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C'mon Hollywood: Has Tim Burton lost his touch or have we lost touch with Tim Burton?

Oct. 9, 2012by: Paul Shirey

This past weekend I caught Tim Burton’s FRANKENWEENIE and while sitting there, soaking the film in, I felt an air of familiarity, as if there would be no surprises and a bittersweet, oddly happy ending. Yet, as the film came to a close, I sat there, nearly in tears before the credits rolled, and I thought that maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Perhaps, I wasn’t giving Burton enough credit and had been influenced by the Burton hate-a-thon like so many other movie geeks out there. Ultimately, though, I felt like there was a disconnect somewhere, either with us or with Burton. But, which was it?

Tim Burton’s name has become synonymous with gothic-themed films with a penchant for embracing the odd outcast. EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, BATMAN, ED WOOD, BEETLEJUICE, Pee Wee Herman, Ichobad Crane, Jack Skellington, Willy Wonka, Alice, Barnabas Collins, and now Victor Frankenstein are all characters that defy the norm and swim in their idiosyncrasies, much like Burton himself. It’s a theme that’s run through all of his films with the exception of PLANET OF THE APES, his most non-Burtonesque film to date, which features a strong, seemingly normal male lead in Mark Wahlberg. In fact, there’s very little to imply that Burton even directed that film.

Throughout the years, fans have embraced Burton’s style; the twisted trees, the swirly landscapes, the scary décor, and the old-school horror homage’s. All of the things that define Burton as an artist were welcomed with open arms. He was an original, a visionary, a true talent that showered us with eerie visuals and darkly comedic characters that poked fun at societal norms. His fanbase thrived and even helped to create role models for those who identified with the characters in his films. But, somewhere along the way, Burton began to wear on people. Or we began to wean off of him.

We could argue all day about when or how it happened, but it doesn’t matter, really. There simply came a time when the things that made Burton special started working against him. Slowly, his work began to be scoffed at by those who used to vehemently defend it. Another Burton-Depp collaboration, more twisty trees, more swirly hills, more weird people as protagonists, more Burton-looking creatures, etc., etc.; it’s all come down to a man who was once respected for what he did now being loathed for it.

Many people say that Burton needs to get back to the “old” Burton, but I’m not quite sure what that is. Even as similar as some of his earlier works are, they’re not that similar. PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, BATMAN, BEETLEJUICE, and EDWARD SCISSORHANDS have strong aspects of Burton’s signature style, but each are very different films. Those are all “phase one” Burton films, and usually the ones folks claim to love the most, notwithstanding A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (which he didn’t direct). So, were the films that followed just not as entertaining or not as similar to his “phase one” flicks? What was it that drove fans to look upon his films with dismay? I’ve always been a casual Burton fan, having loved or enjoyed the majority of his films, but never worshipping at his feet. I actually enjoyed ALICE IN WONDERLAND for what it was (a gothic fairy tale for the TWILIGHT crowd) as it took Burton’s style and added some color and charm. Many film geeks despise it, but I think they fail to see that they were never the intended audience. It was never going to be a dark and macabre film.

Burton stretched his wings with films like BIG FISH and PLANET OF THE APES, going “mainstream” to an extent with each, leaving an 8-year gap between SLEEPY HOLLOW and SWEENEY TODD, both of which relied heavily on the director’s more grotesque style (although CORPSE BRIDE snuck in there). Five years after SWEENEY TODD he brought us DARK SHADOWS, which wasn’t unwatchable, but a complete mess in the story department (I would actually label it his laziest film to date). But, FRANKENWEENIE more than makes up for it as a personal story with a restrained gothic charm.

Looking back over his resume of films, there were only a few that I really didn’t care for, with the majority being entertaining jaunts at the least. I think Burton just had a rough year and it’s created a hate-machine of epic proportions that has placed him in movie jail for many fans, who tick off his few missteps as cornerstones of a decline, when really he’s stayed fairly consistent throughout the years, both stylistically and financially. Or perhaps old-school fans have moved on, while the next generation moved in. It’s not the most unheard of situation.

I don’t think Burton has delivered his last great film and I look forward to what he brings to us in the future. Certainly, I have my own preferences, but with a strong line-up of films to his credit, I have faith he’ll deliver some worthwhile pics down the road. At the same time, I think he’s reached a tipping point where some fans will simply never return to his court. Perhaps it’s simply the price of never being able to please everyone all the time.

