As homage to James Whale’s 1931 film that was loosely based on Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel Frankenstein, writer-director Tim Burton has struck gold with Frankenweenie. Filmed in black and white, the animated movie starts with the tragic death of Victor’s (Charlie Tahan) faithful and friendly dog Sparky. The poor thing gets run over by a car, and Victor and his parents bury him in a tearful ceremony. Victor finds it difficult to concede that his best (and only) friend is no more. So when he hears about the powers of electricity in his science class, he thinks that perhaps he can apply those principles to Sparky. In a scene that’s clearly derived from Whale’s film, Victor hoists the dog’s corpse into the sky so that a bolt of lightening will reanimate the creature. Of course, once the other kids at school find out about Victor’s project, they attempt to replicate it, in turn creating a slew of monsters that then wreak havoc on the town. There’s not much balance here; Victor and his family aren’t written in such a way that we identify with or even like them and the same goes for Victor’s science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau). The bad guy mayor (Martin Short) is a mere caricature and the same goes for the love interest (Winona Ryder).
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