Tim Burton's Frankenweenie
Tim Burton gives a dead dog a bone and remakes his own film.
When it comes to movie remakes, for a prequel or sequel to actually surpass the quality of an original is a pleasant yet altogether infrequent surprise. Godzilla was almost laughable, and it's widely assumed that no one who acts in the 2011 prequel of John Carpenter's 1984 movie The Thing will ever be able to rival Kurt Russell's facial hair. With this kind of track record, one may be excused for steering well clear of any remakes for the rest of their movie-watching life. Do the back-of-the-bus ads for Footloose upset anyone else as much as they upset me?
But just when we thought all hope for a good remake is lost in the depths of crappy acting and CGI, talk of Tim Burton's Frankenweenie (to be released in 2012) has us questioning the stereotype, for a number of reasons. Firstly, Frankenweenie is not so much a remake as it is a testament to the toughening up of the masses. Originally written for release in 1984, Disney fired Burton on completion of the film, on the grounds of the film being 'too scary' for young audiences. Perhaps the dissemination of violent video-game culture isn't all bad, after all? Since realising the extent of Burton's artistry (and, the ability to make them a buck) Disney have modified their stance and have agreed to release the film under their name. Anything that's too controversial for Disney holds more than enough remake potential.
Secondly, Tim Burton himself is doing the remake, meaning that (hopefully) the magic of the 1984 short featurette (starring Shelley Duvall and Sofia Coppola!) will transcend the decades past and manifest in a more technologically enlightened century. Frankenweenie is a stop-motion film, meaning physically manipulated objects are made to appear to be moving on their own. Considering the time and effort involved (the object is moved in small increments between individually photographed frames), this is a feat in itself. To top it off, Burton has added a third dimension to his black and white masterpiece as an extra demarcation from the original.
Another reason we're not so quick to write this re-write off is the charmingly childlike, yet sufficiently dark and broody subject matter. Not only does Burton pay homage to homage to James Whale's Universal classics (Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, 1931 and 1933 respectively), he also brings the fantasy of being able to keep that much-loved pet forever, even if that involves an entire neighborhood being on zombie-dog watch constantly. Sparky and his young owner form a union that will touch the heart of the toughest remake skeptic.
The release date for Frankenweenie is set for October 5 2012 in the US.
PS: You can watch the original Frankenweenie if you have the DVD of The Nightmare Before Christmas!