From Burton on his legacy: “The thing that I care about most — that you did something that really had an impact on them. People come up on the street, and they have a “Nightmare” tattoo, or little girls saying they love “Sweeney Todd,” and you’re like, “How were you able to see it?” Or you see people, especially around Halloween, dressed up in costume, as Corpse Bride or the Mad Hatter or Sally. It’s not critics, it’s not box office. Things that you know are connecting with real people.”

Extra Tidbit: Head over to the corresponding poll and tell us: What is your favorite Tim Burton film?
Source: JoBlo.comNY Times

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1:35PM on 11/05/2012
Burton's just trying too hard to coast off his past success instead of trying something new, Dark Shadows was easily one of the worst films of 2012, with Depp turning in his aboslute WORST performance by far, it was just embrassing to watch, Sweeney Todd didn't do much for me either, lame musical numbers, not a very compelling story. I think Depp and Burton have become too dependent on one another, I don't think it would hurt Burton to go outside the box with more films like Planet Of The Apes.
Burton's just trying too hard to coast off his past success instead of trying something new, Dark Shadows was easily one of the worst films of 2012, with Depp turning in his aboslute WORST performance by far, it was just embrassing to watch, Sweeney Todd didn't do much for me either, lame musical numbers, not a very compelling story. I think Depp and Burton have become too dependent on one another, I don't think it would hurt Burton to go outside the box with more films like Planet Of The Apes.
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+0
2:53PM on 10/10/2012
"Many film geeks despise it, but I think they fail to see that they were never the intended audience."
Is that why the masculine, mature, tough, R-rating craving moviefans keep ripping on the Twilight saga, because that franchise was clearly meant for them?
"Many film geeks despise it, but I think they fail to see that they were never the intended audience."
Is that why the masculine, mature, tough, R-rating craving moviefans keep ripping on the Twilight saga, because that franchise was clearly meant for them?
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3:16PM on 10/10/2012
Yes.

Twilight sucks.
Yes.

Twilight sucks.
12:49PM on 10/10/2012

Age has something to do with it.

As you mentioned above Paul, his main characters have been idiosyncratic outcasts, outsiders, freaks and such. Those types of characters resonate with youth. In school kids are always feeling like outsiders, there are cliques and groups and any individuality is squelched and stomped. So when we are young we connect with a Tim Burton film in a special way. As we age, those themes no longer resonate. Burton knows his audience. Why do you think he's making animated films like Frankenweenie
As you mentioned above Paul, his main characters have been idiosyncratic outcasts, outsiders, freaks and such. Those types of characters resonate with youth. In school kids are always feeling like outsiders, there are cliques and groups and any individuality is squelched and stomped. So when we are young we connect with a Tim Burton film in a special way. As we age, those themes no longer resonate. Burton knows his audience. Why do you think he's making animated films like Frankenweenie or remakes of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland? These are kids stories. Burton is eternally that outsider even if he is not in reality an outsider. he is a blockbuster established director, prolific and artistic, he has a great many friends in the industry because he's made a fortune for the industry. He is bankable. The reason why is that he still is eternally that awkward middle school kid sharing slices of his angst with other kids. He hasn't worn off on us, we out grew him. I love love love that he did Frankenweenie, and that he still is making films for all ages, especially the kids. A darker glimpse for the kids of course, not just sanitized pap.
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1:00PM on 10/10/2012
I like most of Burton's films, I have seen most of them. I was most disappointed in Planet Of The Apes. I think Tim Roth was great in the film, but the script was sub-par, the dialogue was terrible, Mark Wahlberg had little to work with. I actually LIKED Alice in Wonderland, I thought there was a daring approach to it, a re-imagining. It was artistic. There's always something a little bit OFF in a Tim Burton film. I like that.
I like most of Burton's films, I have seen most of them. I was most disappointed in Planet Of The Apes. I think Tim Roth was great in the film, but the script was sub-par, the dialogue was terrible, Mark Wahlberg had little to work with. I actually LIKED Alice in Wonderland, I thought there was a daring approach to it, a re-imagining. It was artistic. There's always something a little bit OFF in a Tim Burton film. I like that.
10:03AM on 10/10/2012

