Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film, Frankenweenie is director Tim Burton’s latest divulgence into the world of stop-motion animation after working on titles such as Corpse Bride (2005) and The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993).
The movie follows the story of a young boy, Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan), as he attempts to reanimate his recently deceased dog named Sparky. After succeeding in his attempt, he must try to keep Sparky’s existence a secret from his parents and friends.
In case you haven’t realized by now, Frankenweenie is an homage to Frankenstein, the 1931 classic based on the novel by Mary Shelley. The film is shot entirely in black and white with many nods to its inspiration as well as other films of the era such as Dracula (1931) and The Mummy (1932). It really manages to keep up an atmosphere in this way. The monochromatic tones compliment the characters and sets of the film, and the references don’t feel overdone or distracting to an audience new to the original films. It’s spooky atmosphere is only amplified by its fantastic music composed by Danny Elfman.
One of the most well sculpted things about Frankenweenie is its diverse cast of characters. Each one has a different design and personality which really makes the story feel like more than a bunch of talking humanoids. The plot also manages to tell a fairly nonlinear story without going too far off the deep end with attempts to explain each somewhat bizarre happenstance.
Being a Tim Burton film, one might expect it to be a little alarming to children below a certain age. While this may be true, its really up to the parent to know their kid. The nature of the film isn’t to make jump scares, it’s to tell a story about a boy desperately trying to revive his dog, which is something most of us can relate to. While the film gets a little more scary near the climax, it hardly feels like too much.
Age Recommendation: Frankenweenie was made to be a little chilling, but it’s also a lovely story which kids above that age-line will full-heartedly enjoy. Again, know your kid. 9+
Final Verdict: A lovely homage to the era. 9/10