Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Tim Burton – Apes to Frankenweenie

Elfman and Burton reunited for Mars Attacks! (1996). Based on a popular science fiction trading card series, the film was a hybrid of 1950s science fiction and 1970s all-star disaster films. The film boasted an all-star cast, and although great fun, was a relative failure at the box-office.

Sleepy Hollow, released in late 1999, had a supernatural setting and another offbeat performance by Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane, now a detective with an interest in forensic science rather than the schoolteacher of Washington Irving’s original tale. With Hollow, Burton paid homage to the horror films of the English company Hammer Films, Christopher Lee, was given a cameo role. Mostly well received by critics, and with a special mention to Elfman’s Gothic score, the film won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction, as well as two BAFTA’s for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design. A box office success, Sleepy Hollow was also a turning point for Burton, he changed radically in style for his next project, leaving the haunted forests and colorful outcasts behind to go on to directing Planet of the Apes which, as Burton had repeatedly noted, was “not a remake” of the earlier film.

Planet of the Apes was a commercial success, grossing $68 million in its opening weekend. The film has received mixed reviews and is widely considered inferior to the first adaptation of the novel. In 2003, Burton directed Big Fish, based on the novel by Daniel Wallace. The film is about a father telling the story of his life to his son using exaggeration and color.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) is an adaptation of the book of the same name by Roald Dahl. Starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, the film generally took a more faithful approach to the source material than the 1971 adaptation, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, although some liberties were taken, such as adding Wonka’s issue with his father (played by Burton favourite Christopher Lee). The film made over $207 million domestically. Filming proved difficult as Burton and Danny Elfman had to work on this and Burton’s Corpse Bride at the same time.

Corpse Bride (2005) was Burton’s first full-length stop-motion film as a director, featuring the voices of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (for whom the project was specifically created) as Emily in the lead roles. In this film, Burton was able again to use his familiar styles and trademarks, such as the complex interaction between light and darkness, and of being caught between two irreconcilable worlds.

The DreamWorks/Warner Bros. production was released on December 21, 2007. Burton’s work on Sweeney Todd won the National Board of Review Award for Best Director, received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director and won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The film blends explicit gore and Broadway tunes, and was well received by critics.

In 2005, filmmaker Shane Acker released his short film 9, a story about a sentient rag doll living in a post-apocalyptic world who tries to stop machines from destroying the rest of his eight fellow rag dolls. After seeing the short film, Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov, director of Wanted, showed interest in producing a feature-length adaptation of the film.

Burton turned his hand to Alice in Wonderland, in his version, the story is set 13 years after the original Lewis Carroll tales. The film won two Academy Awards for Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.

Burton’s film Dark Shadows once again starred Johnny Depp, in the leading role. The film was based on the original Dark Shadows gothic soap opera, which aired on ABC from 1966 to 1971. It has received mixed to negative reviews from critics, some of whom think it is a tongue-in-cheek gothic comedy, visually appealing and fitting as an adaptation of the melodramatic soap opera, whereas others think the film has a very loose plot, is not particularly humorous, and that Burton and Depp’s collaborative efforts have worn thin.

Burton has remade his 1984 short film Frankenweenie as a feature-length stop motion film, and is set to be released on October 5, 2012.

In 2012, Shane Acker confirmed that Burton will be working with Valve to create his next animated feature film, Deep. Like 9, the film will be in a post-apocalyptic world, although it has no relation to the former film and is set in a different universe. Currently there is no set release date, although the film is rumoured to be released around 2014.

He also wrote and illustrated the poetry book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories, published in 1997, and a compilation of his drawings, sketches and other artwork, entitled The Art of Tim Burton, was released in 2009. Numerous figurines, books and various memorabilia of his distinctive works are available.

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