It has been a prolific period for Tim Burton, following the long gaps between 2007’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and 2009’s Alice in Wonderland, he has been involved in three major projects this year, as a producer on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, as director of the resurrected Dark Shadows, and now, as our Stateside correspondent Wes May reports, with another unlikely rebirth from the shadows.

Based on an early ’80s short from a then unknown Tim Burton, Frankenweenie resurfaces in 2012 as a feature length stop motion animated film. The shift from short to feature length often winds up the undoing of many such projects, so Frankenweenie had at least one very serious strike against it going in.

Happily, the move to feature film has only added to the original’s many charms. Lovingly directed by Tim Burton based on his original concept, this funny, touching and poignant stop motion film effortlessly makes the transition, and capably conveys the angst of being an outcast, as well as the joys and ultimate heartbreak involved in loving our creature companions.

Following a tragic accident that costs the title canine his life, young Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan), heartbroken and aching over his overwhelming loss, stumbles on a plan to bring his adorable little pooch back to the land of the living after a lecture by his favorite teacher in school. Martin Landau, as the teacher Mr Ryskruski, channels Burton’s childhood muse Vincent Price to a T, delivering an homage to the late legendary horror icon instead of a carbon copy.

Following the resurrection, Victor tries his best to hide his pup from parents and classmates alike, including a creepy, hump-backed fellow student named Edgar (brilliantly voiced by The Middle‘s Atticus Shaffer). As it becomes increasingly difficult to keep the secret, other students attempt Frankenstein’s reanimation project on their own deceased pets, with mixed and often hilarious results.

Full of humor, thrills, chills, and also tear-jerking moments (I don’t mind admitting that I got a bit choked up a couple of times) Frankenweenie eschews director Burton’s often chilly or detached modus operandi.

While stop motion animation is often the red headed step child of the animated world, it is also most often the most creative and lovingly realized as well. Frankenweenie is an artistic accomplishment of the highest order in this regard, showcasing a gorgeous world that any viewer would love to play in. Tim Burton has now come full circle in his creative vision.

Frankenweenie is now on general release in 3D IMAX

Wes May is an organiser of Zombie Buffet 5K



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