Frankenweenie: Typically Mediocre

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It’s that time of year for a plethora of mediocre to terrible Halloween films that fail to scare or offer a decent story.

So, you may wonder, does Frankieweanie directed by Tim Burton (who also directed (Edward ScissorHands, Alice in Wonderland, Batman) give us a solid Halloween film to watch in theater or another forgettable film? Well, kind of both.  Frankieweanie is about a teenage boy named Victor and his dog and best friend Sparky. In a freak accident Sparky is killed and Victor decides to bring him back to life.  His friends try to bring their old pets back to life and chaos ensues.  The concept of the film is a solid one which takes some plot cues from Frankenstein. That said, there is a lot in the film that looks promising, but doesn’t go anywhere.

We see as Victor a loner and anti-social.  His only friend is his dog, but we never see these themes of loneliness or isolated teenager, which hurt the overall emotional core of the film and the chance to really like Victor as a character. There is also a potential love interest, rise to popularity, film making career, cold war parallels, and comparisons that are hinted at in small portions, but these hints don’t become anything of significance or are forgotten during the film.  These losses really hurt the film’s chance to be a more in-depth story with layers that students and adults can relate. Instead, Frankenweenie becomes a more linear, predictable story with no other themes or subplots other than a boy’s best friend is his dog.  I guess they thought it would be too much for small kids to understand, and that is what this film’s main target audience is.

Yet, Frankenweinie includes elements that a mature audience or horror fans can appreciate. There are a lot of homages to old school horror and monster films, especially  Universal Studio’s Frankenstein. These are the highlights of the film and are really fun to watch. It’s good to know that a director like Tim Burton understands and respects those old black and white classics, and it shows in this film.  Unfortunately, if you’re not a huge fan of old school horror, then most likely you won’t catch most of these references, thus making the best part of the film irrelevant.

The animation/style is a strength. The film is made in black and white and has a weird art style that has been used in other Tim Burton animation films, such as 9 and Corpse Bride. The art style is great and adds to the atmosphere of the film. The voice acting in the film is good but not great or memorable.  The best actor is Martin Landu who does the voice of the crazy science teacher; sadly, his character is taken out halfway through the film. It also doesn’t help the film that the characters have no development. The same can be said for the music which is decent but also forgettable. This seems to be the pattern of the entire film: okay, but not great, nothing stands out, and what does stand out doesn’t last very long in the film.  The entire film wastes any really good ideas; it had potential to be very good but decides to do nothing with it.