This weekend we were invited to a preview of Frankenweenie, the latest Tim Burton film. Frankenweenie is a black and white 3D animation, very loosely based on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
The film is centred around its young hero, Victor Frankenstein, and his dog Sparky – who is cruelly taken from us in the opening of the film as he chases after a ball and is hit by a car. Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life. Using a home-made laboratory made mostly out of his mother’s kitchen utensils and powered by lightening, Victor achieves the impossible and after a bit of sewing and patching up Sparky seems good as new. Victor tries to hide his home-sewn creation realizing that what he’s done is not perhaps quite the thing (even though his Dad said if he could bring Sparky back he would!) , but Sparky escapes from his attic hiding place and gradually Victor’s fellow students find out what Victor has done and how he seems to have done it. They are all motivated (and this is the least believable thing about the story!) by the desire to win the town’s Science Prize and know that bringing back a dog from the dead is likely to trounce all their efforts. So Victor’s classmates get together to try to outshine him – in a monstrous way.
Being a Tim Burton film, I wasn’t entirely sure whether his trademark wacky and rather sinister side would make the film unsuitable for children. But – given that I took five, eight and nine year old – I was relieved to find they enjoyed it – apart from the part where Sparky died which had my 5 year old, dog-loving son in tears. Thank goodness for science and electricity that’s all I can say!
Still it is a slightly scary film for younger children so I asked them what if anything had sacred them . Alexander ( 5) said the 3D made it more real and therefore more scary – especially the Science Teacher ( he’s a good guy I think!?) And the other boys were scary too. But the most scary thing was the big tortoise. I can’t say more without telling you way too much about what happens. Amelie (8) was scared when a building caught fire and Elizabeth (9) when the rat jumped up at people!
But which parts had they enjoyed most. Elizabeth liked it when the creatures came back to life and were trashing the town. I don’t want you to think badly of Elizabeth she’s a sweet- natured girl at heart!
Alexander (5) said it was “When Sparky came to life”. And everyone’s favourite character was of course Sparky – and then Victor – because he brought Sparky back to life.
The film is a good one for families as there are plenty of clever references and parallels to the original Frankenstein novel for the grown-ups, some scary bits and school rivalry for the teenagers and the very cute dog for the younger children. As if that’s not enough, it seemed to keep the Tim Burton fans very happy too and I can imagine a cult following developing. This crowd were even keener to get their hands on the cuddly toy version of Sparky than my 5 year old. And he was very, very keen!
Frankenweenie opens tomorrow, Wednesday, October 17th