Frankenweenie [Blu-Ray] Tim Burton

Frankenweenie [Blu-Ray] Tim Burton
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Anyone hoping that Frankenweenie would be a return to form for the once great director of gothic oddities is in for a disappointment. This stop-motion expansion on Tim Burton's first live action short film typifies everything frustrating about much of the talented aesthetician's recent output: it's cloying, nonsensical, derivative and steeped in nostalgia, with an ultimately pointless story. Masquerading as a more personal film than vacuous adaptations like Dark Shadows and Alice in Wonderland, Frankenweenie is just an excuse for Burton to indulge in his familiar obsessions. Beyond the obvious wholesale borrowing (unless you want to charitably call it a "homage") of basic plot mechanics from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Frankenweenie superficially trots out Burton-isms with a huckster's wink. Victor Frankenstein is a budding young director and science nerd who, like his parents, loves classic black & white monster movies. His best friend is his faithful dog, Sparky, whom he features in all of his homemade shorts. When Victor is inspired by his impolite, but brilliant science teacher to compete in his school science fair, his father passive-aggressively demands that he also try out baseball. For maximum contrivance (which is a hard and fast rule in this insultingly illogical and thematically impotent script), tragedy strikes while Victor is appeasing his dad — Sparky is killed by a car while chasing the ball. It doesn't take long for the grieving boy to use his rudimentary knowledge of how electricity affects dead tissue to reanimate the corpse of his yappy companion. Despite clearly being in one piece after being hit and not being in the ground long enough to significantly decay, the dog (who is not a Dachshund, nor named Weenie) is stitched together as if he met his fate at the hands of a giant blender, for no reason other than that's how Frankenstein's monster looked. "Just because" is basically the theme of the entire movie. It is not, as it might initially seem, a story about coming to terms with loss, learning to appreciate the monstrous in appearance for their inner spirit or anything else, for that matter. Every action taken is merely a function of moving the plot along so Burton can stage more nodding references to his body of work (Winona Ryder awkwardly voices a little girl who looks like Lydia from Beetlejuice) and his childhood predilections (the girl's dog resembles a hedge clipping version of the Frankenstein monster's bride). Frustrating lapses in interior logic abound, the story is riddled with groaning banalities and Burton has even completely forgotten his mission statement of "sympathy for the freaks." Victor is the handsomest kid in school and everyone wants to be like him, or at least beat him in the science fair by copying his project. All of his classmates are self-consciously peculiar and all are ugly or fat; people are mean, ignorant or manipulative, if not all of the above. Even for those easily distracted by cheap gags, Danny Elfman's saccharine music cues and Burton's distinctive art design, Frankenweenie is an appallingly irresponsible piece of detritus. Since this story is consequence-free, the further adventures of Victor and Sparky are briefly visited in additional short Captain Sparky vs. The Flying Saucers. Rounding out the special features is a look behind the scenes, which is devoid of insight, but contains time-lapse footage of the black & white stop-motion work in progress, a tour of the Frankenweenie exhibit at some sort of fan expo-type thing, a video for Plain White T's cover of the Ramones' "Pet Sematary" and the original live-action short. This is one pet project that should have stayed dead. (Buena Vista)