Frankenweenie 3D / 2D 4-Disc Combo Pack (Blu-ray Review)

From Disney and creative genius Tim Burton (Batman, The Nightmare Before Christmas) comes the hilarious and offbeat Frankenweenie, a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life—with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town learn that getting a new ‘leash on life’ can be monstrous. Frankenweenie features an all-star cast including the voices of Emmy Award-winner Catherine O’Hara, Tony Award-winner Martin Short, Academy Award-winner Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Robert Capron, Conchata Ferrell and Golden Globe-winner Winona Ryder.


There is no doubting that director Tim Burton has a distinctive visual style and trademarks that can be expected with each of his films and his original live action short “Frankenweenie” was the start of it all.  So it shouldn’t be any surprise that this new expanded stop motion version would continue those traditions with flair.  In fact, this movie is classic Burton and the only thing missing from it are Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.  Everything else is there, the macabre humor, the spotlight on the weird and alienated, the ignorance and banality of suburbia, and of course there’s a windmill.

Having seen the original short, I was curious to see just what could be added to the film to expand it to feature length as it didn’t seem to need anything more.  I was hoping that the additions weren’t just padding included just to allow Burton to finally realize his vision the way he wanted.  Over an hour has been added, but none of it feels superfluous as we get a better look at the townspeople and the stakes are raised a lot more than they were in the original.  The premise is still the same but this time it’s not just the family dog that is brought back from the dead.

A lot of the details are still the same though, there’s a family dog named Sparky who serves as the best friend to an isolated boy named Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan), who spends more time doing activities on his own instead of playing with other kids.  Victor loves science and his favorite class is the one taught by the eccentric Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau) who is a dead ringer for Vincent Price.  While Victor’s parents Ben (Martin Short) and Susan (Catherine O’Hara) are very supportive of him, they are concerned about how much time he spends alone, and his Dad in particular wants him to play sports.

It’s during one of Victor’s ballgames that Sparky chases a wayward baseball into the street and is killed by a passing car. Devastated, Victor goes into a deep depression until a school lesson on electricity brings him out of his funk once he realized that electricity could make a dead frog move.  Victor goes home and sets up a laboratory dedicated to bringing Sparky back from the dead by ensuring that his body is struck by lightning.  Sure enough, Sparky is hit by lightning and does return to life (although he does need recharging), which makes Victor very happy but in the difficult position of having to hide his undead dog from his family and the rest of the town.

It doesn’t take long before the other kids in his class learn what he’s done and the more nefarious ones start planning to bring back their own deceased pets.  The only problem is that their reasons to do it aren’t as altruistic as Victor’s and their resurrections go horribly wrong.  They end up with a were-rat, a giant turtle, a vampire cat, and a mummy hamster who wreak havoc on the town.  The only ones who can stop the undead creatures are Victor and his loyal dog Sparky, if only the skittish and paranoid townspeople don’t get in the way.

While I’m a big fan of Tim Burton, his last couple of movies haven’t been as good as his earlier efforts.  Frankenweenie marks a return to form for Burton and a welcome one at that.  Not only is this a longtime pet project for Burton, but it also perfectly suited to him.  This expanded version does a nice job of fleshing out the story and the added characters (who bear an uncanny similarity to stock horror villains) add some extra fun too.  The voice cast is great and the stop motion animation is excellent as well.  The amount of detail added for these miniatures and the sets is impressive to see and you can see just how much work went into the movie.  While I would have preferred to see a sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas if Burton wanted to revisit one of his older movies, I did enjoy Frankenweenie and was glad to see a flash of the old Tim Burton once again.


2D Video                                      3D Video  

Both of these 1080p (1.85:1) transfers are just gorgeous to behold, with the 3D and the 2D versions looking equally sharp and detailed.  The black and white cinematography looks crisp and the whites, grays, and black elements all look fantastic and clean.  The contrast is well balanced and both versions and the black levels are solid and a deep and inky black.  The amount of detail seen is incredible and it really shows off just how much work was put into the movie.  While both versions are  reference quality, I preferred the 3D one as the stop motion puppets really lend themselves to the 3D format and the extra dimensionality really makes the movie come to life.  The extra depth really adds a lot of immersiveness and you really feel like you could reach out and touch the characters.  There’s no blemishes or digital defects to speak of and the 3D transfer  thankfully doesn’t suffer from any ghosting issues.


Frankenweenie’s DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is just as good as the video quality with a very active and immersive surround track.  The dialogue is crystal clear and is well centered while the rear channels offer a lively surround experience that really makes you feel like you are there.  There’s a lot of ambiance throughout the movie and the rear speakers add a lot of atmosphere with accurate directional sound effects.  Danny Elfman’s  score sounds wonderful and is well balanced with the rest of the film and is never drowned out by sound effects, nor does it overpower the rest of the mix.  This is an excellent mix with dynamic highs and lows which sound good no matter what’s going on the screen.


I was hoping for some good extras on here but there’s not too many of them included here.  What is here are all excellent but I wish Disney had included even more.

  • All New Original Short: “Captain Sparky vs The Flying Saucers”—An exciting all-new short featuring Victor and Sparky’s home movie.  This is another home movie by Victor that’s very reminiscent of one of Ed Wood’s films.
  • “Miniatures In Motion: Bringing ‘Frankenweenie’ To Life”—Viewers get an in-depth tour of the London set that includes never-before-seen footage showcasing the hundreds of artists who worked on the film.  We hear from director Tim Burton, executive producer Don Hahn, producer Allison Abbate, animation director Trey Thomas, and many others from Three Mills Studios who handled the stop motion filming.  We get to see how the puppets are made, the super detailed sets, the making of the puppets’ clothing, some voice recording sessions, and a lot more.  Even though this extra runs less than thirty minutes, it’s jam packed with information and it’s well worth checking out.
  • Frankenweenie” Touring Exhibit— This exhibit gives audiences and fans a chance to explore the artistry of the film’s puppets, sets and props in a showcase that’s traveling the world.
  • “Frankenweenie” Original Live Action Short—Burton’s original live-action short film that stars Shelley Duvall and Daniel Stern.  I liked this original live action short, but I prefer the new expanded version more.  It just works a lot better as a stop motion film and it also benefits from having a more fleshed out script by John August.
  • Music Video—“Pet Sematary” performed by Plain White T’s.
  • Digital Copy
  • DVD Copy


Frankenweenie is a fun film that families can enjoy and would be a great movie to play every year at Halloween.  This Blu-ray offers some amazing video and audio quality and the 3D version is simply superb.  The extras could have been a lot more extensive, but what is here is high quality.  If you are a fan of Tim Burton then picking this movie up should be a very easy decision to make.  Even if you generally don’t like his films, there’s a good chance that you will enjoy this movie if you give it a chance.  This story boils down to one about a boy and his dog and that’s has a universal appeal.  The weird and funny characters are just a bonus to this heartwarming tale.

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