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Frankenweenie Is A Cool Take On the Horror Film Favorite Frankenstein, Burton style.

1/9/2013 11:51:55 AM EST
Frankenweenie Blu-ray
Frankenweenie Blu-ray
One of the most intriguing animated films to come out this past year, Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie puts on a great show for all ages.  The movie now on Blu-ray in a 3D 4-disc combo pack takes the fun into your living room where you can enjoy it close up.  The 3D imagery has all the depth of field as in the theater version and the HD gives it clarity of both sound and video. It’s kid friendly with a heartwarming tale of love between a boy and his pet.
 
Direct from the imaginative files of Tim Burton who gave us the fun films Alice in Wonderland, The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride, this little jewel entertains big time.  Using his creative technique of stop-motion animation and adding 3D to give it depth isn’t enough for the creature master, this time his scary tale becomes even spookier in Black & White. 
 
Although Burton takes pages from Mary Shelley’s horror book Frankenstein and some other beastly stories, he develops a more family friendly film.  Here he creates his central characters being Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan) a regular nice young boy and his lovable dog Sparky. The two are nearly inseparable and even at school the boy yearns for his best friend.  His science teacher Mr. Rzykruski (voiced by Martin Landau) has high hopes for Victor who seems to be the most interested student in the class. When they discuss the area’s tendency for lightning, the two make a student teacher connection.
 
Wanting to please his father (voiced by Martin Short) baseball has become another passion for Victor and Sparky chases balls around the yard for his master.  One day at a baseball game Victor smashes a hit out of the park.  Sparky seeing the ball go into the air breaks his tether and goes after it crossing a highway in the process.  With ball in mouth he starts to return and gets run over by a car. Lost without his able pet, Victor gets an idea from his science class that he can use to bring Sparky back to life.  Taking him from his grave and hooking the dog up to a lightning driven contraption, he succeeds.  When his feat gets discovered by his friend Edgar (voiced by Atticus Shaffer) things start going awry in Victor’s little town of New Holland.
 
Taking Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein horror story to new depths, adding some comedy, interesting characters and a lot of heart, Burton shows a love between humans and their pets.  I actually couldn’t find anything scary in the film that would bother young children that are old enough to enjoy a Halloween night of unusual costumes.  In a nutshell, if The Nightmare Before Christmas didn’t bother the child, this one has a story that’s a lot tamer.  Please note however, Frankenweenie has been rated PG by the MPAA for thematic elements, scary images and action.
 
I found that the use of black and white as the medium gave the film a softer feel adding some mystery and after about ten minutes into the movie it wasn’t a bother at all.  Since the film plays to audiences of all ages, color would have taken the spookiness out of the storyline making most adults bored with the production. 
 
The audio quality using the 7.1 DTS Blu-ray is extremely good giving the production a theater like feel, especially with a good speaker system.  Even using my HD Television speakers allowed me to crank it up a bit and you can hear the extension of sound across the room. The dialog from the film can be easily understood even during some of the most exciting scenes.  I liked the fact that I could get some use out of my sub woofers making the storm scenes a touch bolder.
 
As for the video, it mirrors the imagery of the movie theater 3D presentation with an extremely enjoyable dept of field that tends to make you want to reach in and touch the characters.  But, you may want to caution the youngest of children that it’s only an illusion and sticky fingers are not good for the TV screen.  The 1.78:1 aspect ratio fits nicely on HD 16x9 television screens and I experienced no picture loss.  Although the presentation gets a little darker with the 3D glasses, I did not find it distracting because the Black and White format gives the film the intended creepy feel. There is not much popping out at the audience but I found it wouldn’t have added much to the presentation anyway.
 
The Bonus features are fun and there’s something for both young and old.
 
But, first:  Check out the Tim Burton’s charming  “Captain Sparky vs. The Flying Saucers” a cartoon featuring Victor and Sparky making a home movie.  The kids should get a kick out of it and it’s only a couple of minutes long.

Dads will probably love “Miniatures in Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie to Life” a behind the scenes documentary that lasts nearly 30 minutes and had me intrigued. It was enjoyable listening to Director Tim Burton, Producer Don Hahn and other crew members going over the intricate production aspects that brought Frankenweenie to the screen.

There’s a 5 minute short “Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit” showing the art and models from the film that may have passed through your town.  If it didn’t it has been recorded and added to both the Blu-ray and DVD for your edification. Production slides, models and more are featured.
Included in the special features is Tim Burton’s “Original Live-Action Frankenweenie Short”.  This nearly 30 minute live-action short gave Burton the idea to expand it into the full feature film on the video.  The short film is fascinating and fun to watch after seeing the movie from which it was created.
The Plain White Ts perform a “Music Video” called “Pet Cemetery” that the whole family may enjoy.  It lasts at least 4 minutes.
Also if you check out the Trailers and Sneak Peeks you’ll find some quick previews of upcoming films Oz: The Great and Powerful, Planes and Once Upon a Time.
 
2-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack  (Blu-ray + DVD) -- Includes: All 4-Disc bonus features
“Captain Sparky vs The Flying Saucers”
“Miniatures In Motion: Bringing ‘Frankenweenie’ To Life”
“Frankenweenie” Touring Exhibit
“Frankenweenie” (original Live-Action Short)
 “Pet Sematary” Music Video performed by Plain White T’s
 
1-Disc DVD
“Frankenweenie” Touring Exhibit
“Pet Sematary” Music Video performed by Plain White T’s
 
FINAL ANALYSIS:  A cool take on the horror film favorite Frankenstein, Burton style. (B+)

-- 
 
Specifications and additional film information:
Cast: Charlie Tahan, Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Robert Capron
Directed by: Tim Burton
MPAA Rating: PG for thematic elements, scary images and action
Genre: Adaptation, Animated, Comedy, Horror
Running Time: 1 hour 27 minutes
Street Date: January 8, 2012
Original Theatrical Release Date: October 5, 2012
Language: English, French, Spanish
Format: Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD, Plus Digital Copy
Audio: Blu-ray- 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DVD- 5.1 Dolby Digital
Video: Blu-ray- 1080p HD Widescreen 1.85:1 DVD- 1.85:1  Widescreen enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
Number of Discs: 4 Discs
Distributed by: Buena Vista Home Entertainment 


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