Now Playing: Stop-Motion Goodness

Like many, I’ve been pretty burned out on Tim Burton. What I want is another tale along the lines of ‘Big Fish‘. Even though ‘Sweeney Todd‘ was pretty great, it wasn’t exactly a departure from Burton’s typical style or formula (other than being a musical). While his new stop-motion animated ‘Frankenweenie’ carries the iconic look of a standard Burton production, it turns out to be quite a bit better than most of his recent films.

If you have the ‘Nightmare Before Christmas‘ Blu-ray, then you’ve probably already seen ‘Frankenweenie’. Burton’s original live-action half-hour short film made its way onto the Blu-ray as a special feature. What you get with this new ‘Frankenweenie’ is a stop-motion expanded version of that.

The movie tells the story of an odd boy by the name of Victor Frankenstein. The closest thing he has to a friend is his little dog Sparky. So, imagine Victor’s heartbreak when Sparky gets hit by car and killed. After his Vincent Price-esque teacher gives a lesson about how electricity can power muscles, Victor gets the wild idea to try reviving Sparky from the dead. As you’d expect from the film’s title (or trailers), his experiment is a success and Victor is reunited with Boy’s Best Friend.

Victor tries to keep his discovery a secret, but his classmates soon learn the truth and attempt to reanimate animals of their own, in order to win the upcoming science fair. This leads to an all-out attack on their little town of New Holland. In this area, the new ‘Frankenweenie’ separates itself from the original short.

When we’re first introduced to New Holland and Victor’s neighbors and peers, my thoughts immediately flooded back to ‘Edward Scissorhands‘. Through and through, ‘Frankenweenie’ feels like it’s set in the same town as that film. Danny Elfman’s score also recalls the choral grandeur of his work in ‘Scissorhands’.

Surprisingly, ‘Frankenweenie’ has a lot of heart. Burton has the potential to make emotionally moving pictures, but it’s been a long time since he’s put this much effort in. The movie caught me off guard. If you’ve been turned off by Burton’s recent flicks, give ‘Frankenweenie’ a shot anyway. I bet that it will reanimate your little heart too.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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