Tim Burton is no longer a genius.
I suppose you could consider this the second part of the Dark Shadows rant. That article was getting a bit long though and really, this part has more to do with Burton that Dark Shadows so breaking it up into two parts makes sense.
The thing is, I really WANT Burton to be a genius. He was. He really was. Beetlejuice is a brilliant comedy. Edward Sissorhands really defies description. Is it drama? Comedy? Satire? Fantasy? It works on so many levels. The Nightmare Before Christmas is iconic to this day. Really, think about how much Jack Skellington merchandise you see around….and that’s all from a single movie (rather than a franchise) made almost twenty years ago! And Batman. What can I say about Batman? I mean, you can talk about the Nolan films as much as you want, but Burton’s 1989 Batman redefined what a comic book movie should be and created elements of the character that are still a part of Batman today. Pneumatic grappling hook instead of a batarang with a string? Burton. Body armor? Burton (only other place I ever saw that was in Miller’s Dark Knight and it was ONE panel. Otherwise it was always cotton or spandex). Black costume instead of bright blue and gray? Burton. Look at the batmobils in the comics over the last twenty years. A lot of Burton influence. (Yes, Anton Furst too, but the movie was still Burton’s vision). How about a scarier Penguin? Burton.
Somewhere along the way though, he got lost. A lot of people will say it was the Superman movie, but I think it was earlier than that. Superman may have disappointed him and shaken his confidence (though that movie was doomed from the start) however I think he started a decline around the time of Mars Attacks. Its’ one of those films that just didn’t do well. Perhaps it’s a little too over the top. There’s not enough story in the source material to really make that work. And really since then, it’s been pretty much the same thing over and over. Everything looks too similar. everything feels the same. There’s nothing revolutionary anymore. Oh there are a few gems here, Sleepy Hollow is perfectly adequate. Good even. Corpse Bride is mearly Okay, but looks like everything else Burton has done and feels like a desperate grab at the past glory of Nightmare Before Christmas. There’s been too many “Safe” films. Series with a built in audience like Planet of the Apes, or Alice in Wonderland or Charlie and the chocolate Factory or Dark Shadows. Even his next film, a remake of Frankenweenie, seems like another furious attempt to step back to what used to work.
No. From what I can see, Tim Burton is out of ideas. And that’s a tragedy. What I want from Tim Burton, what I NEED to restore my faith, is something original. Not overindulgent….less pale faces, fewer curly black shapes. But something original, Something different that still feels like Tim Burton. And when that happens I will happily announce to everyone I meet that Burton is back!
But honestly, untill that happens, I’m done with you man. I’m not going to Dark Shadows. I’m not going to see Frankenweenie. I’ll pop in my old copy of Batman Returns and remember when you were still great.