It’s interesting to see that Johnny Depp is at a point in his career where he can just film himself with the cast for twenty minutes worth of a two hour movie, and then just rely on special effects for the rest of the film. I imagine Depp was in a bungalow vacationing, and would interrupt his getaway to film his footage for a few days with green screen. For a film that revolves around demonizing technology to emphasize how it destroys humanity and human contact, it’s inadvertently comical to see most of Depp’s performance rely solely on him having zero contact with anyone in the cast. And even when Depp is on screen, you’d swear he was being played by a robotic double still figuring out that tricky concept called emotions.
Were people actually clamoring for a big screen adaptation of a soapy daytime horror melodrama from the fifties that only hardcore horror fans know? Did we really have to have a big screen adaptation of a Gothic soap opera? It’s no wonder director Tim Burton approaches the adaptation of “Dark Shadows” with a tongue in cheek often derisive attitude. The show is obscure among the broader audiences, and even when he fine tunes the film with goofy humor and testicle jokes, it’s still so niche that not even hardcore Burton apologists will enjoy what he has to offer. Like most recent Burton productions, “Dark Shadow” is gaudy, busy, and feels like Burton going through the motions without an inch of heart injected in to the narrative.
What Disney studios have done is completely remade their take of “Alice in Wonderland” except they’ve given director Tim Burton carte blanche to completely re-think the lore and Burtonize it to the fullest extent. These days though, Burtonize is akin to doing basically nothing to completely re-work a formula. “Alice in Wonderland” is Tim Burton basically just riding on his name recognition even more by offering up a re-telling of “Alice in Wonderland” except now with a darker tone, surreal imagery, the usual suspects in terms of supporting characters, and a cliché story about a person destined to save a land and become a warrior who will save them from evil.
Much like Tim Burton’s most recent films, “Sweeney Todd” looks brilliant, but beyond that you’d be hard pressed to find any material here worth taking home with you. Like Burton’s previous films, there’s not much beyond the gorgeous coating of colors and tones, it’s all hollow inside filled with one-dimensional characterization and actors so out of their element it’s astounding. While Depp is gritty as Sweeney Todd he can’t carry a single tune to save his life, so Burton and co. rely on him talking as he sings to mask the fact that he can’t truly vocalize. The same can be said for Helena Bonham Carter who is just average as a singer and nonetheless very forgettable as a character.
To pretend “The Curse of the Black Pearl” possessed an elaborate, epic story rich in characterization and subtle dialogue, would be to set up all sorts of pretensions. “Dead Man’s Chest” is in the same vein as the former, only slightly more intent on showing its blatant grab for big bucks. Disney ran out of ideas, turned to make their rides into movies and got lucky. Big whoop. “Dead Man’s Chest” is fun, though, and I can’t sweat them for that. Verbinski’s direction is on par as usual, and “Dead Man’s Chest” is a gorgeous epic, with some of the better action scenes that trump the original’s.
Believe it or not, I was hopeful for the remake of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. While I was never a fan of Tim Burton (I’ve always considered him over rated), I was hoping Burton’s take on the story would be entertaining and very amusing, but alas, Burton botches yet another remake. For those whom may not remember, Burton completely botched the remake of “Planet of the Apes” which went from a thought provoking allegory about society to a dumbed down teen science fiction film. Now, granted, I did give it a good review, it was based mostly on the cast and make up.
Either way, don’t believe the excuses of the hardcore Burton fan boys, this is a remake in every sense of the word, but Burton goes in the hall of fame of directors whom just couldn’t top the original masterpiece.
The surprise twist in the end concerning our character Mort isn’t really surprising when you come to think of it in the end. It’s unexpected, that’s for sure, but it’s also very expected, an expected twist to a story that isn’t even that interesting. You’ll most likely assume to your partner what the ending is at the first thirty minutes of the movie, and then in the end you’ll be right. What a shame. You’ll more than likely find this derivative as I did with the laughable ending which was such a horrible mimic of “The Shining.” The story which was basically a take off from “The Dark Half,” and one question came to mind when the climax of “Secret Window” finally approached. Is Stephen King just repeating himself? I was honestly stunned and a bit amused when the ending finally came, because it was so derivative of past King stories.
“Once Upon a Time in Mexico,” an obvious homage to the westerns of Sergio Leone in every respect would be such a good movie, were it not so utterly ridiculous and laden with sheer stupidity and nonsense. I’m just so disappointed because I’m not sure what happened to Robert Rodriguez or what he was on at the time he wrote this but this is not his usual satisfactory storytelling, a note that left me asking “What happened?” I wasn’t sure whether this would be described as a sequel or a prequel and if this even left off from “Desperado” storyline continuity, because it stars Antonio Banderas re-claiming his role as el mariachi, but other than that, I was lost.