On September 20, I went to an advanced screening of the animated 3D movie Frankenweenie at Disney Studios, in California. A few days later, I sat down for interviews with the film’s director, Tim Burton, and some of the actors (click here to read my interview with actor Atticus Shaffer). What did I think of the movie? It was one of the most spectacularly-animated movies I’d ever seen. Even though it was shot in black and white, it was visually so rich that my mind seemed to fill in color in every scene.
Burton talked to me about why he chose to use black and white and 3D for Frankenweenie. “I like the clarity, depth and shadows you can get with black and white,” he said. “And I just thought the 3-D element would be really fun to see.”
He’s right. The whole movie is a lot of fun, including the story that Burton tells. Young Victor Frankenstein’s dog is hit by a car. Victor (voiced by Charlie Trahan) is heartbroken. But the new science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (voiced by Martin Landau), teaches a lesson that gives Victor some hope. Mr. Rzykruski explains that electric pulses can cause muscles to react even in death. What do you think happens next? Victor decides to try it out on his dog! It works, but now Victor must keep Sparky’s reanimation a secret.
Victor’s classmates learn what he has done and try to bring their pets back from the dead too. Their ultimate goal is to win at the science fair. But because the pets were created for competition and not out of love, these creatures end up causing havoc throughout the town. With the help of his next-door neighbor, Elsa Van Helsing (voiced by Winona Ryder), Victor tries to stop his classmates. He must also prove that Sparky is still the same great dog he always was.
My favorite part is when Victor brings Sparky back to life because I have a very strong love for animals. If you’ve ever had a pet pass away, you can really feel the motivation Victor had to bring him back. This scene wasn’t the funniest, but it was really heartwarming to me.
I would recommend this movie to kids because of the unusual and memorable characters. Both the way they look and their personalities added silliness to the movie. There were some slightly scary parts, but overall it was a good movie and I think other kids will enjoy watching it.
If you’re interested in animation techniques, you should definitely see this film. The effects will blow your mind out of the water. It’s the first animated movie shot in black and white with hundreds of shades of gray in between. The most amazing part? There was no computer animation used. Instead, the director used what is called stop-motion animation. Puppets must be created and then photographed frame-by-frame, moving the puppets a little at a time. This gives the illusion that the puppets are moving on their own.
“[Stop-motion animation] is an art form,” Burton told TFK. “Artists work for years making the puppets come to life. When you see it, there’s just something magical about it.”
Be sure to check out this electrifying movie in theaters on October 5.