Planet of the Apes (2001 remake)

chapter 10

logo_summer2001smallreleased July 27, 2001

Well, so far this summer of 2001 we’ve been having hasn’t been too hot. But at least we got that new Tim Burton movie coming out, right? I don’t know why they gotta remake PLANET OF THE APES but it’s a great cast and that guy knows what he’s doing, I’m sure he’ll do something interesting with it.

Nope. 10 years later I’m not sure I need to explain why the PLANET OF THE APES remake is no good. I don’t remember there being an argument about it at the time, or ever encountering anybody that liked it in the decade since. It was a bad idea, it was not good, let’s all pretend it never happened. The end.

But I’m doing this thing so let’s do it.
mp_pota2001I got one nice thing I can say: the makeup by Rick Baker is really good, at least on the male apes. Tim Roth’s villainous chimpanzee general and Paul Giamatti’s sleazy orangutan salesman (man, Clyde would hate that asshole) look so real, but allow the actors to express through them. Michael Clarke Duncan is a gorilla warrior, and somehow his eyes make him recognizable (okay, the voice helps).

Luckily there are only a couple of female ape characters. They look ridiculous. On a real ape you don’t really see recognizable “female” characteristics on their face, but for some reason in the movie they thought that was important. So instead of giving them realistic animal faces like on the males they make them closer to human and give them thin, painted-on type eyebrows, the kind that don’t even grow naturally on humans. The hair on the top of their heads is fashionably styled and they seem to be wearing lipstick and mascara. Which I guess makes sense for an advanced race of apes, but they don’t look like males with makeup on, they look much closer to human.

Are they trying to make them look attractive? Kind of attractive? I’m not sure. I don’t think anyone could really say what they were trying to do. They had a release date to meet, no time to think this shit through.

The original PLANET OF THE APES of course holds up as a stone cold classic, and the makeup was a breakthrough at the time. But that’s the only thing that made it a classic that carried over to the new version. The original, written by Rod Serling, had a great story, a human finding himself in a crazy world where he’s considered such a low life form that everybody flips out when he talks and thinks it must be some kind of a hoax. And he has to go to court.

The remake ditches that whole setup. Mark Wahlberg plays a U.S. Air Force space pilot in the near future whose little space pod deal gets sucked into a space storm and he crash lands on the Planet of the Apes. He finds himself in some woods with some humans (dressed like cavemen) and they all get chased and rounded up by gorilla warriors wearing armor, and sold to Giamatti.

For maybe 10 minutes the humans don’t talk, and Wahlberg doesn’t talk to them. Then it turns out they do talk. Huh.

Bonham Carter’s character is the daughter of a senator (David Warner) and she’s some kind of an ape-liberal who’s a human rights activist, but not in a cool way. She sneaks into the place where the humans are gonna be branded like cattle, then hops and swings around and knocks the brand away and then says a bunch of righteous stuff. Although I am a liberal and although I appreciate people who stand up for what they believe in and although I am a human I still found her annoying. It’s a real bummer. Gonna turn me into an apepublican.

She’s kind of dumb too in my opinion because she makes a big deal about being an atheist, and making it clear that she doesn’t believe in it when she explains the ape prophecies and shit to Wahlberg, but when one of the apes jokes about “next thing she’s gonna be telling us the humans have souls” she says “Of course they do!” Oh yeah, scientist through and through… until spirituality is convenient for shocking dad’s friends at the dinner table.

Although none of the other characters are as annoying as hers none of them have much to offer. Wahlberg is just gung-ho soldier guy going through the motions that have to happen for the plot, doesn’t ever show any personality. Estella Warren, the model seen earlier in the summer in DRIVEN, plays a human girl, and that’s pretty much the extent of her characterization. A former synchronized swimmer, Warren does not get to do any water dancing like in DRIVEN, but does have some extensive underwater shots. So that’s good.

Kris Kristofferson plays her dad, doesn’t do anything either. Roth gets really into moving like a chimp, and has at least four or five parts where he gets to bash somebody over and over again like he’s trying to break open an oyster with a rock. But his character is less than one-dimensional. He’s openly evil. His eyebrows are always slanted villainously, even when his face is translated into statue form, and his voice always sounds like he’s threatening to destroy the world, even when conversing with polite company at the dinner table.

And what the hell is he trying to do, anyway? If people are just like animals why is he so concerned about them? From the beginning he fixates on Wahlberg. It’s like if Donald Rumsfeld suspected that a really smart dog he came across was gonna ruin American society and spent 24 hours a day brooding about it, even talking to other human adults about it. But it’s not played like it’s supposed to be silly or funny, the movie just acts like it’s reasonable.

I guess if I had to choose a best character it would be Duncan’s, because he just kind of tries to do his job and then at the end has a change of heart and tries to do the right thing. Too late though, he already killed a good gorilla. It’s nice that he wants to bury humans and apes in unmarked graves so they’ll be mourned equally, but it’s kinda too little too late in my opinion. (SPOILER. I just ruined it. Better not see the movie now. Sorry about that everybody.)

One thing they intentionally did to make it different from the good PLANET OF THE APES was to have the actors move like animals. They hunch over, swing around, pound their chests, that kinda shit. I’m fine with that. What I don’t like is their magic jumping powers. I guess some monkeys can leap, but I can’t get with Tim Roth constantly jumping 15-20 feet in the air, especially since it’s clearly just him being slowly lifted up on a cable. It looks dumb every time it happens.

But you can ignore all the above complaints, none of them really matter that much in the face of the terrible script by William Broyles Jr. (FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS), Lawrence Konner (SUPERMAN IV, THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE) and Mark Rosenthal (same as last guy). It just has no purpose to it. Here’s the plot: he crashes, he gets caught, they escape (well, more like just leave), they travel, there is a battle, then it’s the end part.

There’s not really a plan, he’s just kind of making it up as he goes along, maybe as a commentary on the script. He’s just trying to go back to where he crashed, thinking his people will rescue him there. There’s not some dangerous path or series of obstacles to get through, there’s not some items he has to get, there’s not some plot or scheme he has to stop, there’s not a character he has to convince of something, or a piece of information he has to learn, or training he needs to have, or even something to avenge. He’s just trying to go from the city to the other place. And yet there’s no beautiful simplicity there. It’s big and sloppy and crowded. It’s a textbook example of the project developed over years and years and instead of getting it perfect they just give up at some point and choose a release date and start filming with the stitched together remains of 25 different unrelated, not good enough scripts.

There are approximately two parts of the movie that are semi-interesting. One is the special guest appearance by Charlton Heston as the villain’s father-on-his-deathbed. He reveals to his son the secret of the gun – they found one in the ancient ruins or somewhere, and he explains how it’s this powerful device that changes everything. It’s weird because it’s Heston’s pro-gun politics, and the movie seems to not just endorse them but go a little overboard, treating the invention of the gun like the most important thing that ever happened. That wouldn’t be that surprising in a John Milius movie, but Tim Burton doesn’t strike me as the gun lover type. He’s barely even had them in his movies before.

I think the way they deal with it though is the scene where Roth gets the gun but he fires it inside a plexiglass room where it just ricochets around. It doesn’t hit him in the ass or anything but it turns out not to help him as advertised.

The climax is kind of amusing, when Wahlberg’s not-human chimp from back on the space ship predictably shows up through the time portal or whatever and is interpreted as the prophesized return of the ape god Semus. The mob of angry apes all bow to him, so it’s just a great “fuck you” when Wahlberg walks over and the monkey holds his hand. YOU SEE THIS, APE MEN? YOUR GOD HOLDS MY HAND LIKE A LITTLE BOY!

I’m kinda surprised that they let the human approach Semus, they don’t seem to care at all. But maybe they figure their god can’t be hurt. And maybe that explains why nobody gets mad at Tim Roth for punching their god.

Also I get a kick out of how his space ship has become thousands-of-years-old ruins, but some of the machinery still works and he can just chip a layer of rock off of the monitors.

The very end of the movie is the most absurd and crazy part, so of course that’s the part I like best… and the part most people point to as the reason why the movie is bad. As if the two hours of boring bullshit before it would’ve been improved by not ending on a strange and unexpected note. It ends with Wahlberg crashing back in what appears to be present day Washington DC, but then it turns out to be Present Day Washington DC of the Apes, and he’s surrounded by ape cops, media, tourists, etc.

I guess the part that bothered people is the way this switch is revealed, when he looks at the Lincoln Monument and it’s now the General Thade Monument. This is a timeline where somehow Tim-Roth-chimp saved the planet and is a great hero of the past. How did this happen? I do not know. Would it be better if I understood the specifics of how Thade travelled through time, what he did to save the planet and why the space-time-continuum would cause a great ape hero to be memorialized in the same way that our timeline’s Great Emancipator was? In my opinion fuck no, you silly people. Anyway if you hate Aperaham Lincoln you support slavery.

Ten years of distance didn’t help this one at all. I guess it didn’t look as ugly as I remembered it. I remember really hating the ape village back in 2001, everything is so close together and sound-stagey looking I thought it looked like a Universal Studios stunt show. Didn’t really bother me this time, maybe because we’re so used to everything being CGI now that you don’t see big sets like that as much. Otherwise nothing improved.

But you know I am a positive individual so I’m proud to say that I thought of another nice thing to say about the movie that I actually didn’t pick up on ten years ago. I realized this time that the good guy gorilla that helps the humans is played by renowned b-movie villain Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. Who would’ve ever thought mean old Shang Tsung would put up with several hours a day in the makeup chair? It really is good to see him play a good guy, even if you gotta really look close to tell it’s him.
2001-2011 connections: This movie prevented PLANET OF THE APES from being revived until this summer, when it finally got a chance to be a liability to the unrelated rebootquel RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.

legacy: See above

datedness: Paul Giamatti says “Can’t we all just get along?” in part of it. That was already an old reference when it came out, now I bet the youths don’t even know what the fuck it is. Which is kind of sad as far as knowledge of modern history but positive as far as corny jokes.

Visual-effects-wise it’s up-to-date, because the space ship stuff looks good and the monkeys are all done without the computers and therefore don’t look obsolete.

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305 Responses to “Planet of the Apes (2001 remake)”

  1. I liked it when it came out. I even own the DVD. Haven’t seen it since then, though, so who knows what I think of it now.

  2. This was probably the first movie I ever went to with a couple of friends on a whim. We came out of school and just said “hey, let’s go to a movie” and bought tickets. I remember how proud I was of that and how I really felt like an ‘adult’. And then how boring the movie was.

  3. The trouble with the Apes movies (not only the remake but the sequels too) is that the executives (and most of the audience) fail to understand that The Planet of the Apes was an allegory. Although the original novel by Pierre Boulle was just a sci-fi adventure with an original premise, Rod Serling wrote a screenplay that was meant to be a reflection of society. In other words: we were the apes. The movie is about us.

    But the sequels (and the shitty remake) turned into us versus them. It lost all the meaning that it was supposed to have. Added this fucking obsession of knowing how the apes became rulers of the world. It doesn’t matter! That’s not the point!

    Anyway, this remake was the beginning of the Tim Burton decadence, that’s for sure.

  4. Tim Burton tends to get an easy ride from critics – its all well and good being ‘visionary’ but why are movies like this one, Alice in Wonderland, Willy Wonka, Sleepy Hollow so lifeless? I know hes made a lot better movies as well, but I still feel that he treats his characters as co-stars to the art direction most of the time.

    Also, it seems like instead of making a trailer for the new Planet of the Apes the studio decided to make a 3 min cut of the whole film instead:


    [Warning: Contains spoilers for everything that happens in the whole movie]

  5. I never saw the entirety of this, I rented it on dvd and turned it off pretty damn quickly, something about this movie just rubbed me the wrong way right from the start, I think I finally bailed after “get your damn hands off me you damn dirty human”

    but this was the beginning of the end for Tim Burton, I think the only movie of his I’ve since bothered with was Big Fish, which while not bad was not very memorable

    I think some directors just run out of things to say after a while, in Tim Burton’s case I think what really hurt the guy was the rise of CGI, his signature style depended largely on the surreal stuff (like Edward Scissorhands’ castle for example) being real stuff existing in our plane of reality, turn everything into CGI (like Alice and Wonderland) and it becomes boring

    “I think that CG is a tool that often becomes a weapon of self-destruction.”

    -Steven Spielberg

    I’m not totally anti-CGI, but I do think it should be used sparingly and should almost never replace actual sets or locations entirely

  6. and to expound a bit, what I mean by “our plane of reality” is using actual sets, models and stop motion special effects instead of CGI

  7. I often joke that “Planet of the Apes” was Tim Burton’s last good movie, but I’m kinda not kidding. I’ll take it over Alice in Wonderland or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory any day. (I did like Sweeney Todd though). Maybe I was just happy that the action sequences were actually kind of good this time, that it didn’t have the Tim Burton “look”, that Johnny Depp wasn’t in it, etc. I don’t think the Danny Elfman score was precocious/whimsical/dark, which I’ll say is a plus. I liked the makeup and acting and the pace, I liked how it played with the original’s twist. The only part I actually didn’t like at the time was the ending, because it just seemed random – btw, the first world Wahlberg crashed on was NOT Earth, right? (i think there were two moons), and the apes were all descendants of the apes on board the ship, right? But I think some people say it IS Earth, b/c people were riding horses and supposedly Earth had two moons or something a long time ago. And yeah, the Lincoln ending just makes no sense and basically sets up a sequel we’ll obviously never see. Either way, I’ve only seen this once at the $1.50 theatre, though. I’m sure if I saw it again I’d hate it.

