Frankenweenie - Blu-ray Review - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 6 Old 01-12-13, 06:03 PM Thread Starter
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Frankenweenie - Blu-ray Review

Starring: Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer
Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: Leonard Ripps (based on a screenplay), Tim Burton, John August (screenplay)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Main Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Rated: PG
Runtime: 87 min
Blu-ray Release Date: January 8 2013

HTS Overall Score:


Victor Frankenstein (Tahan) is a student at New Holland Elementary who likes to dabble in science and is a budding make stop-motion animation filmmaker; very laudable interests, but they keep Victor pretty isolated. His parents voiced by Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara are concerned Victor has no friends, except his canine companion Sparky, and is somewhat of an introvert. Mr. Frankenstein suggests Victor need not solely and strictly pursue his fondness toward science and film, that there are other options, something that is more communal and involving human interaction; he suggests baseball.

During Victor’s inaugural game he hits an out-of-the-park homer causing Sparky, who is tied up watching the game, to break free from his leash and excitedly run after the ball and retrieve it. With his tail wagging at full force Sparky is eager to return to Victor with the ball, but doesn’t notice the oncoming vehicle as he is crossing. The car is unable to stop in time and Sparky is fatally hit, sending him to doggy heaven. Victor is understandably devastated and mourns for his beloved pet and friend until one day in science class the teacher demonstrates on a dead frog that electricity can be used to stimulate the muscles causing limps to seemingly spring to life. Inspired and eager to get to work Victor hurries home to commence with the reanimation. He collects household items that will be needed for the procedure and then at night goes to the pet cemetery to dig up resting Sparky. Victor sneaks the corpse up to the attic where he does a little post-mortem sewing on Sparky before he screws in the obligatory long bolts and attaches booster cables to them. Victor then
sends a few kites flying high for either to be struck by lightning providing him with the juice he needs to give Sparky his step back, luckily there is a lighting storm nearly every night in the town. Victor then spins what is assumedly a generator, raises the table on which Sparky is laid, and soon in the familiar canon of Frankenstein movie iterations… IT LIVES! Sparky’s tail starts to wag only to quickly tear off and go flying into a bucket. Despite being stop-motion animation I still shuddered at the site. With the picture being in black and white and Sparky riddled with stitches the scene even though intended for kids looks gruesome and off-putting; I hope that doesn’t make me out to be a weenie.

Although Victor has performed a miraculous feat it is not something he feels he can share with his parents and so he leaves Sparky upstairs in the attic unattended while he goes to school. Rambunctious and revitalized Sparky doesn’t listen to his master and soon is out and about chasing flies and cats and plowing through the neighbour’s flowers. During his escapades he is spotted by Victor’s grotesque looking classmate Edgar (Shaffer) who later comes to Victor’s home to blackmail him into revealing how he brought the dog back to life. With really no options Victor caves. Edgar keeps a secret as well as a submarine with a screen door stays submerged and with little hesitation he shows a group of classmates to Victor’s attic (the Frankensteins are all out looking for Sparky who ran away) where they get a close up view of his blackboard containing sketches of his idea. Now enlightened with the basic premise of raising the dead the boys, and girl, each manufacture a contraption to do so and soon the quaint small town is being terrorized by a variety of creatures.

I had a difficult time getting into Frankenweenie because the thought of a decaying dog, albeit it a stop-motion animation dog, brought back to life all sewn up with flies buzzing around it because they are attracted to death really gave me the creeps, and yet Sparky is the most interesting character amongst the cast. After a while I got used to the stitches and concentrated on the story and Sparky’s peppiness. Unfortunately most of the remaining characters are void of any interest or heart, even Victor is bland with a monotone voice. Some of the voices felt detached from the characters making for a viewing experience that didn’t seem whole. The macabre look of the characters (corpse-like with black ringed deep inset eyes) and the zombie-esque creatures are a bit scary; I’d be apprehensive to show an elementary child this movie.

But it’s not all bad. Frankenweenie moves along at a brisk pace, never dwelling on any one scene or subplot for too long and the final act is filled with action, impressive scenes of destruction and some real eye-candy in the lighting department.


