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My family just saw this movie today, and we all agreed that it had a great beginning with a good build up, but it fell flat in the middle.
It starts with Victor Frankenstein, (the mad scientist from Mary Shelly's famous novel)a genius who makes movies with his dog Sparky. But then the dog gets ran over by a car. The death of the dog was handled well, especially for a kid's movie, and I admit I cried for a large part of the grieving scenes.
Then Victor's weird science teacher gives him an idea on how to bring Sparky back to life with lightning. At first it doesn't seem to work, but then Sparky's tail wags and he is living again!
Other children find out about the dog coming back to life, and try to bring more pets to life as their science fair projects (this is where the movie started going downhill.) The results are... just what you've seen in the commercials.
What annoyed me most was that the plot split up into too many new plots, which didn't go anywhere and didn't serve a purpose to the main plot.
And this is a small thing, but what was up with that cat-poop joke? They showed numerous different cat feces in the flash backs.
The ending was good but predictable. Even my six-year-old brother knew Sparky was going to come back to life. Too obvious.
This film makes compares well to Young Frankenstein, because it's essentially the opposite. While YF took Frankenstein and turned it into a modern comedy, this film takes a modern comedy and turns it into Frankenstein. And the ways in which it does so is brilliant. There are tons of plot analogues and other in-jokes relating to the classic story and films (and perhaps to YF itself), and the adaptation to modern life gives the juxtapositional comedy a nice mirror to YF. Tons of classic monster movie references (including references to the actors in those movies) join Frankenstein as well, so it's a lot of fun to see them.
The animation is skilled and pleasing, but some of the puppets paint themselves into corners by not having very expressive face shapes. There are fantastic shots and sequences that really capture the old-horror feel, and it's a delight.
Sparky is the cutest movie dog I've ever seen. Practically every second he was onscreen I felt the urge to Squee!. The character designs, particularly on this movie's Igor, are fantastic as well, though the "normal" characters start to look samey, like with those in Corpse Bride.
There are some flaws. The support characters don't feel as fleshed out as they might have been, and their feelings are never really considered important by the plot. Also, the Asian kid's heavy accent is a slightly uncomfortable casting choice, because there was no reason to give him a heavy accent. Victor also feels more normal than any of his classmates, so it's weird that he's portrayed as an outsider.
I was annoyed with this film the first time for having some lighter plot points that made it feel like predictable family-movie fare, but I've softened on that. This is technically Burton's second Frankenstein film, after all, and Edward Scissorhands has already done the emotional societal-conflict stuff of the story really well. So it's fine and perfectly fitting that this film is about the supernatural cinema vibe rather than Shelley's original themes.
The reanimation is interestingly varied, but lacks logic, and the science of the film isn't wholly scientific in its depiction, with supernatural and emotional factors maybe? It's confusing.
A couple of plot points serve to fuel the story before going completely unresolved. The science fair serves as the main force driving the plot, but it ultimately never gets resolved at the end. The inspiring mad teacher also just gets fired with no real reason. He didn't need to be crazy, he didn't need to leave the story. He only exists for an unnecessary moral about science's duality, which isn't explored as neatly as I'd like.
I think this film is a fun watch and definitely has great ideas, but it's more a fun tribute to old movies than a deep piece. I really like it, but it's more for fun than thought.
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