Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tim Burton's Whimsical Adaptation: Part 10

Note: Disney has apparently killed every embeddable version of this trailer. Click here for Yahoo's high-res version.

Shoddy visual effects aside, is there a single surprising thing about the trailer for Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland"? And is there any chance I won't be seeing it?

Though hailed as this wildly creative near-visionary, Tim Burton has rarely given us anything truly original -- and that's a shame, because when he does, the results are usually extraordinary. "The Nightmare Before Christmas," which Burton conceived and Henry Selick directed, is a classic, and "Beetlejuice" remains his most memorable and entertaining film as a director.

But most of Burton's career has been devoted to adaptations or extensions of existing franchises. To wit:

• "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" (1985)
• "Batman" (1989)
• "Batman Returns" (1992)
• "Mars Attacks!" (1996)
• "Sleepy Hollow" (1999)
• "Planet of the Apes" (2001)
• "Big Fish" (2003)
• "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" (2005)
• "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" (2007)

And now we can add this rather "Chocolate Factory"-esque interpretation of "Alice" to the list.

I line up for every movie with Burton's name on it, more out of a sense of obligation than one of excitement -- and it almost feels like that's how Tim treats his movies now, too. "OK, I guess I'll make another quirky movie for the Hot Topic crowd." While it fit that decription, "Sweeney Todd" was Burton's best movie in more than a decade because it was a bit of a departure for him: a musical. His best film before that? The black-and-white biopic "Ed Wood," another departure from his decidedly different brand of normal.

What is Tim Burton's true passion? I can't imagine someone with his bursting imagination would want to spend an entire career reinventing someone else's ideas, but that's mostly what he's been doing. (One wonders if he's upset about not directing any of the "Harry Potter" movies.) His next film will be a reinvention of his own idea: "Frankenweenie," a feature-length version of the 1984 short film that got Burton noticed in the first place. I can't say I'm too excited by the idea of that film -- or by "Alice in Wonderland" -- but I'm sure I'll see both of them.

If he really wanted to shock his audience, he'd make a sports movie: "Tim Burton's Roid Rage." That could be interesting...

1 comment:

  1. Agreed! Calling Tim Burton edgy is like calling a group of identically-dressed emo kids non-conformist. But there are some really good Tim Burton movies, like the ones you mentioned and Edward Scissorhands, which I just had to bring up because you didn't.