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Frankenweenie Blu-ray 3D Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4 (2D); MVC (3D)
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz/24-bit), English Descriptive Video Service Dolby Digital 2.0, French DTS-HD High Resolution 7.1 (48kHz/24-bit), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: PG
  • Run Time: 87 Mins.
  • Discs: 4 (1 x Blu-ray 3D + 1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD + 1 x Digital Copy)
  • Digital Copies: iTunes & Windows Media
  • Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 8, 2013
  • List Price: $49.99

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
HD: [Rating:5/5]
3D Effect: [Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

Throughout his career, Tim Burton has drawn inspiration from the classic B-movie horror films of the past, especially the work of UK studio Hammer and their gothic horror classics. Burton even goes as far as to sample a clip of Christopher Lee as Dracula from Hammer classic Horror of Dracula in Frankenweenie. With Frankenweenie, Tim Burton returns to a 1984 short film that got him booted from Disney when the young Burton was an animator for the studio on the grounds that he went way over budget on his pet project. This time around, I’m guessing Disney was a bit more lenient, and Burton’s influences remain just as clear, and even more prominent. A black and white production filled with dark satire, yet full of heart, childhood wonder, and a beautiful Gothic set design, Frankenweenie has finally seen the production it deserved the first time around.

Set in the odd little town of New Holland, the story follows the young loner Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) and his beloved dog Sparky. After a tragically dying after hit by a car while chasing a baseball, Sparky is lost, or so it seems. Victor gains inspiration from his high school biology teacher who shows the class a dead frog reacting to electricity. He builds himself a gizmo out of household odds and ends on a stormy night to conduct lightening and reanimate his exhumed dog. And it works! He knows he must keep this a secret, but it gets out when, well, when Sparky gets out and his annoyingly inquisitive classmate Edgar ‘E’ Gore (Atticus Schaffer) spots the dog. Victor is soon being blackmailed by Edgar into doing it again, this time on a goldfish, which reanimates invisibly, and kind of vicious. Now, with the school science fair and the town’s popular Dutch Day, fast approaching, the competitive kids in Victor’s class (who all know about his secret by now) want to get a leg up on the competition. They begin to try their own experiments with reanimation, and as one might guess, havoc ensues in the quiet, but strange, suburban town.

As a stop-motion production, the visuals look far more organic and palpable than the usual CGI method employed today. The method will be familiar to anyone who has seen The Nightmare Before Christmas, for which Burton was the set designer, or his own The Corpse Bride. His numerous Universal Studios B-movie horror and Hammer Gothic references offer an almost quirky, Twilight Zone-episode feel, while the lavish productions and character designs – a combination of simply odd and borderline grotesque – are ghoulish enough for say, an October film marathon, but not nearly nightmarish. The kids won’t be put-off by anything here other than the complete lack of color, which brings me to this point. Frankenweenie is a difficult film to mark. Clearly aimed at youth, I’m not wholly convinced that the youth of today will be drawn to a film that lacks any sort of color or will even understand the visual and cultural references peppered throughout. I’ve heard from kids in my own family, and I quote “why is this in black and white” in reference to a video spoof of “Gangdam Style” on YouTube. Am I being overly pessimistic or critical about the younger generation? For myself, I find Frankenweenie to be wonderfully cleaver and beautifully animated, color be damned.

Video Quality

HD: [Rating:5/5]

3D Effect: [Rating:4.5/5]

3D or 2D, you’re getting a magnificent transfer in AVC/MPEG-4 1080p from Disney with this release. The black and white imagery is gorgeous, shows wonderful contrast with no issues concerning noise. The 3D effects is natural with the occasional strong pop-out effect, used very judiciously. It’s more reserved, with a strong added sense of depth. I did notice just a tad more crosstalk than usual in this one, but that could just be my display and/or glasses.

Audio Quality

[Rating:5/5]

Even better is the engulfing English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack. The extra back channels really tighten up that circle of sound with additional atmospherics and the sound engineers offer a very balanced and enjoyable mix that places subtle and obvious sounds off to the sides or directly behind you. Everything sounds full, clear, and natural, with with firm, and punchy lows and clean airy highs that aren’t tweaked.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

A small but interesting selection of bonus materials is included alongside Frankenweenie, including the original short film, which also appeared on the Blu-ray release of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The supplements:

  • Original Short: Captain Sparky vs. The Flying Saucers (1.78:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1; 00:02:26)
  • Miniatures in Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie to Life (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:23:06) – Tim Burton and the crew discuss the making of Frankenweenie.
  • Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:04:26)
  • Original Live-Action Frankenweenie Short (1.33:1; SD; 00:30:03)
  • Plain White T’s “Pet Sematary” Music Video (1.85:1; 1080p/24)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

This may be Burton’s best animated effort since The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s odd, darkly comic, yet full of heart. Adults will love it, and some kids might as well. This Blu-ray is a real treat, regardless.

Additional Screen Captures

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BestBuy.com:
Frankenweenie - Blu-ray 3D

Purchase Frankenweenie on Four-Disc Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack at CD Universe

Frankenweenie

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
HD: [Rating:5/5]
3D Effect: [Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]


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