Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – A Movie Review

Brilliant.  Absolutely brilliant.  I think, when on their own, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are very, very talented, but when working together-geniuses.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is exactly what it should be:  visually incredible; surprisingly sentimental; purely entertaining; superbly acted.  Depp continues to amaze me, and his Willy Wonka falls somewhere between utterly charismatic and surpassingly disturbed.  Burton grows and grows as a director, and is every bit as innovative today as he was twenty years ago.  I recommend this movie with the highest confidence; however, be warned, if you’re not a Burton fan, you may not appreciate his lavishes.

Sweeney Todd – A Movie Review

How can you go wrong with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp?  Answer: You can’t. 

First and foremost, you must understand that Sweeney Todd is a musical.  Many people don’t make this realization before they sit down to watch the film.  If you’re among them, don’t feel bad-you’re not alone.  However, bear in mind this is a film adaptation of Steven Sondhiem’s musical and the vast majority of the movie is pure song.

That being said, while I’m not particularly a fan of musicals, I am a fan of Burton and Deep, Burton, and Depp (in that order).  We get the classic gloom and melancholy playfulness we love from Tim Burton, and Depp makes Sweeney Todd his own with emotional glares, terse dialogue, and a stylistically eerie appearance.

And while it was obvious none of the actors were professional singers, I didn’t find Depp’s singing nearly as distracting as I thought I would.  Be aware, though, at times the music itself grates on the nerves.

Perhaps the most pleasant surprise Sweeney Todd offered was the scene-stealing acting and singing of Sacha Baron Cohen.  Of Borat fame, the nearly-unrecognizable Cohen dazzles with multiple accents, mesmerizing body movement, and probably the best singing existent within the film.

Burton, as usual, gives us wonderfully morose scenery and costumes.  Never a slave to convention, a musical would have been the last endeavor I would have expected him to undertake, but I’m glad he did.  It goes a long way to solidifying his versatility, and the fact he did it his own way with tremendous risk in casting only reestablishes my faith in his artistry.

Be aware, however, that had anyone else directed Sweeney Todd, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to watch it.  If you’re a fan of Burton/Depp collaboration or musicals, I think you’ll be pleased.  If you don’t particularly enjoy either, I’d make a point to avoid Sweeney Todd.

Ed Wood – A Movie Review

I’m a big Tim Burton fan, and when Burton and Johnny Depp get together, it’s always magic.  That’s why I always felt bad about not seeing the movie Ed Wood.  Released in 1994, I simply never got around to watching it, but after hearing about how good it was, I finally decided to sit down and give it a watch.

First a little background information-Ed Wood was a director responsible for famous B-movies such as Plan 9 from Outer Space.  He died in 1978 and two years later was voted “Worst Director of All Time.”  He also had a penchant for dressing in women’s clothing, despite the fact he was a reputedly a staunch heterosexual.  He used Bela Lugosi, famous for his portrayal of Dracula in his younger days, in a few of his films well after Lugosi had been forgotten by Hollywood.  Once Lugosi died, Wood’s career took a turn for the worse-not that it’d ever been great-and he faded away.

Of course, such a strange life and career is right up Tim Burton’s alley, and Burton assembled an incredible cast of actors in this film.  (Remember this is 1994.)  He secured Johnny Depp, Sarah Jessica Parker, Bill Murray, and a charismatic and Oscar winning performance from Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi.

While I appreciated the acting and the homage paid to Wood by Burton, the overall storyline didn’t really interest me all that much.  Ed Wood’s story, while odd, didn’t captivate me as perhaps it would a fan of his B-movies.  Those standards I usually appreciate from Burton in movies such as Edward Scissorhands, Beetle Juice, Sleepy Hollow, and Big Fish were also absent.  I’m not saying this is a bad thing; I’m saying that it simply didn’t interest me all that much.

That said, though, if you really want to see Johnny Depp acting his tail off, I’d check this movie out.  Just be aware it focuses more upon Wood and Lugosi’s relationship than anything.  If I’d known this going in, I might have had a different impression of the film.  I really thought it was a comedy about Wood’s complete life story for some reason.  But, while there are some funny moments and characters, I found it really to be a rather dramatic story about a vanishing actor striving to remain relevant and a hapless director’s failed dream of making it big.