    “Fun” fact: We should point out that this movie is the crossroads where Tim Burton stopped shoehorning Lisa Marie into every movie, by cheating on her w/ Helena Bonham Carter, and then subsequently shoehorning HER into every movie.

  8. Great post as always, Vern. I remember liking this movie because of the ape makeup (I’m easy that way) but being disappointed in most other ways. Good call by the guy who noted the Lisa Marie/ Bonham Carter schism in Burton’s filmography.

    I did a post on the original POTA recently, where I briefly mentioned why this remake didn’t work as well, you guys might be interested (if only for the Stooges reference):

  9. Lisa Marie was a lot hotter anyway, I’ve seen pictures on the internet where she was at a nude beach with a naked Jeff Goldblum (of all people) and…

    perhaps I’ve said too much….

  10. also I don’t remember Michael Jackson having a cameo in this (har har har)

  11. P.S. That Clyde aside: Pure genius. Really true!

  12. Poor Tim Burton is a total hack. I’m really baffled by how he’s as popular as he is.

    I remember actually looking forward to this movie. I was a projectionist by this time and everything was awful that summer and this looked good. Unfortunately it was just rubbish. I remember inviting some friends to come out to see it for free and a few days before and I ended up apologizing to them afterwards for it.

    But, yeah, Tim Burton is just bad. I’m convinced that it has to be someone else that directed Ed Wood because I love that movie and I can’t even bring myself to like any of his other movies.

  13. Anybody who calls Burton a hack, even the current version of him, shouldn’t be allowed to watch movies. (No offense.)

    Anyway, the weirdest thing about the movie was probably the Paul Oakenfold remix of Danny Elfman’s main theme, that was released at the time.


  14. Hey Griff, is there any more to that Spielberg quote? Is it part of a larger analysis of CGI in modern cinema?

    As for Burton, I’ve felt for awhile that he should pull a Soderbergh/Brockovich and do something totally out of his comfort zone, like a crime picture. Maybe a heist film. Something that’s all character and tension, with no big sets or computer wizardry. But not a remake of DOG DAY AFTERNOON. Also probably don’t cast Mr. Depp or Ms. Carter. We want NEW ENERGY here, not old energy. Thanks Tim.

  15. I don’t know what else to call Tim Burton.

    If you want a director to make a middling movie with an aesthetic that will appeal to the Hot Topic crowd than Tim Burton is the man to go to.

    His films that I’ve seen:

    Pee-wee’s Big Adventure – Kind of interesting but was a chore to sit through.
    Beetlejuice – A real big chore to sit through.
    Batman – Not bad!
    Edward Scissorhands – Hey, this dude seems to write quirky stories about outcasts!
    Batman Returns – Not bad!
    Ed Wood – I really love this movie!
    Mars Attacks! – A chore to sit through.
    Sleepy Hollow – Boring.
    Planet of the Apes – Planet of the Boring.
    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Hey, he’s doing that thing again with that one actor!
    Sweeney Todd – Hey, he’s doing that thing again with that one actor! With music!
    Alice in Wonderland – I saw this in 3D and I had a really bad seat so everyone’s faces looked stretched and like they had floating eyeballs. I thought this was an interesting way to shoot the real world before Alice goes to Wonderland. Turns out that 3D kind of stinks when you have a bad seat and instead this was just a really boring movie. Oh, it also had that one guy he likes to cast in everything and that safe spooky-doo aesthetic.

    So, yeah, I think he is a hack because he’ll do a middling and boring adaptation of whatever source material people want that will appeal to a built in crowd of people. Maybe Big Fish is amazing or something and maybe he has had some other movies that I have not seen that are great. It’s totally possible I’ve only seen his bad films (and Ed Wood!) and that I’ve missed all of his good movies.

    I’m just saying, would you rather see another Tim Burton movie or another movie by Gilliam or Jeunet?

  16. To add to what Casey’s saying, I never understood why critics/audiences who complain about remakes/reboots, lack of originality in Hollywood, etc… always seem to give Burton a pass, when almost EVERY SINGLE THING he’s done is a remake/reboot/adaptation of an existing property. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that – The Dark Knight, etc. has shown that you can adapt an existing property in an interesting way without being trite or obvious. But I’ll go on record as saying Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of the worst remakes ever – not because it’s bad, because it’s not – it’s just lazy, uninspired, and not different enough to justify it’s existence. (which is why I prefer Planet of the Apes for at least TRYING to be something different from the original). Alice in Wonderland tried to be different from the source too, but then again it was also terrible.

    Plus I’m REALLY sick of the ads for all his movies always talking about “From the Imagination of Tim Burton” – he’s written exactly ONE of the movies he’s directed. Wouldn’t you say Big Fish is “From the Imagination of….” the guy who wrote the novel it was based off of?

  17. Jareth Cutestory

    July 27th, 2011 at 7:27 am

    I’ll take the Casey Challenge.

    I’d rather see SWEENY TODD than BROTHERS GRIMM.
    I’d rather see TIDELAND than ALICE IN WONDERLAND.
    I’d rather see ED WOOD than FISHER KING.
    I’d rather see BRAZIL than EDWARD SCISSORHANDS.
    I’d rather see BEETLEJUICE than TIME BANDITS.

    I’d rather see anything by Jeunet, except that crappy ALIENS movie he did.

    This comparison stuff is complicated.

    Also, we don’t have Hot Topic in Canada. Poor Canadian goth kids have to tear up their own clothes while non-goths find other sytlistic touchstones to denigrate Burton’s work, like Edward Gorey.

  18. I like Jeunet but I didn’t really care for Micmacs. That was one of the most disappointing theatre experiences I had last year as it looked great and had a lot of themes that really work for me. Still, I think Jeunet’s successes are amazing and outweigh anything bad he might have done.

    I was looking at Gilliam’s IMDB page and I think I might have missed all of his lesser films. I remember seeing trailers for Brothers Grimm and thinking it looked awful and just totally missed it. I didn’t realize it was directed by Gilliam until now. I also didn’t enjoy Doctor Parnassus, but that’s the only Gilliam film I’ve seen that I didn’t much like.

    For me, I think it’s best to compare them differently. I would say Ed Wood is the only Burton movie that is as good as Amelie, A Very Long Engagement, City of Lost Children, Delicatessen, Tideland, Twelve Monkeys, The Fisher King, Brazil, Baron Munchausen, or Time Bandits. Sure, that’s a highly subjective list and some of those movies are obviously better than others but I don’t think Tim Burton has done anything besides Ed Wood that can be seen as being as “good” as any of those I just listed.

  19. Burton’s movies are distinctive, but almost all terrible.

    The two EDs are good.

    BATMAN 1989 really does deserve it’s blurb at the time, “the move of the decade.” Better than THE DARK KNIGHT, says I.

    But otherwise? Edward Gorey meets a total inability to structure a narrative.

  20. “Hack” seems a little harsh, but I do have to agree that Burton is one of the most inexplicably overrated directors I can think of, given his track record. I guess I understand the popularity of some of his films, especially since in the last 10 or 15 years most of his projects have been remakes or adaptations of well-known works. I just never understood why he seems to have such a devoted following. Back in college it seemed like he was one of the few directors that not only most of the folks in my film classes loved, but even a lot of my friends who weren’t really into movies knew his name and loved his films.

    Hey, I mean, I love PEE WEE, ED WOOD is a good movie, he’s got a few others I like. I just feel like he had more lousy movies (MARS ATTACKS, BATMAN RETURNS, PLANET OF THE APES, ALICE IN WONDERLAND) and just-okay movies than good ones, and also a bunch of not-very-good movies (BATMAN, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, BEETLEJUICE) that people only really like because they saw them when they were kids.

    He’s also been, in the last 10 or 15 years, about as shamelessly commercial as any other major American filmmaker I can think of, but outside of his (also overrated) visual creativity, he lacks the superb craftsmanship that helps makes the equally commercial films of, say, Zemeckis or Spielberg stand out. Not to mention completely lacking Spielberg’s personal touch/sense of personality/sense of personal meaning that he puts into his work.

  21. Calling him a hack might be a little harsh but if I was a cynical studio head that needed to get a director to make a new Dahl film that could be converted into 3D and do big business I know Burton would be at the top of my list. Lots of people are hacks and some are even good. I just think he’s at a point in his career where he could do almost anything he wants and all that freedom has given him is the ability to do even more bad movies.

    But, he made Ed Wood. There has to be more to him than just Alice in Wonderland and a host of other boring adaptations with the Burton touch.

  22. Jareth Cutestory

    July 27th, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Dan: I feel like it’s Gilliam that is over-rated. I actually think TIME BANDITS is kind of terrible, and BARON MUNCHAUSEN and FISHER KING don’t really do much for me. BROTHERS GRIM and TIDELAND are two distinct kinds of mess (although I think TIDELAND is also kind of awesome). I like DR PARNASSUS, but it seemed like such a tentative assertion of Gilliam’s strengths compared to Burton’s far more confident and compelling SWEENY TODD.

    I think the goodwill for Burton peaked around NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS and EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. And the reason? They’re really eccentric, touching and assessible films. BRAZIL is obviously better, but let’s give Burton his due: NIGHTMARE and SCISSORHANDS really resonated with people in a meaningful way.

    Having said that, I don’t disagree with your points on Burton, but I think there are more continuities between the two directors than there are differences.

  23. I can see where you’re coming from, Mr Cutestory, but I also think you left out Fear and Loating and 12 Monkeys and those are two outstanding films.

  24. Jareth Cutestory

    July 27th, 2011 at 8:50 am

    You know, I never saw FEAR & LOATHING. I’m glad to hear that you think it’s one of the good ones. I’ll put it on my list of Films To See After JUGGERNAUT.

    And though I didn’t like TWELVE MONKEYS as much the second time I saw it, I still think it’s really good. Maybe even better than FRANKENWEENIE.

  25. Man, I hope I’m not spilling into Paul territory here. I apologize if I am!

    I was not predisposed to liking Fear and Loathing. I don’t really like Hunter S Thompson and was not enthusiastic to see a movie about him. A friend made me watch it, though, and I really enjoyed it.

  26. Jareth,

    I agree. I’m not much for Gilliam either, but unlike Burton his following seems more like a cult following and not major, mainstream over-rating that Burton has received.

    Gilliam has a wild visual imagination (far more interesting and unique than Burton’s), but he just strikes me as so weak with storytelling and character work that I wish he’d just make experimental short films or something, instead of feature length narrative films. I haven’t really bothered with most of his films, because the handful I have seem all strike me as a long slog through tedium just to get to a few admittedly brilliant sight gags and eye-popping visuals.

  27. Jareth Cutestory

    July 27th, 2011 at 9:19 am

    I don’t think Ebert was exaggerating when he compared the visual richness of NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS to METROPOLIS. And I think Burton offers enough variation on these visuals throughout his films to remain fitfully interesting to me. I find Gilliam less consistent in this respect, but, when he succeeds, as in BRAZIL, no one can touch him except Jeunet. (Strangely, the praise Ebert gives Burton is witheld from Gilliam – he didn’t like BRAZIL. But then Ebert has always been a pushover for cartoons. He also likes coherent stories, and he wasn’t much impressed by EDWARD SCISSORHANDS either.)

    And I don’t want to be the guy who ridicules goth kids for having a profound attachment to Burton’s well-meaning misfits who will always be at odds with the world because I like those kinds of characters too. I’d venture to say that Gilliam has the advantage here: he’s made the more sincere effort to craft complex characters that do not rely on sentiment or cliche the way Burton does when he’s lazy (aka almost everything after 1993). Gilliam’s also way more cynical, though, if SWEENEY TODD is any indication, Burton can do cynical well when he puts his mind to it.

  28. Well, but let’s please note here that Burton didn’t actually direct NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Henry Selick did. Obviously Burton had a significant creative influence on that film, but I think we have to acknowledge Selick as a possible reason for that film being a standout. I personally love Selick’s CORALINE more than any of Burton’s films (with the possible exception of PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE) so I feel justified in giving a fair share of the credit for NIGHTMARE to him.

  29. if you can’t like Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, then you’re no friend of mine (do do do dododo)

    especially Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, fuck man, it doesn’t get much better than that

  30. one guy from andromeda

    July 27th, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Brazil is the best film of the 80s in my opinion, that movie just gets more and more current as the years trod on.
    But anyway, Planet of the Apes was the one that finally made me see that Tim Burton was over. Mars Attacks was kinda iffy, but had some funny stuff in it, i didn’t catch on yet. Then Sleepy Hollow, well, every director has the right to a stinker every once in a while i thought. But Planet really woke me up to what a terrible hack (yes, hack) this guy had become. I still think he doesn’t deserve half the adoration he gets for Nightmare before Christmas, most people believe he directed it. I started to watch Alice in Wonderland and turned it off after 45 minutes. Again, a post with no real point. Move along…

  31. There’s actually an argument as to who’s made the better films, Burton or Gilliam? Brazil by itself decimates Tim Burton’s entire filmography. In my opinion.

  32. I should probably give it another shot some day, but BRAZIL was exactly what I was talking about when I described a Gilliam film as “a long slog through tedium just to get to a few admittedly brilliant sight gags and eye-popping visuals.” It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, and it wasn’t under the best of circumstances, so I guess I owe it another shot. Ditto FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, which I think I may have just been too young to appreciate when I saw it. But I’m just so lukewarm on everything non-Monty Python-related of Gilliam’s that I’ve seen that I can never muster the energy to go back and re-watch them.

