Tim Burton

Burton is one of those directors who just seems better at his job than he really is. He’s always been able to create stunning and imaginative worlds, and he’s able to get good performances out of his actors. But his scripts (he has written about half of his movies) tend to lack subtlety. Also, it’s hard to find a movie of his that doesn’t star Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, or Johnny Depp (especially Depp). I like Depp just as much as anyone, but I wonder if using him for nearly every major movie of his has limited their potential.

Mars Attacks!: Man, this could have been so good. Lampooning alien invasion flicks with a monster cast (Nicholson, Close, Bening, Fox, Devito, Brosnan, Portman) should have made this a slam dunk, but there’s not much here that’s actually funny. Amusing at times, and maddeningly flat most of the time, coming off too much like the films it’s supposed to be lampooning.

Grade: D

Batman Returns: Been a long time since I’ve seen this, but I remember feeling quite underwhelmed by Devito’s Penguin and Pfeiffer’s CatWoman.

Grade: D+

Batman: It’s impossible to compare this to Christopher Nolan’s movies as they shoot for completely different styles. While Nolan’s movies go for the more modern “realistic” superhero, Burton was obviously going for a comic book feel. He does this mostly well. Nicholson’s Joker is really good. Keaton is solid as well. Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of comic books so that likely affected my enjoyment.

Grade: C+

Beetle Juice: Ghosts hire an exorcist to rid their home of the new alive tenants. Not terribly funny these days, but I still enjoy watching it thanks to the imaginative world Burton creates and a very enthusiastic performance by Keaton. Alec Baldwin is good as usual and Geena Davis and Winona Ryder hold their own.

Grade: B-

Edward Scissorhands: An isolated scientist creates Edward (Johnny Depp) and gives him scissors for hands until he can finish the real hands. Unfortunately, he dies before he can do so, and the naive Edward rolls into town. His brief celebrity ends quickly as the prejudiced town members turn against him. Great performance by Depp, but like Pleasantville, it’s easy to choke on all the allegory being shoved down one’s throat.

Grade: B+

Other Tim Burton Movies You May Have Seen

Big Fish
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Alice in Wonderland
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Sleepy Hollow
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Dark Shadows
Ed Wood
Frankenweenie
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

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6 thoughts on “Tim Burton

  1. The only Burton film that I really love is “Big Fish”. In general, I think he has a gimmick that he keeps repeating and although he may be making a lot of money, it’s not something that I’m interested in seeing.

  2. I’m not a huge fan of comic books

    You’ve said this a couple of times – remember, it’s a medium and not a genre. I promise there are comic books that would make you say “I am intrigued by what comic books can do.” If you only ever listen to the radio, you’d say music was terrible, but if you dig, there’s greatness to be found.

    Big Fish is far and away my favorite Burton film, and I had it in my top ten overall when I made my list years ago. Next would be Ed Wood and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (primarily written by Phil Hartman). I have to strongly recommend all three, while still agreeing that Burton isn’t all that great in the overall sense.

    • Yeah, I guess what I meant to say is I’m not a big fan of superhero comics and the ones I’ve read. I have read comics I’ve enjoyed, and I’m sure there’s something out there that would reel me in.

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