Tags: 3D, Atticus Shaffer, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, Catherine O'Hara, Charlie Tahan, Conchata Ferrell, Digital Copy, Disney, Martin Landau, Martin Short, Robert Capron, Tim Burton, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, Winona Ryder
has an average rating of 7.1 on IMDb
is very solid to be in Black & White!
B&W 1080p in AVC on 50gb discs
DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio
are good with the 1984 short & more
– 87 minutes
Blu-ray 3D uses 36.1GB total.
Blu-ray uses 25.7GB for the movie out of 37.7GB total.
Overall Verdict – Recommended
— Review written by: Justin Sluss —
The Movie Itself was based on the original idea and 1984 live-action short film (of the same title) by Tim Burton. This decision to remake his film at a studio he got fired from — for making the original live-action short film — is a weird story. Long before he was the famous director Burton worked at Disney in his early career. He developed an idea for a story based on an idea of his that was turned into a 29 minutes live-action Black & White PG-rated short film. Disney ended up releasing the film even though they decided to fire him. Disney’s reason for firing Burton is said to have been for “wasting their resources on films which they deemed too scary for family viewing” — according to IMDb‘s trivia. Here some 28 years or so later they agree to let him remake the film, in Black & White (as before), but this time around in stop-motion animation as opposed to live-action before in the eighties. In ways this version is similar to Burton’s 1982 Disney stop-motion animated short “Vincent” as it’s also in Black & White. Burton made many films after his leaving Disney, in fact it was only a year later after the release of the original short film that he was directing a major motion picture in 1985 (“Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure“) over at Warner Brothers.
As most of you know Burton returned to work with the studio first technically as a producer on another stop-motion animated film with “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in 1993 which he wrote & produced, again with his 1994 film “Ed Wood” via Touchstone (owned by Disney) and more recently in a live-action retelling of “Alice in Wonderland” in 2010 which he directed. Disney obviously soon forgave him and were very anxious to work with him again once he’d become famous directing films such as “Beetlejuice” (1988) and “Batman” (1989). So, that’s a brief story of how this film came to be. A lot, in fact I’d estimate about 95% of the audiences out there didn’t even know this. So, I just figured I’d share that with you. This project has some real history to it and even personally brings back memories for me. I remember growing up watching the original 1984 short being replayed on The Disney Channel afternoons after probably 1989 or so when Burton was extremely famous. It intrigued me as both a child and dog owner but this was merely a censored version of the short. In fact, it wasn’t until the original DVD release of “The Nightmare Before Christmas” before the full uncensored version would be released. It’s very much worth noting that uncensored version of the short is also included here on this Blu-ray release as you’ll hear more about in the bonus materials section below.
Anyway, on with the real premise, characters and such of this new full length 2012 stop-motion version of the film. It’s actually very similar in ways to the original 1984 live-action short. Things start out and we’re introduced to a boy named “Victor Frankenstein” (voiced by Charlie Tahan), his mother “Mrs. Frankenstein” (voiced by Catherine O’Hara), father “Mr. Frankenstein” (voiced by Martin Short) and dog “Sparky” as they’re watching a home movie that Victor made. Victor has made a sci-fi type film of sorts using little army men and toys on strings as the extras while his star is his dog Sparky dressed up in a dinosaur outfit. It’s obvious that this boy is going to become a filmmaker someday and that most importantly in the present is that he loves his dog. Victor and his dog Sparky a pretty inseparable aside from when Victor has to go to school. During the day when Victor’s at school Sparky plays a game pushing a ball back and forth in a hole between the fence with the neighbor’s female black poodle. Sparky seems to be pretty keen on that poodle. Victor is sitting in his science class one day when they learn that they have a new teacher. The class’ old teacher apparently died when he was struck by lightning. The replacement teacher is named “Mr. Rzykruski” (voiced by Martin Landau) whose methods are quite extreme to some folks but Victor likes him. The following afternoon or so Victor’s father talks him into playing in a game of baseball. It’s during this game of baseball that Victor manages to hit the ball and Sparky decides to chase after it. It doesn’t really come as much of a “spoiler” or surprise to you I’m sure that Sparky dies and things really take a dramatic turn for the worse. Poor Victor is devastated and his parents try their best to comfort him.