  33. Jareth Cutestory

    July 27th, 2011 at 10:00 am

    Oh man, don’t get me started on BEST FILMS OF THE 80s. That’s the decade I learned to stop worrying and love cinema.


    Oh, and JUGGERNAUT. Because it’s the best film of every decade.

  34. BIG FISH really is a fantastic film, but it is also the least Burton of all the Burton films. Just a simple story and some good performances with the occasional splash of vivid color.

    PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE is also pretty fantastic and plays to all the Burton strengths. Just taking a wacky character and moving him from interesting set piece to interesting set piece.

    As far as Gilliam vs Burton goes, I stand with Gilliam all day, but I understand this is a personal choice. I respect both these guys because they have such a distinct style. Camps will always be divided on these types of directors. There are people that hate on Tarantino and Jeunet just because they have strong reactions to the particular style. This may seem insane to Tarantino and Jeunet fans but it is what it is. For the opposite, go back to the CAPTAIN AMERICA thread.

  35. I’m glad someone brought up Coraline! I really enjoyed that movie. I can’t tell you how and why it worked for me but it did a lot of what Burton tries to do but accomplished it in a way that just really worked *for me*.

    Also, am I alone in my love for Ed Wood? I really adore that movie. If I had to put together a list of my favorite movies from the 90s that would likely make it pretty high. Don’t get me wrong, I really dislike almost everything else Burton does but that movie just really affects me.

    I didn’t intent to make this a Burton v Gilliam fight, especially since Gilliam is the CM Punk to Burton’s John Cena here, but I brought him up as someone with a distinct visual style that really does tell interesting stories.

    I think Gilliam can do something interesting with a narrative and a story, even when he’s doing an otherwise normal story, whereas I always feel like Burton tries to use quirky trappings to mask the fact that he’s telling a boring story in a boring manner. I think someone like Jeunet is great because he stands as such a stark contrast to someone like Burton and it’s easy to see where Burton falls short in comparison to someone like Jeunet.

    But, yeah, Planet of the Apes (2001) was pretty bad. Then again, it was the summer of 2001 so I don’t know how it couldn’t be.

  36. caruso_stalker217

    July 27th, 2011 at 10:37 am

    “It’s a textbook example of the project developed over years and years and instead of getting it perfect they just give up at some point and choose a release date and start filming with the stitched together remains of 25 different unrelated, not good enough scripts.”

    Uh, not to beat a dead horse or anything, but… INDY IV.

  37. Funny, I look at the ’90s period from ED WOOD to MARS ATTACKS! to SLEEPY HOLLOW as a highpoint of Burton’s career. I really love all three of those movies. APES was a letdown, but a lot of that came from it not feeling much like a Burton film. There’s a workmanlike blandness to it, but it’s better than a lot of summer tentpoles that have opened since.

    It’s not just Selick. Danny Elfman really deserves a lot of the credit on NIGHTMARE as well. His song-track practically scripted that movie. For whatever reason, he and Burton had a huge falling out at this time. I suspect Burton worked a lot on the conception of the story and characters, but using his name in the title seems pretty deceitful. We can blame TIM BURTON’S THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS for WES CRAVEN PRESENTS THEY.

  38. Okay, I now realize I should’ve written about the significance of this movie in Burton’s career. I think this was the major breaking point where he went from a director who made really personal movies to a work-for-hire guy with great visuals (except in this one, in my opinion). I think Mars Attacks! was the first time he didn’t seem to care about his characters, but it’s a hilarious movie that nobody else could’ve or would’ve made. And I think Sleepy Hollow was before this and that was a mixed bag, but it had the great atmosphere and funny Depp performances that nobody else was doing back then.

    But this was his first terrible movie and although I think he has had some good qualities in most of his subsequent ones he never went back to being that guy he was in the ’90s.

    So before this movie it would’ve been completely asinine to call him a “hack,” now I think it’s sort of true because he just seems to take jobs instead of create his own, but I think by definition a hack doesn’t leave his or her touch on the movies which clearly is not true in his case.

    But those early ones are obviously unique and personal movies. As far as I know Hot Topic didn’t exist back then and “goths” had no interest in cartoon characters, so I think some of what Casey is saying is based on stereotypes of a culture that was influenced by Burton’s movies and not really anything to do with him. Also I have to question anybody that won’t concede Pee-wee’s Big Adventure as a universally enjoyed movie.

  39. Excellent review, Vern – your description of General Thade as a dinner guest was inspired. I was terrified for a moment that I was going to have to point out the presence of CHT, but you saved it right at the end.

    A truly awful film in so many ways. The titles were pretty good. I’m not much a Tim Burton fan though (so often style waaaay over substance) so I try not to judge as I think its just not my taste. I think the only TB film I truly enjoy is Edward Scissorhands, although I really like Depp’s performance in Willy Wonka.

    This though, sucked.

  40. I guess I completely misunderstood the scene at the time, because to me the part with Charlton Heston was more about “Let’s use his cameo appearance to make Charlton Heston look like a crazy old heinous fool, because fuck you Charlton Heston, gun advocates are the worst and you clearly deserved to be remembered as a crazy old heinous fool, not a legendary actor!” than about actually endorsing his politics.

  41. But here’s the thing…Burton’s always sort of been a guy for hire. He didn’t give a crap about Batman as a character or comic book, he said he’d never even read it. It was work for hire and he did an awesome job…when he DID make a Batman movie in his pure way, it kind of was terrible…Batman Returns is just too Goth and campy for my tastes. Well, I don’t mind Goth and campy but not in my Batman, please.

    But Pee Wee, Beetlejuice, Batman…none of these were scripts he wrote or came up with, he didn’t generate the material. Is there a real difference between those and him doing Alice in Wonderland or Sweeney Todd, except that now his style isn’t fresh anymore?

    But imagine that there was no Tim Burton or no Tim Burton style, and then his first movie is Sweeney Todd…wouldn’t that be a jolt in the arm the same way Beetlejuice was?

    I don’t ant to apologize for Burton too much, he’s pretty inconsistent…and he can be REALLY boring. But I liked Big Fish and loved Sweeney, and I think Dark Shadows is just what I want from the guy. Gothic Tim Burtony period horror, I’ll take it.

  42. Jareth Cutestory

    July 27th, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Casey: I think it’s pretty much accepted that ED WOOD is not only Burton’s best film (rivalled only by SCISSORHANDS) but is perhaps also Depp’s best performance. I’ve never discussed the film with anyone who didn’t think of it as great.

    Vern: I think that SWEENEY TODD achieves a really good balance between Burton’s more precious tendencies, his need to develop as an artist while appealing to a mass audience, and his apparent need to keep Depp employed. It’s a vigorous movie, not empty hackwork like ALICE. It’s a shame he didn’t pursue this direction further, like Spielberg with MUNICH; it hinted at a long-overdue dose of maturity.

    Anyone see the Burton art exhibit that’s been touring around? It presents a compelling defence of Burton as a very distinct visual artist who is perhaps not always best served the movie format, especially movies that are required to make shitloads of money.

  43. I thought the genius of MARS ATTACKS was that it didn’t give a fuck about the characters most movies follow. The President, soldiers, reporters, and scientists all get gleefully blown to hell after doing nothing, and the heroes are just average people trying to get to their families.

    As if Jim Brown didn’t have enough on his resume he’d get in the badass hall of fame just for this movie. Fuck yeah I’m serious.

  44. And love Tim Burton or not, he’s not a hack. The guy could do whatever movies he wanted right now, there’s just a style he likes and certain properties lend themselves to it. Terrence Malick keeps making movies with the same style but no one seems to care too much. Yay, lots of shots of grass and birds and monotone voiceover.

  45. And also, Burton gets crapped on for employing Depp but he always wanted Depp in everything, it’s just back in the day when he wanted Depp for Mars Attacks, he wasn’t bankable and the studio said no. I thiiink he was supposed to be Michael J. Fox’s role?

  46. With regards to some past comments…

    It is not entirely fair to say that Tim Burton lacks originality. For many years (let’s say, until “Mars Attacks!”) he came up with very unique creations. “Edward Scissorhands” is a great variation on the Frankenstein story, “Batman Returns” is a rather odd blockbuster sequel, “Ed Wood” is a highly original biopic, and “Mars Attacks!” a bizarre parody of alien invasion films. However, since “Sleepy Hollow” he has become much more repetitive in terms of narrative (the focus on freaky outsiders, the fairy tale inspiration) and aesthetics (the influence of German Expressionism, the Universal monster movies and the Hammer horror films). Only “Big Fish” (with its autobiographical tones) and “Sweeney Todd” (foregrounding perversion, bitterness, and violence to an unprecedented degree) stand out for me. This is why it is not entirely unfair to claim Burton lacks originality now.

    “Batman Returns” is not a lousy movie. Quite the opposite, I find it to be very coherent. For example, see the similar tone of The Penguin’s origin story and the same character’s death at the end of the film. In addition, I find it richer than “Batman” in many respects. Selina Kyle and Oswald Cobblepot are more interesting characters than Vicky Vale and The Joker, and Batman’s own story arc is more interesting and involving than in the first film (due to his romantic involvement with a villain and to his similarities with Cobblepot – both are orphan outsiders in many ways).

    Finally, it is not true that Tim Burton lacks authorial imprint. The Burton touch has always been evident in his sympathetic portrayal of freaky outsiders (with Sweeney Todd being a likely exception) and in his films’ artistic design (Burton is first and foremost a visual artist). In fact, I would argue that Burton’s personal stamp is more evident than Spielberg’s (because I believe Spielberg’s has to do mainly with tone). This, of course, is no guarantee of quality, as “Planet of the Apes” demonstrates (I haven’t seen “Alice” or “Pee-Wee”). Hopefully “Dark Shadows” will be a different case.

  47. I mostly agree Barros, except that what you say is repetitive now, I say is ONLY repetitive because he’s made so many movies. From the start Burton has been interested in just a few things. Freaky outsiders, Gothic tropes, German Expressionism have been in his first movies from his short films, to now. He hasn’t changed, he’s sort of a “true artist” in that sense. Picasso painted what he paints, and Burton makes what he makes and they just do variations of the same. I love Burton but admit his style is sort of stale…but then again if I was seeing Hitchcocks’ 50th movie and it was ANOTHER suspense thriller I’d think the same thing. He’s just made too many movies, and it’s not liek I can really defend Alice or Charlie, which were both decent but pretty dull.

  48. “It presents a compelling defence of Burton as a very distinct visual artist who is perhaps not always best served the movie format, especially movies that are required to make shitloads of money.”

    This might not be what Jareth was getting at, but it did make me think of something about Burton that I’ve wondered before: maybe movies aren’t the best genre for Burton. Maybe his talents aren’t inherently cinematic. He’s definitely made a handful that I dig, but I’m not sure if I like them for their filmic qualities. I’m not sure there is much I’d praise specifically about the way his films are shot and edited. His movies “look good,” but mostly because of the imaginative set and costume design and not so much because of the way he moves the camera, or moves the objects in the frame etc.

    So maybe he’s more of a brilliant graphic designer than he is a great filmmaker. Something to ponder, any way.

  49. About this “hack” label – I never understood why it’s a bad thing to be an invisible director. My film teacher told us “don’t be a hack, like John Badham”, and I remember thinking – “dude, any director would be LUCKY to make a movie as good as Wargames, or as iconic as Saturday Night Fever, or as badass as Blue Thunder”. (Let’s not forget Stakeout, Short Circuit, and motherfucking DROP ZONE while we’re at it)

    By the standard definition of “hack”, the beloved Richard Donner is the biggest hack there is. You can’t seriously tell me Superman, The Goonies, and Lethal Weapon look like the work of a singular artiste with a concrete vision. But you also can’t tell me that any of those excellent movies would have been improved with a more tangible directorial style. Donner and most other “hacks” let the script and characters and performances be the fucking main attraction, and there’s nothing wrong with that in my book.

    And you know who’s not a hack? Who puts an indelible stamp on every movie? Neveldine/Taylor. And M. Night Shyamalan. And Michael Bay. And any one of the 9000 Tarantino-wannabes that materialized in the 90s. I’ll take a hack over these guys any day.

  50. I agree with you neal, although I do like Shyamalan…well, until anything he made after Signs (and most of The Village).

    And to bolster your argument, while it may be easy to call Donner a hack, look what happened to Superman when he wasn’t involved anymore. That’s right, Richard fucking Pryor goofing it up, and Robert Vaughn being b-movie, and stupid robots. Turned into a farce.

  51. Jareth Cutestory

    July 27th, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Dan: I’ve seen both the Burton museum exhibit and the David Lynch “Air is on Fire” exhibit, and I was compelled to re-think Burton way more after seeing his exhibit than I was after seeing Lynch’s. Maybe it’s because Lynch has such a command of his chosen media, or because Lynch’s work is so uniformly uncompromising, or he is so articulate in his various pursuits (which extends into music and sound design).

    Lynch is a tremendous visual artist, much better than Burton. But something about the Burton exhibit really reinforces your point: you don’t get the whole Burton story from his movies, whereas with Lynch, no matter how brilliant the exhibit, it all felt like such a coherent, classic compliment to his film work. Overall, I think everything about the Lynch exhibit was better, but none of it surprised me. With Burton, you really get the sense that, without formal restraint, the guy is an utterly charming oddball, strangely situated between visual art, graphic design, comic books and arcane pop ephemera. It seemed both more intimate, stranger, more credible and more fully-realized than I thought it would.

