Tag Archives: Johnny Depp

Tim Burton

Burton is one of those directors who just seems better at his job than he really is. He’s always been able to create stunning and imaginative worlds, and he’s able to get good performances out of his actors. But his scripts (he has written about half of his movies) tend to lack subtlety. Also, it’s hard to find a movie of his that doesn’t star Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, or Johnny Depp (especially Depp). I like Depp just as much as anyone, but I wonder if using him for nearly every major movie of his has limited their potential.

Mars Attacks!: Man, this could have been so good. Lampooning alien invasion flicks with a monster cast (Nicholson, Close, Bening, Fox, Devito, Brosnan, Portman) should have made this a slam dunk, but there’s not much here that’s actually funny. Amusing at times, and maddeningly flat most of the time, coming off too much like the films it’s supposed to be lampooning.

Grade: D

Batman Returns: Been a long time since I’ve seen this, but I remember feeling quite underwhelmed by Devito’s Penguin and Pfeiffer’s CatWoman.

Grade: D+

Batman: It’s impossible to compare this to Christopher Nolan’s movies as they shoot for completely different styles. While Nolan’s movies go for the more modern “realistic” superhero, Burton was obviously going for a comic book feel. He does this mostly well. Nicholson’s Joker is really good. Keaton is solid as well. Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan of comic books so that likely affected my enjoyment.

Grade: C+

Beetle Juice: Ghosts hire an exorcist to rid their home of the new alive tenants. Not terribly funny these days, but I still enjoy watching it thanks to the imaginative world Burton creates and a very enthusiastic performance by Keaton. Alec Baldwin is good as usual and Geena Davis and Winona Ryder hold their own.

Grade: B-

Edward Scissorhands: An isolated scientist creates Edward (Johnny Depp) and gives him scissors for hands until he can finish the real hands. Unfortunately, he dies before he can do so, and the naive Edward rolls into town. His brief celebrity ends quickly as the prejudiced town members turn against him. Great performance by Depp, but like Pleasantville, it’s easy to choke on all the allegory being shoved down one’s throat.

Grade: B+

Other Tim Burton Movies You May Have Seen

Big Fish
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Alice in Wonderland
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Sleepy Hollow
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Dark Shadows
Ed Wood
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure

Wes Craven

A prolific horror director whose movies have never lived up to the weight of his name, at least from the movies I’ve seen. I really like good horror, but it’s really hard to spook me on the big screen. I’ll give him credit for some cool ideas, but the end product has never kept me awake at night, nor talking to my friends about that awesome scene.

The Last House on the Left: Somewhat commendable, I suppose, for it’s pornographic depiction of violence and gore, but that doesn’t make it good. Production values are awful with the exception of the realistic gore, and the acting is even worse. There’s nothing exciting about the plot either, with a group of rapist/murderers unwittingly taking refuge in the house of the parents of one of their victims. Not much in the way of suspense, mostly revulsion.

Grade: F

A Nightmare on Elm Street: A unique and engaging premise: Freddy Krueger was killed by a lynch mob, and finds himself able to enter the dreams of his assailants’ children and kill them there. Some freaky scenes, but I saw this when I was young and didn’t really find it scary. Johnny Depp’s film debut, and he’s fun.

Grade: D

Scream: Another cool premise, where teenagers are being offed by a serial killer who is really fond of scary movies. Nearly everyone is a suspect, and there’s some cleverness throughout the script. Ultimately unsatisfying, with a bunch of mediocre performances by mostly mediocre actors.

Grade: D+

Red Eye: One half of a fantastic movie, Rachel McAdams is taken hostage on a plane by Cillian Murphy, who reveals to her that he is involved in a plot to kill the Director of Homeland Security and needs her help (while on the plane) to make it happen. If she doesn’t help, something even worse will happen. Very suspenseful first half; Cillian Murphy is a fantastic villian, and McAdams is also a believable victim. But when the plane lands, the movie devolves into cliche horror movie tropes and an irritating ending.

Grade: C+

Other Movies By Wes Craven You May Have Seen

Scream 2, 3, & 4
Swamp Thing
The People Under the Stairs
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
Vampire in Brooklyn
Music of the Heart
My Soul to Take