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Posts tagged “Batman Returns

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.


Tim Burton – Batman and Stop-Motion

Burton’s ability to produce hits with low budgets impressed studio executives, and he received his first big budget film, Batman. The production was plagued with problems and Burton repeatedly clashed with the film’s producers, Jon Peters and Peter Guber, but the most notable debacle involved casting. For the title role, Burton chose to cast Michael Keaton as Batman following their previous collaboration in Beetlejuice. Burton had considered it ridiculous to cast a “bulked-up” ultra-masculine man as Batman, insisting that the Caped Crusader should be an ordinary (albeit fabulously wealthy) man. Burton also cast Jack Nicholson as The Joker in a move that helped assuage fans’ fears, as well as attracting older audiences not as interested in a superhero film.

When the film opened in June 1989, and became one of the biggest box office hits of all time, grossing well over $400 million worldwide (numbers not adjusted for inflation) and earning critical acclaim for the performances of both Keaton and Nicholson. The success of the film helped establish Burton as a profitable director.

In 1990, Burton co-wrote (with Caroline Thompson) and directed Edward Scissorhands, re-uniting with Winona Ryder from Beetlejuice. His friend Johnny Depp was cast in the title role of Edward, who was the creation of an eccentric and old-fashioned inventor (played by Vincent Price in one of his last screen appearances). Edward looked human, but was left with scissors in the place of hands due to the untimely death of his creator. Set in suburbia, the film is largely seen as Burton’s autobiography of his childhood in Burbank. Price at one point is said to have remarked, “Tim is Edward.” Depp wrote a similar comment in the foreword to Mark Salisbury’s book, Burton on Burton, regarding his first meeting with Burton over the casting of the film. Edward is considered one of Burton’s best movies by some critics. 

Burton agreed to direct the sequel for Warner Brothers on the condition that he would be granted total control. The result was Batman Returns which featured Michael Keaton returning as the Dark Knight, and a new triad of villains: Danny DeVito as The Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Christopher Walken as Max Shreck, an evil corporate tycoon and original character created for the film. Darker and considerably more personal than its predecessor, concerns were raised that the film was too scary for children. Audiences were even more uncomfortable at the film’s overt sexuality, personified by the sleek, fetish-inspired styling of Catwoman’s costume. Burton made many changes to the Penguin which would be applied to the Penguin in both comics and television. While in the comics, he was an ordinary man, Burton created a freak of nature resembling a penguin with webbed, flipper-like fingers, a hooked, beak-like nose, and a penguin-like body (resulting in a rotund, obese man). Released in 1992, Batman Returns grossed $282.8 million worldwide, making it another financial success, though not to the extent of its predecessor.

Next, Burton wrote and produced but did not direct, due to schedule constraints on Batman Returns, The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) for Disney, originally meant to be a children’s book in rhyme. The film was directed by Henry Selick, based on Burton’s original story, world and characters. The film received positive reviews for the film’s stop motion animation, musical score and original storyline and was a box office success, grossing $50 million. A deleted scene from The Nightmare Before Christmas features a group of vampires playing hockey on the frozen pond with the decapitated head of Burton. The head was replaced by a jack-o’-lantern in the final version.

Johnny Depp and Tim Burton Shot by Andrew Eccles

In 1994, Burton and frequent co-producer Denise Di Novi produced the 1994 fantasy-comedy Cabin Boy. His next film, and I believe his best, Ed Wood (1994), was of a much smaller scale, depicting the life of Ed Wood, a filmmaker sometimes called “the worst director of all time”. Starring Johnny Depp in the title role, the film is an homage to the low-budget science fiction and horror films of Burton’s childhood, and handles its comical protagonist and his motley band of collaborators with surprising fondness and sensitivity. Owing to creative squabbles during the making of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Danny Elfman declined to score Ed Wood, and the assignment went to Howard Shore. While a commercial failure at the time of its release, Ed Wood was well received by critics. Martin Landau received an Academy Award in the Best Supporting Actor category for his portrayal of Bela Lugosi, as well as the Academy Award for Best make-up.

Having been overlooked for Batman Forever by the Warner Bros. heirachy, Burton reunited with Henry Selick for the musical fantasy James and the Giant Peach, based on the book by Roald Dahl. The film, a combination of live action and stop motion footage was mostly praised by critics, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Musical or Comedy Score (by Disney regular Randy Newman).


Tim Burton – The Early Years

Timothy Walter “Tim” Burton (born August 25, 1958) is an American film director, producer, writer and artist. He is famous for his dark, quirky-themed movies such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Dark Shadows, and blockbusters such as Batman, Batman Returns, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland. 

Burton was born in 1958, in the city of Burbank, California, to Jean and Bill Burton. As a child, Burton would make short films in his backyard using crude stop motion animation techniques or shoot them on 8 mm film without sound. His future work would be heavily influenced by the works of such childhood heroes as Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl, as well as Edgar Allan Poe and horror and science fiction, such as Godzilla, and films made by Hammer Productions, the works of Ray Harryhausen and Vincent Price.