  52. I agree, Mr. Doctor, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” feels repetitive in the same way “Anything Else” feels repetitive within Woody Allen’s career. Both films came out at a point where Burton and Allen had already established their main personal/artistic interests and concerns through many remarkable entries, and neither film adds much to those interests and concerns – or depart from them – to stand out like “Sweeney Todd” does (I can’t mention an equivalent to “Todd” in Allen’s later period because I have seen little from it).

  53. Neal,

    Well, I don’t think “hack” is the same thing as a director with an invisible or varied style. A hack is more someone who works for hire, no matter what the project, with no personal investment in the material. The Peter Segal’s of the world who just shit out the same stupid comedies for mass consumption.

    Actually, I’d probably argue that Donner has more of an authorial stamp than you are giving him credit for, but even taking your statement at face value, I don’t think we’d lump him in the “hack” category. Donner is more a competent craftsman who knows how to mold good material into a good film. (A journeyman, perhaps?) He may not have the most unique style in the world, he may not be making any bold aesthetic statements, but he has serious chops and his work shows real effort and care.

  54. I always thought Burton got a free ride from people because he makes extremely accessible films which appear superficially to be challenging due to their very mildly macabre subject matter and distinctive visual style (which critics adore because it allows them to remind people that they’ve seen German Expressionist films). His films are all about as shallow as they come, but I’ll be the first to admit he’s got some truly first-rate crowdpleasers in there. ED WOOD is one of my very favorite films of all time. His quality is all over the map, though, and I tend to think his best ones are usually the results of his collaborators (writers, editors, actors) getting a little boost from his visual style rather than the result of his unique talent.

    PLANET here is a great example of that. Bad script, no interesting performances, no rythem or build, no subtext, just a bunch of directionless art direction. He’s a visualist who occasionally winds up with good scripts and great actors, not a great narrative director. Speilberg would be able to tell you immediatly why nothing, absolutely nothing, about CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE works. I don’t think Burton even noticed it didn’t work.

    On a related note, anyone with half an inclination to make a decent film would have realized that making the apes more animalistic and the humans of regular intellegence completely defeats the purpose of the allegory and makes the story absurd on its face. Forget the Ape Lincoln ending, that’s at least fun. If humans can speak and reason and form societies, why the fuck aren’t they still in charge? It doesn’t make a lick of sense. And not only do the apes know they can talk, they talk in the same goddam language and can easily and unsurprisingly hold complex conversations. It would almost make sense if the apes were just racist against humans, but to claim they’re no different from animals is just ludicrous the instant it’s said aloud. There’s no disbelief to suspend, it’s just a nonsensical statement which got held over from the original where it used to make sense.

    And you guys can’t seriously be arguing that Burton and Gilliam are comperable in any way, are you? They’re both talented visualists with spotty records, but Gilliam’s frustrating failures are vastly more interesting than Burton’s boring ones and his successes are so much richer and more unique that comparison seems pointless.

  55. I think getting caught up in the argument that Burton is only boring now because he is repetitive takes away from the fact that most of his movies of the last decade are not very good. I wouldn’t care if Alice in Wonderland or any of his other movies had a similar style if they were actually good. Even his fans admit that his output over the last decade isn’t that great.

    Vern, I think you are right that he was a large influence in creating a certain subculture of bubble gum goths. I think they act as a built in audience that are likely to see much of what he does. Since Sleepy Hollow there seems to be a subculture that he is able to tap into.

    I will need to rewatch Peewee’s Big Adventure. I remember being bored by it but that was years ago. Sweeny Todd I also saw in a really bad point in my life and I likely did not give it a fair shake. I have recently seen Edward Scissorshands, Mars Attacks!, Sleepy Hollow, Alice in Wonderland, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and none of those work for me.

    I concede that I may be too tough on Burton. He is a bigger name director, though, and I don’t know of anyone that is excited to see anything he makes. I’m excited for the next Coen Brothers movie regardless of what it’s about, I’m excited for the next Clint Eastwood movie regardless of what it’s about, and there are a few other directors I feel similarly about where I’m just excited to see whatever it is they decided to do because I trust that project means something to them.

    Dark Shadows might be great but it’ll likely be 1) Tim Burtonific or 2) really painfully true in tone to the original with the occasional wink.

    I don’t mind repetition. I’m okay with directors and series that have limited vision and scope but do what they do well. I’m not sure if I’m game for what Burton does and even if I was I’m not sure he does it especially well.

    I’m trying to think of other “hack” directors and the only ones that come to mind are Brett Ratner and the guy who just did Captain America. I’d argue they both had their little flourishes but I agree that they don’t have a distinct imprint like Burton does.

    I don’t know, I hold out hope that Burton can have a great twenty years ahead of him. Ed Wood is so aware of a character who is totally unaware and it seems impossible to me that Burton could make Ed Wood and not realize that he’s become what he has become. Or maybe he has and Ed Wood is a total fluke.

  56. Knox Harrington

    July 27th, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Can someone explain to me why the word “Rise” is in every fucking movie title these days?

    Rise of the Planet of the Apes
    The Dark Knight Rises
    Transformers: Rise of the Decepticons
    Hannibal Rising
    The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior
    G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
    Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
    Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
    Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

    Fuck’s sakes. It must be some marketing buzz word approved by focus groups.

  57. Jareth,

    That sounds about right. Both make good looking movies. Lynch’s movies always feel so deeply cinematic to me, like he just gets the medium on a very elemental level. Burton’s films, at least his more average-to-bad films, look good more because of triumphs in production design, an attribute which can be well used and flaunted in film, but is more theatrical than cinematic. I’m not at all surprised to here that his art exhibit was an eye-opener; seems like his talents really would lend more to drawing/painting/design/etc.

  58. Dan – oh absolutely, I guess what I was trying to say was Donner’s only real directorial stamp is excellence (usually- let’s pretend Timeline never happened), and since he actually does make good movies, nobody calls him a hack. Whereas Brett Ratner, who also makes genre-hopping mainstream entertainment with no discernible theme or style, is always called a hack, because his movies only range from horrible (Rush Hour 3) to pretty good (After the Sunset). Plus we never hear stories of Donner being a raging douchebag and he doesn’t have his name in giant font over the titles as if he’s a huge draw.

    Mr. Doctor – that’s a great point about Superman III. I like that movie alot more than most people, (i still like Lana Lang, evil Supes, and the junkyard battle), but it doesn’t hold a candle to I and II. I agree the same script in Donner’s hands would have been shaped into something better.

  59. Sometimes I feel as if I’m the only person defending Burton these days. I agree that he has been wildly inconsistent after Planet of the Apes, but in that period of time he also made Big Fish and Sweeny Todd, which are arguably two of his best films.

    I don’t think people would complain about Burton’s visual style as much if it wasn’t attached to goth culture. Hell, most directors worth anything have a distinct style, but somehow people aren’t complaining about Tarantino’s love for 70s exploitation films, or, as someone else just mentioned, Malick’s love of voice over and images of nature. The one thing I love about Burton’s films is that despite the fact that he is associated with depressed teenagers, there’s a ton of humor in his movies. Sometimes the humor is pretty dark and sometimes its kind of goofy, but I don’t think he always takes himself as seriously as people think. I’m also surprised that people are hating on Sleepy Hollow. I thought that film was a great homage/parody of those old Hammer horror films. I rewatched that film last year, and I thought it really held up.

  60. “And to bolster your argument, while it may be easy to call Donner a hack, look what happened to Superman when he wasn’t involved anymore. That’s right, Richard fucking Pryor goofing it up, and Robert Vaughn being b-movie, and stupid robots. Turned into a farce.”
    Donner left his share of stupid stuff in the franchise. The spinning the earth backwards thing, cartoony Luthor with his real estate scam and using a big titted bimbo as a distraction to get nuclear weapon controls, the pimp giving Superman approval for his costume when he first appears in public. I mean, its still overall a great job and how he depicts Superman and Lois are great, but I think the most consistent part of the movie is earlier when they deal with him growing up and finding out about who he is, and the stuff with the Fortress. After that things get a bit goofier.

  61. Knox – don’t forget the DTV Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power. And aren’t they always threatening us with the Untouchables prequel Capone Rising?

    And sadly, I honestly thought you were kidding about GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer – I had literally forgotten those were the actual titles. Especially because Cobra doesn’t rise AT ALL in the movie, and I’m pretty sure the Silver Surfer doesn’t either.

    I’ve said it before, wake me up when there’s Old Detroit: Rise of Boddicker or Shaft: Peoples Hernandez Rising.

  62. I recall hearing that they shot four endings to Planet of the Apes (2001) and picked the “best” one. So what were the other three? Washington Monument, Capital Building and Liberty Bell?

    Knox, I have the exact same feeling about Rise titles. I find it week. It just makes me think of people getting up. Movies shouldn’t be about getting up, they should be about things happening.

    Somewhere up there Jareth insulted Jeunet’s Alien film. I realize that’s the conventional wisdom, so I would like to offer to begin a Jurassic Park/Lost World style defense of Alien Resurrection if others would be so inclined.

  63. Burton isn’t the most visually kinetic director (he tends to stick to one action per shot), but there are a lot of strong compositions in his films.

    I don’t remember everyone hating Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this much when it opened. It’s not a Burton movie I particularly care to defend, but I think there’s a lot of funny and inventive stuff in its first hour.

    Fred, you know I’m with you on Lost World. But Alien Resurrection is the least uniquely distinctive of the original “quadrilogy.” It strikes me as a pretty generic late-’90s space action movie.

  64. Big Fish was his last good movie. POTA was unnecessary and forgettable. Sleepy Hollow also a disappointment I thought. Chocolate Factory was a nice quirky Depp performance, but also forgettable.

  65. All right, Mark, let’s do this. I LOVE Alien Resurrection. The idea of bringing back a Ripley who’s not so happy to be back and really over the fighting aliens thing was awesome and totally subverted the cliche clone gimmick. I loved the Jeunet-esque gang of weird looking pirates who end up as Ripley’s crew and the action was great. People remember the underwater scene but there’s also a ladder scene, the big evacuation and some old fashioned corridor attacks. And at the time I didn’t know, but a lot of the visual style would become familiar in Amelie, Very Long Engagement, etc. I’d seen Delicatessen I think and liked applying that to Alien. Plus the abortion metaphor!

    As far as Burton goes, I remember almost nothing about Apes except the Lincoln Memorial and hating it, but I find Charlie and the Chocolate Factory far worse. It’s like it’s got all the visuals of the Willy Wonka movie but no personaly and all that exposition about Willy’s dad. Edward Scissorhands and Big Fish are beautiful films. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure is awesome and I liked Returns better than Batman also. Was never in love with Ed Wood but certainly appreciate it. Sleepy Hollow is where it started to bore me. I’m okay with Alice though. If you’re going to do Alice in Burtonland, at least it looks like Burton.

  66. Alien Resurrection really lacked the style or class or scale of the others. It felt like an R-Rated syndicated television show spun off of the Alien franchise. Watching it reminds me of how I feel when I’m sick and/or medicated. It’s like an alien masquerading as the Alien franchise. All the Alien movies have a bleakness about them, but this one is bad creepy and alienating. Surreal and weird in a bad way. Just not quite right. Like Ron Pearlman, like Dourif, indifferent to Winona Ryder, Sigourney has an interesting different performance. But the film is empty and has no heart.

    Did I mention I don’t like it?

  67. RBatty — I think most people complain about his style only because its a little grating when crammed into an otherwise listless, stupid plot. No one worth listening to complained about SWEENY TODD having that Burton style, because it was a good movie. But when CHARLIE rolled around, all you get is the style and Burton seems to think it’s worth a movie in itself. Which it assuredly is not.

    SLEEPY HALLOW made me mad because it has so much going for it and ultimately just wastes it all in favor of an endlessly diminishing convoluted plot and lame action setpieces. I’d love to see the same guy who made SWEENY TODD make SLEEPY HALLOW with that same art direction, though. The sequence with the spinning lantern in the little boy’s room (highlighted in the trailers) may be Burton’s greatest suspense scene ever. But it works better as a short than it does in the context of all the lameness crammed into the rest of the film.

    On the other hand, it did unite Christopher Lee and Ian McDiarmid long before we knew that would be cool.

  68. Re: what someone else said, I don’t think Tim Burton’s cult following is enough to bring many people into theaters. It’s big budgets and familiar titles that already have brand value. And Johnny Depp.

    I guess what I like about Big Fish is that it’s the last film I’ve seen him do where it really felt like he was stretching a bit or doing something different (for him).

  69. Well damn Casey, if you didn’t even like Scissorhands, you may as well stop with Burton. To me that’s one of his best. You didn’t like Pee Wee? Or Sleepy Hollow at all? Then man, you just will never dig Burton. Interesting that people who dislike Burton tend to love the movie that’s least Burtonish in a lot of ways…Ed Wood.

    And if you dislike those movies then of course it makes sense you’d hate this last decade of Burton’s, which has been relatively weak. But for me…

    2010 Alice in Wonderland – Didn’t see it, looks painful.
    2007 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – LOVED IT.
    2005 Corpse Bride – Pretty good.
    2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Decent, didn’t hate it. Not great either.
    2003 Big Fish – Very good.
    2001 Planet of the Apes – BORING.

