Tim Burton hasn’t made a good film for a very long time – maybe since Ed Wood in 1994. So it comes as quite a surprise that his new film, Frankenweenie, is something of a return to form, albeit a relatively minor one.
Shot in stop-motion, black and white 3D, the film follows a young boy who secretly brings his dog back from the dead using electricity. When all the kids in his class catch wind of his experiment, they set out to revive their own dead pets, with disastrous consequences.
These escapades make up the majority of Frankenweenie‘s best moments. The baseball game, the initial revival and the final, chaotic act are all wonderfully constructed, and Burton’s obvious love of classic horror – in particular, Bride of Frankenstein and The Mummy – make the film a treasure trove of referential humour.
But as much fun as all this is, there’s not really a lot to Frankenweenie, rendering it disappointingly forgettable. Sure, it’s entertaining enough while it lasts, but it never leaves you with anything. Nobody seems to learn anything from their endeavours – at least not anything that lasts thanks to the shoehorned in happy ending – and it all just feels a bit empty.
This may be Tim Burton’s best film for years (by quite a distance), but considering how bad some of his recent work has been (*cough, Dark Shadows), that’s not really saying a lot. Then again, there’s certainly fun to be had with Frankenweenie, even if it doesn’t live as long in the memory as it could’ve (and maybe should’ve) done.
- Matt Manfield