Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Stars: Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short
Director: Tim Burton
Starring a cast of stop-motion puppets with wiry limbs, bulbous eyes and death's-head grins, Tim Burton's reworking of his own short film from 1984 may not be far off his usual artistic beat, but it's still his most assured achievement since Sweeney Todd in 2007.
As often with Burton, the story contains an element of symbolic autobiography. Young Victor Frankenstein, voiced by Charlie Tahan, is a scientific genius and something of a misfit.
Sparky the dog, from Tim Burton's Frankenweenie.
His only friend is his dog, Sparky - and when Sparky is hit by a car, Victor refuses to accept the death as final.
Through no fault of his own, Victor's experiments in corpse revival lead to horrific consequences, allowing Burton to prove that his trademark mock-Gothic images, with their exaggerations of depth and scale, are perfectly suited to 3D. In his way, Burton resists the conventions of Hollywood animation as boldly as Wes Anderson did in Fantastic Mr Fox. Many artistic decisions seem deliberately anti-commercial, from the use of black and white to the realistic close-ups of cat excrement.
Some children will be scared or distressed by the film's warped vision of everyday life.
Each of Victor's classmates resembles some kind of monster - particularly the hunchbacked Edgar "E" Gore, excellently voiced by 14-year-old Atticus Shaffer, who currently appears on TV's The Middle.
Yet this turns out to be one of Burton's most humanist films.
The script by John August defends the intellectual right to non-conformity while suggesting that science, like art, should be driven not just by curiosity but by compassion.
Ultimately, it's clear that Victor is the most sensible person in town, and that Burton's morbid humour comes from a serious place: a child not yet accustomed to the idea of death might well wonder how adults can think of anything else.