    It’s not like his first ten years but it’s not the worst either.

    I really dislike Gilliam. Want to talk repititious, Here’s every Gilliam movie…actors mugging in front of art directed sets, and screaming into a wide angle lens. Bittersweet/Saddish ending. I really can’t get through a lot of his stuff.

    And Stu…I don’t know the backstory of the production of Superman, but the earth spinning backwards is a script issue, not Donner’s. I agree though, it sucks. Hackman…well, that may be Hackman being billed over the lead character and playing campy, as many actors do…maybe Donner couldn’t really reign him in, don’t know. But still, these are small potatoes compared to the ENTIRETY of parts 3 and 4.

  70. Mr. Subtlety, I sort of agree with you on Sleepy Hollow…the script is ridiculous. BUT, that’s not necessarily on Burton. That’s a bad script. Which sure, he could have fixed…but that was the script he signed on to do by Andrew Kevin Walker hot off Seven, so who knows what kind of protective clauses there were. He may have not been able to do much.

    Having said that, Burton himself has admitted that he can’t tell the difference between a good script and a bad one. He just has no concept of it. And that’s his failing. He needs to work with people who will tell him that the script is horseshit.

  71. Seems that Burton’s output has skewed more towards remakes and adaptations of classic tales. Aside from Batman, that really wasn’t his thing until the 2000s.

    Are there really no good, quasi-original ideas out there, or what?

  72. Mr Doctor (great name, btw) — I agree that most of the problems are in the script (its a pretty bad one), but I don’t think it was completely impossible to make it work. The tone of the film is wildely inconsistent, with performances all over the place, and that can probably be blamed on Burton. I think the most salient point to come out of this discussion is the one that Jareth raises above — Burton’s best medium may not be a full-length narrative movie. He can make an effective and striking scene, but a lot of times his disinterest in storytelling is quite apparent (right down to his inability to pick good scripts — why become a storyteller if you don’t enjoy reading good stories?)

  73. Skani, so you feel Fincher’s style still seeped through Alien 3? Cool if you do, I just find it surprising people hate Resurrection more than 3. At least Resurrection got to do something. 3 was just hamstrung the whole way.

  74. Well, I guess to counter that, I’d say that movies don’t HAVE to be about stories first and foremost. Like, Lynch could certainly make his stories more accessible if he wanted, but he doesn’t…other things interest him. A guy like Altman had great stories, but even he said he tended to like generic stories that everyone knew the beats to so he could do what really interested him…character and mood. Does anyone love Evil Dead for the story?

    But yeah, Burton can never quite overcome a lot of problems. I still love him though…he’s unique and I love a good looking horror picture…or movie with horror stylings. I think I’m the lone defender on the internet of Coppola’s Dracula AND The Cell. But in a sense Burton could go off and do a play or a book and it’s be just as well. But in that sense he DOES branch out…he does his art, he writes poems, gets into animation, etc. Movies are just another thing for him. I’ve seen a little bit of Alice on tv and it looks bad, but a movie can’t make a billion dollars and no one likes it, so it works for some people. I don’t care about it myself, won’t watch it.

    This is why I’m interested in Dark Shadows…for me the best Burtons are basically comedies (Ed Wood, Scissorhands, Beetlejuice) or his more serious/violent movies (Batman, Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney). I like Horror Burton. So the idea of him doing another potentially Hammer type of movie makes me all gushy inside, I’m a sucker for all of that shit. Throw up some dark clouds and cobwebs and I’m pretty content.

  75. You’re hardly the only one around who likes Coppola’s Dracula. It’s a tremendous film in my book*.

    But as you’re mentioning Hammer. BLACK DEATH is the closest thing I’ve seen in spirit to the Hammer of old in ages.

    For what it’s worth, my take on Burton is that he’s a talented guy who just isn’t bothered trying anymore. He probably peaked with this:

    *metaphorical book; I do not have an actual book.

  76. Not that I’m going to compare Burton and Malick (even though I am) but I was one who always appreciated Malick more than I liked him. I always felt like the narrative got in the way of what Malick wanted to do and because of that I was never able to really appreciate his movies because the story and narratives were so weak that it ruined my enjoyment of what Malick did successfully. Tree of Life, however, had a very small narrative and is a film that feels like it allowed Malick to truly do what he always wanted to do. I feel that he became free from the narrative and in turn made his best movie.

    Maybe Burton needs to find a movie that can do something similar. I always feel like his style is not just more important than his stories but that they are also something he puts on the screen out of necessity more than anything else. Or maybe he needs a trusted collaborator that he can work with?

    It’s not that I disliked Scissorshands but that it doesn’t do anything for me. I watch it and it doesn’t pain me but nor do I care about it. It feels really limp. It’s a premise with some decent style but not much else. I’m sure it would be great if it was a Twilight Zone episode but I never felt it needed its full running length to be told. It’s no Starship Troopers.

    I wonder how much collaboration was involved in Sweeney Todd? I imagine quite a lot. Also, I hope that Coraline guy does more movies. I liked Coraline. I also liked James and the Giant Peach. That kind went for something similar, too.

  77. I would agree that Burton is more interested in his visuals than in plot and narrative. But I’m a sucker for great visuals. I certainly don’t mind a film that just kind of hangs there if the visuals are compelling enough. And yet I would like to defend Sleepy Hollow’s story. Sure, its convoluted and absurd, but the film is supposed to be over-the-top. In many ways Sleepy Hollow is a great balancing act between horror and camp. I remember a friend of mine hated the film, and when I asked him why he disliked it so much, he pointed to the scene where the priest kills the town patriarch with a giant cross. But to me having a priest kill someone with a giant cross is fucking hilarious.

    I don’t think I’m going to change anyone’s mind with these arguments. Sometimes a director just rubs you the wrong way. That’s fair. And it’s not like some of the criticism isn’t on the mark, either. Alice in Wonderland looked like the copy of a copy of a Tim Burton film that just happened to be actually made by Tim Burton (it’s probably his worst film). Apes is pretty bad, and Charlie and the Chocolate factory, while not terrible, does seem somewhat unnecessary when we still have the Gene Wilder original. But every director has his failures, and I don’t think you can write Tim Burton off when his second to last film wound up being one the best movies he has made. I’m not a big fan of Cape Fear or the Age of Innocence, but I don’t think either of those films portended the end to Martin Scorsese’s career.

  78. Fred,
    I will give Jeunet points for making the film his own, and I credit the film for trying to go in another direction (then, again, it had to go in at least somewhat of a different direction given the **20-year old spoiler alert** death of Ripley).

    I just don’t think the film works at all. There are some good performances and truly inspired casting choices (I like Michael Wincott, too; forgot about him), which just makes it all the more (something less than) tragic how disappointing the film is.

    I thought Alien 3 had a bad rap to it at the time, the same way I (on the JP3 thread) thought Last Action Hero got an unfair panning. The problem for many people, I think, w/ Alien 3 is that it’s a much smaller, more intimate film. Like JP3 (interestingly enough), it’s actually downsized from part 2 (Aliens) in terms of action.

    It’s a more muted, somber film–that’s the tone of the storytelling, the set design, and the climax. I don’t think that played well w/ the early summer blockbuster crowd. Nor did a variety of other semi-to-very risky choices, like: Ripley being balled, her being the only chick, and her dying.

    I think Fincher’s bleakness comes through, as does his un-Michael Bayness, his willingness to go in different directions.

    Some of the same might be said about Jeunet, but I think his Alien was quasi-campy, and it didn’t really felt like it belonged in the series. It was the first film that seemed completely unnecessary or in no way advanced the mythology or told a compelling enough story of its own to justify its independent existence.

    You can see where Alien 3 is at least trying to tell a compelling story and is taking a bold risk in what it does w/ Ripley, yet doing it in a manner that is very consistent with the overall arc of her character from Alien through the end of Aliens. I believe that’s what Ripley would have done, and it’s a truly heroic (though not in the Michael Bay sense) end for her.

    Resurrection is just trippy and superfluous, and although the clone Ripley is an inspired performance from Weaver, the rest of the film dishonors the legacy of its predecessors, making me wish Weaver hadn’t taken part. I actually find the film kind of gross in a weird way. Not gross-out gross. Just, I feel like I’ve been cinematically molested.

  79. I agree with that…former fans who write off Burton totally seem crazy to me, because I also think Sweeney stands up with the best of Burton. Helps that he had solid source material to work from. Still, that was ONE movie away and he has a vampire movie coming out, how can anyone write the guy off (unless they never liked him, which is fair enough).

  80. I’m not writing off Burton, it’s just like others have said: It’s frustrating that he seems more preoccupied with bringing quirky magical worlds to (visual) life than with actually telling engaging or original stories. For me at least, we’re at point where we’ve seen it all in terms of visual effects. Really, to me everything since T2 has been incremental. Nothing truly revolutionary in my view (including Matrix or mo-cap or whatever). So, while I appreciate the skill with which Burton brings these surreal worlds to life (again, visually), it feels like an empty technical exercise.

    Again w/ Big Fish…there were some cool visuals and scenes to that one, but the really compelling thing was the relationship and the process by which the son comes to appreciate that his father wasn’t simply a shallow bullshit artist, but that he enriched his own and others’ lives through his tall tales. The notion that his stories aren’t an escape from reality, but a way to simultaneously interpret, symbolize, sum up, and augment reality. I just think it’s a beautiful story, wonderfully acted, truly unique, and all heart without being cloying. That’s Pee Wee Herman Tim Burton. That’s Ed Wood Tim Burton.

  81. Ah, it does bring joy to my heart to see others making the “plot isn’t necessarily the most important part of a film” argument, which I feel like I make a lot around here and don’t get a lot of people agreeing with me. I would not defend Burton on those terms myself, but I like that other folks here would.

  82. Back to 2001 POTA, another thing I want to toss out there. I think Mark Wahlberg is a very un-leading man leading man. He’s turned out to be a fine (not great, but solid) actor, and I’ve enjoyed quite a few of his movies. But he lacks gravitas. It’s in movies like POTA and the Happening that this shows up. Some actors deliver fine performances in otherwise crappy films (like Sigourney Weaver in Alien Resurrection). Other actors like Wahlberg seem to be only as good as their director. At this point, Marky Mark goes down in history as a decent actor who’s put in some truly good performances, a lot of serviceable ones, and a handful of real stinkers.

  83. I would agree that an amazing plot is neither necessary nor sufficient to make a good film, but it sure doesn’t hurt. And if you have neither plot, nor engaging relationships, you’re really hurting.

  84. Mark Wahlberg can really be a terrible leading man. He tends to be whiny if he’s not playing a tough guy.

  85. ALIEN RESURRECTION is awful but is nearly saved in the first 1/3 by Dan Hedaya (love him) and that guy from THE CROW and ROBIN HOOD PRINCE OF THIEVES (who is also pretty darn cool). Then they both (SPOILER) die and the movie gets progressively worse from then on out.

    I hated CITY OF LOST CHILDREN though. I just don’t get the style of direction where you throw in some weird visuals that don’t advance the story really, they are just there to make you think you have seen something original. Art direction emphasized way above story, to the detriment of plot. I think Terry Gilliam suffers from this some too, sadly. Also a lot of Luc Besson films (like FIFTH ELEMENT). These visuals make for fantastic videos or trailers or highlight reels but without plot they become meaningless. As a counterexample see PAN’S LABYRINTH, where the fantastical visuals are egregious and self-serving at times where it is obvious the director just wanted to do something neat, but at the same time he has enough skill that he can weave numerous “artsy” set pieces into a cohesive narrative. So we can easily forgive his excesses and even enjoy them. Those other directors, it just seems like they are trying too damn hard.

    Tim Burton often falls into the “trying too hard” category.

  86. Woody Tobias Jr

    July 27th, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Burton’s problem is pretty simple. He doesn’t know how to read. He’s admitted that he can’t tell the difference between a good script and a bad one, and that he doesn’t understand narrative. On the occasions that he’s made coherent films it’s been pure dumb luck.

  87. Jareth Cutestory

    July 27th, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Fred: Let me clarify – I think ALIEN RESURRECTION is a terrible Jeunet film; it shows very few of his strengths and far too many of his weaknesses. I’m not at all sure how I feel about it as a.) part of the ALIEN “franchise,” or b.) a summer blockbuster type thing, or c.) science fiction. I’d need to see it again.

    Dan: Count me among the “plot isn’t necessarily the most important part of a film” supporters. If you haven’t already seen it, the film I mentioned above, LE PONT DU NORD, fits this category really well.

    Much of what I dislike about so many films these days is how pat they are. Films that I consider failures, like SOURCE CODE or LIMITLESS, could have been so much better if they didn’t operate like clocks.

    Skani: I think Wahlberg was really good in I HEART HUCKABEES. I think that was a co-lead role.

    Rainman: One thing I’ll say about CITY OF LOST CHILDREN: watching it for the first time, you never know what the hell is going to happen next. Most days I prefer that to the hackneyed, but admittedly more emotional, plot of PAN’S LABYRITH.

    Mr. Subtlety: If it’s true that Burton is making a FRANKENWEENIE feature film, in effect remaking himself, he may actually get around to getting SLEEPY HALLOW done right in ten or twelve years.

