Friday, October 31, 2014

What's Next On My List? Frankenweenie

This review is going to be especially hard for me as I want to forget I ever saw this film... however, it is perfect for this year's Halloween review, so let us dig into:

Our protagonist, if we can call him that, Victor is a young scientist who loses his best friend Sparky in an accident. He finds a way to bring him back with an experiment, but he must be hidden. Victor's class is preparing for a science fair and some of them get to know about Victor's success and wish to do the same. But when you change the variables in an equation, you get a different result. The other experiments turn all into monsters and it is only when the kids get together that they manage to defeat them. Sparky helps as well, and because of that the town regards him as a hero.

Somebody please help me understand why this movie got made. So there was a short and somebody thought that it would be a great idea to make a whole movie out of it? I'll admit, not a bad idea, but perhaps it would've been nice to have a script. And by that I mean that there comes a point where you realize that this movie doesn't make any sense and it is basically a kid playing with his toys in his room after seeing 2 seconds Frankenstein (1931). The problem with that? It lacks character development, and the story suffers for it and then you have all of these dumb references, which in case you are a 7 year old, you will NOT get. I barely got them and I look this stuff up! And what I really hated about the movie is that it made mistakes that could've been very easily fixed.
Let's go in order. Our protagonist Victor of course is the young version of Doctor Frankenstein, who later on would go to build his monster. In this version he brings back to life his dog. I like this premise, here is where it goes wrong: Victor makes a cute film with Sparky which he shows to his parents. This kid got mad skills with film making, and not a single time do they mention that he has any other skills. They get a weird teacher and everyone wants to go to the science fair but not one single sentence like 'I love science' is uttered. Are we to assume that Victor is so talented because of the original story? That's great for me, who is familiar with it, how'bout the young children who watch it and have no idea? And not to mention that every freakin' kid in this class wants to win at that stupid science fair. Why? Did they have a previous teacher who inspired them? Because the new teacher was around like, what, two weeks? What is in the price at the fair that it is so life changing to everyone?
We are told that Victor doesn't have any friends... although that kid 'E' Gore did try, and he was painfully rejected... now, based on the other kids' reaction, I think that the fact he is a loner isn't because he is introverted or something, but the others are jealous of him. Not to mention that I am going to assume that they are so crazy about the science fair because the parents seem to be against it - it is known that children tend to move toward something that they are told not to do. Still, then why does this town have a science fair in the first place? If indeed the parents hate it so much. My other biggest problem is with the science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski. Actually, he was the best character in the whole movie and he tried to raise awareness to a problem that was a bit of social commentary. And I loved that. But because the movie is obscured by the plot holes, the message gets lost in translation. Nonetheless, let me quote here the best speech in the whole movie:

"Ladies and gentlemen. I think the confusion here is that you are all very ignorant. Is that right word, ignorant? I mean stupid, primitive,unenlightened. You do not understand science, so you are afraid of it. Like a dog is afraid of thunder or balloons. To you, science is magic and witchcraft because you have such small minds. I cannot make your heads bigger, but your children's heads, I can take them and crack them open. This is what I try to do, to get at their brains!"

So Sparky dies, all very sad, I remind everyone that we have not once actually seen Victor do experiments, or build something, or simply read a science book, but the teacher gives him an idea. Next scene he gets Sparky's corpse and he does his thing and he is seen by their neighbor, Mr. Burgemeister. This character was presented as a possible villain, yet he did nothing. I don't even get his name, as toward the end he is called Van Helsing, he hates dogs, sees Victor's experiment but other than leading a mob for like 5 minutes, he doesn't do anything. So what is the lesson? There is no villain? Or is everyone a villain, but it depends on how you look at things?
Sparky is brought to life and every kid assumes that Victor will want to use him for the science fair. He didn't. He was lonely as shit and wanted his best friend back. 'E' Gore talks to him about the experiment, what if you ask him 'Hey, are you gonna enter your dog?'. Because if no, then the whole movie doesn't have a plot because every kid could focus on their own projects. Not to mention, do the kids think that if they all enter the same experiment - which clearly they stole - then they'll get a special prize? Either way, communication: Something this movie lacks.
Same with Victor's parents. They basically tell Victor that the problem is not that he brought back his dog, but that he kept it a secret. Or at least I think, I'm not sure. Nothing really happens as in the end the parents go out of their way to save Sparky again. There is also a moment when they tell Victor that Sparky has to be kept secret, so they head out to look for him, and with a lot of secrecy go around town yelling "SPARKY!". Really low key there parents. I think that they didn't want to turn the parents into evil guys. Which is sweet as they are very lovable characters. But I missed the character development again: So until that moment it was not OK that Victor is at home all the time with his dog, but now that it is a dead animated dog, then it is suddenly OK. Whatever.
Although I have a lot more, my last critique is gonna be the ending of the movie. It was a big mash-up of all the possible references they could think of from old black-and-white Halloween movies. Now, this was a bit of a gentle nod, but for who? Again, let's imagine the audience this was directed to: Children who have no idea what is going on. Do you know how long it took me to get the last fight reference? The half bat half cat is supposed to be Dracula? OK I guess, but I'm pretty sure that was a different movie. Oh never mind, my biggest problem of all is how the experiments were turned back. Victor, despite the fact that his classmates are such assholes to him, decides to help them reverse the experiments. Here I thought two things were gonna happen:
Each experiment would require their own way to be defeated and these children would have to use their love of science to come up with something. This almost happened as one group of monsters was defeated in a very particular way. The second expectation I had was because of the little film Victor showed us in the beginning of the movie. In it Sparky fights a big paper monster, a monster who looked a lot like one of the actual monsters at the end of the movie. Wouldn't have it made a lot more sense if Sparky would've fought him? Instead the way to defeat them was to electrocute them, just they same way as they were brought alive. Isn't that stupid? Was it much better to have a stupid Dracula reference instead? And, the monsters came to life by being shocked by electricity. Victor had a whole effing laboratory with three hundred things; Sparky already had to be sawed together after two weeks; but for the other children - who apparently are not such geniuses - all it takes was just one lightning to succeed? OK. Sure. Why not?

No, I will not address the awfully racist Japanese character who, being like 8 years old, is really not supposed to have an Asian accent. And the fact that Victor has absolutely no likable quality despite the fact that he loves his dog - which, if you are like me who never owned a pet in their life - it isn't easy to relate to.

I hate this movie. Here is a good story: Show us three more second of him liking science; make him have 4 friends with whom he does science who then get upset when they are not part of Sparky's experiment. Make Van Helsing's hatred of dogs the biggest problem, make sure he is happy that Sparky died and be an advocate against supernatural life when he is back. Make the classmates create monsters, destroy them with accurate science and make Sparky the hero. Still, kill him off in front of others, so he can be a secret in Victor's life. Van Helsing will apologize, Victor can live with his dog in secret. IS THAT SO HARD??!!

Don't watch this movie. F*ck this movie. I quit, I'm gonna go eat candy.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ _

Victor Frankenstein - Charlie Tahan
Mrs Frankenstein - Catherine O'Hara
Mr Frankenstein/Burgermeister - Martin Short
Mr. Rzykruski - Martin Landau
'E' Gore - Atticus Shaffer
Elsa Van Helsing - Winona Rider

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