Your Friendly Neighbourhood Monster
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Victor Frankenstein stands in his an attic-laboratory, hugging the corpse covered in white cloth. As the skies rumble outside with lightening and thunder, faint smoke rises from its body, hinting at an experiment that preceded the scene. Suddenly, the corpse moves and wags its tail. Frankenweenie might be a throwback to one of the most endearing monsters on screen but Tim Burton's recreation is a touch different from the others. Burton's Frankenstein is an 11-year-old boy and he brings back to life Sparky, his dog.
Much like Burton's world of ghoulish creatures — dark and isolated, yet so hauntingly endearing — Frankenweenie is an eerie black-and-white setup. Victor, son of a salesman , is a lonely man who spends long hours with Sparky and is passionate about science. The dog's death in a car accident motivates Victor to learn how to infuse electrical impulses in muscles to bring Sparky to life. But in his reincarnated avatar, Sparky isn't a cuddly dog but an abomination that needs to be chased away by New Holland residents.
A stop-motion remake of Burton's 1984 short film, Frankenweenie is a spectacularly detailed production. An elaborate and relatable set of people — the grumpy neighbour Mayor Bergermeister, the psychic Weird Girl and an eccentric yet inspiring science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski — surround Victor. Perhaps, the most magical part is Victor's laboratory in his attic. A big wooden room, unfrequented by anyone else, houses toys, discarded electrical appliances, equipment and mechanical tools that come alive during his experiments with electricity. Even the way the kids go about their experiments are methodical enough to transport you to a chemistry laboratory–if only for a few hours.
The film is a minimalist project that strips itself off big-budgeted elements (Dark Shadows anyone?), and is heartbreakingly simple. As a kids' movie, there are important lessons about the underdogs and the use and misuse of science.
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