I’ve been a fan of Tim Burton going back to Beetlejuice (1988) – that’s a long time. His interpretation of ‘The Dark Knight’ in Batman and Batman Returns was outstanding for its time and both movies still hold up to this day. However, lately his career (artistically speaking) is in the doldrums. Case in point – the trailer for Dark Shadows.
Burton’s career peaked with the outstanding Ed Wood in 1994, but since then he’s been on a downward trajectory – choosing safe movies without offering anything new. His over use of Johnny Depp (amongst others) is also a major issue, and to an extent it has almost become a joke. Now, I don’t mind actors and directors who work together – John Ford/John Wayne, Steven Soderbergh/George Clooney and John Carpenter/Kurt Russell have all done career best work as a pairing. However, Burton and Depp just seem to be playing it safe, working on autopilot and collecting their pay.
It hasn’t been all doom and gloom since Ed Wood, Mars Attacks, Big Fish and to an extent Sweeny Todd and Sleepy Hollow have all had their moments, although Alice In Wonderland was a cinematic abomination on an epic scale. Shame about the $1 billion box office. I’ll bypass Planet of the Apes.
Dark Shadows always seemed like a safe concept for a Burton/Depp pairing – and the trailer (which you can watch here) shows that tone of the film is aimed at a mass audience. It starts off well, and then descends into commercial drivel. Now, it could be a poorly put together trailer (after all, it is 2 minutes from a 2 hour movie), intended to get moviegoers to stump up their cash for a gothic drama, but I don’t think so. And don’t get me started on that music.
Burton has developed an over-reliance on CGI in recent years, a shame considering the model work of his earlier efforts was often the high point in the films. Just think back to visuals of Beetlejuice, Batman Returns and then compare it to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice In Wonderland. It’s grim, isn’t it?
To get back on track Tim Burton needs to ditch Depp and big budgets and make a small personal film like Ed Wood and Edward Scissorhands. Maybe he could give Michael Keaton a call.