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Review: Frankenweenie

Tim Burton returns to form with this animated love letter to The Bride of Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, Gremlins, Gamera, and countless other creature features. The story concerns young Victor Frankenstein, an outsider in a town full of outsiders (including the overachieving Toshiaki, the obnoxious Edgar “E” Gore, and a clairvoyant cat-owner known only as “Weird Girl”). When he’s not conducting scientific experiments in his cluttered attic, he’s crafting stop-motion masterpieces with the help of Sparky, his faithful canine companion. Unfortunately, tragedy brings their friendship to an abrupt end. Victor’s parents just want him to mourn and move on, but when he discovers the restorative power of electricity, he resolves to revive his beloved dog–and soon after the neighborhood kids inevitably learn his secret, the sleepy suburb of New Holland finds itself crawling with reanimated pets.

Burton offers up plenty of references and homages for genre fans to sink their teeth into–even the character designs evoke horror icons like Boris Karloff and Vincent Price–but winks and nudges can only carry a film so far. Luckily, the eccentric director never loses sight of his movie’s soul–the heartwarming tale of a boy who simply cannot bring himself to say “Goodbye”–making Frankenweenie his most emotional, magical, and satisfying work since Edward Scissorhands.

[Originally written October 8, 2012.]

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