Tim Burton has been consistently delivering magnificent films that are some of the most engaging stylistically for nearly three decades. His touch to a film is so distinct that there is no mistaking his work for someone else. When I look at his body of work I see someone who puts true heart into each project he takes on, and every movie I’ve seen him make has been absolutely brilliant. I’ve compiled this list in reflection that his body of work hasn’t been as strong lately, and even with my appreciation for the recent Alice In Wonderland, it was nice to go back and remember how talented and inventive he truly has been. Though his taste isn’t for everyone he has a special place in my heart.
10. ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Tim Burton’s “Alice In Wonderland” may not be what you expect. If you go in wanting the darkness, the violence, and originality, you may find yourself disappointed. Alice is rated “PG” and pushes the boundaries of that “PG”, but is clearly a film for the family. In spite of the fact that my expectations diverted from said initial hopes, I did thoroughly enjoy this film. There isn ’t anything ground breaking or overwhelmingly noteworthy about it, but Alice was a well told story, performed well, and very entertaining. This is easily a movie I could watch over and over again and enjoy more with time and that in itself is an huge compliment.
9. CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Most importantly we get to enjoy the humor behind Wonka, and the fact that this is truly entertainment for the whole family. The story is charming and the creativity is magnificently executed. A colorful and beautiful world visualized and realized threw Tim Burton’s unique perspective. The set design is incredible, and the cast delivers, making this re-make one of the few over the years that I’ve actually been able to enjoy for it’s differences and it’s likenesses. I won’t say one is better than the other, but this one certainly was a success.
8. SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET
Tim Burton has an insatiable knack for being able to portray the tortured soul in a way that makes them easily embraced and almost heroic. Perhaps there is reluctance at times, but heroic actions nonetheless. Sweeney Todd is the essence of a tortured soul trying to find meaning in the darkness of his existence, but for him he will find no relief until his final stroke of vengeance is met. It was a film full of amazing acting, stunning visuals, a fantastic score with brilliant songs, and an engaging story. It was certainly one of the best movies of the year.
7. PEE WEES BIG ADVENTURE
The cartoonish and childish character Pee Wee Herman goes on a big adventure for the first time ever when his beloved shiny new bicycle is stolen by his nemesis Francis Buxton, a fellow man-child and neighborhood rich “kid.” And he sets off on an obsessive cross-country journey, determined to recover it. Pee-wee’s awkward and childish attempts to be cool and mature.
6. BIG FISH
The movie begins with Will Bloom’s (Billy Crudup) narrative of his father. We see his dad, Edward Bloom, as an old man (Albert Finney) fishing. He then turns around and is young Edward (Ewan McGregor). Young Edward has grabbed the biggest catfish ever known to man. He opens the fish’s mouth and grabs his wedding ring. He lets the fish go. Will explains that his dad thinks the big is the spirit some old pirate who is obsessed with gold, therefore his dad attracts the fish with his ring
Tim Burton whisks us away into a full on fantasy world on a classic dark fairy tale. The rich feel of Spooky that you immediately get from Sleepy Hollow tells you this is going to be an amazing movie to sit down and watch, and frankly it’s one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever had the joy of watching. A visual happy ending, it just doesn’t get any better than the set design and cinematography present here. There are vast levels of entertainment here, and Sleepy Hollow becomes what for me, is one of Burton’s most successful creations. On every front one can desire there are levels of joy, fear, and of course romance. It wouldn’t be a Tim Burton movie without a romance somewhere in the mix of darkness.
Batman Returns fell slightly short from Batman, but it still was a commanding addition to the Batman family with some of the most compelling performances of its time. The Burton world of sadness in a deformed beauty is like a drug you can’t deny. There is something wrong about it, but it feels so good you simply give in to it’s pleasure. With Burton’s insatiable creativity and the brilliant acting, Batman Returns was a great sequel.
Beetlejuice is funny but it maintains it’s horror and fear factor as well. Random dialogue with an insane plot would make this flick seem crazy, and yet Burton’s final piece is an iconic classic, largely due to Beetlejuice himself. He’s the ghost with the most! Beetlejuice shells out his share of evil and funny unlike any other character before him. Somewhere it the middle of perverse humor and scary behavior Michael Keaton strikes a wicked balance between comedy and horror with this dark comic villain. Once again Tim Burton manages to tap into the isolated feeling of being an outcast, while also poking fun and the afterlife and suburbia. His unique ability to balance humor, darkness, and genuine emotion and visualize it is unmatched. Beetlejuice will have you horrified, hysterical, and maybe even slightly repulsed, but always remains intriguing and entertaining. This smart film is one of my favorite pieces of Burton’s work and is truly iconic.
Tim Burton completely captured the feel and darkness of Gotham City and it’s caped crusader. His Gotham actually felt like you had jumped right into the comic and were living it. The visuals were dark, but the off beat comedy of Burton was always alive, and the Joker was the perfect representative of Burton’s adoration of something bright amidst the darkness. For 1989 the action sequences were pretty impressive, along with the Bat Toys, specifically the smoothest of all the Bat-mobiles. I was lucky enough to catch this film in the theatre as a kid, and I can tell you there weren’t too many movies that were as exciting, fun, and smart as Burton’s Batman, and that still holds up today. Watching it after ten years have passed I still find myself enjoying it with the same excitement as I did in my youth. This is a movie for everyone and more important and movie that is lasting in it’s creation.
1. EDWARD SCISSORHANDS
Anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider, or ever felt alone can probably relate to Edward. What Tim Burton really showed was what it would be like to feel alone in a room full of crowded people, or worse, isolated from the people you love. It’s incredibly palpable. Visually and emotionally, this is Burton’s best piece of work. An off kilter fantasy set in a melancholy modern world, Edward teaches us all a lesson or two.