held hostage by his success

He has a strong, distinctive voice as a director. Like Chuck Palahniuk's writing, that voice can be an asset, and a liability. Also, like Chuck, he's reached a level of success that overplays a validation of that distinctiveness. Both have a strong voice - but that's not the only reason why they are talented. But try communicating that to them. I actually didn't think of the similarity before writing this post, because their actual style is so different - but they are similar in so many other
He has a strong, distinctive voice as a director. Like Chuck Palahniuk's writing, that voice can be an asset, and a liability. Also, like Chuck, he's reached a level of success that overplays a validation of that distinctiveness. Both have a strong voice - but that's not the only reason why they are talented. But try communicating that to them. I actually didn't think of the similarity before writing this post, because their actual style is so different - but they are similar in so many other ways. They are very defensive about their styles and fans, and dismissive of styles that seem to be at odds with theirs. But this all leads me to my point - precisely because of this success, and a "creative formula" - they seem less and less likely to veer into uncharted territory, but instead work to find nuance within the margins. But that's the problem - "creative formula" is an oxymoron. As good as their work is, they seem to be settling. I'm not disparaging the quality of what Burton has done (missteps and studio acquiescing aside). But I am lamenting what I see as a missed opportunity to go beyond his own comfort zone. Make a gritty detective potboiler, or a western. Or do something where he has to eschew his standard grab-bag of tricks. I think if he put his mind to it, he could make an amazing thriller in the vein of Hitchcock, without doing any of his usual stuff, but relying on his attention to vivid detail, and casting from the gut.
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1:56PM on 10/10/2012
I wholeheartedly agree. It's the plight of the artist; you get stuck in your ways, your style, your "vision" that you kind of forget to let it evolve. Most artists, be it writers, directors, illustrators, etc., find ways to keep it fresh and new. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's such a difficult task; trying to please an audience that loved you for what you originally gave them who now claim they want something different. Definitely not easy, but entirely possible. I think
I wholeheartedly agree. It's the plight of the artist; you get stuck in your ways, your style, your "vision" that you kind of forget to let it evolve. Most artists, be it writers, directors, illustrators, etc., find ways to keep it fresh and new. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's such a difficult task; trying to please an audience that loved you for what you originally gave them who now claim they want something different. Definitely not easy, but entirely possible. I think Burton doing a western or Hitchcockian thriller would be tits. I think a hardcore horror film would be great. I'd love to see Burton do some "gore" for once. He's teased it, but never gone all out. If it doesn't work, so what? At least he gave it a go.

