Movie review: 'Frankenweenie' brings back Burton's spark

This is an archived article that was published on in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Tim Burton hasn't done much original material lately — having adapted "Dark Shadows," "Alice in Wonderland," "Sweeney Todd" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" — but with "Frankenweenie" at least he's stealing from himself.

This stop-motion-animation version of Burton's 1984 live-action short film centers on young Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan), growing up in a Burtonesque suburb with only his dog Sparky as a true friend. When Sparky is killed, Victor experiments to revive his pooch with lightning. Things go seriously awry when Victor's classmates, thinking he has the upper hand in the school science fair, try to replicate the experiment.

Burton applies his visual trademarks, with spindly characters and a moody black-and-white palette, while he and his regular screenwriter John August pepper the story with fond references to classic horror movies and past stop-motion gems.

As usual, Burton has difficulty bringing the movie in for a landing, and the scares get a mite too intense for small children. Still, after his recent duds, it's good to see he still has the old spark.; —



Opens Friday, Oct. 5, at theaters everywhere; rated PG for thematic elements, scary images and action; 87 minutes. For more movie reviews, visit