It's easy to see what attracted Tim Burton to stop-motion animation, as the format can bring the famed writer/director's vision with a bold, unique energy and grace. This article from the Museum of Modern Art talks about how Burton first fell in love with the format while watching films like "Jason and the Argonauts".
"Frankenweenie" is Burton's latest directorial and stop-motion effort and while it's not his finest effort either as a director or in the format, but it's a zippy little film with fine performances. A remake of Burton's early live-action short, the film focuses on Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan), who loses his best pal, a little pooch named Sparky. After being informed by his science teacher (voiced by Martin Landau) about the power of lightning, Sparky gets, well, sparked, and is soon running about again.
While Victor is happy to have his pooch pal back again, it's not long before the town is turned upside down after the discovery. The story is a little on the thin side, but Burton packs the picture with visual gags and moves it along with a nice sense of urgency. Strong voice performances from Winona Ryder, Tahan, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short and Landau also bring a great deal to the proceedings.
"Frankenweenie" is a bit thin in spots and doesn't quite hit all the notes it's going for, but the film's black-and-white world is superbly realized, the picture offers a few good messages and the voice cast offers solid performances.
The DVD edition is also included.
VIDEO: "Frankenweenie" is presented by Disney in 1.85:1 (1080p/AVC) and the B & W picture looks absolutely grand on this presentation from the studio. Sharpness and detail are terrific, and small object detail comes across crystal clear. No edge enhancement was spotted, nor were any other concerns. Overall, this was a first-rate effort from the studio.
SOUND: The DTS-HD 7.1 presentation isn't reference quality, but it's a more-than-pleasing presentation that fits well with the picture. Surrounds kick in to a reasonable degree during the more hectic sequences, with the rear speakers kicking in to deliver discrete effects and a solid helping of reinforcement for the delightful score. Audio quality remains terrific, with crisp, well-recorded score and dialogue.
EXTRAS: Not too much - we get the original 30-minute short film, a short piece about elements from the film going on exhibit, a 22-minute "making of" documentary, music video, "Captain Sparky vs the Aliens" short and trailers for other Disney films.
Final Thoughts: "Frankenweenie" isn't as memorable as some prior Burton efforts, but it's energetic, zippy and visually rich. The Blu-Ray offers terrific video quality, fine audio quality and a few minor extras. Recommended.
The Film B-