After directing a few bad and disappointing films, “Frankenweenie” is Tim Burton’s return to fine form by making his third stop-motion animated film, which in turn is an extended remake to a 1984 short film he made.
Set in the town of New Holland, Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tehan) has an unbreakable bond with his pet Bull Terrier, Sparky. One day, Sparky is hit by a car and killed after retrieving the baseball Victor hits during a baseball game. Wrecked with grief, Victor is inspired to resurrect his canine companion after an electricity demonstration by his science teacher Mr. Rzykryski (Martin Landau). After successfully bring his dog back from the dead, his experiment is discovered by his classmates as they try to replicate what he did, which in turn leads to hilarious and monstrous results.
Burton expands the macabre story of a boy and his undead dog nearly thirty years after directing the 1984 short film of the same name by putting in an animated form. Burton’s love letter to classic horror cinema gets an expansive treatment thanks to screenwriter John August (“Big Fish”). August and Burton inject several clever, but not-so-subtle references to a ton of monster movies from “The Mummy” and “Gamera” to “Gremlins” and “Jurassic Park.” This film features an good voice ensemble that include some of Burton collaborators that include Wynona Ryder channeling her performance from “Bettlejuice” and Martin Landau voicing a loving homage to horror icon Vincent Price. Far from an animated masterpiece, “Frankenweenie” is a charming, funny and heartwarming film that manages to resuscitate Burton’s directing career.
Disney continues to impress me with their Blu-ray video presentation as “Frankenweenie” on features stunning 1080p video quality that is framed in a 1:85:1 aspect ratio. Filmed in black and white, the video presentation of this film allows even the smallest and slightest details look razor-sharp films from the stitching on Sparky’s body to the blades of grass. Thanks to the video quality on the Blu-ray, it really does showcase the talents of the animators and the meticulous details they put toward this movie like the lines on Mr. Rzykryski’s vertically elongated face.
Even though this far from the special edition of “Frankenweenie” compacted with tons of bonus materials, the surprisingly sparse special features manage to cover some basic ground on the making of the film. “Miniatures in Motion” is a 20-minute short but fascinating behind-the-scenes look on how the movie was made. It covers different aspects on the production of the film from voice performance and casting to the art direction and construction of the puppets. “Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit” is a featurette about a world-traveling exhibit that showcases the artwork, props and puppets from the movie. Along with a bonus animated short featuring Victor and Sparky, the Blu-ray also includes Burton’s original 1984 live-action short that this movie is based on.
If you love stop-animation or any of Burton’s film, you fall head-over-heels for “Frankenweenie.” It is a wacky and funny animated film that expands upon the original short film Burton made three decades ago. Filled with several nods to monster movies, this homage to classic horror cinema is something that will delight families and movie lovers alike. On top of that,the disc also features a pristine video presentation and a strong assortment of special features.