Frankenweenie 3D Blu-ray Review

On a personal level, one of the things that really bothers me in movies and in real life is animal suffering.  So you can imagine that as a dog lover, I entered into Tim Burton’s FRANKENWEENIE with much trepidation.  I was fearful that Burton would tell the story in such an emotionally draining fashion that I wouldn’t be able to get past the sadness of the dog dying and along the way, we’d have some twisted, dark characters that inflicted more trauma on the dog and/or the human hero.  But if you had the same concerns as I did, then let me calm those fears and tell you that FRANKENWEENIE is not really that emotionally intense and actually manages to tell the story in a surprisingly fun and charming way.


Viktor Frankenstein is a young boy that doesn’t have many friends other than his trusty dog, Sparky.  Sparky and Viktor are inseparable until Sparky gets hit by a car.  Overcome with grief, Viktor refuses to let Sparky go and instead, concocts a plan to bring Sparky back to life.  His plan works well, but the other kids in school find out what Viktor did and thinking he was doing it to compete in the science fair, they too decide to bring back some dead animals, to tragic consequences.


Even when I run through the synopsis and sequence of events in my head, it sounds like a dark, scary, sad story about a boy learning to cope with death.  But it’s actually about a boy learning about the power of love.  The original story of Frankenstein is pretty dark and twisted, ultimately culminating in a tragic ending where Dr. Frankenstein learns you can’t cheat death.  But FRANKENWEENIE doesn’t go that route and instead emphasizes the difference love can make in an otherwise lonely life.  For a guy that loves his dogs and generally considers himself a loner, that’s a powerful message and one that I think a lot of people can relate to.


But the greatest achievement from Tim Burton was getting past the initial death of Sparky.  Once Sparky comes back and he’s the same dog he was before (except for a few stitches, of course), we begin to forget that he was ever dead.  And since Burton also avoided having the townspeople turn on Sparky or the kids go evil trying to hurt him, we still have the “cute” factor with Sparky and it lets us get involved with other aspects of the film.  I also liked that when the kids decide to run their own experiments on animals, it’s not done out of hate or with evil intentions; they just want to one-up Viktor to win the science fair.  There is an underused sub-plot with Viktor’s neighbor Mr. Burgemeister and his niece, Elsa that doesn’t serve a whole lot of purpose, other than as a catalyst to the climax at the end.  I would normally say that they should have spent more time on them, especially with the relationship between Elsa and Viktor, but I think the 86 minute runtime worked really well to move the story along.


As much as I enjoyed FRANKENWEENIE and appreciated the somewhat gentle handling of a traditionally scary story, there were some intense moments and images that would be far too much for the younger audiences.  But for everyone else, FRANKENWEENIE is a charming, good film with an adorable dog and a nice message.


I hear from readers that they feel disappointed in 3D films that don’t “pop”, but sometimes a good 3D transfer doesn’t outwardly pop out at you with gimmicks, but rather creates a world full of depth that stretches inward instead of outward.  Such is the case with FRANKENWEENIE, which is one of the more consistent 3D transfers out there.  You won’t find a lot of objects flying at you, but the world is exciting to view in 3D.


Video:  It’s black and white, but it still somehow manages to be breathtaking.  The lack of color actually highlights some of the impressive shading and use of light displayed in the film.

Audio: FRANKENWEENIE’s 7.1 audio mix is equally impressive, fully immersing the viewer into the film.  A great compliment to the wonderful 3D.

Tim Burton on the set of Frankenweenie

Miniatures in Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie to Life (22:57): This is a nice, somewhat short behind the scenes documentary on the making of the film.  We get some good glimpses of the models used and the cast and crew show up to talk about their experiences on the film.

Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit (5:02): The filmmakers collected various forms of art (sketches, miniatures, etc.) and show some examples of how it as used in FRANKENWEENIE

Original Live-Action Frankenweenie Short (31:11): This is the film that started it all.  Tim Burton’s original 1984 short film that the movie was based on.  It’s clunky and obviously has the problems of a first film, but it’s nice to see where the inspiration came from.

Captain Sparky vs. The Flying Saucers (2:02): This is the short film that was shown in the movie during the beginning.

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