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Frankenweenie – Blu-ray Review

January 10, 2013 – 9:05 PM - Posted by: Justin Sluss

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Blu-ray Disc Review

4 out of 5 starsThe Movie Itself has an average rating of 7.1 on IMDb
5 out of 5 starsVideo Quality B&W 1080p in AVC on a 50gb disc
5 out of 5 starsAudio Quality
DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio
3 out of 5 starsBonus Materials are good with the 1984 short & more
Rated:PG
Year: – 2012
Length: – 87 minutes
Studio:Disney
Region:Region Free (A/B/C)
This uses 25.7GB for the movie out of 37.7GB total.


Overall VerdictRecommended

Buy it for $29.99 @ Amazon.com
Buy it on Blu-ray for $29.99 @ Amazon.com

or Buy the Blu-ray 3D for $34.99 @ Amazon.com


— Review written by: Justin Sluss

Trailer:


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.

Screenshot of Frankenweenie on Blu-ray

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.

Screenshot of Frankenweenie on Blu-ray

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.

Screenshot of Frankenweenie on Blu-ray

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.

Screenshot Frankenweenie on Blu-ray

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.

DISC 1:

    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).
  • FrankenweenieOriginal 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 VideoPet 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.

DISC 2:

    A DVD of the film in Standard Definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 @448kbps sound is also included in this “combo pack” release.

    This includes the following bonus materials:

  • Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit
  • Music VideoPet Sematary” performed by Plain White T’s

Overall the bonus materials are pretty good here, especially the physical addition of a DVD 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:

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Screenshots:

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.

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