Blu-ray Review: Frankenweenie

Frankenweenie Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Disney | DIRECTOR: Tim Burton | CAST: Charlie Tahan, Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Landau, Winona Ryder
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 1/8/2013 | PRICE: DVD $29.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $39.99, Four-Disc Blu-ray 3D Combo $49.99
BONUSES: featurettes, short films
SPECS: PG | 87 min. | Animation family | 1.85:1 aspect ratio | 7.1 DTS-HD audio | English, French, Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

FrankenweenieIf you were one of the many moviegoers who skipped Frankenweenie when it was in theaters, now’s the time to give it a try. This family movie has heart, laughs and plenty of fun horror for all ages.

Director Tim Burton’s (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) second stop-motion animation feature film, after Corpse Bride, is a love letter to classic horror films and a love story about a boy and his faithful best friend, Sparky.

After Sparky meets an untimely end, young budding scientist Victor (Charlie Tahan, Meskada) brings him back to life. But when other kids find out, they do the same to their pets with disastrous results. With the untrusting town out to get him — flaming torches and all — Sparky must save the day.

The boy meets dog story is sweet and heart-warming, albeit somewhat weird (psychic cat poop?), and the beautiful stop-motion animation gives the film lots of charm.

But one of the best aspects of Frankenweenie, especially for classic horror fans, are all the throwbacks to the originals, from Charlie’s last name (Frankenstein), to the poodle’s Bride of Frankenstein ‘do, to the brilliant climatic scene (I won’t spoil it for you).

Moviegoers might have been put off by the black-and-white picture, but that’s to preserve the horror homage as well, and it doesn’t detract from the story one bit. And is this horror movie suitable for children? Absolutely, just like Monster House and ParaNorman before it.

On high-definition Blu-ray, the picture looks gorgeous, with deep blacks, bright whites and crisp lines, and the sound in Disney’s 7.1 DTS-HD track is glorious and ominous.

Unusual for Disney, the extras menu is limited, and what’s there is quick. You can watch everything in under an hour.

But brevity doesn’t mean it’s short of entertainment. The special features on the disc are good and all worth your time.

The best is the featurette “Miniatures in Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie to Life.” The segment’s camerawork, which gives the impression that London is itself a miniature, is as enchanting as the film. With identifiers held up by Frankenweenie‘s Charlie himself, the featurette interviews director Burton, producer Allison Abbate and many of the creative geniuses who made the puppets and props for the film. They show us how the models were made, from wire arms to full-fledged models, and we learn that upwards of 4,000 props were created for the movie. Yep, everything you see on the screen was built from scratch.

Another featurette, “Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit,” shows the puppets, sets and props on display and fan reactions.

Also on the disc is Burton’s original Frankenweenie short film, which inspired this feature. Look out for Shelley Duvall (The Shining), Daniel Stern (The Next Three Days), now-director Sofia Coppola (Somewhere) and Barret Oliver (The NeverEnding Story) in the cast.

Another short film, Captain Sparky vs. The Flying Sauce is the home movie young Victor makes in Frankenweenie and only runs a few minutes. More would have been welcome.

Finally there’s the “Pet Sematary” music video by Plain White Ts.

Buy or Rent Frankenweenie
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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.