James D'Arcy plays a very scary neighbour in In Their Skin
Release date: 17 October 2012
Director: Tim Burton
Voices: Martin Landau, Winona Ryder, Martin Short
What’s the story?
When his pet dog is run over and killed, junior scientist Victor Frankenstein harnesses lightning to bring him back to life. Soon, though, his schoolmates want in on the fun.
What did we think?
Essentially a compilation of its director’s greatest hits, Frankenweenie makes up for a certain aimless quality with a surfeit of visual pleasures and a real sense of homemade, hand-crafted charm. Inventively utilising both 3D and black-and-white, it’s as much a return to form as a nostalgic throwback to former glories.
Be it Dark Shadows, Sweeney Todd or Alice in Wonderland, director Tim Burton has been content of late to draw his inspiration from other sources. The very least one can say of Frankenweenie is that it’s himself he’s adapting this time around, this 3D stop-motion animation being an expansion of a 30-minute live-action short he made back in 1984.
Originality, however, only has so much currency in Burton’s world. For while it bears the shaggy-haired filmmaker’s indelibly personal stamp, Frankenweenie’s roots stretch back to such vintage ‘creature features’ as Godzilla, The Creature of the Black Lagoon and, inevitably, Frankenstein, not to mention the director’s own Ed Wood, Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands.
It’s hardly surprising, then, that the result has a piecemeal, patchwork feel, particularly in a second half where the central boy and his zombie dog dynamic is superseded by a crazy subplot involving a host of town-stomping critters returning from the grave. Yet even at its most deranged this remains a labour of love, not least in the way it reunites Tim with such former collaborators as Martin Landau, Catherine O’Hara and Winona Ryder – an actress, incidentally, for whom the phrase ‘back from the dead’ feels only too appropriate.
Verdict: Super charged.