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"Frankenweenie" _ Tim Burton reminds us of why we love Tim Burton with this feature-length version of the 1984 short that revealed early glimmers of the veteran director's darkly humorous style. Beautifully detailed and painstakingly rendered in 3-D, black-and-white, stop-motion animation, "Frankenweenie" is a visual and thematic return to the best Burton has offered in his earliest films, such as "Edward Scissorhands" and "Beetlejuice." And it is a welcome return, given the reheated, unfocused nature of some of his more recent films like "Dark Shadows." Burton has said he'd always intended for "Frankenweenie" to be a full-length, stop-motion-animation feature, but he didn't have the means; instead, he made a 30-minute, live-action short. Both films are about the powerful bond between a boy and his dog, one that goes on even after death _ a heartrending subject, to be sure, but one that Burton infuses with his trademark mix of lively energy and macabre laughs. Even then, you could see Burton's sympathetic, protective portrayal of an outsider, an affectionate skewering of the sanctity of suburbia and a deep love of monster movies. Charlie Tahan provides the voice of Victor, a 10-year-old loner who's understandably devastated when his only friend _ his bull terrier, Sparky _ gets hit by a car. But a lesson from his science teacher (a wonderfully melodramatic Martin Landau) inspires Victor (whose last name happens to be Frankenstein) to try and bring Sparky back to life. Catherine O'Hara, Martin Short and Winona Ryder are among the Burton veterans in the strong voice cast. PG for thematic elements, scary images and action. 88 minutes. Three stars out of four.
Two-time Tony Award winner Martin Pakledinaz, who designed hundreds of costumes for stars such as Sutton Foster and Patti LuPone, has died, his agent said Monday. He was 58.
"The Avengers" continues to muscle out everything else Hollywood throws at it, easily sinking naval rival "Battleship" and other new releases.