Saturday, 22 December 2012

Frankenweenie (2012)

Director: Tim Burton
Stars: Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara & Martin Short
                                                                     ''You're Dog is alive!''

Film #85 of the December Project

'Frankenweenie' may have marked the first time I was ever excited for a Tim Burton film, unfortunately it came out at time when a slew of other great films so I never got around to seeing it in theaters.Determined to see the film, I withstood the temptation of downloading a poor quality torrent in the hopes that one day a watchable copy would arise, today was that day.

Victor is a quiet yet intelligent young man, whom only has one friend and that is his loveable canine companion, Sparky. One day in a tragic accident, Sparky is killed. In sadness and inspired by a science class, Victor attempts to bring Sparky back to life via the conduction of lightning.

I had actually watched Burton's original live action 'Frankenweenie' short earlier this year and I quete enjoyed it, Thus my excitement for this film. I really the spin on the classic 'Frankenstein' tale and was very excited to see Burton incorporate into a stop motion film. While I enjoyed the story in the original short, I did not enjoy how it was expanded here. John August's screenplay is just so by the numbers, a film like this should thrive on imaginative thinking and August can not provide it, giving us a surprisingly bland story that did absolutely nothing for me and continuously lost my interest.

As I have stated on many occasions, Tim Burton has become a very generic filmmaker and has been creating forgettable films for many years, unfortunately this trend continues with 'Frankenweenie'. Its unbelievably frustrating to watch a filmmaker who used create such unique films, wallow in mediocrity. I recently revisited Burton's 'Ed Wood' which is one of my favorite films and an absolute masterpiece. Watching that film and then this, it is so clear how horribly generic he has become. This film should have been a canvas for him, he could have done damn near anything he pleased but instead he decides to play it safe, resulting in a film that could have been made by anyone. I usually ask myself if Burton has been broken by the system in some sense, but maybe I'm just making excuses for the guy.

No matter what you think of the film as a whole, you have respect the designers and creators behind stop motion films. Its always a  tour de force for them to bring films like these to our screens and I always admire the dedication taken. The design of the film, like its plot, is of course a throwback to the Universal monster movies, I.e 'Frankenstein', its definitely got that atmospheric vibe to it (not that Burton or the plot capitalizes on it) and I liked the fact they decided to use a black and white filter. I really liked the whole design and landscape of this film, I found it very appealing to look at and experience.

The voice cast is decent but honestly pretty forgettable. Charlie Tahan does a good enough voicing Victor, as does Catherine O'Hara and Martin Short whom voice multiple characters. Martin Landau was my favorite part of this cast and was very good in his short role. Winona Ryder wasn't bad but I did find it quite odd that she was portraying a child. All the characters are pretty unremarkable, except for Sparky the dog, who is honestly one of the best and most loveable film dogs I have seen in quite some time.

I was disappointed with 'Frankenweenie' I had monumental hopes for this to be great but it wasn't, it was a poorly written and unimaginative film that just so happens to be beautifully designed, which is its saving grace. Just before I started watching the film, I read a great critic on Letterboxd Jamie Reiter's review of 'Frankenweenie' in which he stated that 'Paranorman' was a far superior film, while I did like that film I didn't want that to be true,but Jamie was absolutely correct, 'Paranorman' trumps Burton's film in every aspect. It is with great sadness that I must call 'Frankenweenie' my biggest disappointment of 2012, that the last time I trust Burton!


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