10 Reason’s Tim Burton Has Gotten Boring
When Tim Burton came out of the woodwork during the late 1980s he was a uniquely dark voice in a technicolor industry. Having quickly established himself as a creative talent with a solid track record, even going so far as to re-invigorate Batman as a cinematic icon. Even though there were a few misfires his reputation remained strong. To this day his reputation remains intact, and one has to wonder why. Somehow an entire decade has manged to slip by since the last decent, or at least original, offering from the modern king of gothic cinema and as his latest movie, Dark Shadows, doesn’t look as though it’s going to turn things around. Here’s ten reasons why…
1. It’s been ten years since he experimented with his style.
As unique as Tim Burton’s style is cinema-goers have never been interested in watching the same thing over and over again. Whilst it’s admirable for any director to become known for their own distinctive style that unique feel will only feel unique for so long. The most interesting directors are those who experiment with different genres and style. The last time Burton tried something new it was 2003’s Big Fish. Before that it was Mars Attacks! in 1996.
2. He no longer uses original creations.
Burton has done some decent work using other peoples material, especially in Batman and Batman Returns. Regardless, his best and most iconic films have featured the characters birthed of his own imagination. Characters such as Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice and Jack Skellington will be what he’s remembered for. With the exception of Corpse Bride the past decade and a half worth of output has all been adaptations of plays, books and other films. It’ll be great to see something fresh.
3. The soundtrack is always by Danny Elfman.
What’s wrong with Danny Elfman? Nothing at all. His Batman theme is my ringtone. The opening credits of The Simpsons will forever be a part of popular culture and the score for Desperate Housewives was the best thing about it. His work is many and varied. Yet, somehow, when working with Tim Burton much of the material sounds resoundingly familiar. It feels as though Elfman is putting in as much effort as Burton does on his films.
4. He always uses the same lead actor.
What do the previous five Tim Burton films have in common? They all star Johnny Depp. This has become so predictable that it’s a running gag for movie buffs. It’s a Tim Burton film, it’ll star Johnny Depp acting all ‘wacky’. It wouldn’t be so bad except…
5. He always plasters said actor with two inches of white facepaint.
What’s the worst thing you could do with an actor as talented as Johnny Depp? Cover up his face. An actors ability to emote is crucial and Depp might as well be wearing a rubber mask for how much he’s able to express himself through the sludge he’s caked with. Actually…when you look back he seems to be getting a thicker layer with every movie…
6. He always casts his wife.
Ok, she’s a good actress. When she’s acting, like in The King’s Speech. For people watching a movie with Depp, Burton and Helena Bonham Carter it feels like we’re watching a family dress-up day.
7. He always claims that he isn’t showing his wife favourtism.
While Johnny Depp is capable of melding himself into any role (although Burton doesn’t give him much variation) Helena Bonham Carter has a very set group of roles she does well. Shoehorning Carter into every film regardless of how suited she is the part isn’t doing anyone any favours. But then Burton makes every shift uncomfortably and avoid eye contact by claiming the she auditioned like a normal actress had was considered on equal footing as everyone else. You may be kidding yourself, but you’re not kidding us.
8. The set designs are the same.
Here’s some great settings that could be used to really set a team of art designers loose to express themselves and push the boundries: Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, Sweeney Todd’s barber shop, Gotham City, Hallowe’en Town, Wonderland. So why do they all look the same?
9. He’s cinematography is stale.
Cameras have gotten smaller, lighter and better. With amazing advances in cameras and their mobility directors can achieve shots that they could only have imagined before. With everything now available to film-makers it’s a waste to simply chuck the camera on a tripod and let your actors prance about in front of it. If a stagehand accidentally jostled the camera it’ll be the most dynamic shot in the movie.
10. He doesn’t know how to use CGI.
Yet he seems to insist on using it. When shooting Alice in Wonderland in 3D the director said in interviews that he didn’t really know what he was doing, just playing around with the technology. It shows. While his early films used practical and creative effects he relies almost solely on CGI these days and it doesn’t suit him. While his standard shots are plain and dull they’re like masterworks next to his mishandled effects shots.
But let’s be optimistic. Dark Shadows doesn’t look like it’s going to turn the trend around, but his next film is…is…a CGI remake of one of his own short films. Shine on you crazy diamond.