Friday, 14 November 2014

Movie: Frankenweenie

Frankenweenie: An excellent movie for kids of all ages.

Sparky, the reanimated star of Frankenweenie.
Frankenweenie tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a science obsessed school kid with no real friends other than his loveable dog, Sparky.  Victor and Sparky are residents of New Holland, a town which for some reason seems to get more than its fair share of lightning strikes and while the kids at school speculate as to the reasons behind all the lightning strikes, Victor instead follows a different train of thought.

During a science lesson from Mr Rzykruski, Victor learns that even after death, the muscles of a dead frog will still respond to electricity.  Given the title of the movie it’s safe to say that I won’t be giving too much away when I reveal that by this stage Victor’s dog Sparky has befallen the fate of many unfortunate animals in Disney movies, and when you throw in the already mentioned frequent lightning storms, you can probably guess how things develop.  I won’t say any more other than that the words of Mr Rzykruski prove to be very prophetic when he states that ‘science can be used for good or bad.’  Or in some cases, both…

The animation in Frankenweenie is superb and very distinctive, and Sparky’s dopey expressions and loveable body language bring an instant smile to your face.  This in turn means that when his time comes to meet his inevitable fate it makes his death all the more emotional.

The action takes place in black and white which isn’t something which would normally appeal to me, but given the spooky theme of the story, and also the genre of movies which Frankenweenie takes its inspiration from, you can understand why the animation has been rendered like this.  The visuals have that typical Tim Burton trademark to them and the black and white imagery fits in perfectly, particularly for some of the cemetery scenes and the animation as a whole is distinctively atmospheric and helps create a thoroughly enjoyable movie watching experience.

The stylised appearance of several of the characters and monsters are also superb, and the voice actors likewise do a brilliant job of really bringing the characters to life.  A lot of work has obviously been put into the overall presentation as demonstrated by numerous nice background touches.  For example one scene in the pet cemetery features a gravestone engraved with the message, ‘Goodbye Kitty’ and a cat-like emblem that bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain popular Japanese brand.

Frankenweenie isn’t overloaded with jokes but it has its funny moments, although in general the comedy is at the level which will bring a chuckle to your face rather than have you rolling around laughing on the floor.  Many of the jokes are of a visual nature, such as the reanimated Sparky wagging his tail with joy on seeing his pal Victor once again, only to discover that Victor hasn’t stitched his tail back on quite securely enough.

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Animated movies of this nature tend to be aimed predominantly at kids, but Frankenweenie is a movie which adults can also enjoy, and in fact some of the scenes will possibly be a little scary or uncomfortable for very young viewers.  Any parents watching this movie with younger kids with a recently departed pet might also perhaps be wise to explain afterwards that in real life you can’t just shoot a load of electricity into a dead pet to bring it back to life!

On the whole though, Frankenweenie is an excellent movie for kids of all ages and as you’d expect, Tim Burton has done an accomplished job of bringing the story of Frankenweenie to life just as effectively as Victor does with his cute and delightful dog Sparky.

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