For his latest foray into stop-motion animation, Tim Burton is reanimating "Frankenweenie," a short film he made for Disney in the 1980s. The movie tells the story of a boy who brings his recently deceased dog backed to life with some unforeseen consequences.
"Frankenweenie" has charmed critics, for the most part, who aren't counting it among Burton's best, but find it worthwhile nonetheless.
Here is what the critics are saying about "Frankenweenie":
"Victor lives in the well-ordered city of New Holland (a stand-in for suburban Burbank, Calif., where Burton grew up). He is fascinated by filmmaking and science, but Victor's dad (Martin Short) wants him to spend more time outdoors. The results of that effort lead to Sparky's accidental death. Devastated when Sparky dies, Victor drags himself to school, where he spends class time sadly doodling images of his beloved dog. When he learns about electricity from his science teacher, the imposing Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau), Victor resolves to harness its powers and re-animate Sparky. In a scene that directly recalls Frankenstein, he revives the carcass of Sparky, and to his joy, his old friend returns, cheerful as ever. Victor tries to hide his stitched-together creation to no avail. His classmates seek to imitate Victor's efforts, with bizarrely funny, mutated results." — Claudia Puig, USA Today
The Stop-Motion Animation
"A lovingly detailed work of stop-motion construction in black and white and story-enhancing 3-D, the feature-length fantasy began life back in 1984 as a live-action short. But stop-motion animation was always what the filmmaker had in mind. And with this stitching together of material old and new, three decades of familiarity with Burton's obsessions pay off: Frankenweenie is a cool little flipbook of historical Burtonian style." — Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
Compared to the Original
"The new, expanded but not improved "Frankenweenie" arrives in theaters this week, again directed by Burton, from a script by Burton's frequent screenwriter John August. This time 'Frankenweenie' is an animated stop-motion 3-D affair, though still in black and white. Stretching the story for an additional hour, Burton unleashes a gaggle of cutely vicious monsters for a protracted climax, including a Gamera-type giant turtle and nasty little flying cats with fangs and wings." — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
The Final Word
"This isn't one of Burton's best, but it has zealous energy. It might have been too macabre for kids in past, but kids these days, they've seen it all, and the charm of a boy and his dog retains its appeal. I only hope that young Victor doesn't let Sparky lie out in the sun for too long." — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Check out everything we've got on "Frankenweenie."