No Spoilers in my review
I'll kick this off with something pulled from an email I sent after getting home from the movie last night:
Frankenweenie to me is an amazing film in almost every respect. Nothing clunky about it - it goes down smooth like raspberry ice cream soda. It feels better to me than anything since - well, Nightmare Before Christmas really. I'd call it Burton's magnum opus** (see note below). He seems to have grown out of his youthful angstiness and the rather excessive things the earlier films went overboard with (for instance the musical numbers in Nightmare, which got old quick for me and began to grate on my nerves like overboisterous kids on a sugar binge). It recalls some moments from some of his best films, but in a mellow way that really agrees with me (more so in some repsects than the films it recalls). A touching and endearing story, great characters (though most of the human characters only get backgroundy roles - it's really a love story between a boy and his dog). The black and white pushes it right into perfection for me, especially combined with 3d. I love that it begins with a jerky stopmo film made by Victor (the boy) being projected in the living room for his parents to watch - in 3d no less! I thought for most of the film that it was set in the 1950's - the set designs and ambience are a fond look back at that era that felt like a comfortable easy chair to me. But the real standout is the dog... you'll fall in love with Sparky again and again. I think it might be the coolest stopmo puppet I've ever seen - like evar! Even though the theater I went to had the 3D screwed up for the first 5 minutes and everything was very flat, blurry, and had weird double-images until the dad of the family behind me went and talked to them about it and it went through this weird phase where the right lens of everybody's glasses went dark and had lines flashing down it rapidly for about 20 seconds, and then suddenly everything jumped out in perfectly-registered sweet-as-hell 3D - I say, even though that happened, I was left with a fantastic feeling.
And I didn't really think I was going to like F'nWeenie much! From the trailers the human puppet designs didn't appeal to me and I wanted them to be more stylized like Vincent. But mere seconds into the actual film that didn't matter at all, and in fact I discovered that this is essence of Burton, distilled and mellowed - less aggressive and super-stylized than in the past, but even sweeter and with a heady bouquet.
Anybody else seen it yet? Share your impressions.
** Magnum Opus does not mean his masterpiece - a magnum opus is a piece often included at the beginning of a classical music concerto that contains bits and pieces of all the various themes that will then be presented as full songs. And while it's presented at the beginning of the performance, oviously it was written after all the other songs. What I mean by calling Frankenweenie Burton's magnum opus is that it contains bits and pieces of the themes found throughout his other films - the sweet suburban panorama of Edward Scissorhands, the love of the main character and his dog from Nightmare Before Christmas, the dog is a patchwork creation like Sally, it deals with themes of 50's giant monster on the loose movies in a loving and satirical way. Oh, and there's Winona Ryder and Catherine O'Hara from Beetlejuice. Discussions between Victor and his mom recall Vincent quite nicely.
I wish I could go see this. Emotionally, I'm just not ready to watch a movie about a dog that dies. Even if it does have a happy ending. Maybe by the time it gets out on DVD.
Good news is, it's sure triggering a wave of "stop motion is back" ballyhoo.
Sparky the pet dog. And I was working on a pet electric eel character named Sparky!
Anyway, looks like a good movie.
So, better/as good as/no comparison to ParaNorman?
MMMmmmmmm.... good question (but very hard to answer and doubtless entirely unfair to even ask).
I really dig ParaNorman - in many respects it trumps Coraline (though Coraline is also a classic - Apples Oranges and Pomegranates here). As often happens for me though, my menory of a movie months after seeing it is pretty spotty - I'd need to see it again or a couple of times before I really know how I feel about it (same for Weenie of course). But from initial impressions, I recall Norman being a bit pedantic with the messages and somewhat clunky storywise overall (while of course being amazing in many respects - especially the intricate models and the gorgeous animation - a couple of the characters etc). In fact I feel like there's a bit of this clunkiness in both Laika films and in all of Selick's films as well. It's not really too overt though - I probably wasn't aware of it until as I said Frankenweenie went down smooth as ice cream soda (drawn of course by a soda jerk in shirtsleeves behind a faux marble counter in a five and dime). Only then, looking back at the other films, did I feel like there was something a bit awkward about them in some sense that Frankenweenie handled smooth as silk. To be fair though, ParaNorman used the secondary characters much better than Frankenweenie did, in which they each only seemed to show up for their brief cameos and then fade. I felt like I wanted to see Victor develop some kind of connection to another human character - maybe the girl played by Winona Ryder or the weird girl or somebody. But it just isn't that kind of movie. ParaNorman's climax was much stronger (than just about anything!). So it's too hard to call it - they're different the way Rambo is different from Casablanca. No fair way to compare them really.
Ok screw being all politically correct - here's what you want. Personally I like Frankenweenie better. Opinions will vary I'm sure.
Darn. Maybe I'll just have to double on the meds and go see it.
I got an invite to the BAFTA screening on the 13th- happy days!- just seen Paranorman tonight- it is incredible. I feel like I'm currently being hyper-energized all over again by these pieces- there truly seems no limit for what this medium can do. The characters in Paranorman were ALL incredibly well drawn , and designed. Raising many bars seems in order. Kudos to Laika.
I just saw it in Imax 3d! Well worth the $20 tickets. The speech the science teacher gave in the PTA meeting had me laughing harder than I have in a long long time.