The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

October 22, 2012

Frankenweenie’: A supernatural cartoon again?

Monday, October 22, 2012 — There are three supernatural animated features playing in a theater near you. I have already reviewed two of them: “Para-Norman” and “Hotel Transylvania.” I liked the former more than the latter. These two films have been in theaters for several weeks or more, while the third, “Frankenweenie,” has just recently opened.

“Frankenweenie” is the latest animated film from the highly creative director Tim Burton. This is Burton’s second film this year; the May release of “Dark Shadows,” another supernatural story of vampires, werewolves and witches, came first.  Between the two, “Frankenweenie” outshines “Shadows” in every way. Over the years Burton has retold many stories with great success: “Batman,” “Sleepy Hollow,” Planet of the Apes,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and his most successful revision “Alice in Wonderland” which grossed over $1 billion worldwide (Yes, that is billion with a B). Even “Dark Shadows” is a retelling of a 1960s daytime soap opera.  “Frankenweenie” is, of course, a retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic “Frankenstein.”

Burton is far from the first to film this story, but his version is certainly one of the more unique. Victor Frankenstein in this film is a pre-adolescent science enthusiast who loves his pet dog, Sparky, very much.  When an accident claims Sparky’s life, Victor is devastated. Then, his science teacher lectures about how electricity can re-animate dead tissue, and Victor comes up with an idea. Many things happen both before and after Victor’s experiment, but those things should be discovered in a darkened theater.

The film works on several levels.  The animation is wonderful. I personally support Burton’s decision to release the film in black and white, but I do have to wonder if the lack of color is one of the reasons the film has not been successful at the box office. One should not allow the colorlessness to deter one from experiencing “Frankenweenie;” it does not detract from the enjoyment of the film and many of our greatest films are in black and white. The humor is sharp, witty and clever.  There are little touches like a turtle in the film that is named Shelley, a reference obviously to the author of the source material (Notice the spelling). It is also amusing, because the boy who owns the turtle is just about bright enough to only come up with a name like Shelley for his pet and not anything more creative.  Beyond the humor, real emotion is present in the film, driven by smart writing.  There is a great subplot about a science teacher whose job is threatened because he actually wants to open the minds of his students. And there is a mayor who personifies everything wrong with some modern politicians. “Frankenweenie” has many elements that make it a very special animated feature.  

So, in a contest of the three supernatural animated films, which one reigns supreme? “Hotel Transylvania” is the least creative in both story and presentation. “ParaNorman” has many strengths and is perhaps the most artistic of the three. But as I reflect on each, I have to give the edge to “Frankenwee-nie.” Neither of the other films have the emotional range or clarity that one finds in “Frankenweenie.”  “ParaNorman” and “Frankenweenie” are both deserving of a viewing, but if a viewer is only going to see one of the films, “Frankenweenie” would be the choice.  Sadly, most people are choosing the least of the three; “Hotel Transylvania” has made more than the other two films combined.  But that can change if enough people decide to embrace Tim Burton’s latest and discover the story of “Frankenweenie.”


Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Brent Laurenz Special election adds to the mix

    RALEIGH – A busy slate of judicial elections this November got even busier recently when Judge John Martin of the N.C. Court of Appeals announced his retirement.
    A special statewide election to fill Martin’s seat will be added to the general election ballot, joining the four N.C. Supreme Court seats and three N.C. Court of Appeals races already slated for this fall.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon Fake news or sign of some more trouble?

    RALEIGH – Of the three situations I can recall where agencies receiving large sums of taxpayer dollars wouldn’t divulge employees’ salaries, two of them ended badly. The third – involving a group of charter schools in Southeastern North Carolina – is playing out right now.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    WASHINGTON - The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014

  • Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates

    On the other hand, with a net favorability of -8, Jar Jar is considerably more popular than the U.S. Congress, which currently enjoys a net favorability rating of -65.

    July 23, 2014

  • D.G. Martin Where did all these new voters in North Carolina come from?

    “Voters born elsewhere make up nearly half of N.C. electorate.”
    So begins the latest DataNet report from the UNC Program on Public Life, directed by former journalist Ferrel Guillory.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon Some light for Dems in their time of darkness

    RALEIGH – Earlier this year, state Sen. Ben Clark, a Hoke County Democrat, became a hero for a day among his party and environmentalists when his amendment to require more well water testing near future fracking sites passed the Senate. It even gained the support of a number of GOP senators, against the wishes of the Republican bill sponsor.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Maintaining hope

    Gardeners are facing challenges with the weather this year. It seemed like we were getting great conditions in April and May. The weather was warm and we were getting some good rains. Then sometime in June the rain stopped. It got so dry that I didn’t have to cut the grass. While I enjoyed the break, the garden was not happy at all. I was having to water quite a bit to keep the vegetable garden alive and growing.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd I may be a bit behind the times, but at least I can find ‘America’

    I seem to be reading about and dealing with technology a lot lately.
    I  love technology and have always been fascinated by gadgets of all kinds and the wonderful things they can do. You never seem to go through an entire day without some form of invention enhancing your life.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Meeting out in open helps negotiations move ahead

    RALEIGH – State lawmakers reconvened in Raleigh on May 14 promising a brief legislative session this summer, but as July moves along they are still in town and tackling big issues.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content