Yes, Burton’s latest release is not as horrifying as his last couple of films, but this is a good thing.
Tim Burton’s last two movies (Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows) received less than stellar reviews from both audiences and critics when they were released. It’s one thing for a talented and successful director to occasionally make an average movie, but it’s entirely different if they release two sub-par films in a row.
Thankfully Frankenweenie manages to lift itself above the standard set by Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows, but doesn’t reach the heights set by some of his earlier works.
Frankenweenie is the story of Victor Frankenstein, a young, highly intelligent boy who has no friends except for his dog sparky. One day a horrible accident occurs and Sparky dies. Victor isn’t ready to let go of his best and only friend, and he tries to figure out a way to bring Sparky back. Unfortunately for Victor, his experiments may have unforeseen consequences for the rest of the town.
I have to thank Tim Burton for being one of the last American directors to keep stop-motion animation going. Like 2d animation, it’s sadly become an extremely niche art form, but it’s good to see there are still a few animators across the world (particularly in Australia for some reason) that are able to produce high quality (if not high quantity) stop-motion animation. Considering the fact that Tim Burton has a fair amount of experience in stop-motion animation, it was expected that Frankenweenie would be at least up to the same standard as his previous efforts. He doesn’t disappoint in this regard and Frankenweenie looks great.
The story for the most part is pretty solid, keeping you engaged with decent pacing and wide array of creepy and interesting characters.
Which brings me to my first two problems.
Victor, our protagonist, is perhaps the most ordinary (and to a certain degree most boring) character of the lot, which is not exactly a good thing. There’s a fairly long sequence near the end of the movie as the story ramps up into it’s final act. It’s very exciting, but this sequence highlighted the problem with Victor being so bland. Victor was barely present during this sequence, and I didn’t even notice he had been gone for so long until he pops back into the story towards the end. I literally thought “Oh geez I’d almost forgotten about you.” Not exactly what you want from the star of the show.
Just a warning:
MINOR SPOILER AHEAD.
The other thing that actually really, really annoyed me with this film (as it did with Ruby Sparks) is it’s ending. My favourite Tim Burton films both have endings that are so not typical of Hollywood films. So when Frankenweenie ends and it does the horribly predictable feel good ending, I was a little bit disappointed to say the least. C’mon Mr. Burton. Your films drip with Gothic influences but you’re afraid to have a tragic ending?
END OF MINOR SPOILER
Movie Rating: A return to form for Tim Burton. Not his greatest work, but thankfully, it’s far from his worst. You should definitely go see this if you are a fan of his movies, in particular his previous stop-motion features.