Frankenweenie: Back From Beyond the Grave (2012)

Posted: January 30, 2013 in Animated, Comedy, Horror

frankenweenie-posterVictor Frankenstien is a bit of a loner, except for his dog Sparky. When the new science teacher inspires a fair, Victor gets permission from his father only if he also goes out for baseball. Sparky is unable to sit still during the game and goes chasing after Victor’s first big hit. While retrieving the ball, Sparky gets hit by a car and passes away. Though distracted and depressed by the whole ordeal, his teacher inspires him to try to reanimate his lost pal. Setting up his lab in the middle of a thunderstorm, he lets the lightning do the work. Sparky returns from the dead but Victor realizes that he has to keep his friend hidden. Still, Sparky gets out and is spotted by Edgar, who approaches Victor and wants to learn his secret. Edgar’s discovery leads to a set of secret attempts to recreate Victor’s success with drastically different results.

Starring: Catherine O’Hara (Mrs. Frakenstien/Weird Girl/Gym Teacher), Martin Short (Mr. Frankenstien/Mr. Burgemeister/Nassor), Martin Landau (Mr. Rzykruski), Charlie Tahan (Victor Frankenstien), Atticus Shaffer (Edgar “E” Gore), Winona Ryder (Else Van Helsing), Robert Capron (Bob), James Hiroyuki Liao (Toshiaki), Conchata Ferrell (Bob’s Mom), Tom Kenny (New Holland Townspeople)

With the overall feel of the film be a little more dreary, the cast was selected to be able to represent that darker tone. Tahan may be represent the mad scientist but was actually the sweetest member of the cast. His character maintains a strong theme of love and longing whereas many of the other characters are more selfish in their interests and actions.O’Hara and Short mix their talents between characters that express support and others that are more quirky, angry or diabolical. Landau comes off a bit creepy but also good-natured.

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Tim Burton is well known for his creepy yet entertaining stop-motion animation. Frankenweenie takes a more classic feel with the combination of the grayscale coloring and the classic horror movie themes. The story follows an outcast who loses his best friend and uses science to bring him back from the dead. Unlike Frankenstein’s monster, Sparky was still a loving animal and seemed to maintain the same demeanor as when he was truly alive. When Edgar gets jealous and blackmails Victor, the results end up being Edgar’s lack of privacy and sharing of Victor’s process without the attention to detail or the safety constraints. It produces instead a set of monstrous creatures that hardly resemble the pets they once were. Victor seems to be the only one who can figure out how to reverse the threat but not all of the creatures will go down

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The classic movie themes go beyond the Frankenstein’s monster references. Besides the mobs with pitchforks and torches, the film includes an element of Godzilla with the gigantic turtle, the wolfman in the shape of a monstrous rat, Gremlins in the form of the sea monkeys and Pet Cemetery is a central theme to the movie throughout. Some of these elements are rather blatant (like the Pet Cemetery scenes) while others are a little less obvious (like the science’s teacher’s resemblance of Vincent Price). Edward Scissorhands also sneaks in on a newspaper headline. Shelley the turtle is a name reference of Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein.

While the characters are a little odd and the film a little dark, the story is cute and enjoyable. The infusion of all of the horror stories into this film give it a little extra boost, but there is also a little less of a wow factor than other recent, major animated films.

Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5


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