Dog with Bolts


05 October 2012| No Comments on Frankenweenie     by Sean Chavel


The most pointless 3D ever, but the story has some ghastly-giggly charm. Frankenweenie is a boys’ adventure done in stop-motion animation – filmmakers working with dolls and puppets, filming a frame/movement at a time. And it is shot in black & white by weirdo but benign director Tim Burton. The story: One lonely but eccentric young boy loses his dog in a road accident, but brings him back to life byway a bolt of electricity. The scientific breakthrough is misunderstood by the townspeople, and a wicked misuse of animal re-animation results in monster havoc.

I can’t say I had as good a time as I should have, however. I wore those lumbering 3D glasses on my face during the presentation. They never fit right, and they tilt left and right on my face. On top of that, they weigh an uncomfortable amount. Of course, I strongly urge you to see it in an ordinary 2D presentation, if to see it at all. The 3D had no outstanding effects, adding no depth to what was already there.

Back to story summary. The main boy Victor (Charlie Tahan) is an outcast not exactly needy to fit in. He has a vague crush on the girl next door Elsa Van Helsing (Winona Ryder). But it isn’t emphasized much. Instead we root for Frankenweenie and his crush on the poodle next door, modeled after the “Bride of Frankenstein.” I liked the indigestion issues with the new Frankenweenie most, as well as Martin Landau’s fearsome take on an obtuse science teacher, and a climax on a windmill had me in chuckles. The monster bash, with all its acts of inoffensive damnation, is frightening only to the most thin-skinned children in the audience. Ages 8 and up are appropriate, particularly for kids with a mischievous sense of humor.

Tim Burton was, for me, on the verge of becoming a complete wash-out (his last truly good film is 2003’s “Big Fish”). I had feared that he lost his edge, but even in an unpretentious effort like “Frankenweenie” his wicked sense of humor, and cleverness, are back (it’s a remake of his 1984 short that got him noticed). The black & white employs photographic techniques used in 1930’s Universal monster pics. At the same time, it could give the younger ones the case of lazy eye with all the bleakness.

Still, I wonder, if Tim Burton were truly a power player anymore wouldn’t he had insisted in his contract to banish 3D from his project? I know I would have enjoyed it better without the 3D intrusion.

87 Minutes. Rated PG.


Film Cousins: “The Bride of Frankenstein” (1935); “Edward Scissorhands” (1990); “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) “Corpse Bride” (2005).


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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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