Monday, March 07, 2011

Underland


So, Tim Burton, eh?

Well, yeah...

He feels close to reaching half his career sucking as bad as the first half was delightful.

I know it's more complicated than that. Beetlejuice is pretty wonky as a whole and The Corpse Bride is a perspective shift away from being magnificent, as the two examples that leap out at me personally.

So, um, Alice in Wonderland?

I'm fascinated at how bleak and depressing it is. It's almost like a post-apocalyptic vision of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, which is intriguing to me in principle.

The trouble is that it matches that with a dull humorlessness that could be appropriate to the milieu, but doesn't match the kind of meandering storytelling method, which seems the only thing particularly like Lewis Carroll, ignoring the fact that the wit and mirth are what makes Carroll's meandering worthwhile.

Here Carroll's "Wonderland" is rebranded "Underland", apparently to make it more adult or at least one more befitting this apocalyptic vision. Unfortunately, it only proves Burton's lack of natural wit.

I doubt from all evidence that Burton is any kind of Carroll fan. I imagine someone at Disney has the bright idea "Lewis Carroll weird/Tim Burton weird, let's bring 'em together."

Certainly nothing in Burton's previous work shows any hint of a Carroll influence, and here he shows more disdain than affection for the source material, twisting it about to no particular use. It's no better as a Burton movie than it is a Carroll adaptation, which leaves it no good at anything at all.

Supposedly Burton has a stop-motion adaptation of The Addams Family coming up. I'm holding the last of my hope for Burton as a "living" moviemaker on this one. He has shown an affinity for Charles Addams and his much more visual than literary sense of humor. It's also apparently a return to working with Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, who also wrote Ed Wood, which I think remains easily Burton's best movie.

I can't imagine that if he fails with the deck stacked that far in his favor that much will make me believe he'll ever recover from this slump.


5 comments:

Neil Sarver said...

For the record, I included The Nightmare Before Christmas in the widget for this because the DVD includes Burton's wonderful "Vincent" and Frankenweenie. I think screenwriter Caroline Thompson and director Henry Selick deserve vastly more credit for the success of The Nightmare Before Christmas than Burton does. I meant to work that into the post, but it never found a place.

Oddly, I think for those younger than me, a childhood love of that movie accounts for a lot of the Burton love out there, much of which should go to Selick, especially considering how far superior his Coraline is to Burton's own The Corpse Bride.

Kimberlicious said...

I loved Beatlejuice and I guess i always considered my favorite burton movies to be " Nightmare before christmas" ,"Vincent" and Coraline . Which i guess only two are his! LMAO

Neil Sarver said...

Let's celebrate our agreement that "Vincent" is beautiful and inspired... and figure we need to fix the fact that you've not experienced the pure cinema bliss of ED WOOD yet.

Honestly, I think Burton has repeatedly shown enormous talent. His first feature is PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE, and while star/co-writer Paul Reubens and co-writer Phil Hartman deserve their share of the credit, that is an amazing bit of credit for making work. EDWARD SCISSORHANDS is a suburban fairy tale that I think is damn near perfect.

And while I think BEETLEJUICE is wonky, its also hilarious and a visual feast.

Not to mention, MARS ATTACKS! is great, in my opinion, and SLEEPY HOLLOW is a creepy little bit of old fashioned horror.

And ED WOOD is flat-out among my favorite movies. A brilliant tribute to enjoying movies and the purest joy of moviemaking.

If I didn't have a real love of his early work, I wouldn't have any reason to bother considering his recent work or hoping he'd return to his former glory.

I love you more than anything, my baby!

Kimberlicious said...

very true..you are the smart sauce..i love you tons

Neil Sarver said...

Maybe I'm "the smart sauce" or maybe I've spent too much time thinking about frivolous matters. Maybe it doesn't much matter.

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