Frankenweenie

(PG) ★★★☆☆

Tim Burton is back with this black-and-white 3-D stop motion animation picture, a remake of a short live action movie he made in 1984 in which he remakes the Frankenstein myth with a dog. Young Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan) and his beloved terrier, Sparky, conduct a fantastic science experiment after Sparky’s demise. It works. Though typically Burton, it’s not his best, with a jaded and uneasy air, and plenty of cutely vicious monsters and a protracted climax. It’s visual, but sometimes even well-applied jumper cables can’t help.

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Early Genius, Haltingly Reanimated

By Michael Phillips, Tribune Media Services

Before things took off with Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and Beetlejuice, Tim Burton made a live-action black-and-white film, in 1984, called Frankenweenie. You can find it on YouTube. It’s really good. Just about everything we now know as Burtonesque—passionate devotion to ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s Hollywood; English and Japanese horror; the Leave it to Beaver-but-sinister vision of American domestic life; the black humor; always in the corner of the societal outcast and the idiosyncratic artist—was there from the beginning.

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