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Rated PG for thematic elements and some frightening images
By Chris Jalil
posted Oct 12, 2012 - 12:11:37pm
A trend has been formed and followed this year by animated monster flicks. Chris Butler’s ambitious stop-motion zombie film preached acceptance, displaying the evils of a society founded on intolerance. Genndy Tartakovsky’s Hotel Transylvania admirably followed suit. Understanding the validity of such a message, director Tim Burton evokes a similar sympathy for the unique in his latest creation. But don’t fret: Frankenweenie is a creature all its own.
Based on his 1984 live-action short, Burton recreates the tale of Victor Frankenstein, instilling his trademark scientific genius in a young boy. Expectedly, Burton’s protagonist is an eccentric loner, a four-legged friend his only companion. But Sparky makes up for in quality what he lacks in quantity. Affectionate, loyal and unquestionably adorable, the tail-wagging weenie accompanies Victor always. The lovable bond between the boy and his dog is a spectacle all its own. Each hug shared and high-pitched bark bellowed cultivates genuine investment from the audience, thus rendering the albeit-inevitable blow all the more poignant.
Popcorn represents how fun a film is to watch—how funny it is, how exciting the special effects are, and how enjoyable the story is on repeated viewings. The perfect popcorn movie would be one that never got stale regardless of how many times you’ve seen it.
Unfortunately, the supporting characters border on caricature. The audience is provided the “evil” foreigners in Toshiaki (James Hiroyuki Liao) and Nassor (Martin Short), the unappealing dimwits in Bob (Robert Capron) and “E” Gore (Atticus Shaffer), and rounding out the typical are some science-fearing townspeople. However, such conformity to outdated horror conventions only slightly detracts from the experience.
Frankenweenie triumphs in its capacity to evoke emotion, its black and white universe enhancing the despair of sad scenes while heightening the eeriness of others. Most noteworthy are the movie’s enthralling visuals. The range of expressions on these characters astounds, especially when it comes to the show’s true star. Each emotion is masterfully depicted as the viewer sees Sparky go from cowering convincingly behind a mirror to smiling happily at his owner’s embrace and then quickly enacting some hysterical visual comedy, tongue dangling.
Dog lovers, be warned: Burton’s Frankenweenie calls for some Kleenex. Disney’s newest cuddly creature is instantly beloved, immediately licking his way into your heart. Commanding sympathy at every turn, Burton brilliantly conveys the potency of the relationship between a boy and his dog. Don’t be the least bit surprised if by the film’s emotionally charged conclusion you find yourself rushing home to embrace your own Sparky. Tightly.
Stars & Popcorn grade: 4 stars, 3 1/2 popcorn.
— Jalil is a movie reviewer for Stars & Popcorn. Jalil lives in Gainesville, where he attends the University of Florida and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in English.
Sponsored by Liebe Entertainment Group, Marketplace 8. Click here to see showtimes for Frankenweenie
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