Tim Burton has been quite active lately. The last two movies he made, “Dark Shadows” and “Alice in wonderland” were his absolute worst though. ”Frankenweenie”, however, was a welcome return for the gothic director.
With elements from Burton’s earlier works, the movie is a gorgeous black and white stop motion animation, one of the techniques Tim Burton excels. In his most personal film to date, Burton clearly shows his love for classic horror movies. The movie itself is a revisiting to the wonderful monster movies, the ones Universal studios have produced from the 20’s to the 60’s. Movies like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, Bride of Frankensteinand even The Hunchback of Notre Dame with one of the characters. He wasn’t afraid of using similar plot elements, with a confident screenplay soaked with appreciation rather than plagiarism, the déjà vu feeling is gone and replaced by pure originality. The rendering was superb and the images were gorgeous. Being shot in 3D is questionable though. I personally found the 3D completely useless for such a story.
Tim Burton (and John August) wrote beautiful characters. Mr. Rzykruski was simply fantastic and one of the best characters Burton has ever written. Victor, the protagonist, was a very good effort as well. The relationship between Victor and his Dog, Sparky, is the heart of the movie and the main engine behind all the events. His unconditional love for his pet made him push the boundaries and try anything, even if he himself wasn’t’ sure if what he was doing was right or wrong, he simply followed his passion and trusted his instinct and did what he did. A clever move by Burton. I mean, who can resist a relationship between a young boy and his beloved pet? The supporting cast was nearly perfect. My favorite character was “The weird girl”. She’s hilarious; she’s psychotic and she’s…weird, in a good way. She added nothing but awesomeness to the movie.
With all the perfection I mentioned above, the movie wasn’t a masterpiece. I found the first 30 min gorgeous in terms of storytelling and pace, the other 60 min were less gorgeous. This movie with its concept, has unlimited potentials. It’s not easy to cut and paste all these elements and create a perfectly crafted story. After the first 30 min the movie loses part of its magic. It didn’t become dull. Never. The quality remains high all throughout the movie, but the story became less engaging, less magical and more straightforward. However, brilliant characters, wonderful visuals and beautiful music saved the movie. And the final result was absolutely rewarding.
Maybe Tim Burton should have given the story more time, maybe he should have taken a break and focused more on what might have became his ultimate masterpiece, but as I said , and unfortunately, the movie is far from being a masterpiece. Because everything in “Frankweenie” was flawless expect the most important element of a movie: The story. I, myself, am a diehard fan of classic horror movies, I found them enchanting, haunting, absorbing, and with their clear flaws, utterly entertaining. I respected the intentions of Tim Burton, I respected his love for these movies, I respected his move but I wanted a perfect movie and he didn’t make that movie. With all its beauty, “Frankenweenie” is a missing chance but remains, however, the best animated movie of the year.