I'm always intrigued by what Burton brings, some more than others, and I think he's still got it in him to bring the heat. Let's hope he takes the Clint Eastwood or Ridley Scott route rather than the John Carpenter one and age like a fine wine rather than a can of Coke.
1:39AM on 10/10/2012
Look I don't have a hard on for Tim Burton or anything but shit enough with the hate on Tim Burton for real on this site. I love this site but i have never read so much hate on a director than on this particular site, first on that ridiculous movie jail column & now on C'mon Hollywood, enough is enough already. In all honesty he has given us 2 very decent Batman films,maybe even better than Nolan's, ya i said said it punks!
Look I don't have a hard on for Tim Burton or anything but shit enough with the hate on Tim Burton for real on this site. I love this site but i have never read so much hate on a director than on this particular site, first on that ridiculous movie jail column & now on C'mon Hollywood, enough is enough already. In all honesty he has given us 2 very decent Batman films,maybe even better than Nolan's, ya i said said it punks!
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9:58AM on 10/10/2012
Uh, yeah, nowhere in my article do I present to hate Tim Burton. The opposite, in fact. You did read the entire article, right? It's not Shakespeare, but it does have a beginning, middle, and end.
Uh, yeah, nowhere in my article do I present to hate Tim Burton. The opposite, in fact. You did read the entire article, right? It's not Shakespeare, but it does have a beginning, middle, and end.
11:58AM on 10/10/2012
You're asking a lot, Paul.
You're asking a lot, Paul.
1:47PM on 10/10/2012
I'll try to scale it back @smooveluv. I know it is tasking to go beyond the headline sometimes...
I'll try to scale it back @smooveluv. I know it is tasking to go beyond the headline sometimes...
11:40PM on 10/09/2012
I've always said that "I don't speak Burton-ese", and his style is definitely an acquired taste. As a Batman fan, I can't say I 100% enjoyed his take on the material (particularly with Batman Returns), but I definitely appreciate what he brought to it, and how groundbreaking Batman '89 was for the time. I respect his vision, creativity and how strongly he sticks to his own style even if it not be 'the norm', and that makes him stand out as much as it makes him stick out. I visited the temporary
I've always said that "I don't speak Burton-ese", and his style is definitely an acquired taste. As a Batman fan, I can't say I 100% enjoyed his take on the material (particularly with Batman Returns), but I definitely appreciate what he brought to it, and how groundbreaking Batman '89 was for the time. I respect his vision, creativity and how strongly he sticks to his own style even if it not be 'the norm', and that makes him stand out as much as it makes him stick out. I visited the temporary Tim Burton exhibit at LACMA last year, and really enjoyed peeking behind the curtain at the method to his madness. Seeing all his original sketches and designs showed that while this was a guy who clearly has issues, he just as clearly has talent. I was also quite the experience to be inches away from one of the actual Edward Scissorhands gloves, and to see Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman costume laid out and the Batman cowls all sitting in a row. That, and those melted effigies from his Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film. Ugh.
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9:55PM on 10/09/2012
Tim Burton has done more to bring the German Expressionistic style into modern multiplexes than anyone else. I'd argue that "A Nightmare Before Christmas," while not a Tim Burton film per se, did more to cement his style in the minds of fans than anything else he's made, while "Sweeney Todd" was his most overt homage to the silent movies of the 1920s. The two leads are almost completely black-and-white. While I personally enjoyed "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" on the mere grounds that
Tim Burton has done more to bring the German Expressionistic style into modern multiplexes than anyone else. I'd argue that "A Nightmare Before Christmas," while not a Tim Burton film per se, did more to cement his style in the minds of fans than anything else he's made, while "Sweeney Todd" was his most overt homage to the silent movies of the 1920s. The two leads are almost completely black-and-white. While I personally enjoyed "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" on the mere grounds that aside from the Oompa Loompas I never did care for Gene Wilder's version, the last time he looked like he was doing something both Burtonesque and completely new was "Big Fish." Not one of his more famous movies, it mixed his exaggerated style with more straight drama that worked surprisingly well. I think pat of the problem may be that his aesthetic became a lot more popular than early fans expected. Blockbuster movies in general have gotten a lot darker, and with the exceptions of "Ed Wood," "Mars Attacks!," "Sleepy Hollow," and "Sweeny Todd" he's generally catered to the family. Truth be told, it's only been in his past couple of live-action outings that I have noticed the criticisms coming not just from the people who never cared for his movies, but from his fans, too. "Todd" was a huge success critically, and pure Burton. But "Alice in Wonderland" was just a let-down for fans hoping for a truly dark re-imagining of Lewis Carroll's world. It was inventive enough, but if I had a criticism to lay on that movie aside from catering unashamedly to younger audiences, it was the fact it felt like a sequel without a first chapter. Or, at the very least, "Hook." And with that, and then "Dark Shadows," people started jumping ship. So maybe he needs to diversify, and not go back to all the same players. Or at least throw Ewan McGregor, Jessica Lange, Jackie Earl Haley, Michael Gambon, and Stephen Fry in a movie (they're all actor's he's worked with, but not as iconic as Depp, Bonham-Carter, O'Hara, Landau, and Deep Roy. Christopher Lee needs to stay, he's the last of the great b-movie horror kings after Vincent Price and Michael Gough.
