I admit that, for the most part, each year when I look back at my favorite movies of the previous year there is usually a Disney animated film among my top 10 list. This year is no exception. I loved “Wreck-It Ralph” and loved “Brave” but the animated film that stole my heart in 2012 was “Frankenweenie”.
I saw the original “Frankenweenie” short many years ago at the El Capitan. It was being shown before their annual Halloween presentation of “Nightmare Before Christmas”. I was not impressed. Which is the story with most Tim Burton movies. I often find myself walking out of the theatre feeling disappointed. It happened with “Beetlejuice”. It happened with “Nightmare Before Christmas”, and again with “Sleepy Hollow”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Mars Attacks”, and the list goes on. I have yet to love a Tim Burton movie upon first viewing, that is, until “Frankenweenie”.
It was instant love. The music, the mood, the supporting characters, and most importantly, the relationship between a loner named Victor and his dog Sparky.
The story starts with a young boy named Victor in the small town of New Holland. Victor lives with his mother Susan and his father Ben. Ben worries that Victor has no friends, no activities, and that he spends all of his time with his dog, Sparky. He spends endless hours in the attic inventing and creating in isolation.
Victor’s world comes crashing down when his dog is hit by a car during a baseball game. Inspired by his science teachers demonstration of how electricity can reanimate a dead frog, Victor decides to bring Sparky back from the dead. Later, Victor’s parents discover Sparky in the attic and are frightened, causing the dog to flee. Victor and his parents search for Sparky.
Victor’s classmates, who are competing in a science fair separately perform their own reanimation experiments, which go awry and turn their dead animals into monsters. The monsters break loose into the town fair where they wreak havoc.
After finding Sparky at the town cemetery, Victor sees the monsters attacking the fair and goes to help his classmates deal with them. During the chaos, the town’s mayor’s niece Elsa van Helsing is grabbed by one of the ‘monsters’ and carried to the town windmill. The townsfolks blame Sparky for her disappearance and chase him to the towns windmill, accidentally catching it on fire. Victor and Sparky enter the burning windmill and rescue Elsa, but Victor is trapped inside. Sparky rescues Victor, only to be dragged back inside by one of the monsters. Both pets are killed when the windmill collapses. To reward Sparky for his bravery, the townsfolk gather to revive Sparky with their car batteries, reanimating him once more.
“Frankenweenie” is Tim Burton at his best. For me, this movie ranks up there with “Sleepy Hollow” and “Nightmare Before Christmas”, both of which, after numerous viewings on DVD have become favorites. It’s a lovely simple story that pays homage to some of the great horror movies of past.
Frankenweenie really shines on blu ray. The picture quality is amazing. The blu ray format really shines with animated films and this is no exception. Tim Burton’s film is so clear and pristine. It’s stunning.
Plus, the blu ray is loaded with awesome special features including some original shorts. My favorite feature was the Miniatures In Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie To Life. I love seeing behind the scenes about any film but in particular stop motion animation is even more interesting. It talks about creating the characters and all the painstaking love that went into this film.
Frankenweenie is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray. Pick yourself up a copy or two!
I just couldn’t help but make Theo into Frankenweenie! I love it!
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