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FRANKENWEENIE

★★★★

ANIMATED CLASSIC BROUGHT TO LIFE

LATEST REVIEWS
By Daniel Lammin
28th February 2013
One of the most wonderful surprises of 2012 was the gorgeous stop-motion marvel ‘Frankenweenie’, Tim Burton’s return to the art form and to a much more personal style of storytelling. After a series of underwhelming films, it provided a breath of fresh air for the director, as well as being wildly entertaining and incredibly funny, striking the kind of balance between design and storytelling reminiscent of the early days in his career.

Expanding on his early short film, the film tells the story of Victor, a quiet but intelligent boy who uses his science skills to bring back his dog Sparky from the dead. It’s the kind of off-centre concept we’ve come to expect from Burton, but rather than allowing his imagination to run wild, he centres the film in the world of a 50s-style suburbia, preventing the narrative from suffering under excessive design.

What makes the film really take off is Burton’s tremendous knowledge of the classic horror films, populating the suburb of New Holland with a cast of characters reminiscent of the standard horror film monsters and villains. The structure of the film follows the usual monster film beats, but what makes them sparkle with freshness is Burton’s personal connection with the genre and the environment, filling it with moments and references, not just to the classics of the genre, but the familiar world of childhood. It might crackle with tremendous gags and the usual Burton oddities, but at its heart, ‘Frankenweenie’ is about a boy’s relationship with his best friend, and the film never loses sight of that heart and soul. The animation itself is the same beautiful work we’ve come to expect from Burton’s previous ventures into stop-motion animation, rendered even more breathtaking by his decision to present the film in black and white. The voice cast of Burton regulars, including Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara and Winona Ryder, add a wonderfully delicate tone to the film, the quality of the withdrawn outsider that was such a staple of Burton’s early work.

FRANKENWEENIE - TRAILER

While it lacks the technical whiz-bang of his earlier stop-motion works, such as ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ (1993), this latest entry in the Tim Burton canon excels over them by actually having a heart underneath the artistry. ‘Frankenweenie’ sees Burton at the most personal he has been in years, a throwback to not only his early work, but also his childhood and inspirations. It’s a much-needed reminder of just how thrilling an artist he is, as well as a new animated classic in its own right.

PICTURE & SOUND
As expected, Disney has delivered a beautiful transfer of ‘Frankenweenie’, preserving its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio in 1080p. The black and white tones really come out in high definition, as do the details and textures that come with stop-motion, representing the tremendous artistry at work in the animation. There’s no attempt to hide the organic quality inherent in stop-motion or to smooth it out, and much credit should go to Disney for allowing that on this release. The DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio is just as rich and dynamic, especially with Danny Elfman’s wonderful score. Sound has always been an important component of Burton’s films, and the track recreates that effectively.

At its heart, ‘Frankenweenie’ is about a boy’s relationship with his best friend, and the film never loses sight of that heart and soul.

SPECIAL FEATURES
For ‘Frankenweenie’, we’re offered a small but excellent selection of special features covering the full history of the production. ‘Miniatures in Motion’ is an terrific half-hour featurette on the making of the film, with interviews from the team of artists behind the film. What it really highlights is the tremendous amount of care and detail that went into creating the world of the film, and the techniques behind it. ‘Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit’ looks at the exhibition showcasing the puppets and set used in the film, which makes you wish it was something we could visit here. The disc also delivers two shorts: ‘Captain Sparky vs The Flying Saucers’, a new short presenting one of Victor’s home-made films starring his faithful dog, and the original live-action ‘Frankenweenie’ short from 1984, which offers a chance to see how the story has developed from Burton’s original concept. Rounding out the set is a harmless music video from Plain White T’s of their song ‘Pet Sematary’ from the ‘Frankenweenie Unleashed!’ album.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 27/02/2013
RUN TIME: 1h 27m
CAST: Winona Ryder - Elsa Van Helsing
Martin Short - Mr Walsh
Catherine O'Hara - Susan Frankenstien
Martin Landau - Mr Rzykruski
DIRECTOR: Tim Burton
WRITERS: Tim Burton
Leonard Ripps
John August
PRODUCERS: Allison Abbate
Tim Burton
SCORE: Danny Elfman
www.disney.com/frankenweenie
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