Friday, October 26. 2012
Frankenweenie, so the story goes, is an old short of Tim Burton's (from 28 years ago) now made into a full-length (although slightly shorter than typical) film. Although it would be fair to say that I felt it showed, that gives the wrong impression. The film is essentially a character study of Viktor and his relationship with his dog, Sparky. Sparky gets run over and the young Frankenstein (inspired by his science teacher) brings him back to life. Various other children find out, try to duplicate the experiment to win the science fair and chaos ensues. Viktor has to save the day! On that level it's an uncomplicated but entertaining story, good for the kids. The animation style is idiosyncratic and possibly naive but charming and worked well to my mind.
The thing that will ensure this film becomes at least a cult hit is the thing that makes this a film for adults, or possibly very precocious kids. This film is packed, possibly over-packed, with clever little references to other films, books, myths and the like. Some are obvious, some are played on multiple levels - Shelley, the reanimated pet tortoise for example - but the times when I went five minutes without catching a reference made me wonder if I was just being ignorant. If you wan to play a drinking game per reference, I'd recommend fingers of beer rather than anything stronger if you ever want to walk again.
The other thing I really enjoyed about this film is Tim Burton's rant about how poor America's attitude to science and scientists is. It made a strong section although I'm sure it will be missed by those who would gain most from being made to think.
For that reason alone I think this just edges Paranorman for me but I would suggest if you like one of these you'll like the other and if you don't you won't, even if you lean slightly more towards one or the other.
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