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3:40PM on 10/09/2012
I was having a conversation with a good friend who happens to be very much a fan of Burton's work and this is more or less the conclusion we came to: When it comes to his telltale style, the way neighborhoods look, the family dynamics, the cutesy macabre...all of those things were established in his original very much loved films, these things created the Burton fan base originally. Cut to- 2012, the most popular (read: financially successful) of his films are ones based not on his own vision
I was having a conversation with a good friend who happens to be very much a fan of Burton's work and this is more or less the conclusion we came to: When it comes to his telltale style, the way neighborhoods look, the family dynamics, the cutesy macabre...all of those things were established in his original very much loved films, these things created the Burton fan base originally. Cut to- 2012, the most popular (read: financially successful) of his films are ones based not on his own vision or style but remakes, and in all honesty if they don't star Johnny Depp, then they have almost no chance it seems. I think the problem is that his original fan base was built up almost entirely of people in love with his style and vision and so when a movie like Frankenweenie comes out and is his best, most "Burton-esque" work in years, we all get a little excited for a return to form. Ultimately though, even if we enjoy it, we end up sort of disappointed when it doesnt do well at the box office, as if people don't like it, or think it looks bad- when in reality kids these days don't really know of a Tim Burton that isn't live action, doesn't star Johnny or Helena, and isn't this bright, loud, huge production. I guarantee you that most if not all old school Burton fans have seen or are planning on seeing Frankenweenie and will love it. There are 2 generations of Burton fans now, and we are the first. The new generation is just simply brought up on a different Burton. I think that a lot of older fans biggest problem, even if they don't realize it, is that in his newer, bigger pictures he tends to still try to infuse them with his tell tale visual style. For those of us raised on Vincent, Scissorhands, Ed Wood, etc. etc. it automatically reminds us of a better time in Burtons filmography and instantly makes whatever new film it's in pale in comparison. Just my rambling two cents.
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+5
1:45PM on 10/09/2012
Great article. I would pick a director like Burton with his fingerprints, be it his visual style, his comon cast every time over the likes of Paul Anderson, MCG, Brett Rattner, Len Wiseman and all these other interchangeable new directors who got no personal touch or whatsoever to tell them apart.
Great article. I would pick a director like Burton with his fingerprints, be it his visual style, his comon cast every time over the likes of Paul Anderson, MCG, Brett Rattner, Len Wiseman and all these other interchangeable new directors who got no personal touch or whatsoever to tell them apart.
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1:19PM on 10/09/2012
I think the ability of using computers generated images has actually hurt him more than helped him. Alice in Wonderland is terrible and I say it's because of the over reliance on the CGI. It's amusing that a creative guy is handed a tool that lets him be more creative and it does the opposite. It limits his abilities to tell a story. Go back good Set Designs, Art Direction and Cinematography and leave the CGI world behind.
I think the ability of using computers generated images has actually hurt him more than helped him. Alice in Wonderland is terrible and I say it's because of the over reliance on the CGI. It's amusing that a creative guy is handed a tool that lets him be more creative and it does the opposite. It limits his abilities to tell a story. Go back good Set Designs, Art Direction and Cinematography and leave the CGI world behind.
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12:34PM on 10/09/2012
I think one of the primary issues with Burton is repetition. Audiences have come to expect Depp and Carter to play a major role in each of his future films where it becomes even problematic for someone like Depp to truly disappear into character because there aren't really any crucial differences between the Mad Hatter and Barnabas Collins. He's spoke about a sequel to Beetlejuice but he doesn't need to do that, it'll probably just ruin the original. I think he needs to get back into his own
I think one of the primary issues with Burton is repetition. Audiences have come to expect Depp and Carter to play a major role in each of his future films where it becomes even problematic for someone like Depp to truly disappear into character because there aren't really any crucial differences between the Mad Hatter and Barnabas Collins. He's spoke about a sequel to Beetlejuice but he doesn't need to do that, it'll probably just ruin the original. I think he needs to get back into his own original stories and worlds with familiar faces here and there.
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12:25PM on 10/09/2012

