My love/hate relationship with Tim Burton continues

The first DARK SHADOWS trailer debuted last night, and it looks… erm, well, it looks like Tim Burton’s finally made The Addams Family movie he always wanted. Never mind that it doesn’t look much like the gothic 1960s soap opera it’s based on. Maybe it’ll strike you differently…

*shrugs shoulders*

I hate that I haven’t loved anything from Burton in nearly a decade. That’s not to say I couldn’t stand his Willy Wonka or Sweeney Todd updates—I’m indifferent to them, really—but the last time I walked away not questioning the macabre-minded auteur who I called my favorite director for about a decade was 2003’s BIG FISH, the one live-action film of his since ‘95 that wasn’t a remake, reboot, or re-imagining. Hmm…

Look, I’ll always love the guy’s first Batman movie (can’t tell you how monumental that flick was to the 9-year-old me), as well as MARS ATTACKS and THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, even though emo kids try to claim the latter as theirs. No lie, I’d probably put 3 or 4 of his movies in my 100 favorite films—definitely ED WOOD and EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, maybe BEETLEJUICE, and yes, possibly PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE. Up until that disastrous PLANET OF THE APES remake, Tim Burton’s track record was damn good. That’s why it’s so frustrating to see his recent efforts. Maybe it’s because it all seems so familiar. Here’s the rundown of his last four features: Johnny Depp? Check. Helena Bonham Carter? Check. Story steeped in gothic quirkiness? Check. DARK SHADOWS marks the director’s eighth collaboration with the aforementioned Captain Jack Sparrow, and even Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe think they could use a break from each other.

But with every cloud, there’s a silver lining. Two weeks ago, another of Timothy’s films released an initial trailer: a feature-length, stop-motion retelling of his own 1984 short film, FRANKENWEENIE. The original live-action tale, starring Shelley Duvall, Dainel Stern, and the kid from THE NEVERENDING STORY, can be found on the special edition DVD and Blu-ray of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, along with VINCENT, itself a stop-motion short Burton shot in the early 80s. Both are worth a watch if you haven’t seen them. Don’t ask me why he felt the need to stretch the story of a boy who literally “Frankensteins” his dog back from the dead out for a big theatrical release, or to do so using stop-frame animation, but it looks a lot more promising than the above film.

So, here’s hoping one or both exceed expectations. I’d love to see something from him resonate with me even half as much as a handful of the movies he made last millennium have.

  1. rwhyan says:

    I’ve never really been a huge Burton fan but I agree, his stuff has been iffy over the last 10 years. Dark shadows looks strange. I’ve never seen the source material but this film kind of looks all over the place. Its trying to have a Gothic vibe but also has a funky 70’s style. Not sure how well that’s going to translate. Hope its good but you never know what kind of Burton you’re going to get.

    • Shawn Talley says:

      The problem is, his recent streak makes you wonder if this is all we’re going to get from him. I just don’t want to see the guy Burton-ize every offbeat fairy tale and book he was ever fond of for the remainder of his career. It’s easy to rest on your laurels and count your money (to pull a “Sandler” if you will). I just hope to see something inspired from him again.

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