Frankenweenie (2012 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tim Burton|
|Produced by||Tim Burton
|Screenplay by||John August|
|Story by||Tim Burton|
by Tim Burton
|Music by||Danny Elfman|
|Editing by||Chris Lebenzon
|Studio||Walt Disney Pictures|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios
|Running time||87 minutes|
Frankenweenie is a 2012 American 3D stop motion animated comedy-horror family film directed by Tim Burton. It is a remake of Burton's 1984 short film of the same name and is a parody of and an homage to the 1931 film Frankenstein based on Mary Shelley's book of the same name. The voice cast includes four actors who worked with Burton on previous films: Winona Ryder (Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands); Catherine O'Hara (Beetlejuice and The Nightmare Before Christmas); Martin Short (Mars Attacks!); and Martin Landau (Ed Wood and Sleepy Hollow).
Frankenweenie is in black and white. It is also the fourth stop-motion film produced by Burton and the first of those four that is not a musical. In the film, a boy named Victor loses his dog, named Sparky, and uses the power of electricity to resurrect him - but is then blackmailed by his peers into revealing how they too can reanimate their deceased past pets and other creatures, resulting in mayhem. The tongue in cheek film contains numerous references and parodies related to the book, past film versions of the book, and other literary classics.
Frankenweenie, the first black-and-white feature film and the first stop-motion film to be released in IMAX 3D, was released by Walt Disney Pictures on October 5, 2012 and met with positive reviews and moderate box office sales. The film won the Saturn Award for Best Animated Film and was nominated for an Academy Award; a Golden Globe; a BAFTA; and an Annie Award for Best Film in each respective animated category.
Young filmmaker and scientist Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) lives with his parents, Edward and Susan Frankenstein (Martin Short and Catherine O'Hara) and his beloved dog, Sparky, in the quiet town of New Holland. Victor's intelligence is recognized by his classmates at school, his somber next-door neighbor, Elsa Van Helsing (Winona Ryder), mischievous, Igor-like Edgar "E" Gore (Atticus Shaffer), obese and gullible Bob (Robert Capron), overconfident Toshiaki (James Hiroyuki Liao), creepy Nassor (also Short), and an eccentric girl nicknamed Weird Girl (also O'Hara), but communicates little with them due to his relationship with his dog. Concerned with his son's isolation, Victor's father encourages him to take up baseball and make achievements outside of science. Victor hits a home run at his first game, but Sparky, pursuing the ball, is struck by a car and killed.
Inspired by his science teacher Mr. Rzykruski's (Martin Landau) demonstration of the effect of electricity on dead frogs, a depressed Victor digs up Sparky's corpse, brings him to his makeshift laboratory in the attic and successfully reanimates him with lightning. Seeing Weird Girl's living cat, Mr. Whiskers, the undead Sparky escapes from the attic and explores the neighborhood. He is recognized by Edgar, who blackmails Victor into teaching him how to raise the dead. The two reanimate a dead goldfish, which turns invisible due to an error with the experiment. Edgar brags about the undead fish to Toshiaki and Bob, which, in panic of losing the upcoming science fair, inspires them to make a rocket out of soda bottles, which causes Bob to break his arm and Mr. Rzykruski to be blamed and fired due to his accused influencing and reviling the townsfolk for questioning his methods when he steps up for self-defense. So, the gym teacher (also O'Hara) replaces Mr. Rzykruski.
Eventually, Edgar's fish disappears when he tries to show it to a skeptical Nassor (who was told by Toshiaki), and when Edgar is confronted by Toshiaki, Nassor and Bob on the baseball field at school, he accidentally reveals Victor's actions, inspiring them to try reanimation themselves. Victor's parents discover Sparky in the attic and are frightened, causing the dog to flee. Victor and his parents search for Sparky while the classmates invade the lab, discovering Victor's reanimation formula. The classmates separately perform their experiments, which go awry and turn the dead animals into monsters — Mr. Whiskers holds a dead bat while it is electrocuted, turning him into a vampire cat; Edgar turns a dead rat he found in the garbage into a wererat; Nassor revives his mummified hamster Colossus; Toshiaki's turtle Shelley is covered in a growth formula and turns into a giant Gamera-like monster; and Bob's Sea-Monkeys grow into amphibious humanoid monsters. The monsters break loose into the town fair where they wreak havoc.