One day at school after Sparky has passed away in Victor’s science class Mr. Rzykruski shows the class what happens when he sends a high voltage of electricity through the legs of a dead frog. It re-animated the corpse and this makes a light bulb go off so-to-speak in Victor’s brain about bringing Sparky back from the dead. There you have the real basic characters and plot. The other characters here include the town’s Mayor, his niece and neighbor to Victor “Elsa Van Helsing” (voiced by Winona Ryder), as well as other classmates “Edgar ‘E’ Gore” (voiced by Atticus Shaffer), “Nassor” (voiced by Martin Short), “Bob” (voiced by Robert Capron), “Toshiaki” (voiced by James Hiroyuki Liao) and a “Weird Girl” (voiced by Catherine O’Hara) who has a creepy white cat named “Mr. Whiskers” that poops in the form of letters. Those letters the Weird Girl thinks foretell the future, with the letter being the first letter of someone’s name. Needless to say her cat crapped out a “V” the day Sparky died.
“Frankenweenie” always intrigued me as a kid even watching the 1984 live-action short and it especially intrigues me now in this 2012 stop-motion animated remake or rather retelling. The fact it’s not just 30 minutes and a full-length feature film gives us some real room for other characters like Victor’s schoolmates to develop along the way and more trouble for Sparky to get into. It’s a strangely enjoyable story and always has been. It’s obvious that this is a semi-biographical story of how Tim Burton lost a dog as a child and was also a big fan of the original Frankenstein story and/or film. This still remains, in my personal opinion, Burton’s homage to both the loss of his dog and his love for the story and/or film. It’s something his fans have loved now that it’s finally a major motion picture and mainstream. Not so many of his fans really knew about the original 1984 live-action short or how he’d previously worked at Disney until that point. It’s really ironic that Disney had him back and let him remake the film. This film is recommended for those of all ages but some definite parental guidance is suggested — hence its PG rating.
In terms of critic reaction during its theatrical run “Frankenweenie” did really good and carries both a 88% (out of 100%) rating on the “tomatometer” and a Certifiably Fresh” badge over at Rotten Tomatoes. As mentioned, fans seemed to like it, as it also carries a 75% (out of 100%) rating from the audience there (at the time of writing this it had 48,434 ratings). Over on IMDb it carries a good 7.1 (out of 10) rating at the time of writing this when it had 17,791 ratings. It did pretty decent at the box office but I think not quite as good as Disney had perhaps expected for a Tim Burton film. The film ended up grossing 34.8 million in domestic ticket sales and another 31.8 million in foreign ticket sales. That and the film only reportedly had a budget of around 39 million. This all is according to Box Office Mojo. It’s obvious that Disney made their money back and the film was warmly received by both critics and moviegoers. As of today I can also say that the film has been nominated for an “Oscar” (Academy Award) for Best Animated Film. Not too shabby.
This was NOT shot in 3D, so says RealOrFake3D.com, in fact the 2D to 3D conversion for this was done by Prime Focus World as seen their “our work” page where it’s listed (HERE). This was shot in 5K still resolution (frame-by-frame) on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera according to IMDb‘s technical specifications listing. The folks at Prime Focus World took that source material and did a stereoscopic 3D conversion.
Things start out pretty subtle but cool early on in the opening of the film where we see Victor’s home movie featuring Sparky. The toys being tilted by hand or flown by on a wire have a decent amount of 3D pop and depth to the backgrounds. The fact this film is so dark since it’s in BLACK & WHITE at first had me afraid like most dark 3D it wouldn’t really be too impressive but it eventually proved me somewhat wrong. I think one thing that helps in terms of 3D here is that this has a perfectly solid black level. Also, the fact that it’s in stop-motion animation adds a whole lot to how well this converts over to 3D. For example, the characters limbs (arms especially) stand out as do objects with a very impressive amount of 3D sense of both pop (out at you) and depth.
