If you're someone who thinks that Tim Burton lost his mojo a few films back, make sure to see Frankenweenie. Originally a short from very early (1984) in Burton's weird, wobbly and wonderful career, this back-from-the-dead treat ranks with the very best films of it - a glorious mix of stop-motion (re-) animation, 3D, classics, B-movies, oddballs, outré moments and spot-the-tribute scenes. It has more of a story and suspense than a lot of modern-day chillers, and it hits the heart harder than many a weepie.
Victor Frankenstein (Tahan) is the misfit loner who spends his time making epic monster movies in his back yard, in which his canine soulmate Sparky is the star. Victor's dad (Short) wants him to get out of the attic and live a little, while the good-at-science-not-with-people youngster appears more than happy to grow old up there.
When the chance of a school science trip with substitute teacher Mr Rzykruski (a brilliant Landau) comes up, Frankenstein senior cuts a deal with junior to get out of his sanctuary and onto the baseball field in exchange for a place on the bus.
Victor's little league debut proves to be both a triumph and a tragedy. He hits an incredible home run, but Sparky is killed by a passing car while his master is passing the bases.
Despite the wisdom of mom (O'Hara) and dad, Victor is unable to come to terms with Sparky's death and sets about wondering if Mr Rzykruski's lessons can have any practical applications in the Frankenstein household. Both the youngster and the town of New Holland are about to discover just how dangerous a thing a little knowledge can be.
Reuniting with actors who have him to thank for some of their most celebrated roles - Short, Landau, Ryder, O'Hara - and vice versa, Burton's collaboration with them here warrants further two-way gratitude and achieves that rarest of modern-day accolades: it's worth seeing twice. There are simply too many special things going on in Frankenweenie to appreciate everything in the frame the first time 'round and whether imparting wisdom about loss and loneliness or serving up one set-piece after another, there is plenty here for young and old alike - even the wag of Sparky's tail is special.
With these saucer-eyed and spade-faced creations, it feels like Burton has found a portal back to the younger version of himself, while also articulating the fears of parents about their own mortality and the lives their kids will have. Don't worry; there are plenty of gags too: this movie handles suburban menace and cat poo with the same master's touch.
A Best Picture Oscar nominee? Don't be against it. More importantly, Burton will turn a whole new gang onto the treasures that fired him up all those years ago.