After finding Sparky at the town's pet cemetery, Victor sees the monsters attacking the fair and goes to help his classmates deal with them — the Sea-Monkeys explode after eating salt-covered popcorn, and Colossus is stepped on by Shelley, while the rat and Shelley are returned to their original, deceased forms after being electrocuted. During the chaos, Persephone, Elsa Van Helsing's pet poodle, is grabbed by Mr. Whiskers and carried to the town windmill with Elsa and Victor chasing after. The townsfolk blame Sparky for Elsa's disappearance and chase him to the windmill, which Mayor Burgermeister (also Short) accidentally ignites with his torch. Victor and Sparky enter the burning windmill and rescue Elsa and Persephone, but Victor is trapped inside. Sparky rescues Victor, only to be dragged back inside by Mr. Whiskers. A final confrontation ensues, and just as Mr. Whiskers has Sparky cornered, a flaming piece of wood breaks off and impales him. He gives one dying screech and the windmill collapses on Sparky, killing him again. To reward him for his bravery, the townsfolk gather to revive Sparky with their car batteries, reanimating him once more. Persephone, who has a hair style similar to the Elsa Lanchester's Bride of Frankenstein, comes to Sparky as the two dogs share their love.
- Charlie Tahan as Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who brings his dog (and best friend) Sparky back to life.
- Martin Short as Edward Frankenstein, Victor's father / Nassor, Toshiaki's partner and Victor's other rival-like former enemy, who has a flat head inspired by Frankenstein's monster and whose voice and face resemble that of Boris Karloff / Mr. Bergermeister, the grumpy Mayor of New Holland, the Frankensteins' next-door neighbor and Elsa's uncle; a homage to the villainous Burgermeister Meisterburger from the Rankin/Bass film Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town.
- Catherine O'Hara as Susan Frankenstein, Victor's mother / Gym Teacher, an unnamed teacher who replaced Mr. Rzykruski / Weird Girl, an eccentric girl who is one of Victor's classmates and obsessed with the psychic predictions of her cat, Mr. Whiskers
- Martin Landau as Mr. Rzykruski, the eccentric but wise science teacher at Victor's school who speaks in a thick Eastern European accent. His teachings inspire Victor's effort to resurrect Sparky, and he acts as a mentor to Victor. The character was inspired by Burton's childhood icon, Vincent Price.
- Winona Ryder as Elsa van Helsing, a kind next-door neighbor, and one of Victor's classmates.
- Frank Welker as Sparky, Sea Creatures
- Atticus Shaffer as Edgar "E" Gore, a hunch-backed child (inspired by Igor) and one of Victor's classmates. He's the first to know of Victor's success in bringing Sparky back to life.
- Robert Capron as Bob, an obese boy who is one of Victor's classmates.
- Conchata Ferrell as Bob's mother, an obese and stereotypical suburban housewife who dotes upon her son. She believes in the status quo, and that her misguided actions are in Bob's best interest.
- James Hiroyuki Liao as Toshiaki, Victor's rival-like former enemy and one of his classmates.
- Tom Kenny as Fire Chief / Soldier / Townsfolk
- Christopher Lee as Dracula (in stock footage from Horror of Dracula).
Although Tim Burton signed with Disney to direct two films in Disney Digital 3D, including Alice in Wonderland and his remake of Frankenweenie, development for its full-length stop motion version dates as far back as November 2005, when scripts had been written by Josann McGibbon and Sara Parriott. John August was approached for a rewrite in 2006, but was not hired until January 2009. Like the original, the feature version is shot in black and white. Many of the animation artists and crew from Corpse Bride are involved. In addition to remaking his earlier project, Burton is also borrowing heavily from his design from the titular character of Family Dog for Sparky.
Filming began at Three Mills Studios in July 2010. The crew created three giant sound stages, including Victor's cluttered family attic, a cemetery exterior, and a high school interior. The sound stages were then divided into 30 separate areas to deal with the handcrafted, frame-by-frame style of filmmaking. Compared to other stop-motion animation sets, Frankenweenie's set is much larger. As IGN notes, the main character Sparky had to be "'dog-size' compared to the other human characters, but also large enough to house all the elements of the mechanical skeleton secreted within his various foam and silicon-based incarnation". On the other hand, the mechanics are small and delicate, and in some instances they had to have Swiss watchmakers create the tiny nuts and bolts. Around 200 separate puppets were used, with roughly 18 different versions of Victor. The puppets also have human hair, with 40–45 joints for the human characters and about 300 parts for Sparky.
