Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Frankenweenie (not the John Wayne Bobbit story)

Tim Burton is back! Okay, Sweeney Todd was pretty damn good and Dark Shadows was fun nonsense. But Frankenweenie (which, when I heard Burton was remaking his own film, I kinda dreaded) is his most Burtonesque films since Corpse Bride and his most emotionally satisfying since Big Fish.

The fact that it's in black and white and the first of his films in 9 years not to star Johnny Depp gives it a breath of fresh air. The original short film is cleverly expanded to feature length by giving us more buildup of Victor Frankenstein's relationship with his dog, Sparky before the accident (any animal lover will get teary-eyed at several points in the film) and more interaction with Victor and his classmates (no Sofia Coppola this time). It all builds to an insanely fun climax where every kid in town copies Victor's science experiment and releases their own monster on suburbia.

The film is fast-paced with beautifully shot stop motion animation. Classic horror fans will enjoy the many references (including a Christopher Lee Dracula cameo). There's even some discussion on how science is viewed by narrow-minded people. It's great to hear the voices of familiar Burton actors like Martin Short and Winona Ryder in key roles. If there's any disappointment, it's that several key characters (especially Victor's Japanese rival) are nothing more than caricatures. But the central relationship works and the extra length gives the film more of an emotional kick than the live action version.

Audiences may be rejecting this in favour of Adam Sandler as Dracula (sigh) but it will go on to be remembered as one of Burton's best.