Through recent years my attitude towards Tim Burton has changed rather speedily. I loved his early work and Ed Wood along with Beetlejuice are brilliant but don’t ever talk to me about his recent endeavours.
Corpse Bride was horrible, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was as dull as a wooden spoon and I’d rather yank my tongue out my own mouth than sit through Alice in Wonderland again. So when I heard Burton was returning to animation again I cringed but when news surfaced that he was remaking his own short film from way back in 1984 I had a little interest.
I really enjoyed the original short and thought it was a charming little idea but I did wonder how he could flesh it out into a feature without it getting a little slow. If you’re not familiar with the story of Frankenweenie then just think along the lines of Frankenstein but with a pooch rather than human bodies.
Victor Frankenstein is a young aspiring scientist and filmmaker who is spends most of his time in his room with his dog Sparky, his father is a little concerned about how much time he spends alone and encourages him to go out and play with the other kids.
Victor plays a game of baseball with some of his peers when an accident leaves Sparky dead. However, Victor’s eccentric new science teacher gives him some inspiration one lesson and then goes about trying to bring back his dog from the dead.
The story is a very enjoyable one, it will especially catch the kids attention and offer them a pleasant viewing what with a good balance between horror and comedy that Burton did very well in Beetlejuice but it does sometimes feel that there was a missed opportunity to create something that seemed to last.
On occasions it felt as if scenes were just created to exploit the animation and didn’t really offer much in the way of development. Perhaps it should have looked at the way grief can be dealt with and how comment a little more on the effects of science, but then again, this is a film aimed more for children.
But anyway… The animation was brilliant despite a recent interview with the director of animation saying that there were many flaws due its black and white filter; I thought it was great to see the subtle markings of stop-motion animation filmmaking.
Frankenweenie is a welcome return to Tim Burton’s decent filmmaking, it’s full of references to an array of different horror films, as you may have guessed, and all the supporting characters are brilliantly designed and play out well. Don’t expect though to have a new shock of life in you after watching it though, just take it for what it is, a charismatic send up of classic horror done in classic Burton style.