  88. I think your love of old school Tim Burton depends on your age

    if you’re like me (21) then you grew up watching movies like Pee Wee, Beetle Juice, Edward Scissorhands and the two Burton Batmens

    those movies were unlike anything else at the time and are just flatout entertaining movies, I don’t understand what’s there to hate

    my personal last good Tim Burton movie is Mars Attacks, like Vern said that is a hilarious movie and I love the awesome throwback Danny Elfman score

  89. Jareth,

    Is that the Rivette film? I really dig Rivette but haven’t seen that one. I’ve gotta track it down, since you have such a high opinion of it.

  90. CITY OF LOST CHILDREN is like one of my favorite movies ever, the fact that someone is talking shit about it makes me rage

  91. Skani… so… what you’re saying is… Jean-Pierre Jeunet raped your childhood?

  92. Alright, if no one else is gonna ask for it, I will: Vern, please make C-HT shirts and sell them. Thanks.

  93. I would buy a C-HT shirt in a heartbeat

  94. Skani, if you’re defending Last Action Hero you’re my kind of people. I shall also add that Last Action Hero was beaten at the box office by Jurassic Park, which is not as good as The Lost World. :)

    Also I’m into any defense of a maligned sequel like Alien 3. It has good stuff in it too. I just really liked Resurrection, and to me felt like yet another quality director making the franchise his own. Although at this point, I realize I do not remember it as specifically as I’m able to recall Lost World in those threads.

    Dan and all, I would LOVE to see more films abandon conventional plot in order to focus on the awesome. It’s a dangerous game. We’ll see lots of filmmakers fail pretentiously. I think it’s a distinctly American thing. Film is not reality. It shouldn’t have to adhere to rules. We see a lot more creative balls in Asian and European cinema. And Malick’s not my bag, I don’t really think his looseness with narrative necessarily helps his films (see Sucker Punch thread.) But I’ll take all kinds of risk taking. I think Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry were onto something with Charlie Kaufman.

    Man, if Mr. Nobody ever gets distributed, THAT’s the visual non-narrative but you totally get it artistically film. And Rubber is awesome too.

  95. Am I gonna look like an asshole if I confess I like CHARLIE AND THE etc. much better than SWEENEY TODD THE etc.? I admit that CHARLIE has more obvious flaws (1. Depp’s weird Michael Jackson version of Wonka was a swing and a miss 2. some of those Danny Elfman Oompah Loompah songs are fucking terrible) but to me it has so many more interesting elements. Those creepy kids with their faces CGId to look like porcelain dolls, the crazy burning animatronic factory entrance, killer squirrels, an army of Deep Roys, the much more emphasized than in the original poverty of his family, the flashback to the chocolate castle, the added subplot about Christopher Lee the scary dentist…

    SWEENEY TODD, I guess you just gotta be a musical buff or something. On a technical level it’s all fine (although cheaper looking than other Burton movies) but I don’t get the appeal. The love story kids, I forget who the actors were, are way more flimsy and bland than any of the characters Burton has been criticized for in his other movies. I don’t know anything about them or why I’m supposed to give a shit about them but because they sing they’re considered legit. And Depp is of course adapting an old play but the crazy killer barber deal is more obvious and played out than about 75% of the other roles he’s had in his career. I do remember I liked Alan Rickman in it, whatever he did.

    Maybe I’m just young at heart, I like some old kiddy book better than the musical theatre that the adults are supposed to like. I don’t really have a real argument against it. I guess what I’m saying is I just don’t get it. Sure, it’s not crappy like APES or ALICE, but I don’t see why people consider it a bright spot in his career. I prefer the cartoon about how Johnny Depp accidentally got married to that dead lady he found in the woods. At least that’s something we can all relate to.

  96. I think it’s somewhat silly to try to argue that Burton is a hack, while praising Jeunet and Gilliam. All three directors have pretty much exactly the same strengths and weaknesses. They are all usually more interested in production design and wacky visuals, instead of story and character. Each has one or two films in his filmography that also succeeds in the latter, but those films are an exception to the rule.

    I like them all despite their weaknesses.

  97. I liked SWEENEY TODD until they started singing. Then it was a real struggle not to hit the fast forward button. Maybe a genius interpreter could make some sense out of those tuneless, syllable-glutted wanks that someone apparently considers songs, but I’m guessing former guitarist for Six Gun Method Johnny Depp was not that guy.

  98. Jareth Cutestory

    July 28th, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Dan: Rivette has a lot of fun with film conventions in LE PONT DU NORD, but it’s also kind of sad to watch knowing that Pascale Ogier, who gives a fascinating, vibrant performance in the film, dies not long after the film’s release. Jarmusch dedicated DOWN BY LAW to her.

    Fred: I remember word of mouth among the mainstream was really positive about ALIEN RESURRECTION when it came out. People were lined up around the block at my local theater to see it. It’s only when I came on the internet that I ever heard that so many people actually dislike it.

    Vern: To defend SWEENEY TODD, I guess I’d say that the film didn’t look “cheap” to me so much as it looked “murky” or “brooding” or “intimate,” which I think was a deliberate choice. Part of the success of the film for me was seeing how darkly Burton had rendered the source material – Sondheim purists definitely had reason to scoff at how grim it was.

    What impressed me the most about the film was Burton’s commitment to exploring the ugliness of violence. Much in the way that I think MUNICH is impressive because Spielberg refrained from including shrieking kids and bouncing eyeballs, Burton’s depiction of violence is sober and fatalistic in a way that he had never tried to achieve before, and it demonstrated a sensitivity to the subject matter that I didn’t think Burton was capable of. On paper, you’d think he would have turned the material into a bloody romp (which could have been fun) but instead he decided to make a film about the consequences of revenge, which is a harder film to make. The lead performances communicate just enough vulnerability to underscore the tragedy of the material, yet are vigorous enough to be oddly compelling.

    I also think that he did a good job rendering a particular kind of London without falling back on too many Burtonisms, though I wouldn’t disagree if someone argued that we see this particular London fairly often in films.

    Also, I think boys and girls of all ages can appreciate Sacha Baron Cohen’s performance in SWEENEY TODD. I didn’t like BORAT at all but was kind of blown away by Cohen in this film.

  99. I don’t care for musicals, and I definitely prefer the non-musical stuff in Sweeney. And while I loved the movie, there was a point where I was starting to get a little bored, but then Depp beats in Sasha’s head and I was ALL IN. Loved all of the gore. And the last ten minutes where there’s basically no singing and it plays out like a straight horror movie is just the kind of stuff I love…where Depp and Carter are tracking the kid in the sewers and Depp is unfolding his razor. Great stuff.

  100. Jareth,

    Ogier was wonderful in Rohmer’s FULL MOON IN PARIS, but that’s the only thing I’ve seen her in. She has to be one of the top sexy but in an offbeat way actresses of all time. Shame she died so young.

  101. one guy from andromeda

    July 28th, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Isn’t the “his movies don’t need a good plot, compelling performances, strong atmosphere, tone, structure etc. they look pretty” argument just throwing your hands up in the air and admitting it’s empty eye candy? This is more or less what can be (and is) said about Michael Bay movies.

  102. Jareth Cutestory

    July 28th, 2011 at 8:46 am

    One Guy: I don’t want to speak for Dan, but when I say a film “doesn’t need a plot” I’m thinking of stuff like LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD or FALLEN ANGELS or ERASERHEAD. All sorts of neat stuff can happen in a film when the script isn’t slavishly trying to connect all the dots.

    FALLEN ANGELS, for example, describes urban ennui precisely by abandoning plot and letting its characters just drift around a meticulously created setting. Their actions don’t further a narrative, they describe an environment. The film is more a thematic reverie than it is a resolved story.

    I don’t think it’s any less coherent than a well-plotted film; you just have to look elsewhere for that coherence.

  103. You know what? I buy that argument when it produces something I enjoy watching. Movies are like recipes: they don’t all need to have every ingredient in abundance. I like hot sauce, but I don’t want it on a cake, you know? The cake has other tasty ingredients that I enjoy. It doesn’t need hot sauce to make it work.

    (In this analogy, the cake is a visuals-heavy movie and hot sauce is story, characters, etc. Not sure if that was clear.)

  104. one guy from andromeda

    July 28th, 2011 at 8:59 am

    I agree that a movie doesn’t need to have a plot to be good, and Jareth provides good examples of that. But if there ever were movies that needed tight scripts it’s the shlock that Burton churns out lately. They’re just so empty of everything else except “looking nice”. This is a matter of taste of course, but if a movie is nothing but visuals for visuals sake i tend to get bored very quickly, with Alice in Wonderland just as with every other overproduced kitsch blockbuster. There’s just enough other ways today to see impressive visuals that don’t expect from me to sit through 2 hours of boring incompetence and tone deafness for 5 money shots.

  105. And one guy, no one’s saying that a movie needs NOTHING but looking pretty. But usually a Burton movie DOES have some fun performances and almost always a cool tone and atmosphere. And sometimes, for some people, that’s enough.

    I watch A Jackie Chan movie for the fights and comedy and Jackie. Usually everything else is garbage. Horrible plots, bad story, no tension, no real drive…but those fights, man! That makes it worth it…usually. Are you not a Jackie Chan fan? Can you really defend his movies if you took out the 15 minutes of fighting? Sometimes you just have to take what you can get and put up with some shit.

    I think a lot of times the problem on the internet is, people say “why settle for whatever.” People expect every movie to be Godfather 2. Well, doesn’t work out that way.

  106. How could anyone call Burton a hack? Joe Johnston is a hack, Peter Segal is a hack, Brett Ratner is a hack. Tim Burton is an artist who has lost his way. Burton brings style and a visual signature to all his films. even the worst ones like Alice In Wonderland still look good. It seems that since Planet of the Apes he either doesn’t have the same passion he had in the 90’s or just has run out of ideas. Even though Sweeney Todd is the only Tim Burton film since Ed Wood that I thoroughly enjoyed(and that is a 14 year old movie btw), I could still never place him in the hack category. Most of his movies since Ed Wood are pretty flawed and emotionless but always visually interesting. I’m guessing that Mars Attack was really the last movie that was all Tim Burton(and maybe Big Fish which was terrible). It was an interesting experiment and a movie that I actually enjoy pieces of, but would never tell anyone that it was a great movie. What he is making now seem to be movies meant to please the studios and make loads of money.

  107. one guy from andromeda

    July 28th, 2011 at 9:19 am

    I was never as bored by a Jackie Chan movie as i was by Burton’s 2000s work. The only thing i remember about Big Fish is the shot with the popcorn and how saccharine it was. Willy Wonky had some nice sets and a funny burn ward side gag. Sleepy Hollow had … nothing really i guess. Everything else i couldn’t even watch all the way through. It’s fine with me if people like this kind of movie, but i just can’t get into them at all. Alice in Wonderland cost something like 200 million dollars. You’d think someone could have been paid to provide some entertainment or at least something resembling a genuine human emotion into it.
    Maybe i’m just so vitriolic because i’m disappointed by how badly Burton crashed, i really enjoyed his movies.

  108. Jareth Cutestory

    July 28th, 2011 at 9:28 am

    If I remember correctly, Vern’s review of Burton’s ALICE explains quite convincingly how a less conventional, more disjunctive, dreamlike plot, would have really improved the movie considerably. I don’t think Burton needs a rigorous, focused plot so much as he needs to find plots as weird and gangly as his sensibility is. BEETLEJUICE is all over the place, plot wise, and is so much better for it.

  109. I still like SLEEPY HOLLOW. It’s funny and violent and great to look at, with a bunch of good actors to anchor it just enough to pass as a realish movie. I think it’s Burton’s last good movie, though I’ll admit that it marks the end of his auteur period and the beginning of his journeyman years. From there on out it was all cover songs, no originals.

  110. one guy,

    To further Mr Majesyk’s point, I think a movie can exist primarily on a visual/audio level and still be more than eye candy. A film doesn’t need a strong plot (or even a plot at all) or interesting characters (or any characters at all) to inspire thought, or evoke a mood, or express an emotion, or even simply entertain. For me, an extreme example might be the experimental films of Stan Brakhage. Often times they are little more than rapidly cut still images of swirly color patterns and film scratches, but I find them provocative, fascinating and even entertaining. I certainly love it when a film has a great narrative, but a film doesn’t have to have it to be great.

    To put it another way, would you look at a beautiful, complex painting and think “yeah, but where’s the plot?”

  111. I think the problem is that film is such a Frankenstein monster of so many different media, all of which have different requirements, so cinema as an art form must serve many masters. It’s equal parts literature and theater and photography and the circus. Everybody has a different preference for which master they would prefer a movie declare its primary allegiance to. For some, a movie is basically a filmed play, so the characters and dialogue must be first and foremost. For some, it’s a book made real, so the story must be a page-turner. For others, it’s photography, so the way the camera is used is the most significant aspect. And some just like the circus, so they want to see spectacle. If a movie covers all of those bases, that’s a great film. But I think it’s healthy to have some appreciation for films that just zero in on one or two aspects of what cinema is and let the others fall by the wayside. Not every film can do it all, nor should they try.

  112. one guy from andromeda

    July 28th, 2011 at 10:17 am

    As i said, i am _well_ aware that “plotless” movies can be just as if not more rewarding than traditional narratives, hell, my favourite movie of late is Enter The Void, so trust me, i know what you mean. But let’s not kid ourselves – there’s nobody here who truly believes that the plotless meandering of an aimless film like Alice in Wonderland is there BY DESIGN is there? These are shortcomings, not features.
    I do not look at beautiful, complex paintings and think “where’s the plot?”, i look at flashy bubble gum wrapping and think “where’s the point?”.

