Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family, Horror, Sci-Fi
Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Winona Ryder, Martin Short, Christopher Lee
For anyone who thinks that Tim Burton’s animated films were just watered down horror stories for kids then think again. With Frankenweenie, Burton has yet again delivered a family friendly slice of cleverly crafted animation, where the focus is on compelling storytelling.
As one may expect, the film is a retelling of the Frankenstein story written by Mary Shelley nearly 100 years ago, albeit in Burton’s trademark style in the same vein as his previous outings on Corpse Bride and The Nightmare Before Christmas. With a story that has been retold countless times, Burton has chosen to shift the focus of the story onto a young boy, Victor, who goes about resurrecting his beloved dog Sparky. It’s an inspired choice, with the decision to resurrect an already existing creature (rather than a composite of several unknown corpses into a new life from the original story), the story is instantly given a much more personable, heart-warming angle while still maintaining questions of love and death.
For the eagle-eyed viewer and classic horror movie connoisseur, there is plenty to feast upon. Homages to the classics are littered all over the film cleverly including Van Helsing, Godzilla and Christopher Lee’s Dracula. Indeed, these features prove just how detailed this film is and how potent Tim Burton is as a director, proving his unofficial status as Hollywood’s favourite auteur of the last twenty years is undoubtedly deserved.
Perhaps most tellingly, the film has abandoned all notions of superstar casting with the only high profile names really being Winona Ryder and Martin Short. The casting of big name Hollywood actors has all too often been an area where there is an abundance of attention in Burton’s recent films, but with Frankenweenie he has rightly put the emphasis on gripping storytelling.
Where the film really succeeds is capturing the right balance between gratifying characters, poignant plot lines and cheering comedy. The film will not be one of Burton’s most remembered films, but is nevertheless an engaging frolic in family-friendly animated story-telling.