Burton has become predictable, IMO.

My concern with Tim Burton's films is that he does too much of the same-old, same-old. I really got that feeling after watching Frankenweenie: the main character was a real Mary Sue and the script didn't really establish his outsider status - all the other kids were weirder than he was! Although there were some fun bits, the film as a whole didn't do much for me. It didn't help that I thought ParaNorman played with similar territory and did it much better.
My concern with Tim Burton's films is that he does too much of the same-old, same-old. I really got that feeling after watching Frankenweenie: the main character was a real Mary Sue and the script didn't really establish his outsider status - all the other kids were weirder than he was! Although there were some fun bits, the film as a whole didn't do much for me. It didn't help that I thought ParaNorman played with similar territory and did it much better.
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12:09PM on 10/09/2012
I think sometimes studios intervene with Burton's creativity to create a good film. He just needs some space to let his crazy imagination runs wild. Extra tidbit: Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! BeetleJUICE!!!
I think sometimes studios intervene with Burton's creativity to create a good film. He just needs some space to let his crazy imagination runs wild. Extra tidbit: Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! BeetleJUICE!!!
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12:02PM on 10/09/2012
I don't think his "style" wore out on me but moreso the level of enjoyment of past films. As a guy who enjoys some musicals going with friends who LOVE musicals, Sweeny Todd just missed the mark for us all. It wasn't the style that ruined it, it was the story. You just didn't care.
Now take Big Fish, a more mainstream film. Personally I LOVED it. For a not so Burtonesque film it is a fantastic film. Then switch to Planet of the Apes, another more mainstream style film where the story was
I don't think his "style" wore out on me but moreso the level of enjoyment of past films. As a guy who enjoys some musicals going with friends who LOVE musicals, Sweeny Todd just missed the mark for us all. It wasn't the style that ruined it, it was the story. You just didn't care.
Now take Big Fish, a more mainstream film. Personally I LOVED it. For a not so Burtonesque film it is a fantastic film. Then switch to Planet of the Apes, another more mainstream style film where the story was horrible, the actors felt bland, the blonde bimbo felt wasted, and everything about this remake just didn't...I didn't give a crap. IT didn't engage people to care let alone be able to enjoy the film. This is the issue I am finding with Burton. Not that his style and constant use of Depp and his wife, that doesn't bother me. It's the stories don't grab me. I don't look at his current work and compare them to the 80's. That was 30 years ago. Just cause some newer work isn't as good doesn't mean Burton has gone stale. Just not all projects turn out. That's all it is.
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11:49AM on 10/09/2012
Great article...I think Burton is a great director, minus Apes and Alice. I saw Frankenweenie over the weekend and was crying myself. The film rang very close to me with my dog who recently passed. It was a simple film, but Tim knew exactly what to do with the movie. He did to me what Big Fish did and that was bring out emotion. All of Tim's films have great characters and they connect with you some way or the other. Hell, I really liked Dark Shadows and enjoyed every second of it. Tim has and
Great article...I think Burton is a great director, minus Apes and Alice. I saw Frankenweenie over the weekend and was crying myself. The film rang very close to me with my dog who recently passed. It was a simple film, but Tim knew exactly what to do with the movie. He did to me what Big Fish did and that was bring out emotion. All of Tim's films have great characters and they connect with you some way or the other. Hell, I really liked Dark Shadows and enjoyed every second of it. Tim has and always will make great films even if everyone else doesn't agree. Not to keep beating a dead horse, but seriously best article I've read on here in awhile.
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11:33AM on 10/09/2012

Totally agree.

Burton will always be one of my favorite directors. The hate he seems to get now is uncalled for and bitter for the sake of being bitter imo. For every Alice In Wonderland we have a Sleepy Hollow. For every Planet of the Apes we have a Big Fish. For every Dark Shadows we have a Sweeney Todd, or an Ed Wood, or an Edward Scissorhands, or a Beetlejuice....not to mention Mars Attacks. One of the most underrated and hilarious spoofs ever made. Burton fucking rocks!
Burton will always be one of my favorite directors. The hate he seems to get now is uncalled for and bitter for the sake of being bitter imo. For every Alice In Wonderland we have a Sleepy Hollow. For every Planet of the Apes we have a Big Fish. For every Dark Shadows we have a Sweeney Todd, or an Ed Wood, or an Edward Scissorhands, or a Beetlejuice....not to mention Mars Attacks. One of the most underrated and hilarious spoofs ever made. Burton fucking rocks!
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11:24AM on 10/09/2012

I don't want old Burton back, I want NEW Burton

The problem with Burton is that he didn't change enough to make things interesting. It turns out that Johnny Depp is far mor limited as an actor than we originally thought and all those wacky parts he plays for Burton starts looking the same. Helena Bonham-Carter is a very fine character actress but she's not really a star, and she also loses her appeal when she plays the same type of characters. Dany Elfman sounds like he's been using the same score for all the Burton comedies and even though
The problem with Burton is that he didn't change enough to make things interesting. It turns out that Johnny Depp is far mor limited as an actor than we originally thought and all those wacky parts he plays for Burton starts looking the same. Helena Bonham-Carter is a very fine character actress but she's not really a star, and she also loses her appeal when she plays the same type of characters. Dany Elfman sounds like he's been using the same score for all the Burton comedies and even though his Gothic style is still beautiful, set designs and costumes don't make a movie. He needs to get out of its comfort zone. He was once called the dark Spielberg, but Spielberg can be dark and mature when he wants to. It's time for Tim Burton to show us an aspect of himself we don't know yet.
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11:05AM on 10/09/2012

Totally agree with you.

