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Frankenweenie 3D - Review

Frankenweenie

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

TIM Burton may now be a name synonymous with blockbuster successes like Alice in Wonderland and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory but it’s good to see that he hasn’t abandoned the principals, or passions, that first helped to get him noticed.

Frankenweenie, his latest, is a labour of love that breathes new life into one of the director’s earliest short film successes, albeit fleshed out to feature length and making the most of stop-motion advances.

It’s also a fun reminder of the more eccentric, less commercial side of the filmmaker, as well as a neat homage to horror history, from Frankenstein (of course), Bride of Frankenstein and other B-movie creature features.

The story focuses on a young boy named Victor (voiced by Charlie Tahan) who is inspired by a forward-thinking scientist (Martin Landau) to use electricity to revive his beloved dead dog, Sparky.

At first, Victor is able to keep the success of his experiment a secret but as word of Sparky’s revival gets out, it unintentionally creates havoc in the sleepy town of New Holland as other young scientists attempt to emulate Victor’s success with disastrous results.

Frankenweenie may be a little slow to get going but it’s clear to see the passion that Burton has for the project on just about every level.

His characters are richly drawn, both emotionally and in terms of their attention to detail, emerging as a fantastic tribute to the ongoing possibilities posed by stop motion animation, while his references are spot-on, if likely to fly over the heads of the film’s youngest viewers.

But like the films of Pixar, Frankenweenie has as much for the adults to enjoy (perhaps even more) as it does the kids.

The film also engages emotionally, by virtue of the time Burton devotes to exploring the bond between Victor and Sparky, as well as creating the town’s other eccentric characters, so that when the action kicks in for the fantastic final third, you’re also thoroughly invested in what occurs.

And in action and visual terms, Burton really lets his imagination run wild during that glorious final act, tapping into his trademark dark humour and passion for classic cinema, while also dropping in the odd laugh out loud moment.

Put together, this is a real throwback to classic Burton (circa Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood) that delights on so many levels. It fully justifies the ongoing faith that the director has placed in it.

Certificate: PG
Running time: 87mins
UK Release Date: October 17, 2012