PG for thematic elements, scary images and action.


The beautifully hand crafted models, figures and set pieces in the world of New Holland are paired with an equally robust and enveloping soundtrack. Sparky’s bark (similar to that of my miniature’s Dachshund) , his growl and whine all sound fitting to his Bull Terrier’s stature. Environmental sounds like the Frankensteins eating, people shuffling around town, a baseball being hit, and daily items being used are all very clear and meld nicely with the score that swells, deepens, and subsides according to the intensity of the scene. Directional effects are plentiful making frequent use of surround speakers, especially during the pivotal scene when Victor brings Sparky to life. The lightning combined with a table being raised combined with the other do-dads Victor has assembled for the experiment sound amazing and completely fill the room with the volume on at least medium. The final act benefits from a powerful system with a decent size sub-woofer. The result is a plethora of subtle and ear drum vibrating explosions, blasts, effects, and other destruction related sounds. The accompanying score which is organ heavy is booming and immerses the viewer. There is never a dull aural moment in Frankweenie; the soundtrack is a masterpiece.


Despite being presented in black and white Tim Burton still pays the utmost attention to detail to every facet in the movie. Miniature set designs are of the highest caliber. This is evident in the way furniture, items in the street, and other things look as they crumble and get smashed by the rampaging creatures. Inky blacks and gradients of gray pop and add depth to nearly every scene. Even though the color scale is limited there is still richness in the picture. Contrasts between the deepest blacks and pale grays are stunning, making you really pay attention to the action.
The level of detail in the puppets and their costumes is exceptional. Facial textures on the citizens are clearly evident and always present. The animals and creatures also get prime treatment when it comes to detailing in the skin, scale and fur department. Characters move with ease and realism and their shadows follow suit. Shadows are cast perfectly in every lighting situation. The post-production boffins did an amazing job enhancing the stop-motion animation with the result being a truly memorable world that deserves high praise.


-Original Short: Captain Sparky vs. The Flying Saucers
-Miniatures In Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie To Life
-Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit
-Original Live-Action Frankenweenie Short
-Plain White T’s “Pet Semetary” Music Video


I applaud Tim Burton for keeping the dying art of stop-motion animation alive and although this isn’t his best work it is still commendable and definitely worth a look. Most of the human characters are not that captivating and some are pretty cliché, but Sparky and his verve for life and constant bouncing around the screen fill the void. The production value is something to marvel and even though the storyline occasionally veers off tangent, the essence and core of the movie, boy loves dog, dog dies, boy gets dog back, is still there.

Buy Frankenweenie on Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Rent It
Watch the Official Trailer

Last edited by Mike Edwards; 02-01-13 at 05:51 PM.
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post #2 of 6 Old 01-14-13, 07:25 AM
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Re: Frankenweenie - Blu-ray review

My son (8) and I enjoyed our viewing of this over the weekend. It may be a while till we watch it again so I reccomend as a rental for most. I suspect that Burton fans will want this added to their library though.

I would have written less but I didn't have the time.
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post #3 of 6 Old 01-14-13, 08:31 AM
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Re: Frankenweenie - Blu-ray review

thanks for the review Peter. we've kinda been flooded with Burton films the last few years so I was a bit leary of it, but I think I give it stab
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post #4 of 6 Old 01-14-13, 11:02 AM
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Re: Frankenweenie - Blu-ray review

Thanks for the review. I have been a fan since Nightmare Before Christmas. I also have Corpse Bride and 9.

~There are many roads to nirvana, while the ultimate goal is the destination, don't forget to enjoy the ride~
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post #5 of 6 Old 01-21-13, 06:16 PM
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Re: Frankenweenie - Blu-ray review

As Smurphy said, I think this is a rental movie. My wife loves Tim Burton films and she even grabbed the laptop as she got a little bored with the film.

Not that it was a bad movie by any means. Just not one that is as involving as others.
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post #6 of 6 Old 01-22-13, 09:10 PM
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Re: Frankenweenie - Blu-ray review

Still a charming little film. Made me cry at the end.
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