An example of an object standing out early on comes around 5 minutes or so in when we see a skeleton at the back of the school classroom as the camera moves in toward the students — seen HERE in a screenshot. That skeleton really stands out as the camera zooms in past it. Another great example of things standing out in terms of 3D pop comes very soon after is when we’re introduced to the new science teacher whose face and lanky upper body (arms especially) make for some very interesting shapes that translate very well in 3D — as seen HERE in a screenshot. Around the 8 minutes 30 seconds mark in when Sparky looks through a hole in a fence to see the neighbor dog you’ll see that it feels to have some real sense of depth to it, the concave hole and sparky peering around far back from it — as seen HERE in a screenshot. It’s subtle little things like that that start this out delivering a solid 3D (converted as it may be) presentation. Things like sparky’s little nose or the other dogs’ nose sticking out have a nice amount of 3D pop out to them. There’s a part around the 14 minute mark where a ball is hit during a baseball game and it seems almost to be flying at you in terms of 3D pop. It’s never anything way too extreme but it’s enough to justify it being in 3D. One character here that just screams out 3D pop is “Edgar” whose disproportional body is crazy in terms of 3D pop — as seen HERE in a screenshot. His arms, hands and fingers really kind of loom out at you a great majority of the film. He’s unique and one part of what makes the 3D fun — along with obviously Sparky.
As I’ve said, this isn’t real 3D, it was just converted, but it manages to deliver a pretty impressive and definite solid presentation here on Blu-ray 3D. This is enough to earn it a “4 Star Rating” for overall 3D quality. It’s got some cool moments and never seems to fall flat in terms of 3D — pun intended.
One last closing bit here in regard to the fact this 3D presentation is in Black & White. Black & White makes for some unique quality for a modern 3D film and as a result the only other Blu-ray 3D presentation in Black & White I could think of comparing it to is oddly enough not a modern film. It’s actually “Creature From the Black Lagoon” from back in 1954. That 3D version on Blu-ray 3D is only available as part of the “Universal Classic Monsters: The Essentials Collection” Blu-ray box set. It’s worth noting that box set also includes oddly enough the original “Frankenstein” from 1931, which was an obvious inspiration to this film. Anyway, I’d compare “Creature from the Black Lagoon” to “Frankenweenie” on Blu-ray 3D simply because of the fact they both are Black & White and 3D. Sure “Creature from the Black Lagoon” was really shot in 3D and this film was 2D converted to 3D and it was a live-action film where as “Frankenweenie” is stop-motion models. Despite their differences mentioned there and obvious difference in age they both offer up good, solid 3D presentations to be in Black & White. 3D can actually work rather well without color and these are two films out on Blu-ray 3D that prove it.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the AVC MPEG-4 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. According to IMDb‘s technical specifications listing this was shot in 5K still resolution (frame-by-frame) on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera. There’s an impeccable amount of detail here thanks to the 5K digital still source. The black level here is perfectly solid like ink. You’ll notice so much detail on these miniatures and the sets. It’s simply beautiful, very artistic and looks marvelous this style of stop-motion animation in Hi-Def. Even though this section is discussing the 2D presentation I’ll mention that it actually carries with a nice amount of 3D pop at times in just 2D on some particular scenes that also look very cool in the 3D version. This is one very unique visual presentation, to be Black & White stop-motion animation like this it’s not something you see a lot of. I think one of the only films I’d compare it to would be “Mary and Max” (2009) but that had a lot more actual color tones to it and only really just portions in Black & White. Regardless, just like that stop-motion film on Blu-ray this earns itself a perfect “5 Star Rating” for overall video quality. It looks simply remarkable and is sure to strike the attention of some folks.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio. First and foremost the real highlight to this 7.1 lossless mix is Danny Elfman‘s original Score (music). It sounds awesome from around 35 seconds or so in and never stops sounding awesome until the end credits. Elfman’s score has moments where it can be quite subtle and also its moments when it builds to some pretty fierce intensity. The music is primarily driven from the front left & right channel speakers but also gets great rear channel presence here across the extra rear channels that come with a 7.1 speaker setup. As well it comes with a pretty hefty amount of LFE (bass). The same can be said for the sound effects which come across very realistic and have “oomph” to them at times. Dialogue is delivered very distinctly through the front center channel speaker and never comes close to being overpowered by any of the music or sound effects throughout. It’s spot-on. For the type of film this is, it’s totally done justice here in terms of sound. This earns a perfect “5 Star Rating” for overall audio quality. It never gets too over-the-top but it manages to deliver a sound presentation that perfectly accompanies the stop-motion animation.
