There are few directors who can be called auteurs in modern Hollywood - these are the men and women who have a distinctive style that permeates their work across genres. Love him, hate him, or plain indifferent him, Tim Burton is one such director. I find that his work is very hit and miss, especially in recent years, but his animations have always been fun, especially `The Nightmare Before Christmas'. `Frankenweenie' is an idea Burton first tackled when working for Disney in the form of a short film. Sparky is a dog that dies then brought back to life by schoolboy Victor Frankenstein. In this longer animation the story is stretched further and the some of the town begin to learn the skills of Young Victor.
As a piece of stop motion animation `Frankenweenie' looks magnificent. The art direction and use of black and white means that has some incredible visuals. Fans of classic horror tales will also have a lot to look forward to with plenty of Easter Eggs to find as Burton plays with the genre. I enjoyed some of the characters that were on offer; Victor's various school friends are all mini versions of classic horror actor/characters. It is a shame then that some of the voice acting is a little flat. Charlie Tahan as Victor is a prime example; his all American tone is too flat and lacks emotion.
I also feel that the story was bland. I was never a big fan of the original short version of `Frankenweenie' and this extension has done little to fix the flaws. It is all a little linear and any new elements are too basic. The film is trapped between being for adults or for kids. The story is slow, full of interesting things to look at - this will interest the adults, but they will get tired of some of the later action sequences. Kids will find the entire film too slow and not full of enough action to keep them entertained. `Frankenweenie' is a flawed attempt by Burton of producing a film that can be loved by all of the family. Instead, everyone in the family is likely to enjoy parts of the film, but not others.
Even in Black and White, `Frankenweenie' is a film best seen on BluRay as it brings out the richness in tone. There are some extras worth watching, the story of how the expanded version of the film came about is good. I do think a little more would have been good though.