Is Tim Burton still relevant?
Perhaps no other director has shaped our view of the macabre as Tim Burton has. His films have thrilled generations fans and have produces some of the most memorable characters in film history. With the release of the Burton produced 9 today and Alice in Wonderland set to drop next year, the director is once again in the limelight. But one question above all others begs to be asked.
Is Tim Burton still relevant?
To me, the true barometer of a creative genius is their ability to push the envelope and produce their visions. Burton has possibly encompassed that better than any director has. What sends up red flags for me is seeing a director take steps back and begin relying on consumer packaged ideas.
The past few outings of Burton’s have been rough for me. I wasn’t too on board with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I didn’t like Corpse Bride and I think Johnny Depp was the power behind Sweeny Todd. So where does that leave us? Can we narrow down to when the air began seeping from Burton’s hot air balloon? I can.
I think we can all goes back to a not-so-little film he did in 2001 and the light bulb will go off. Planet of the Apes was the first time I went to a theater and witnessed a Burton film that was completely devoid of emotion, or life for that matter. Not once was I drawn in or engaged. The only thing I thought through the entire film was ‘Should I find Helena Bonham Carter that attractive while wearing a chimp suit?’ Nothing more, nothing less. That is what I took from that film.
He did follow with the very heart-friendly Big Fish, but followed with Charlie, Corpse and Sweeny. What has been missing? Could it be, dare I say it aloud, that Burton has fooled us all these years? Could it be that we made him out to be more of a dark visionary than he actually is?
I don’t believe that for one second. I will say, however, that his offerings since Apes have been lacking the emotional recoil one usually finds when visiting the theater to watch a Burton pic. Maybe he’s getting older or maybe we are. The truth is something has to change.
I like a nice remake as much as the next dude, but when I heard he would be bringing the classic Dark Shadows TV series to the big screen, I cringed a little. Not sure if it’s a good move yet or not, but at least it will be one vampire flick that won’t make my stomach curl with sugary sweetness.
Next it is said the man wants to remake his ’84 short film Frankenweenie. For anyone who has seen this flick, this idea is sheer blasphemy, unadulterated blasphemy. Frankenweenie is my favorite short films – ever. Why remake it? Either you are pressured by fans to revisit the well (Star Wars) or you’re running out of juice. I don’t suspect fans are beating down his door, begging for a Frankenweenie remake. Just a hunch.
There’s also rumors abound that Burton is eyeing a remake of Labyrinth. Again, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is another movie I loathe, but you don’t have to remake every weird, far flung flick you see, Timmy.
That being said, I guarantee you that Alice in Wonderland is going to be something to behold. This is the material Burton was meant for. I know it might sound like I’m backtracking and contradicting myself, but I assure you I’m not. There’s a big difference in a remake and a remake. If you don’t get what I’m saying, I hold a class the fifth Saturday of the 13th month each year to explain such matters. That easy enough to understand? Yeah, me either.
I believe Burton is perched atop a very delicate spire as 2010 looms on the horizon. Alice will undoubtedly bring him box office supremacy, but will it give us the Burton that lurks in our nightmares and whom we’ve come to love? Or will it be a momentary reign at the top?
You’re going to have to peep inside the rabbithole to find out.