Bonus Materials on this release are presented in both full 1080p Hi-Def (HD) and standard definition (SD) video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo @320kbps sound — unless otherwise noted below.
A Blu-ray 3D of the film
A Blu-ray Disc of the film in 2D includes the following:
- “Original Short: Captain Sparky vs. The Flying Saucers” (2:26 – HD) features Dolby Digital 5.1 @640kbps sound.
- “Miniatures in Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie To Life” (23:06 – HD) features Dolby Digital 5.1 @640kbps sound. This serves as your basic “making of” featurette and it consists of both behind-the-scenes and on set tours of where the film was animated. You’ll see the original sketches by Tim Burton, hear a slight bit of discussion of the original 1984 live-action short film, see the making of the puppets down to the armatures (skeletons) and see the making of the sets and props as well. There are interviews here with the following people: Allison Abbate (Producer), Tim Burton (Director), Don Hahn (Executive Producer), Trey Thomas (Animation Director), Andy Gent (Puppet Hospital Supervisor), Peter Saunders (Puppet Design and Development), Ian Mackinnen (Puppet Design and Development), Josie Corben (Modeller), Paul Davies (Junior Model Maker), Alexandra Walker (Art Director), Peter Sorg (Director of Photography), Barry Jones (Assistant Art Director), Roy Bell (Lead Painter), Maggie Haden (Foliage & Soft Props), Tobias Fouracre (Lead Animator), Mark Waring (Animation Supervisor) and Antony Elworthy (Lead Animator).
- “Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit” (4:36 – HD) showcases the art exhibition promotional tour that’s stops included Comic Con 2012. You’ll get to see footage of attendees at Comic Con taking the tour of the miniature stop motion models and original sketches and such. There are interviews here with the following people: Allison Abbate (Producer), Don Hahn (Executive Producer) and Tim Burton (Director).
- “Frankenweenie” Original Live-Action Short (30:03 – SD) from 1984, rated PG, is presented in Black & White video in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio. This is the short film that the film is based on and what got Tim Burton originally fired from Disney. The cast here includes Barret Oliver, Shelley Duvall, Daniel Stern, Joseph Maher and a young Sofia Coppola.
- Music Video “Pet Sematary” performed by Plain White T’s (3:54 – HD) is in Black & White and features a theme to fit the film as well a dedication to The Ramones, who originally performed the song. This is actually available to watch in 720p HD via Disney’s YouTube account and is embedded below.
A DVD of the film in Standard Definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 @448kbps sound is also included in this “combo pack” release.
- “Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit“
- Music Video “Pet Sematary” performed by Plain White T’s
This includes the following bonus materials:
- A Digital Copy (via DVD-ROM) of the film compatible with both iTunes and Windows Media portable devices as well as Mac and PC.
Overall the bonus materials are pretty good here, especially on the 4-disc version where you get both the physical and digital additions of a DVD and Digital Copy of the film. You get a little over an hour of supplemental materials which are almost all presented in HD and even feature Dolby Digital 5.1 sound on a few. This is likely to leave fans the film pleased in terms of supplemental materials to accompany the film.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Please be patient with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.