrific – all visually distinct and each with his or her own personality. The little Peter Lorre kid is especially enjoyable, with his protruding teeth and gnarled fingers (Lorre’s real breath was potent enough, from poor dental hygiene, to be perceived from across a crowded room if he entered. Eventually enough people must have told him, and he had it fixed). I wasn’t as enamored of the boy’s dog for some reason.

The featurette on the creation of the film in the UK was particularly informative, and I very much liked each artist being introduced by arms holding a little title card in frame for a few moments. Creating two minutes a week was the team’s goal. Gives one something to ponder. An animator says, of the stop motion puppets, that “you have to love these things into existence.” As an over-riding goal for the technicians, they’ve done themselves proud.

I regret not finding a commentary track accompanying the film. While much of what might have been discussed on it was covered in the featurettes, it would have been fun for Burton, say, to enumerate each of the film references as it appeared.

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