Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Landau, Winona Ryder, Charlie Tahan
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Synopsis: Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.
First things first, you’ll be pleased to hear that FRANKENWEENIE is miles from the soulless tripe of ALICE IN WONDERLAND. It’s honest, bizarre and incredibly fresh in places with some great stop-motion animation brilliance that definitely echoes EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and BEETLEJUICE. But whilst it combines those two, it never quite becomes its own cohesive film.
It is an impressive display of Burton’s talent and I have always been a fan but I think it’s time to let him go. Not because he doesn’t bring us interesting, unique worlds but because I just don’t feel it as much anymore, and this was one piece I expected that to happen. I’ve started to place Burton next to Terry Gilliam, a man who always promises such an expanse of vision with these unique imaginary worlds that blur the lines of reality… when it comes to final product it looks fantastic but you sense there’s something missing.
I wanted to be completely transported into Victor’s (Charlie Tahan) world and for all the reasons I was, there were more ways I was either disappointed or had that horrible inkling that I’ve seen this before. This family-scary [new term alert] film with a perfect Halloween nature looks wonderful, sounds great and even the 3D adds, er, something but for me, the latter becomes an unintentional addition that disturbs the full encapsulating experience I’m sure Burton intended. It also brings up the discussion again over whether 3D is needed in everything and when it’s not, does it distract the viewer? Moving on, there are definitely positives, including an awesomely freaky girl with an equally bizarre, amusing, stoic cat called Mr Whiskers. There’s also the relationship between Sparky and the dog-next-door Persephone and the duo of Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara on voice duties everywhere and pulling it off fantastically. But then we come to the stories that are hinted but never fully explored, like Victor and the girl next door which feels like there should be more there.
FRANKENWEENIE does pick up the pace in the latter quarter with a quite unexpected turn but this still feels like the short from 1984. Although, saying that, it does expand that original world immensely and I’m positive audiences will enjoy this but it still lacks something distinguishable, despite the striking imagery throughout. Ironically, for a story about a re-built dog (that really isn’t a spoiler) there are a few bits missing.