Tim Burton makes his best film since 1996's Mars Attacks... unfortunately, it came from an idea he had in 1984.
Frankenweenie tells the story of young Victor Frankenstein (Charlie Tahan) and his beloved dog Sparky; living in the quaint town of New Holland. Victor is an exceptionally smart kid, but also a lonely one. His father Edward (Martin Short) suggests that Victor play baseball in an effort to be a more personable kid. Victor gives it a whirl, and while playing, loyal Sparky ends up on the wrong end of a car accident.
Missing his best friend, Victor takes an idea from the local science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau) and decides to try and reanimate Sparky. Victor being the smart kid he is, brings Sparky back to life and the two friends reunite. As bringing Sparky back to life might upset certain people, Victor decides that he has to hide Sparky.
Determined to not stay hidden for long, Sparky makes his way about town and is discovered by a local kid Edgar E. Gore (Atticus Shaffer). In exchange for keeping quiet, Edgar demands from Victor to help him reanimate another animal so Edgar has a project for the local science fair. Victor complies, but this attempt at reanimation does not go entirely as planned. Soon, Victor's secret leaks about town and he must find a way to keep the locals calm, control other students attempts at reanimation and rescue the entire town.
As stated, Frankenweenie is a really good film and feels like old school Tim Burton. The one thing that disappoints me is that this idea is almost 30 years old, right around when Tim Burton was beginning to make his name in Hollywood. The original idea was a 30 minute live action short made in 1984. The same basic premise stays, but has been elongated to fill a feature length running time.
My quibble about the film not being a new and fresh idea aside, this is a very lovely stop motion, animated film. The simple story involving a boy who loves his dog even after death is simple enough. As the film goes on, though, that basic idea is almost cast aside in favor of turning the film into a classic 50's monster film. This is not a bad idea, as I am not sure if Victor and his dog would be able to fill the runtime adequately. As the film speeds into its third act, the film changes, but in a very entertaining way.
Overall, a welcome return for Tim Burton and a film that is thoroughly enjoyable as a fantasy, comedy and horror film.