Saturday, January 19, 2013

Frankenweenie Review: Creepy Cool with Heart

You can't possibly think how a plot so simple can be very touching-- the unique bond between a boy and his dog. It was nice how Tim Burton was able to really capture how close Victor was to his dog,  so it wasn't so hard for the viewers to understand why he would go to extreme lengths to get Sparky back.

I think the reason why Tim Burton was able to evoke that kind of emotion was because the story is loosely based with his own relationship to his dog as a kid. Then I can almost imagine a young Tim Burton making crude stop motion with a cheap camera as a kid, just as Victor was in the start of the movie. It's not hard to see why Frankenweenie would be so close to his heart, a product from an idea almost 30 years ago.
Obviously, the movie is a parody of the early book/movie called Frankenstein, which I thought is pretty cool in itself. But I liked how Victor Frankenstein here wasn't portrayed as a mad scientist or anything like that, he couldn't be more normal, a quiet loner who just happens to be really good in science. I also liked that here Victor wasn't repulsed by his 'creation', no matter what his dog has become, he will always be Sparky, Victor's best friend. Never mind that the whole town won't exactly agree with that. I thought the other references were also pretty cool, such as the hunchbacked Edgar "E" Gore, and Elsa Van Helsing. There's also Elsa's dog who looks a lot like Frankenstein's bride, puppy love if you ever saw one.  

Now there's a bit of subtle comedy, and everything is toned down. The setting is a typical middle town suburbia where you think nothing out of the ordinary or even interesting ever happens, a Tim Burton signature right there. Just later on will you see how not normal the town can actually become to how downright creepy it could be-- and I think the fact that it was black and white added to that overall effect.  

I had some misgivings with the film being black and white and admittedly it was a little hard on the eyes, but I guess it wouldn't have the same feel if it didn't. It felt like something that came out in the 70's and it can make some feel nostalgic. Unfortunately though I think this might be a reason why it didn't do very well in the box office. But anyways, that matters very little with how I rate the movies I watch.

Anyhow, I think as much as the movie is about the supernatural, it has also a lot to do with people's perception of science. Mr. Rzykruski, Victor's science teacher, called the townspeople ignorant and stupid, but I think he was spot on when he said that "they like what science gives them, but not the questions no."

Though my favorite moment was when Mr. Rzykruski told Victor that science is not just about the mind but also the heart, and how by not loving his experiment the second time around, he already changed the variables. I don't know about you, but that made a lot of sense to me. This guy really knows what he's saying (even if he can't express it very well sometimes).

Mr. Rzykruski: Science is not good or bad victor, but it can be used both ways. That is why you must always be careful.

With all this, I think the story revolves around being scared of things because you can't understand them and being scared of things because they are just downright scary! Pets being reanimated to life in the most bizarre way: Shelly the turtle with a packet of Miracle Gro, Colossus the mummified hamster, Wild Sea Monkeys that seem to replicate, a weremouse, and a cat/bat hybrid or a c/at, or I mean a b/at, or whatever. That leaves the town running after the only "monster" that isn't the least bit scary, Sparky.

But once they were able to see Sparky for the awesome best friend that he is, they find that maybe even adults can be wrong sometimes. Like the song says, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, and just because you can't understand something, that doesn't mean that it's already a bad thing.

80% - I thought they could have added a bit more to the ending, and not just have it end cheesily like that. Anyways, still very entertaining from start to finish. Kids will find some scenes scary, but let's face it, Tim Burton movies are more for adults anyways. It's creepy cool and heart-warming, and might make you want to take better care of your dog afterwards.

P.S. I think as a dog lover Tim Burton might not be very fond of cats. I mean, both black and white cats are seen as bad omens and even the finale had a c/at monster staked through the heart!  

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