Tim Burton is the dog I refuse to put down, no matter how tired and sickly he has gotten. Ed Wood was his last truly great film. The rest since then have been in the arena between middling and unwatchable. But I don’t come to bury Burton, I mean to praise (and sternly criticize) him.
So I ask of you. What are Burton’s greatest strengths as a director and his greatest weaknesses?
1) I am actually a fan of his color choices, for the most part.
2) His skill with telling production designers and art directors what to do
3) His non-Depp casting is usually spot-on, even in his worst films, especially with smaller character roles
1) But he does nothing with said actors. Martin Landau in Ed Wood and Depp in the same film are the only two truly great performances he’s ever gotten from any actor across his entire filmography. He’s not an actor’s director in any sense
2) He’s never been that adventurous with the camera. His cinematographic choices are really rather dull once you get past the effects and designs
3) Just a lack of adventure all around. There’s no spice.
His work with composers
His work with production designers
sometimes doesn’t go far enough with his imagination
the Disney umbilical cord
They’re really the same. He has an amazingly solid stylistic signature that combines the plight of the misfit, with gothic expressionism and a well placed dose of humor. When working within this template (Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeny Todd), his work is strong. Efforts to deviate (Planet of the Apes, Alice in Wonderland) tend to fail horribly. Directors who can create outside their comfort zone should, but Burton is limited. This does not make him a bad director. It just means that he needs to work within given parameters.
art design and character are his strengths
pacing (most of his films and a fourth too long) and endings are his weakness (goes for big endings over natural endings)
STRENGTHS: Create atmospheres, and the use of music.
WEAKNESSES: No big connection with mature audience.
Weaknesses: Nothing to say, other than “being weird is okay.”
“They’re really the same. He has an amazingly solid stylistic signature that combines the plight of the misfit, with gothic expressionism and a well placed dose of humor. When working within this template (Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeny Todd), his work is strong. Efforts to deviate (Planet of the Apes, Alice in Wonderland) tend to fail horribly. Directors who can create outside their comfort zone should, but Burton is limited. This does not make him a bad director. It just means that he needs to work within given parameters.”
Pretty much this. The guy is only really good at doing one or two things, but he does them well, or at least used to anyway. I’d be weary of associating Ed Wood too closely to the other films mentioned, but you are right that they are least share some common ground, even if they are totally different.
Westley is right that his greatest strengths are also his greatest weakness. I think the budgets aren’t helping either. Burton needs to scale back a little and quit doing these huge films. Maybe that could happen though, as Dark Shadows wasn’t nearly as successful as WB hoped, but what did they expect? I knew that Americans wouldn’t go for it, but maybe it would clean up in Europe if they reviews were solid enough, because Depp films tend to do well over there. It did average business though
Strengths: Head of the Cannes Jury that gave the Palm D’Or to Uncle Boonmee
I’ve heard he has a weakness for chocolate.
Strength: He’s a visionary
Weakness: He’s a visionary with no vision left.
I was a huge Burton fan back in the day and I thought Ed Wood darn near a masterpiece. I also thought Big Fish was much better than people give it credit for and it was one time that Burton succeeded in branching out from his usual forte…yes it had the Burton touches but Big Fish was primarily a relationship film about a father and son. For me it worked.
I have pretty much hated his recent work though…..Sweeney Todd was abysmal…..Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was disturbing (and not in a good way either)…..and Alice in Wonderland was somewhat of a mess…..
He needs to let go of Depp…for both of their sakes.
I mean, even Ford could make a successful film without John Wayne once in a while.