Friday, October 29, 2010

Tim Burton has lost it

I was once a Tim Burton fan. As a kid, I grew up watching Beetlejuice whenever it was on television. I knew every line to Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, and had my own set of Batman pajamas, complete with a cape.

As I got older, I watched his more serious films like Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood– films as touching as they were macabre. Between all the brooding and eyeliner there was a lot of heart in these films. Somewhere along the way, however, Burton lost it. The spark that all his movies carried was extinguished. What we are left with is a shell of an artist.

Pictured: Lost credibility.

The Nightmare Before Christmas premiered on Oct. 29, 1993. While Burton didn’t direct the film, his name is attached to it and it has become known as Burton’s holiday film. I didn’t know it then, but Nightmare Before Christmas would signal what was to become of my favorite director. He would go on to pander to the Hot Topic consumer, making movies that would look good on a t-shirt.

It’s the Tim Burton brand that is holding him back. His movies have always been recognizable, but there used to be a time when artistic integrity came before aesthetics. There was once a time when Burton made art; now, he just makes products. Searching Nightmare Before Christmas on Hot Topic's homepage yielded 95 pieces of merchandise. That includes Nightmare Before Christmas t-shirts, slap bracelets, necklaces, chairs, sketchbook, underwear, silly bands and an album featuring artist Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco (god I hate exclamation points). I grew up with this movie, please don't wear Jack Skellington's face over your cootch.

Damn you all for affecting my enjoyment of this classic.

Big Fish was his last great film. It’s a charming yarn about fathers, sons, and the importance of storytelling. Any director would be proud to hang their hat on it, and I hope one day it gets recognized as his masterpiece. Everything that has come after that, however, has been nothing but a disappointment. These disappointments are too wrapped up and self-satisfied with their own weirdness to care.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd and Alice in Wonderland are nothing more than repackaging with Burton’s name attached to it. These movies didn’t need to be made. The products themselves have been a mess made for no other reason than to sell shirts with Johnny Depp on them at the mall. Taking a previous property and making it weird does not constitute art. There is no message, theme, or anything to be taken from the films other than “Man, Johnny Depp sure can act strange.”

Corpse Bride was good, but in the end it was a retread to territory that Burton has already had success with in Nightmare Before Christmas. While it was a solid film, its backpedaling nature invalidates it. Sweeney Todd, for all its ambition, failed to have any real vision. While not a horrible movie, anything good about it could probably be found in the original stage production. Once you take that out, all you have left is Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in goth makeup.

Aren't they so kooky in his movies?

Depp and Bonham Carter are established and respected actors; nevertheless, Burton is using them to death. Seeing their constant inclusion in every film is distracting. Directors are allowed to keep a stable of actors, but the overuse of Depp and Bonham Carter has just become ridiculous. It’s at the point where they are no longer actors, just features in whatever product is being made.

I hope that Burton rediscovers himself soon, because his movies are a shallow reflection of how great he once was. Art takes talent to be great, not demented vision. Sadly, Burton may have lost talent. His next two planned films show no change in trend, being a remake of a vampire soap opera and a remake of one of his own short films.

To add insult to injury, there are even rumors that Disney is going to push for Alice in Wonderland to receive nominations for Best Picture and Best Director at the Academy Awards. I pray that he does not get any award, for fear of losing the director I once admired. We cannot reward him for becoming the sell out that he has become.

Lets pretend the Plant of the Apes remake never existed.


  1. I think this is probably your best entry, or at least my favorite one. Mars attacks was good too, a great tribute to classic b horror movies, but I hated Edward Scissorhands, felt to me like I was watching Tim Burton masturbate on screen for a couple hours.

  2. I have no problem with Tim Burton masturbation, it's just prepackaged masturbation that is lame.