Say what you will about Tim Burton: the man is an auteur. There’s no mistaking one of his films for one by anyone else.
A young Victor Frankenstein lives in the suburbs of New Holland (because Frankenstein movies need a windmill, doncha know) with his dog Sparky, doting but slightly clueless parents, and with the overbearing mayor as neighbour. He goes to school where he is taught by a new science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski (voice of Martin Landau, in an great performance). When Sparky meets a tragic end, something Victor hears in science class gives him the notion to bring Sparky back.
Victor tries to keep this a secret. He fails. Soon, other kids are setting kites into the New Holland skies with the hope of catching a lightning bolt…
Frankenweenie is one of Burton’s more Burtonesque films in a while. We’ve got weirdness in the suburbs, stop motion, and a distinct combination of crazy hair and big eyes, homages to monster movies, and more. It has good production values, quirky characters, and fun situations.
I like it, but I wanted to like it even more. There is one unsatisfying thing about this story: there are no character arcs. Everyone ends up at the same place at the end of the movie where they started. Nobody changes. Nobody grows (well, except Shelly). The characters who go through this wild set of experiences, but they seem oddly unaffected by it all.