  113. True dat. Because film is a medium that records things, it also means that it can literally contain other art forms as well. Film is not music, but it can have music. Film is not dance, but it can show dancing. And so forth.

    Personally, the “master” I would prefer film to serve would be itself. If a film is going to be narrative, I’d prefer that the narrative be told more in a cinematic way than a theatrical or novelistic way, or what have you.

    Which isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy or even love plenty of films that aren’t intensely cinematic. Heck, I like Kevin Smith, after all.

  114. Jareth Cutestory

    July 28th, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Excellent post, Majestyk. If you kick any more ass it will technically be a spree.

  115. You make it sound like I walked into a 7-11 and started mowing motherfuckers down with insight bullets.

    “It happened so fast! One second I was just standing there, filling up my Transformers 3 Slurpee cup, and the next thing I knew, I had a new understanding of what cinema was all about. It was horrible!”

  116. Jareth Cutestory

    July 28th, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Those “insight bullets” sound like they’d be used in Mr. Subtlety’s description of the climax of PUMP UP THE VOLUME: drive-by truthings.

  117. If Burton had been able to marry the dreamy sort of atmosphere of MIRRORMASK with his visuals for Alice, it could have been much more successful as a piece of art, but probably would have tanked at the box office. As boring and lifeless as it came off, that thing still pulled in a billion dollars worldwide.

  118. As a Burton fan, the thing that worries me the most about Alice in Wonderland is its success. I can easily forgive a director who fails every now and then. There’s not a director out there who doesn’t drop the ball. The troubling aspect of Alice in Wonderland is that it’s Burton’s least successful film artistically and his most successful film artistically. The market greatly rewarded his worst work. I wonder what sort of message Burton took away from this success.

  119. one guy from andromeda

    July 28th, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I still don’t see how “the film is shit, but the visuals are nice, it’s not supposed to be Shakespeare, quit complaining” can be legitimate when it comes to Burton but not when it comes to Bay. Both have easily identifiable styles that are basically a clichee of themselves by now, but one is a hack the other is a great artist that just happens to get lousy scripts for 10 years now. It is a matter of taste and i will leave it alone, i just had to make clear i don’t see a big difference between these two directors anymore (even though they for sure started differently).

  120. I don’t think anyone is really saying that, one guy. In fact I think this talkback is one of the most overtly critical of Burton’s work as a whole (while still acknowledging his successes).

    And the Bay comparison doesn’t work. At the end of the day love or hate Burton, he IS an artist with a unique visual style- and that goes for production design, costume design, creature design etc… (granted he has scores of people working for him on these things, but the aesthetic and execution is still largely his own).
    Bay has nice visuals, yes… but there is no imagination in them.
    It is like the difference between looking at a Dali painting and a really nice beachscape painting.
    With Dali (again, love or hate) there is a distinct style and aesthetic where you know it is the work of an artist with a defined vision.
    With a great beachscape, you can say- “Yes, the composition is perfect. The way the lighting hits the sand is gorgeous and the pelican standing on that sanddune sure is well placed and realistic looking.” But it is still just a fucking beachscape, like a million other beachscapes.” And then the pelican explodes and THEN you know it’s Michael Bay.

  121. I would argue that Michael Bay has a very distinct visual style that is as much a result of his fetishes and obsessions as Burton’s is. I could look at pretty much any frame and say “That’s either Bay or somebody trying to be Bay.” Love him or hate him (and I don’t blame you either way) but he puts his stamp on everything. Even Vern has finally come around to treating him like some kind of autistic auteur.

  122. One Guy From Andromeda = true. Intermittently pretty images should not be an excuse for a piece of art which just doesn’t work. Of course, Burton (even recently) has a few movies which do actually charm, where Bay has none. But I still feel like his successes are usually more contingent upon the scipt and performances he ends up with, and his visual stylings are just the icing on the cake of a good movie than anyone could have made with those elements.

    Vern — I would defend SWEENY wholly on the fact that, in spite of the singing (which I loathe), its a tightly constructed and surprisingly weighty story. It plays pretty rough and articulates its tragedies and conflicts rather eloquently, and as such ends up feeling like it has quite a bit of gravity to it. Depp gives one of his very best performances, in that he’s trully and completely a monster now but also very subtlety lets you see the human he used to be. You can totally understand why Helena Bonham Carter can imagine there’s a part of him that’s still human, and even though she’s a moster too you can see the vulnerable part of her which needs to see warmth in him even when there is none. The two kids are mostly McGuffins for the warped family of Depp, Carter, and little boy.

    In an effort to demonstrate to your federal government that its possible to disagree and still find common ground, I will say that I like the Deep Roy army in CHARLIE. But to me, not a damn thing else in that whole movie works even a little. Focusing on his poverty more ends up just feeling trite and dismissive of his family’s condition. Adding the Christopher Lee backstory cheapens every aspect of Wonka’s character and still feels pointless (although, and again, take a good look at this sentence John Boehner — the gag where the whole house is gone is a pretty good one). But even the elaborate sets feel extensive but not particularly imaginative or magical. The conflict between the bad kids and Wonka is completely lacking because Wonka’s so crazy he barely even notices anyone around him. Charlie clearly has no soul and was constructed in a workshop where they build prototypes for those A.I. robot kids. Everything is frantic, nothing is exciting. I almost think that one was worse than ALICE, at the very least it seems a perfect template for that kind of hallow pseudo-eye-candy fun house ride.

  123. I must completely disagree with the Burton and Bay comparison. Just because you have a personalized visual style doesn’t mean that style is aesthetically pleasing or artistically interesting. I remember reading an interview with Burton (around the time of Sleepy Hollow) where he said that the more he sees quick MTV-like cuts, the more he has the urge to hold his shots longer. I think this showcased Burton at his best. He was making films his way, and if you were willing, then he would definitely bring you along. Bay’s quick cuts and ADD style seems the product of deep insecurity. He’s so afraid that his movies will bore you that he has to do everything in his power to drag you through one of his nonsensical plots.

    It’s difficult to defend a couple of Burton’s films, but I think he still largely does what he wants. This is the man who, after all, was entrusted with the multi-million dollar Batman sequel and decided to indulge as many of his personal quirks as possible, even deciding that Batman may not be the main character after all. I just hope Burton is still following his instinct. My one request would be for him to team up with Michael Keaton once more.

  124. One Guy – Did we really agree that Burton movies don’t have atmosphere or compelling performances? I don’t see where you could get that from. Even this Planet of the Apes, his worst movie by about 25 miles, has several good performances. Sleepy Hollow I think is not one of his best but Depp is hilarious and unorthodox in it and when you open up the DVD case you actually get atmosphere stuck all over your hand and dripping down your pants. But I also think for the most part his movies before this one did have pretty good to great scripts, so maybe I’m not on board with any of this.

    I wouldn’t defend most of his movies after this one, I just think they’re not as bad as their reputations. Alice in Wonderland is definitely a textbook example of cool visuals not rescuing a terrible script.

    I also gotta question the idea brought up by a couple people that Burton “gets a pass from critics” that other directors don’t because of his visuals. I looked it up and if you go by Rotten Tomatoes it doesn’t look like that. The excellent Mars Attacks! gets a 50%, Sleepy Hollow 67%, Planet of the Apes 45%, Alice in Wonderland 52%, even Batman is only at 70%. I was surprised though that Charlie is at 82%, since I don’t seem to come across anybody that likes that one even as much as I do, and it’s not like I’m in love with it.

    I was impressed that the lowest rated thing on his filmography is Batman Forever (meaningless producer credit) at 44%. I could’ve sworn that one was well received at the time despite it’s scientifically provable terribleness.

  125. I guess all directors have to be compared and contrasted with Bay. We did it with Zack Snyder, why not Tim Burton? Next we’ll do Woody Allen.

    I actually believe, and have long believed, that Bay *does* count as an auteur. He has a signature visual style that he developed out of the Bruckheimer school. He has distinctive obsessions, point of view and “humor” that identify his voice. That obviously doesn’t make him a good director or artist, because I don’t think he is, but he’s something.

    But I still don’t buy the Burton comparison because although both have identifiable style, Burton at least for the first half of his career had a stronger personal investment in his movies, he had complete control over the tone, he had things to say. However trite you may find his outsider artist deal it would be silly to deny the autobiographical (and cleverly so) nature of Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, even Batman Returns. Bay hasn’t had one scene of sincere emotion since The Rock.

    I don’t remember anybody here defending Planet of the Apes or Alice In Wonderland on the basis of “it looks cool so the rest doesn’t matter.” If they did most of us would strongly disagree. They were just saying that in his approach the narrative is less important to the ultimate success than in, say, a Coen Brothers movie. Unfortunately that approach hasn’t worked out as well for him in recent years.

    Going back to much earlier, I felt like it would be sleazy to bring up his personal life in the review, but comments are a free zone, right? Not only did this movie mark the switchover from Lisa Marie to Helena Bonham Carter as his girlfriend, but they actually have a scene together where they’re arguing. It would be funny if all the scenes before that were really good and that was the point where the movie starts to suck.

  126. Didn’t see CHOCOLATE FACTORY or SWEENEY TODD and ALICE but I will say when people say Burton lost it after ED WOOD the first movie I lend them is BIG FISH and they eat humble pie. That shit is a fucking 2000’s cinematic classic IMO. I don’t really remember APES I remember not hating it as much as everybody else but finding it extremely forgettable outside of Tim Roth. I still don’t know wtf they were thinking with that ending though.

  127. Oh and the moses parallel with The Penguin at the beginning of BATMAN RETURNS is still one of the best things I’ve ever seen in my life to this day. I miss old Burton like everyone else but I think he’s still capable of really making something sincere & not “work for hire” again one day. I’m really interested to see what he does with DARK SHADOWS.

  128. Having a distinct visual style though is not inherently artistic in and of itself. Burton’s work IS inherently artistic… ALL of it, even the bad stuff (and as much as I adore many of Burton’s movies- I am ambivalent on several and downright hate a couple).
    Yes, film is an art form, so you could argue that that alone makes any distinct style “artistic” but I disagree.
    Back to a Dali painting (even a lesser work) versus a beach scape (even the best fucking beach scape you’ve ever seen).

    And I do not even hate Bay. I hate a bunch of his movies (Bad Boys II, the Transformers movies and Pearl Harbor) but I like several as well… I’d still never call him an artist. Director? Yes. Filmmaker? Sure. But an artist? No way. I just see no art in what he does, except in the VERY strictest terms.

  129. This forum needs less Michael Bay.

    I saw the first thirty minutes or so of “PotA” and turned it off. I vaguely remember laughing my head off when Wahlberg said, in heroic manly tones: “I’m going after my CHIMP!” and being bored stiff by everything that followed. The rest of it could be a masterpiece for all I know, but I’m not inclined to retry this one to find out. Sorry.

    I will say this though. Danny Elfman’s opening score deserves to be remembered long after the movie’s been forgotten. Sometimes bad movies get ridiculously good bits of soundtrack, and this happens to be one of those times.

    Every Tim Burton film I’ve seen bar this one (and that’s not many of them) I’ve really liked but have had one or two huge problems with. Case in point:

    – “Edward Scissorhands”. Fantastic story, good characters for the most part, very emotional; but the “fairy-tale”-style setting, Winona Ryder’s elderly lady (why on earth didn’t they use a real old lady like in “Titanic”?) and the villain of the piece spoil it for me.

    – “Sleepy Hollow”. In many ways I love this film. It’s so macabre and atmospheric. But Burton turns it into the Johnny Depp show and all the great character actors, including the killer, have literally nothing to do. It could’ve been a great horror-mystery flick, but every time I watch it I feel cheated.

    Even “Batman Returns”. To me it has more going for it than the original “Batman” (I agree with Broddie on the “moses” parallel by the way). It’s darker, more emotional, with a lot more going on underneath the surface, on both a literal and metaphorical level. That is, until any time Catwoman appears on screen, at which points the film drops like a stone.

    So Burton frustrates me. Each of those three films was pretty close to being great; but there are just a few stupid decisions that ruin them for me. Let’s ask some rhetorical questions: why is the setting of “Scissorhands” literally a single row of houses with a blue background behind it, so it looks as though the whole thing’s taking place inside a shoebox? Why did Winona feel the need to croak like a frog for her “elderly lady” voice? Why does Miranda Richardson have third billing in “Sleepy Hollow” but about five minutes of screen time? Why does everybody start punning like Mr Freeze whenever Michelle Pfeifer appears, when the rest of the time the film’s played almost completely straight? Who thought ANY of this stuff would be a good idea?

  130. “That is, until any time Catwoman appears on screen, at which points the film drops like a stone.”

    You still got it, Paul. You still got it.

  131. I agree on Ryder’s silly old lady voice- but I live with it. The production design of the neighborhood, however, I actually really like. It is supposed to look as unreal and generic and idealized as can be- the modern, pastel version of a generic fairytale village.
    I like Batman Returns way more than Batman. It has way more kinetic energy too it and is just kind of batshit nuts. As for the puns, they pretty much all come from the Penguin and he uses them throughout the whole movie- even if most of the other characters play it straight, he definitely does not- whether in regards to Catwoman or anyone else.
    As for Richardson’s billing, I don’t see the issue. Outside of Depp and Ricci, she has just as much screentime as the rest of the cast (which is admittedly little more than a series of cameos). Well, except for Casper Van Dien and who wants his name on their movie poster?

