Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.
Release Year: 2012
Rating: 7.0/10 (886 voted)
Critic's Score: 71/100
Stars: Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short
Storyline When young Victor's pet dog Sparky (who stars in Victor's home-made monster movies) is hit by a car, Victor decides to bring him back to life the only way he knows how. But when the bolt-necked "monster" wreaks havoc and terror in the hearts of Victor's neighbors, he has to convince them (and his parents) that despite his appearance, Sparky's still the good loyal friend he's always been.
Writers: John August, Tim Burton
Cast: Catherine O'Hara
Edgar 'E' Gore
Elsa Van Helsing
James Hiroyuki Liao
New Holland Townsfolk
This feature film remake of Tim Burton's own short film
Frankenweenie is being made and released 28 years after the original.
I Can Haz Life?
What's the big deal about a dog having two lives? Even three lives?
Four might be interesting but everyone knows cats have nine lives and
there's no Tim Burton movie about us Well, actually there is a cat in
Frankenweenie. Mr. Whiskers is a long hair white cat belonging to the
aptly named Weird Girl, the former bearing a more than passing
resemblance to yours truly. Mr. Whiskers has an odd meow and an even
odder psychic ability to predict the future with his poop. Yep. The
feline character also undergoes a pretty major transformation mid-film,
the result of which, I am told, looks like me at the vet.
But let's get back to the dog. Sparky. Sparky is a great dog. He's
cute, playful, loyal, and obsessed with his ball. Sparky and his boy
Victor (Charlie Tahan)are based on Tim Burton himself and his childhood
Sparky doesn't pee in the house or dig in the garden. He does run away
a couple of times, but understandably. It should be noted that Sparky
is not a real dog, but a puppet. All the characters in this movie are
puppets. It's made with an animation technique called stop motion.
Imagine if your mom or dad took a photo of you (crazy, I know). Then
they move your tail a fraction of an inch to the left and take another
photo. They move your tail again ever so slightly left, and continue
this about a dozen times until your tail is finally as far left as it
will go. Now imagine they do the same thing moving your tail in the
other direction. At 24 frames per second, it takes one animator about a
week to film five seconds of tail wagging. It took two years to make
"Frankenweenie," using 200 puppets with about 33 different animators
working separately on different scenes at the same time.
What's especially hilarious about Sparky and the other dog in the
movie, a poodle named Persephone, is how much they move like real dogs.
The filmmakers videotaped real dogs a bull terrier and a poodle and
replicated their moves very accurately with the puppets, and they're
If you're curious about the story, the movie is called "Frankenweenie."
That's your first clue. The main character is a boy named Victor
Frankenstein. That's your 2nd clue.
Some of the following may seem like it should require a spoiler alert,
but since all if it is featured in the movie trailers, I'm going with
Victor is a sweet, mellow ten-year-old, who doesn't really have any
friends, except for Sparky, and spends most of his time when he's not
at school working on stop motion animation movies (like this one)
starring his dog, Sparky (like this one). He has an inspiring science
teacher (played marvelously by Martin Landau), from whom Victor gets
the idea to try to his own secret Frankenstein-style experiment when
Sparky *tissue alert* dies. It works wonderfully and all is well until
some kids at school learn about Sparky and they all try their own
versions of Frankenweenie-fying their own dead pets in hopes of winning
a science fair. Results may vary.
The film is full of fun references and homages to Tim Burton's horror
movie heroes Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Mary Shelley, Vincent Price,
Van Helsing, and Frankenstein (doh!) The movie is rated PG, and to coin
another critic's term, the movie is "Family Scary." I wouldn't
recommend it for young kids. A dog does get hit by a car (off screen)
and dies in the story. It's shocking and sad, as you'd expect, and
there's a scary fire scene.
I loved "Frankenweenie" despite the negative portrayal of cats, which
I'll let slide for this review, since cat puppets are lucky to get any
work at all these days.
I enjoyed the 3D (and 3D almost always just bugs me), and the
cinematography - the use of light and shadows and saturation to create
a very realistic black and white horror movie style world which the
viewer buys and feels comfortable in.
The story is predictable but presented uniquely and charmingly enough
to be lovable, and there are pretty consistent chuckles all the way
through. Characters aren't too fleshed out but they're fun and they
work, except for the Winona Rider girl-next-door character. She's great
but never really goes anywhere, and the gym teacher, who just isn't
interesting and seems like sort of a toss off.
The voice cast is unbeatable. Martin Short and Catherine O'Hara nail it
playing multiple roles, all the boys are great - especially E-Gore,
Atticus Shaffer's take on Peter Lorre's Igor. Winona basically
reanimates her goth girl character from Beetlejuice, but it works.
A great Halloween release. If you enjoyed Corpse Bride or The Nightmare
Before Christmas, you'll like Frankenweenie.