Thursday, 25 October 2012


As a director with such distinctive filmmaking style, and a legion of devotees, Tim Burton's frequent forays into grander mainstream projects have baffled me, and their impact has rather tarnished his image. Yet the faith which major studios have invested in his vision, and the consistency with which he has upheld it have ensured that it has emerged unscathed from disappointments like Dark Shadows and catastrophes like Alice in Wonderland. This time out, the spin on a classic tale is manifested as more of an elaboration - the classic work is his own, and it's more of a cult classic. Nor is this elaboration especially elaborate. It's an animation, which, in contemporary culture, means that it's a kids' movie - 75% material aimed at children, 25% material aimed at their parents. But Burton's touch is more reverent here than lately, or perhaps it's just more at ease with this more personal source, and his jokes and references are handled with grace. They're also more niche - perhaps this is 100% material aimed at Burton's faithful. What this newfound (or rediscovered) subtlety results in is one of Tim Burton's most disposable films, actually - even the whimsy is applied lightly - thus, Frankenweenie is somewhat lacking in any identifiable tone. It's a bit damp and undercooked, as if it was never given quite enough time or effort in production. But it is charming, certainly, and sprightly - it's a brisk trot without even a slight pause for breath, although it never develops into a canter.