The man Burton used to be one of the most exciting movie directors on the planet. But as we’ve discussed here, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen him at his best. With Sweeney Todd attracting awards attention, though, could Burton finally have rediscovered his touch? We hope so: and here’s a ready reckoner to look at just how good he once was…As Director:
VincentA brilliant short film, that was played before the cinematic release of The Nightmare Before Christmas in the UK. Well, well worth seeking out, as is Frankenweenie.Pee Wee’s Big Adventure Not bad, and signs of flair were evident. But it’d be Burton’s next film that’d be the one that sent his career soaring.Beetlejuice Proof that Winona Ryder was once a real talent, proof that Michael Keaton is a sorely underrated leading actor, and proof that Tim Burton was a director with genuine visual flair. Even after all these years, Beetlejuice is terrific.
BatmanSadly, comparisons with Batman Begins have hurt the original Batman, a film that’s inevitably overpowered by Jack Nicholson’s performance as The Joker. It’s still a good superhero movie, but the genesis of the character has been done so much better since.Edward Scissorhands Did nothing for me at all. Twee, corny, visually striking but ultimately sprinkled with far too much sugar, Scissorhands is original, but it’s really not a very good film.Batman Returns The first half of Batman Returns remains excellent, and it’s only when the need to start properly getting on with things kicks in that Burton loses control a little bit. The Penguin is a vile creation, and all the better for it, and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman should forever shame Halle Berry.
Mars AttacksToo fast, too flat and not what we were hoping for. Mars Attacks should have been great, and there are some terrific moments in it. But as a film, it’s a bit of a chore to sit through. Seen in isolation through YouTube clips, it’d work a treat.
Sleepy HollowA bit of a pantomime, replete with a pantomime ending, yet Sleepy Hollow has bags of style and is terrific fun.Planet Of The Apes Scarily bad. How such a strong directorial talent got mired in with this shambles beggars belief. And Burton’s never convincingly recovered from it.
Big FishA more personal story, and one that leaves people hot or cold. I sit in the middle a bit, and it was certainly a step up, but still a three star movie for me.Charlie & The Chocolate Factory A huge disappointment, one of two that Burton delivered in 2005. The sinister edge of Gene Wilder’s Wonka is evaporated in this – and who’d have thought you’d accuse Burton of this? – dull take on the Roald Dahl classic.
The Corpse BrideAnd again, a real disappointment. We’re coming to Nightmare Before Christmas soon, but Corpse Bride fails to get anywhere near it. Visually superb, technically amazing, but crap.As Producer:
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before ChristmasA brilliant animated film: great music, great story, great fun. Interestingly, Burton didn’t direct it, but his pawprints are all over the film.
James & The Giant Peach
Batman ForeverTime has been harsh to Batman Forever, which was crap back in 1995. Burton’s credit betrays the fact that he was barely involved in it, though.Last week’s ready reckoner was Steven Spielberg.Next week: it’s Gerry Anderson…