Movie Review: Frankenweenie
This past Halloween, I decided to watch the movie Frankenweenie. As this movie was released in 2012, many people have probably seen it by this point. Released on October 5, 2012, Frankenweenie tells the story of a boy named Victor who, after the sudden death of his dog, decides to reanimate his pet, leading to a series of catastrophic events. Clearly, this movie is based on Mary Shelley's iconic novel Frankenstein. The film was actually a remake of an earlier film of the same name that Tim Burton made and released in 1984.
(Just as a warning, this article will most definitely contain spoilers, so if you haven't seen the movie yet and don't want anything to be spoiled, you probably shouldn't read this.)
Personally, I found the movie as a whole to be pretty entertaining. Although it never grew to be as popular as Tim Burton's other works such as The Nightmare Before Christmas or Corpse Bride, the film offers its own unique story to tell.
As usual, Tim Burton took lots of artistic liberty when it came to the character designs of the film. I have to say that I personally think that Frankenweenie has some of the weirdest (and creepiest) character designs I have seen in a Tim Burton film. These designs definitely add to the creepy factor of the film. When asked about the character designs, Tim Burton said, "Well, I remember the school politics, and not only how weird you felt as a kid, but how weird everybody else was, too. It was easy to link those memories to old horror movies. I mean, there was a kid back in school that would remind me of Boris Karloff. And there was a weird girl."
Another interesting choice that was made was the decision to make the movie in black and white. The official time period of the movie is not known, but the black and white aspect of the movie is a clever reference to the 1931 film adaptation of Frankenstein. The film alludes to Frankenstein in many ways, though most of the references call back to the 1931 movie rather than the original novel. One of the characters, Robert Nassor, was designed to look like Boris Karloff's depiction of Frankenstein's creature (you know, the green guy with the bolts that everyone pictures when they think of Frankenstein.)
Another reference is made through the dog Persephone, designed to appear like Frankenstein's bride.
There are many references made throughout the film to both Frankenstein and other iconic monsters from horror films. One of the characters is named Elsa, a reference to Elsa Lanchester, who played Frankenstein's bride in the movie Bride of Frankenstein. The same character has the surname Van Helsing, a reference to a character from Bram Stoker's Dracula. At one point in the film, there are a number of animals that are transformed into more dangerous creatures, and once again these creatures act as references to other popular monsters. One of the animals, a rat, is transformed into a creature that resembles a werewolf. A cat is transformed into a bat creature, a reference to vampires. A turtle is transformed into a large, Godzilla-like monster. A number of sea monkeys are transformed into sea monsters that appear to reference the Gill-Man from Creature From the Black Lagoon, although they may also reference the Gremlins from the movie Gremlins. Robert Nassor has a pet hamster that he reanimates. The hamster, wrapped in a mummy-like fashion, is likely a reference to Boris Korloff's role as Prince Imhotep in the 1932 film The Mummy. There are many references that I did not mention, but it would take too long to talk about all of them.
When it comes to the plot (and pacing) of the movie, I think the film is appealing but does not have the same level of excitement that made movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride so successful. However, I think that this film is still very interesting and definitely a good watch.
I would have to say that the only major problem I have with the film is its lesson. I expected Sparky (Victor's dog) to remain dead by the end of the film; however, he did not. Instead, Victor's parents, along with many other individuals in the town, helped him to once again reanimate his dog. Although the ending is happy, it seems a bit strange, and maybe not the best way to teach your children about how to cope with death. Ironically, the ending of the movie is basically completely contradictory to the lesson in the original Frankenstein novel. In the end, it is a Tim Burton movie, so the bizarre ending isn't extremely shocking. Ultimately, I think this movie was worth the watch, and I would definitely recommend watching it to anyone who has not seen it yet.
Cover image was found here
Tim Burton quote was found here
Robert Nassor picture found here
Persephone picture found here