Tim Burton is back, thank the heavens, with his first decent film since Edward Scissorhands. After years of disappointing and truly terrible films (see: Sweeney Todd), Frankenweenie is Burton's massive self reference that oddly works. Victor is an outsider in a town of oddballs whose only friend is his adorable dog, Sparky. When Sparky has an unfortunate accident, Victor will do anything to bring him back, including paying attention to his Vincent Price-esque science teacher. When his experiment works and Sparky is resurrected, word gets out amongst the other kids and all hell is let loose on the town in classic Burton style.

About the self-referencing. Of course Burton got his long time collaborator Danny Elfman to do the score. Surprisingly Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter are both absent, but Winona Ryder pops up. Anyway, the score is proof there's only so much one person can come up with. It sounds like Elfman has the vocal part of the Scissorhands score on tap as it pops up very frequently during Frankenweenie. There's a Mars Attacks! poster, a Batman kite and two of the puppets are straight out of The Corpse Bride. For die hard Burton fans, this may cause a problem but don't let it take away from the film. There are other little things like the name of the town simply being because there has to be justification for the windmill, but again, these are tiny things that only people who watch too many films will be bothered by. Sparky is the cutest onscreen dog since Uggie in The Artist, and there's a cat that steals the film within ten minutes. Disney haven't quite managed to get their claws totally into this as none of the animals talk. They're just animals whose noises are interpreted by their owners. Anyone who has had a pet will relate to Frankenweenie. There are moments that are heartbreaking and moments that are very sweet.

Interestingly, it's entirely in black and white, which renders the 3D fairly useless but at least when you put the glasses on it all stays the same instead of getting three shades darker as per usual. But the 3D is just there as a gimmick, there's no real use for it. Given the nature of the film (stop-motion), it would have been better to leave it in 2D but the presence of ParaNorman meant Burton had to put his film in 3D. Comparisons between the two are always going to happen but quality-wise there isn't much difference. They have the same genre and both revolve around a small child, and you can see a difference in style but they're just about as good as each other.

It isn't an over-exaggeration to say this is Burton's best since Edward Scissorhands, and with any luck he'll carry on from here. You can see how much fun he had making it, maybe because of Disney's backing given problems he's had with them before, but it comes through onto the screen. The characters are well developed, the story is engaging and it really is a return to form. We can only hope he learns from Frankenweenie and carries on doing what he does best; having fun making fun films with buckets of charm.