After years of high-budget movies and worn out concepts, Burton has finally come back to his creepy roots with “Frankenweenie,” a remake of his 1984 live-action short about a lonely boy and his reanimated dog.
“Frankenweenie” tells the story of a young filmmaker whose only friend is his faithful dog, Sparky. Victor lives in the creepy town of New Holland (which incredibly resembles the suburb in “Edward Scissorhands”), where the adults are close-minded and a thunderstorm is guaranteed every night.
When Sparky is tragically killed, Victor is given the idea of reanimating his dog by his new foreign science teacher, voiced by Martin Landau, (making a great homage to Bela Lugosi as he did in “Ed Wood”) using the magic of electricity.
In “Frankenweenie,” Burton subtly references many of his previous works, from “Beetlejuice” to “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and even his not-so-great “Batman” of 1989.
This is Burton’s first film since “Big Fish” (2003) to not feature Johnny Depp, and the first since “Sleepy Hollow” (1999) to not feature his girlfriend Helena Bonham Carter.
However, it does feature many Tim Burton film veterans, including Winona Ryder (Elsa Van Helsing, Victor’s neighbor who looks just like Ryder in “Beetlejuice”), Catherine O’Hara as Victor’s mother and Martin Short as his father.
This 87-minute long stop-motion picture has been in the works with Disney since 2005. In the style of Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Wallace & Gromit” and “James and the Giant Peach,” clay figures are moved in small increments between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement.
Many animators prefer this technique over CGI, saying that more life can be given to the characters this way.
PG-rated “Frankenweenie” is a wonderful tribute to the classic monsters of the 30s and every other horror icon of the last century.
In the end, this is a touching story of a boy and his flawed reanimated dog, a story that, though full of laughs and sweet humor, has a depth beyond its outward appearance, making it a Halloween movie that is not to be missed.