Tim Burton has never been my favorite director but I always seem to find entertainment in his films. Obviously his earlier works are more popular and I can see why people have become frustrated but honestly I enjoy his movies. Even a bad Tim Burton film is better than Taken 2 or Paranormal Activity 4. One thing you can say about the guy is he has his style and he sticks with it. I just think he doesn't get the opportunity to take chances anymore with movies like Ed Wood or Edward Scissorhands
Tim Burton has never been my favorite director but I always seem to find entertainment in his films. Obviously his earlier works are more popular and I can see why people have become frustrated but honestly I enjoy his movies. Even a bad Tim Burton film is better than Taken 2 or Paranormal Activity 4. One thing you can say about the guy is he has his style and he sticks with it. I just think he doesn't get the opportunity to take chances anymore with movies like Ed Wood or Edward Scissorhands because the only scripts studio heads are handing him are big properties. It may appear they are right with the lack of success Frankinweenie has attained. Passion project that fails to connect with mainstream audiences? Come on now, that doesn't make money! Even with Dark Shadows flopping, I don't see studios turning on him yet. He'll need a couple more flops before he loses Depp and gets back to making indies. I'd like to see him tackle another horror movie, as Sleepy Hollow is probably my favorite of his. Good column!
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11:42AM on 10/09/2012
I completely agree on Burton doing horror again. Sleepy Hollow is my personal fave of his and I'd love to see him tackle the genre again and perhaps dive even deeper into the darkness. Get bloody, if you will.

Strangely, Dark Shadows was a letdown, but actually made back it's budget and then some, so it's not a total loss at all (worldwide gross is at $238 million). Frankenweenie will likely turn a better profit as it was a much more modestly budgeted project, but the box office is
I completely agree on Burton doing horror again. Sleepy Hollow is my personal fave of his and I'd love to see him tackle the genre again and perhaps dive even deeper into the darkness. Get bloody, if you will.

Strangely, Dark Shadows was a letdown, but actually made back it's budget and then some, so it's not a total loss at all (worldwide gross is at $238 million). Frankenweenie will likely turn a better profit as it was a much more modestly budgeted project, but the box office is still not good. We'll see how it all shakes out.

Thanks for chiming in!
10:59AM on 10/09/2012

Nice article. BUT the thing is...

...if the gods alerted the earth in 1993 that Tim Burton would one day direct versions of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Alice In Wonderland" - the whole world would cry out with joy and excitement. These may have been thought of as THE ULTIMATE Burton-fan wish. For him to make the versions he did (neither of which I hated, btw), I think it really shows how he failed with expectations (duh.) - but more than that; he failed with a fulfillment of his own brilliant style. So we asked
...if the gods alerted the earth in 1993 that Tim Burton would one day direct versions of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Alice In Wonderland" - the whole world would cry out with joy and excitement. These may have been thought of as THE ULTIMATE Burton-fan wish. For him to make the versions he did (neither of which I hated, btw), I think it really shows how he failed with expectations (duh.) - but more than that; he failed with a fulfillment of his own brilliant style. So we asked ourselves: has Tim permanently changed? :(

Anyway, I love Tim to death and I respect the hell out of him - and I agree, some gems are definitely ahead of us...
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10:37AM on 10/09/2012
For some directors, the rise of CGI has been a curse. Suddenly they can put on film everything that pops into their imagination. Wish fulfillment with 12-hours of render time. Spielberg, Lucas, Tim Burton have been the most obviously effected. Only now are directors recognizing the limits to CGI and finding ways to weave it into other film techniques.

Its the story of Jaws. The big mechanical shark didn't work as intended, so they had to shoot around it. And precisely because you only
For some directors, the rise of CGI has been a curse. Suddenly they can put on film everything that pops into their imagination. Wish fulfillment with 12-hours of render time. Spielberg, Lucas, Tim Burton have been the most obviously effected. Only now are directors recognizing the limits to CGI and finding ways to weave it into other film techniques.

Its the story of Jaws. The big mechanical shark didn't work as intended, so they had to shoot around it. And precisely because you only catch glimpses of this titanic monster until the very end...its one of the scariest, best-directed films of all time. Boundaries inspire creativity in many people. And inspire awe in audiences who wonder 'how did they pull that off?'

My favorite Burton films are the ones where he had to go out in the real world and FIND things that were odd or kooky or scary. The houses in Scissorhands, the dinosaur in Peewee, the mere cast of characters in Ed Wood. Or at least sit down and build them with plaster and clay. That human touch allows us to connect with his outcast characters, sympathize with them...and appreciate the true charms of the movie's visuals.

So I'm not surprised Frankenweenie is a hit with the people who actually went to see it. Burton set boundaries for himself with the stop-motion format and that freed him to tell a story.
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