October 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Posted in 2012 | Leave a comment
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First, a confession.  I am an ambivalent Tim Burton fan.  At his best (“Edward Scissorhands,” “Batman,” “Ed Wood”), he is one of the most unique and visually entertaining directors in Hollywood.  However, as with so many other directors, I feel that his formula has gotten stale and a bit self-indulgent over time (“Alice in Wonderland,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “Dark Shadows”).  With that out there, I can now admit my skepticism approaching this film and why I am happy to report that I actually liked it.  Though “Frankenweenie” is no masterpiece, it is filled with many small pleasures; the richly textured black and white creates just the right atmosphere and horror film references abound, from multiple “Frankenstein” nods (including a pet turtle appropriately named “Shelley”) to references to Godzilla, The Mummy, Vincent Price, Gremlins and a young girl who looks an awful lot like Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice (and is also voiced by Winona Ryder).  The humor is similarly referential and clever at times.  But this is a modest film with an immodest purpose; Burton now has money and power and wants to make the film Disney denied him years ago.  This may be why it felt a bit under-developed; none of the characters felt very interesting to me, except maybe the Vincent Price like teacher we barely see.  The story was cute but never deep or compelling or even scary.  I actually found “ParaNorman” to be a better film in all of those ways.  Funnier, too.  “Frankenweenie” is worth seeing in a dark room, but only to better appreciate the black and white.  “ParaNorman” is worth seeing, period.


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