After graduating from Burbank High School, Burton attended the California Institute of the Arts to study character animation. Some of his now-famous classmates were John Lasseter, Brad Bird, John Musker and Henry Selick. As a student in CalArts, Burton made the shorts Stalk of the Celery Monster and King and Octopus. They remain only in fragments today.

Burton graduated from CalArts in 1979. The success of his short film Stalk of the Celery Monster attracted the attention of Walt Disney Productions animation studio, who offered young Burton an animator’s apprenticeship. He worked as an animator, storyboard artist and concept artist on films such as The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron and Tron. 

While at Disney in 1982, Burton made his first short, Vincent, a six-minute black-and-white stop-motion film based on a poem written by the filmmaker, and depicting a young boy who fantasizes that he is his (and Burton’s) hero Vincent Price, with Price himself providing narration. This was followed by Burton’s first live-action production Hansel and Gretel, a Japanese-themed adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, which climaxes in a kung fu fight between Hansel and Gretel and the witch. Having aired once at 10:30 pm on Halloween 1983 and promptly shelved, prints of the film are extremely difficult to locate, which contributes to the rumor that this project does not exist. (In 2009, the short went on display in the Museum of Modern Art, and in 2011 the short also played at the Tim Burton art exhibit at the LACMA).

Burton’s next live-action short, Frankenweenie, was released in 1984. It tells the story of a young boy who tries to revive his dog after it is run over by a car. Filmed in black-and-white, it stars Barret Oliver, Shelley Duvall and Daniel Stern. After Frankenweenie was completed, Disney fired Burton, under the pretext of him spending the company’s resources on doing a film that would be too dark and scary for children to see.

Pursuing then an opportunity to make a full-length film, he was approached by Griffin Dunne to direct the black comedy film After Hours, however, after Martin Scorsese’s project The Last Temptation of Christ was cancelled (although it would later be completed and released in 1988), he stepped in to direct it. Not long after, actor Paul Reubens saw Frankenweenie and chose Burton to direct the cinematic spin-off of his popular character Pee-Wee Herman. The film, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), was made on a budget of $8 million and grossed more than $40 million at the box office. Burton, a fan of the eccentric musical group Oingo Boingo, asked songwriter Danny Elfman to provide the music for the film. Since then, Elfman has provided the score for all but five of the films Burton has directed and/or produced.

After directing episodes for the revitalised version of TV series of ’50s/’60s anthology horror series Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre, Burton received his next big project: Beetlejuice (1988), a supernatural comedy horror about a young couple forced to cope with life after death, as well as a family of pretentious yuppies invading their treasured New England home including their teenage daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) whose obsession with death allows her to see them. Featuring Michael Keaton as the obnoxious bio-exorcist Beetlejuice, the film grossed $80 million on a relatively low budget and won an Academy Award for Best Make-up. It would be converted into a cartoon of the same name, with Burton playing a role as executive producer, that ran on ABC and later Fox.


Batman

Batman, created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, first appeared in Detective Comics #27 which was published on April 25th, 1939, and since then has appeared primarily in publications by DC Comics. Originally referred to as “The Bat-Man” and still referred to at times as “The Batman”, he is additionally known as “The Caped Crusader”, “The Dark Knight”, and “The World’s Greatest Detective,” among other titles.

In the original version of the story and the vast majority of retellings, Batman’s secret identity is Bruce Wayne, an American millionaire (later billionaire) playboy, industrialist, and philanthropist. Having witnessed the murder of his parents as a child, he swore revenge on criminals, an oath tempered with the greater ideal of justice. Wayne trains himself both physically and intellectually and dons a bat-themed costume in order to fight crime. Batman operates in the fictional American Gotham City, assisted by various supporting characters including his crime-fighting partner, Robin, his butler Alfred Pennyworth, the police commissioner Jim Gordon, and occasionally the heroine Batgirl. He fights an assortment of villains such as the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, Two-Face, Poison Ivy and Catwoman. Unlike most superheroes, he does not possess any superpowers; he makes use of intellect, detective skills, science and technology, wealth, physical prowess, martial arts skills, an indomitable will, fear, and intimidation in his continuous war on crime.

Batman became a very popular character soon after his introduction and gained his own comic book title, Batman, in 1940. As the decades wore on, differing interpretations of the character emerged. The late 1960s Batman television series used a camp aesthetic which continued to be associated with the character for years after the show ended. Various creators worked to return the character to his dark roots, culminating in the 1986 miniseries The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller, while the successes of Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman, and sequel Batman Returns, and Christopher Nolan’s exceptional 2005 reboot Batman Begins, and mega-hit sequel The Dark Knight also helped to reignite popular interest in the character. A cultural icon, Batman has been licensed and adapted into a variety of media, from radio to television and film, and appears on a variety of merchandise sold all over the world such as toys and video games. The character has also intrigued psychiatrists with many trying to understand the character’s psyche and his true ego in society. In May 2011, Batman placed second on IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time, after Superman.


