Frankenweenie, the eerily charming film that was just released in U.S. theatres October 5th, may look like a kids movie, but don’t be spooked away—the stop-motion black and white film is sure to please any age group. With this film, director Tim Burton has officially accomplished the impossible: he has made death adorable.
The movie features a young boy named Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan) with a passion for science. Victor spends the majority of his time in the attic conducting experiments with no friends to speak of except the loveable, dopey Sparky, his dog. After Sparky is killed in a tragic road accident, a heart-broken Victor sets to work bringing him back to life. Once Victor’s rivals from the science fair discover his accomplishment, hilarity and chaos ensue. Invisible goldfish, Godzilla-like turtles, killer bat-cats—oh my.
The movie is delightful and fun overall; the quirky, Burton-esque characters certainly evoked quite a few hearty laughs from the audience. That being said, the movie also had its heart-wrenching moments that I will fully admit brought tears to my eyes. Though these characters are made of clay, it was easy to get attached, thanks to the excellent voice acting of the cast (namely Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Winona Ryder, and Tahan).
The story is, as would be expected from the title, much like the original Frankenstein tale. However, the plot has been tweaked just enough to let some originality shine through while still inspiring that spooky nostalgia that can only be brought about by Halloween fables. In fact, Burton even admitted its nostalgic purposes: “It’s such a memory piece,” he said. ‘Thinking about the kids you remember from school, the weird teachers…the stop-motion and the black and white, and working with the people that I’d worked with in the past just made it more special.”
It’s hard not to adore the quirky, somewhat macabre aesthetic that only Burton can pull off. Many of the characters have the typical Burton physique: long, skinny legs and large heads, wide, tired-looking eyes. Some even are fashioned to look like old movie monsters, such as Edward “E” Gore (who looks like Igor—get it?). On top of all this, the combination of black and white and stop-motion is enough to charm—and get you in the Halloween mood. Frankenweenie is most definitely Burton’s best creation since Big Fish. At four stars, I recommend that you add this eerie, yet charming, film to your annual Halloween traditions.
Photography Credit: a_marga. Photo used under Creative Commons license.