In early 2011 it was announced that Danny Elfman would score Frankenweenie, with work already started on pre-production music.
Prior to the film's release, an "inspired by" soundtrack album, Frankenweenie: Unleashed!, as well as Danny Elfman's Frankenweenie: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, was released by Walt Disney Records on September 25, 2012. Frankenweenie: Unleashed! contains bonus content that includes a custom icon and an app that will load a menu to view more the bonus content, provide input, or buy more music from Disney Music Group.
The film was initially set for release in November 2011, before Disney moved it to March 9, 2012. In January 2011, Box Office Mojo announced the film's new release date for October 5, 2012 with John Carter replacing the film for the once planned March 9, 2012 release. The film premiered on September 20, 2012, on the opening night of Fantastic Fest, an annual film festival in Austin, Texas. The film opened the London Film Festival on October 10 in the UK.
In the lead up to the film's release in October, there was a traveling art exhibition detailing the work that has gone into creating the film. During the exhibition it was possible to see sets and characters that were used for the stop motion feature film.
The film has received mostly positive reviews from critics. Based on 179 reviews, the film currently holds a "Certified Fresh" rating of 87% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 7.6/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Frankenweenie is an energetic stop-motion horror movie spoof with lovingly crafted visuals and a heartfelt, oddball story." Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 75 based on 35 reviews.
Justin Chang of Variety reacted positively to the film, saying that it "evinces a level of discipline and artistic coherence missing from the director's recent live-action efforts." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a mediocre review by explaining that while the various creative elements of the film "pay homage to a beloved old filmmaking style", the film mostly feels "like second-generation photocopies of things Burton has done before." Roger Ebert gave the film three out of four stars, while regarding the film as "not one of Burton's best, but it has zealous energy" and that "the charm of a boy and his dog retains its appeal".
Frankenweenie grossed $35,291,068 in North America, and $46,200,000 in other countries, for a worldwide total of $81,491,068. During its opening weekend, Frankenweenie placed fifth among other films grossing $11.5 million.
|85th Academy Awards||Best Animated Feature Film of the Year||Tim Burton||Nominated|
|American Cinema Editors||Best Edited Animated Feature Film||Chris Lebenzon, A.C.E. & Mark Solomon|
|Annie Awards||Best Animated Feature|
|Production Design in an Animated Feature Production||Rick Heintzich|
|Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production||Atticus Shaffer|
|Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production||Catherine O'Hara|
|Writing in an Animated Feature Production||John August|
|BAFTA Awards||Best Animated Film||Tim Burton|
|Boston Society of Film Critics||Best Animated Film||Won|
|Critics Choice Awards||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association||Best Animated Feature|
|Cinema Audio Society||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Pictures Animated|
|Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association||Best Animated Film||Tim Burton|
|Florida Film Critics Circle||Best Animated Feature||Won|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Animated Feature Film||Nominated|
|Houston Film Critics Society||Best Animated Film|
|Kansas City Film Critics Circle||Best Animated Film||Won|
|Los Angeles Film Critics Association||Best Animation|
|Nevada Film Critics Society||Best Animated Movie|
|New York Film Critics Circle||Best Animated Film|
|Online Film Critics Society||Best Animated Feature||Nominated|
|Phoenix Film Critics Society||Best Animated Film|
|Producers Guild of America||Outstanding Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures||Allison Abbate, Tim Burton|
|San Diego Film Critics Society||Best Animated Film||Tim Burton|
|Satellite Awards||Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media|
|Saturn Awards||Best Animated Film||Won|
|Best Music||Danny Elfman|
|Southeastern Film Critics Association||Best Animated Film||Tim Burton||Nominated|
|St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association||Best Animated Film|
|Toronto Film Critics Association||Best Animated Feature|
|Washington DC Area Film Critics Association||Best Animated Feature|
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- Official website
- Frankenweenie at the Internet Movie Database
- Frankenweenie at the Big Cartoon DataBase
- Frankenweenie at allmovie
- Frankenweenie at Box Office Mojo
- Frankenweenie at Rotten Tomatoes
- Frankenweenie at Metacritic