Monday, June 2, 2008

Burton Bites Back (with Depp?)

Jeremy Smith over at CHUD excitedly reports a "scoop" by Robert Sanchez from an interview between Sanchez and Peter Segal, producer of this summer's Get Smart, over at Vampires seem to be taking over CCC, between my review of Count Yorga and last week's news of Willem Dafoe going after another vampire role in Paul Weitz's next film, Cirque du Freak. Tim Burton is evidently going to direct the film version of the 1960s vampiric soap opera, House of Dark Shadows and where Burton goes, Johnny Depp frequently follows. Or so Smith speculates:


Anonymous said...

I knew Depp was involved, but Burton is news (though not unexpected).

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Of course their a long-time team and this could be right up Burton's alley. Or it could fail miserably. Sometimes Burton overdoes things, if you know what I mean.

Alexander Coleman said...

I've been feeling an itch to check out Sweeney Todd again, to see whether it plays better or worse a second time at home. I liked it a great deal, but it never quite became the transcending experience some were briefly making it out to be, either.

Burton is undisciplined a good deal of the time. Sometimes his movies are terribly aggravating in their largesse. He does seem like a natural fit for this, however.

Anonymous said...

I have no desire to see Sweeney Todd the film again, but I'm a huge fan of the show. And while I felt that Burton did a good job adapting it (and he did a very good job working around the vocal limitations of his cast), I was underwhelmed by the film itself. It was distancing for me, rather than involving the way the show was. The aspects about the movie that I considered brilliant and "masterpiece" were 100% Sondheim in my opinion; except for the visuals, of course, which were 100% Burton.

Like Sweeney, this film does absolutely seem like a good fit, and as long as he doesn't descend into some of his usual antics (i.e. some unnecessary alienation-from-Dad back story which I think completely ruined Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, etc. etc.) I think it will turn out well. Of course this is just rumor right now - it may not come to fruition.

Alexander Coleman said...

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) was just about completely ruined by many things in my estimation. At least Christopher Lee was his usual amusing self. :)

Alexander Coleman said...

And, of course, I knew writing about Sweeney Todd was good bait for you, Alison, as you're nothing less than expert with regards to it and your opinion is very interesting. Not having a history with the Sondheim production, I can nevertheless see your points regarding Burton's stylistic contributions not adding all that much to the original stage production beyond making it into an accessible and well-crafted film.

Anonymous said...


Sweeney was a gorgeous-looking film and Burton's cast of actors looked gorgeous in it. But for me that's Burton's strong point - the visuals. Every one of his films is beautiful to look at, and he even picks the actors by their look and how that fits into the scenery. But sometimes he loses control of the story somehow or is just plain excessive. One of the reasons Sweeney is one of his more successful films is (1) he had flawless material to work with and (2) he stuck closely to the material (other than cutting/adding as was necessary in adapting the story from the stage media to the cinematic media) - he didn't embellish the story with unnecessary things that were never there (translate to "alienated-from-Dad" backstory, and other such nonsense). Thank God.

In the film, Burton presented the story of Sweeney with a much different, much darker tone. The play is outrageous and hilarious. Yes, it's macabre and tragic, but it's also raucous fun. The film had its comedic moments (particularly "By the Sea", which I thought he executed very well) but the emphasis in tone overall was on the melancholy and tragedy rather than the comedy. That didn't bother me; it was just different.

If he does do Dark Shadows and it's not just a rumor, hopefully the script will be a good, tight one and he'll stick to it.

Anonymous said...

Burton has left me cold since SLEEPY HOLLOW. He needs a great script.

Alexander Coleman said...

That's a wonderful distillation of many of Burton's biggest problems, Alison. Many of his unnecessary ornaments are too heavy for the film to carry. His horrid remake of Planet of the Apes and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory both suffered terribly from these impulses.

Sweeney Todd kept him reined in and the results were immensely more satisfying.

Again, Alison, extremely fascinating, how Burton altered the overall tone of the play for the movie. Maybe he wanted to keep it tough and somber rather than frothy, with his personal pendulum swinging from the saccharine Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Anonymous said...

Alexander, I completely agree with you about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It did have potential. The kids were great. I'm a little bit over Freddie Highmore at this point, but the girl who played Violet the gumchewer was wonderful and so was the kid who played Mike Teevee. And, of course, once again the film looked gorgeous. And Deep Roy cracked me up. I know many people hated the multiple Deep Roys, but I thought he was hilarious.

Supposedly Burton intended to make a film version that was closer to the book. But other than much of the dialogue being exactly the same, it wasn't. There was no back story for Willy Wonka. Charlie is the hero of the book, the focus is on him and we see everything from his point of view. Depp as Wonka inevitably was going to take the focus off of Charlie. Adding the ridiculous back story with his typical flashbacks and angst pushed the focus even more on Wonka's character. And not in a good way.

Plus I really disliked Depp's take on the character. He's a talented actor and most of the time he makes great choices for his characters. But this was one performance of his that I can say I was truly disappointed with. Although I disliked the 1970's version, which I saw again on television recently, I still think Gene Wilder's Wonka was phenomenal, right down to the twinkle in his eye (exactly as Wonka is described in the book).

I'll be interested to hear your thoughts about your second viewing of Sweeney the film.

Alexander Coleman said...

I agree with you about Gene Wilder's portrayal being more faithful to the book, and just generally a much better, more suitable take on the character. You have to give Depp credit for going that far out on a limb with it, but this was a rare instance in which he went too far for the sake of the film. And Burton increasing the scope of the Wonka character at the expense of other things only exacerbated that, as you note.

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