CHRIS TOOKEY: Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie

By
Chris Tookey

17:50 EST, 11 October 2012


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18:37 EST, 11 October 2012

Frankenweenie (PG) [Released Oct 17]Verdict: It’s alive! ★★★★✩

Frankenweenie, the Opening Night gala movie at the BFI London Film Festival, is a return to form for Tim Burton and his most entertaining venture yet into stop-motion animation.

It shares a similar visual style to The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride, but contains better jokes and a more winning storyline. It also makes effectively cheesy use of 3D.

In a way, it’s a classic boy-and-his-dog story, except that in this case the dog is dead.

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FEntertaining: Frankenweenie, a classic boy-and-his-dog story, is a return to form for Tim Burton

Entertaining: Frankenweenie, a classic boy-and-his-dog story, is a return to form for Tim Burton

Sparky, a bouncy bull terrier, follows a ball into traffic one day and meets an untimely demise.

Sparky’s boy owner, Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) is inspired by a new science teacher (splendidly voiced by Martin Landau) who shows how electricity can galvanise dead frogs. 

It was the Opening Night gala movie at the BFI London Film Festival which Tim Burton and partner Helena Bonham Carter attended

Festivities: It was the Opening Night gala movie at the BFI London Film Festival which Tim Burton and partner Helena Bonham Carter attended

Victor decides he won’t let sleeping
dogs lie — literally. After a spot of impromptu grave-robbing, he rigs
up a science laboratory to harness the lightning storms that affect the
area and resuscitates Sparky.

Anyone who remembers the zombie pets
in Stephen King’s Pet Sematary may fear the worst, but in Tim Burton’s
universe an undead pet can be just as faithful as a live one — even if
he does have bolts through his neck.

Victor’s
first problem is to stop Sparky from scaring Victor’s conventional
parents (Catherine O’Hara and Martin Short) into an early grave. Bigger
snags develop when Victor’s schoolfriends and enemies hear of what he’s
been up to and try to use the same methods on other dead animals, with
hilarious if scary consequences including mutated batcats and a gigantic
tortoise with a bad attitude.

Victor’s
only ally, apart from Sparky, is the girl next door, Elsa van Helsing
(Winona Ryder), downtrodden niece of the town mayor (Martin Short again)
who doesn’t approve of any animals straying on to his patch, especially
not dead ones.

The main message is the reverse of
most Frankenstein movies: that scientific experiments are an antidote to
ignorance and prejudice. It also makes a point similar to the one in
ParaNorman earlier this year: it’s OK to be different, and almost
certainly a good sign if others think you’re a freak.

Frankenweenie
is a big-budget 3D remake of a short film Burton made in 1984, which is
easily viewable on the internet. Both movies are affectionate parodies
of the 1931 novel Frankenstein and the films inspired by it. The new one
is the version worth seeing.

Frankenweenie is a far more successful
venture into Gothic comedy than Burton’s last film Dark Shadows, and
extremely welcome proof that this most visionary of directors has not
mislaid his talent. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Remake: Frankenweenie is a big-budget 3D remake of a short film Burton made in 1984

Remake: Frankenweenie is a big-budget 3D remake of a short film Burton made in 1984

Now watch Tim Burton on horror movies, animation and Frankenweenie

 

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CHRIS TOOKEY: Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie

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