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Category:    Home > Reviews > Animation > Stop Motion > Comedy > Horror > British > Frankenweenie (2012/Disney Blu-ray 3D w/Blu-ray and DVD)

Frankenweenie (2012/Disney Blu-ray 3D w/Blu-ray and DVD)


3D Picture: B+     2D Picture: B/C+     Sound: B/C+     Extras: C+     Stop Motion Animated Feature: C+



2012 was not a good year for Tim Burton.  He let a potential comic remake of Dark Shadows that could have worked fall apart, so it bombed, then he produced the silly Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (both reviewed elsewhere on this site) and that bizarre (not for Burtonesque reasons either) work faded quickly.  Maybe oddest of all, he somehow felt he could remake his popular half-hour short Frankenweenie as a stop-motion feature and it would work.  At less than 90 minutes in length, it is actually not bad for what it is, but what it is is everything Burton has done several times too many.


If Corpse Bride (also reviewed on the site) not doing well did not tell Burton that his next Stop Motion venture should be more original and interesting, it is to show that he is in such a bored mode of tired, recycling overdrive that one wonders if he will ever escape it (it started with that awful 2001 Planet Of The Apes remake, which made “reimagining” a bankrupt word) and if he wants to.  Has he become too comfortable with his success and trappings that it is at the cost of his talent and creative soul?


Fortunately here, he has a team of very talented Stop Motion artists as well as name voice actors (Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Landau, Conchata Farrell, Winona Ryder) doing most of the work so they translate his ideas into what we see and that gives this remake enough distinction not to be a disaster, but not enough to stop it from being a disappointment and except to see it in 3D, there is nothing special enough about it to make it a necessary remake.  It is way too soon, it does not outdo the original which should have been left alone and he can do better.  The art form of Stop Motion deserves more original material as well like Fantastic Mr. Fox, which people still talk about (and wonder where the sequel is).


At least this is competent, family friendly and in an age of a near glut of digital animation, well done, but not refreshing like it could have been.  Fans of Burton, Stop Motion Animation and the Horror genre are bound to like this one, but the new Frankenweenie cannot compete with the year’s best animated features (no matter what kind of animation is used) and for most, it will feel like everything we have seen too often before.



The 1.85 X 1, 1080p full HD MVC-encoded 3-D – Full Resolution black and white digital High Definition image on the Blu-ray 3D version and 2D 1080p digital High Definition image version are, like Fantastic Mr. Fox, produced frame-by frame with 5K Canon digital cameras.  However, as smooth as this looks and though the makers have come up with a good approximation of monochrome black and white, it still does not have the atmosphere that it could or would have with real black and white film that had real silver content.  As a result, it does not always ring totally authentic, maybe looking too clean for its own good.


Of course, you might not be able to get black and white motion picture film with that kind of silver anymore, but since this was made of still images, Burton (being in England) could have turned to Ilford (a British company making almost a dozen such film stocks) and had them create some kind of special black and white film stock (still or motion picture) to capture the terrific stop motion work here.  That might have cost more money, but that could have really put this over the top visually and gave it a more authentic look and feel versus the Horror classics (including those of Universal Pictures in the 1930s) that this remake wants to emulate.


Still, it looks just fine, especially in 3D and could not look much better than the Blu-rays here.  The anamorphically enhanced DVD is comparatively softer than I expected and though passable, not as good as either Blu-ray presentation.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix is not the most active or dynamic 7.1 mix I have heard lately, but it is still warm, rich and smooth throughout, so it works and is just fine for what it is, though I wonder if it was originally conceived for 7.1 presentation.  The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD is smaller, more constricted and passable than expected, especially as compared to the DTS 7.1 lossless mix.  Danny Elfman’s score is the same old same old and adds no sonic excitement to anything here.


Extras include Digital Copy for PC, PC portable and iTunes-based sources, a Music Video and featurette Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit, plus the Blu-ray adds an analog low def version of the original Burton Frankenweenie short, new Frankenweenie spin-off short Captain Sparky Vs. The Flying Saucers in HD and second featurette Miniatures In Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie To Life.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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