Stan Winston

Stanley Winston (April 7, 1946 – June 15, 2008) was an American visual effects supervisor, make-up artist, and film director. He was best known for his work in the Terminator series, the Jurassic Park series, Aliens, the Predator series, Iron Man, Edward Scissorhands and Avatar. He won four Academy Awards for his work.

Winston, a frequent collaborator with director James Cameron, owned several effects studios, including Stan Winston Digital. The established areas of expertise for Winston were in makeup, puppets and practical effects, but he had recently expanded his studio to encompass digital effects as well.

Stan Winston was born on April 7, 1946, in Arlington, Virginia, where he graduated from Washington-Lee High School in 1964. He studied painting and sculpture at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville from which he graduated in 1968. In 1969, after attending California State University, Long Beach, Winston moved to Hollywood to pursue a career as an actor. Struggling to find an acting job, he began a makeup apprenticeship at Walt Disney Studios.

In 1972, Winston established his own company, Stan Winston Studio, and won an Emmy Award for his effects work on the telefilm Gargoyles. Over the next seven years, Winston continued to receive Emmy nominations for work on projects and won another for 1974’s The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Winston also created the Wookie costumes for the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special.

In 1982, Winston received his first Oscar nomination for Heartbeeps, by which time he had set up his own studio. However, his ground-breaking work with Rob Bottin on the science fiction horror classic The Thing that year brought him to prominence in Hollywood. Between then, he contributed some visual effects to Friday the 13th Part III, in which he made a slightly different head sculpt of Jason in an unused ending.

In 1983 he also worked on a short-lived TV series Manimal. However, Winston reached a new level of fame in 1984 when James Cameron’s The Teminator premiered. The movie was a surprise hit, and Winston’s work in bringing the titular metallic killing machine to life led to many new projects and additional collaborations with Cameron. In fact, Winston won his first Oscar for Best Visual Effects in 1986 on James Cameron’s next movie, Aliens.

Over the next few years, Winston and his company received more accolades for its work on many more Hollywood films, including Edward Scissorhands, Predator, Alien Nation, The Monster Squad and Predator 2. 

In 1988, Winston made his directorial debut with the horror movie Pumpkinhead, and won Best First Time Director at the Paris Film Festival. His next directing project was the child-friendly A Gnome Named Gnorm (1990), starring Anthony Michael Hall.

James Cameron drafted Winston and his team once again in 1990, this time for the groundbreaking Terminator 2: Judgement DayT2 premiered in the summer of 1991, and Winston’s work on this box office hit won him two more Oscars for Best Makeup Effects and Best Visual Effects. 

In 1992, he was nominated with another Tim Burton film, Batman Returns, where his effects on Danny DeVito as The Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and in delivering Burton’s general vision for what was an increasingly Gothic Gotham City earned him more recognition for his work ethic and loyalty to what was an intrinsic ability to bring different directors’ ideas to life.

Winston turned his attention to dinosaurs when Steven Spielberg enlisted his help to bring Jurassic Park to the screen in 1993. The movie became a blockbuster and Winston won another Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

In 1993, Winston, Cameron and ex-ILM General Manager Scott Russ co-founded Digital Domain, one of the foremost digital and visual effects studios in the world. In 1998, after the box office success of Titanic, Cameron and Winston severed their working relationship with the company and resigned from its board of directors.

Winston and his team continued to provide effects work for many more films and expanded their work into animatronics. Some of Winston’s notable animatronics work can be found in The Ghost and the Darkness and T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, James Cameron’s 3-D continuation of the Terminator series for the Universal Studios theme park. One of Winston’s most ambitious animatronics projects was Steven Spielberg’s AI: Artificial Intelligence, which earned Winston another Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects. 

In 1996, Winston directed and co-produced the longest and the most expensive music video of all time, Ghosts, which was based on an original concept of Michael Jackson and Stephen King

In 2001, Winston, together with Colleen Camp and Samuel Z. Arkoff’s son, Lou Arkoff, produced a series of made-for-cable films for Cinemax and HBO. The five films, referred to as Creature Features, were inspired by the titles of AIP monster movies from the 1950s — i.e., Earth vs. the Spider (1958), How to Make a Monster (1958), Day the World Ended (1955), The She-Creature (1956), and Teenage Caveman (1958) — but had completely different plots.

In 2003, Stan Winston was invited by the Smithsonian Institution to speak  about his life and career in a public presentation sponsored by The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.

In 2004, he expressed great disappointment when director Paul W. S. Anderson did not come to him for the creature effects for Alien vs. Predator, seeing as how he designed the Predator and the Alien Queen. “They’re like my children to me,” he stated

At the time of his death, Winston was working on the Terminator sequel, Terminator Salvation. He was also helping his old friend, film director James Cameron on designs for Avatar.

Stan Winston died on June 15, 2008, in Malibu, California after suffering for seven years from multiple myeloma. A spokeswoman reported that he “died peacefully at home surrounded by family.” His special effects still live on through his studio Stan Winston Studios, now renamed Legacy Effects, continuing to work on films after his death such as Pandorum, GI. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, Avatar, Enthiran, and Shutter Island thus continuing his legacy.