Director Tim Burton is famous for his fusion of the whimsical and the macabre -- both makes up for his best ("Edward Scissorhands, Ed wood, Big Fish) and mediocre films (Mars Attacks!, Dark Shadows). He once again finds the perfect balance in his latest stop-motion animation movie "Frankenweenie." It is a remake of Burton's live-action 1984 short of the same name.
When Burton made the short movie in 1984, the guys at Disney decided to fire him. The family-friendly conglomerate found his movie very scary for the kids. Now, the same film studio, twenty eight years later, has handed Mr.Burton $39 million to remake the same story, in stop-motion, and also in black and white (Disney, in 1994, has acknowledged its short-sightedness, releasing the first Frankenweenie on videotape and then putting it on the Nightmare Before Christmas DVD as an extra.)
As the title of the movie suggests, it is Burton's take on Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein and its numerous cinematic incarnations. The hero is a lonely young boy Victor Frakenstein (Tahan).Victor's parents (Martin Short and Catherine O'Hara) worry that he is too much of an outsider, but in truth he doesn't mind his status of outcast. His town is called as 'New Holland', and in typical Burton fashion, is populated with endearing oddballs and weirdos. Victor's has only one true friend in the town: it's his dog Sparky. When his beloved dog Sparky is killed in an accident, the boy is inspired by his science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau), to re-animate the pet’s corpse by harnessing lightning in his makeshift attic laboratory. Once Victor's badly sewn-back-together dog is discovered, his classmates also try dabbling with life, death and electricity, creating havoc and terror.
Burton always loves stop-motion animation, because of its ability to endow imagination. The animation here is unmistakably clean for stop-motion. Horror movie buffs and fans of Burton's work will find visual citations in every fastidiously designed frame. Scriptwriter John August (in their fifth collaboration) invest the movie with a sense of genuine love and affection, not just for the classical horror movies they’re referencing, but for the characters and their situations. For a mere 87 minutes long film, the script makes sure that there’s not enough time for Burton to go off the rails as he does in so many of his films.
Frankenweenie's content looks like it's appropriate for children but this is one instance when adults are likely to derive more pleasure than their offspring. Yeah, at times it is scary, but then it’s funny, and, finally, it’s moving, both in its foolproof boy-meets-dog sentimentality and in the ease with which Burton connects the dots of his own history and that of the movies he cherishes.
Watch Burton's "Frankenweenie", because it brims with social satire, nostalgia horror, self-parody, wit and emotional insight.
Frankenweenie - IMDb