  132. Burton was pretty much the first director I ever knew by name, other than maybe Alfred Hitchcock.

    The Nightmare Before Christmas was the first movie I ever really loved. Burton shaped me as a human being.

    I also don’t think that he has made a good movie since 1997. And that was Mars Attacks! And that was only an interesting failure. Sleepy Hollow bored me to tears, even if it did have a few superb scenes. Planet of the Apes is near unwatchable and totally generic, other than the superb makeup effects. Big Fish is just like The Notebook, but only half as good. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a hideous, boring, redundant mess with some pretty sets and one or two delightfully creepy sequences. Corpse Bride is breathtaking to look at, but the music is substandard and the ending makes no sense. All in all, it’s his best post-Mars Attacks! release. Sweeny Todd was pure autopilot. I didn’t even need to see it. I could have just closed my eyes, guessed whom he would cast Depp and Carter in, and imagined the whole damn thing. Alice in Wonderland literally put me to sleep. It’s not even good if you’re high.

    By the by, can anyone tell me what the moral of Nightmare Before Christmas is? Because I’m pretty sure it, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood and Beetlejuice all have the exact same moral: no one will ever understand you, so don’t try to express yourself.

  133. Also, Batman Returns is clearly the best live-action Batman film yet made. Mask of the Phantasm is still the best overall, even if I disagree with its’ re-imagining the Tall Man as a young, shapely, femme fatale (spoiler for a decade old children’s film).

    Returns is just superb on most every level, especially as a psychosexual comedy. The scene where Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle dance at the mascarade ball (where they are the only ones not in costume) and slowly discover each other’s secret identity is one of the best romance scenes I have ever seen. “Does that mean we have to fight now?” Pitch perfect. Honestly one of my top 10 favorite scenes from any movie ever (my favorite is the payoff to the bloody 20 dollar bill in Taxi Driver).

    Also, I watched that movie like a million times as a kid and I only realized years later how incredibly sexually provocative it is. I can’t believe I had this as a children’s book, replete with film accurate drawings of Pfeifer’s leather clad ass.

  134. I remember appreciating the contrast between the Penguin and Batman in Batman Returns. It’s been years since I’ve seen that movie but I remember there being some interesting themes in it that are worth talking about. If nothing else I don’t see any characters in the new Batman movies that offer an interesting contrast to Batman than the Penguin offered in Returns.

    I have been thinking about it and I really think Burton needs to do something different. I remember being kind of excited for Thor, which was decent enough, because I wanted to see how Kenneth Brannagh would do a superhero movie. Not that I’m in any way saying it should happen, but I think it would be interesting to see what Burton would do with Blood Meridian.

    I think if he wants to stop being a hack, or at least stop being perceived to be one by a random guy on the internet, he needs to do something interesting and different. Doing another remake / adaptation and adding his own Burton flavor to it will not accomplish that.

    Broddie, I really respect your opinion and will definitely try to watch Big Fish in the near future.

  135. “Big Fish is just like The Notebook, but only half as good.”

    That’s kind of hilarious, I really, REALLY wanted to like Big Fish but it just reeked of Oscar Bait. I remember Jessica Lange had absolutely nothing to do, then all of a sudden they give her an “Oscar Scene”; it almost seemed like a Wayne’s World-style parody.

    I do kinda want to see it again though, since it obviously has a strong following and means a lot to people. Plus Miley Cyrus is apparently in it (no I’m not being creepy, I just think it would be bizarre to see her in it now)

  136. Subtlety, Jeunet did not rape my child who. He did give me one queasy young adult weekend. I actually didn’t know he did all those other films. Good for him for getting his act together.

    Cutestory, I agree. I really dug huckabees. Hey, say hi to your mother for me, okay?

    Fred, LAH= good stuff. Plus, just realized Charles Dance is LAH and Alien^3, which proves…well, nothing. But I did realize it.

  137. Tawdry,
    >>>Big Fish is just like The Notebook, but only half as good.

    >>>Also, Batman Returns is clearly the best live-action Batman film yet made.

    C’mon, man?! Big Fish has so much more going on, and it’s the father-son story that is really driving it. Just, take the knife out of my heart, man.

    I will give Batman Returns big credit for oozing with gothic grime. Michelle Pfeiffer is awesome. Christopher Walken is, too, Danny DeVito is just gross and lacks any gravitas as a villain. The penguin village guys are kind of cool. It’s cool to see Pee Wee Herman. Once again, some really cool elements and good performances, looks great, but doesn’t hold up as a film.

  138. That’s kind of hilarious, I really, REALLY wanted to like Big Fish but it just reeked of Oscar Bait. I remember Jessica Lange had absolutely nothing to do>>

    Don’t remember that. I think the fact that Jessica Lange had nothing to do…I mean, the movie is about the father-son story, it’s not about Jessica Lange’s character. Would you have preferred they got someone less qualified?

  139. Jareth Cutestory

    July 28th, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Vern, you’re not mistaken: Critics basically shrugged and said, “Okay, whatever,” when BATMAN FOREVER was released while everyone else went to see it in droves. It’s a terrible film, but no one would say so at the time, much in the way that very few people came out against the first TRANSFORMERS until you took a brave stand against the dumbing down of the popcorn film. Thanks for that.

    Also, none of Bay’s toys and million dollar budgets and teams of writers could produce a fraction of the magic found in ZELIG or PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO (obligatory comparison to Woody Allen) or the wonderfully awkward little transgressions that Burton can produce on a whim on a napkin doodle. As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to discussing Film as Art, Bay simply brings nothing to the table that would allow us to include him in the conversation.

  140. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 28th, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Ex-fucking-actly, Jareth!
    And this coming from someone that HATED Alice In Wonderland and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory and actually kinda loves Armageddon.
    Bay is not an artist.
    A painter can be someone who paints houses or someone that produces imaginative works on canvas.
    Bay paints houses. He paints them well, but just because he is a painter does not mean he is an artist.

  141. I think the Notebook is a masterpiece of the genre. It’s no Casablanca, but I’d honestly put it on par with something like An Affair to Remember or Wings (which was the very first best picture winner and later loosely remade as Pearl Harbor). It’s a deeply affecting movie with perfect casting and confident, angular direction from Cassavettes. One of the best “chick flicks” ever made and probably one of the best adaptations of a terrible book imaginable.

  142. If you showed me any 15 minutes of Big Fish I would probably proclaim it the best film that Burton has ever made. The scene with the field of flowers is especially sublime. However, I’ve seen the WHOLE film and not just 15 minutes and it just doesn’t hold together for me. It made me wish I were watching Barron Munchhausen instead. In fact, though it no longer applies, I long had a thesis that every Burton film had a GIlliam corollary, and the Gilliam film was better.

    Also, I’m the asshole that loved Brother’s Grimm.

  143. as much as I love the main man Chris Nolan, I have to agree the two Burton Batmans be best

    the Christopher Nolan Batmans as good as they are feel like interpretations, the Tim Burton Batmans actually feel like the real Batman from the comics if you know what I mean

    and Tawdry is right, Batman Returns is surprisingly sexual for a supposedly “kid friendly” movie

  144. oh and I forgot, Mask Of The Phantasm fucking rocks

  145. Tawdry Hepburn: “The scene where Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle dance at the mascarade ball (where they are the only ones not in costume) and slowly discover each other’s secret identity is one of the best romance scenes I have ever seen. “Does that mean we have to fight now?” Pitch perfect.”

    Y’see, this is where I have to get off the Batman Returns train. I agree that it’s easily the best of the first four Batman films (well, it was hardly going to be one of the Schumachers!) Don’t agree that it’s better than the Nolans, especially “Dark Knight”, but we’ll let that one go, since I have love for all of those films.

    The scenes I have problems with in “Returns”, though, all revolve around Catwoman. And I don’t necessarily mean Pfeiffer herself, although I do think she’s been vastly overrated here. I mean, you put one of the most overtly beautiful actresses in a latex catsuit and have her give an overdone, heavy-breathing performance while cracking a whip, OF COURSE she’s going to be “sexual”, if your definition of “sexuality” is something that a horny twelve-year-old would dream up.

    But aside from the fact that while Christopher Walken is SCARY and even Danny DeVito manages to be scary-insane (remember the nose-biting scene?), I don’t think Catwoman is frightening or convincing, at all. More than that though, every time she’s onscreen, the movie drops into a series of lame puns. We’re not talking “Batman and Robin”-level in terms of quantity, but in terms of quality some of them might be more groan-worthy than many of Arnie’s. For example:

    “I don’t know whether to shoot or fall in love!” says one doomed movie-cop to another, when encountering Catwoman. Guys, if you happen to be an actor, having to try and pull of lines like this while keeping a straight face are how you know that you need a career change. Seriously. This one line is right up there with some of the most groan-worthy lines in film ever. It’s on the level of “You know what happens to a toad when it’s struck by lightning?” and “I prefer the term eccentric. But I guess I am a little… nutty.”

    So it’s one terrible, terrible line. So what? The trouble is that this happens whenever Catwoman appears in the film, right up until the finale (which I grant you is dark-awesome, but largely because it’s led by Christopher Walken). And ok, the lines aren’t THAT bad, but some of them are still pretty bad. It’s as though they handed the screenwriting duties over to the guy who did “Basic Instinct 2” for those particular scenes.

    And while I love the fact that Kyle’s and Wayne’s “masks” at the masquerade ball are actually their own identities – because neither is who they really are – I don’t like “Do we have to start fighting?” and I hate the “mistletoe” thing. It’s just so… corny. This film isn’t corny! Sorry to rape on your childhood there, Tawdry.

    But “Mask of the Phantasm” definitely does rock. I kinda wish it wasn’t an animated movie (it has a multi-layered adult storyline and a fantastic score, but looks like a Saturday morning cartoon) and I suspect that’s why it bombed. But yeah, if you can get past the dodgy animation, it’s a brilliant piece of work.

  146. “I prefer the term eccentric. But I guess I am a little… nutty.”

    hahaha, isn’t that from that slasher flick Urban Legend?

    and zombie Paul, the animation in Mask of The Phantasm isn’t bad at all, what are you smoking?

  147. also, fun story about Mask of The Phantasm

    I watched Batman The Animated Series all the time as a kid and had no idea there was movie until one night (I don’t know what year this was, but it was more than likely 1999) Cartoon Network had a special marathon of animated movies (including a Dragon Ball Z movie) and played Mask of The Phantasm, I watched it thinking “what the hell is this? holy shit, this is awesome!”, that fight with the Joker at the end is awesome

    I wish that was on blu ray, one day maybe?

  148. With RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES coming I wished they tried something new instead of going for more Aapeplanets.
    What about PLANET OF THE PARROTS? I mean they can mimic our speech,why can´t they evolve and speek fluent english or whatever language,escape from their cages and pick/claw humans to death in
    a coordinated attack. And they´ll also establish an hierarchy among birds, where they use eagles as their elite guards. Crows being scavanger bands roaming the countryside and then we´ll find out that Charles Newton´s Theory of Evolution was bullshit and that we infact stem from birds….

    I think I´ll stop right there. I need to take my medication….

  149. I have to admit I´m looking forward to RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.
    Looks like they are going for CG-apes instead of humans dressed as apes.
    In my opinion if they can pull it off it won´t look as silly.

  150. I find it strange that people think Burton has been in some sort of slump in the last 10-15 years. The guy did his worst movies, such as Mars Attacks and Baron Munchausen, pretty early on. Both are unwatchable crap, and even POTA remake is better than either of them. Sleepy Hollow, Big Fish, Chocolate Factory, Sweney Todd and Alice are all MUCH MUCH MUCH better than Mars Attacks or Baron Munchausen on pretty much every level.

    I guess it’s one of those nostalgic arguments. If something is old, it must be better than the new stuff, even when it’s in fact 10 times shittier.

  151. …And don’t ask me why I repeatedly said Baron Munchausen, because it’s a Terry Gilliam film. I said it because I’m stupid and dementic.

    The point still stands: Mars Attacks is the worst film Burton has ever made and it came out in 1996. Batman, Batman Returns, Beetlejuice and Peewee’s Big Adventure are all interesting, but halfbaked films with massive narrative problems.

    Sure Ed Wood his his most narratively tight movie and Edward Scissorhands his most personal. But that’s two movies. I completely fail to see some sudden drop in quality in Burton’s output. Him making “impersonal” studio films that are based on pre-existing properties nowadays is in now way different than him making Batman, Batman Returns, Peewee and Mars Attacks. All those were based on pre-existing properties. Hell, Ed Wood has him doing an autobiography with a lot of lovingly re-created moments from Ed Wood’s movies, so even that film is heavily influenced by pre-existing material.

  152. Mars Attacks is just good fun, I can’t understand why someone would hate it

  153. I have not seen Ed Wood since I was 15 or 16 and I remember not liking it then. I might have been too young to have not “gotten it” but I don’t think so. I respect Vern and Griff, and everyone else here, so I may have to give it another try in the near future.

    Mr Hepburn, if you can vouch for Brother’s Grimm I may give it a shot. It looked like a really bad studio film but if there’s something there that wasn’t apparent in the previews than I would be glad to try it out!

  154. Errr, I wasn’t talking about Ed Wood in my above post. Work has been kicking my butt and I wasn’t thinking right. I love Ed Wood.

  155. tukka is correct, Burton has always always ALWAYS taken pre-existing material and put the Burton spin on them. To me there’s no difference with him making Sweeney Todd or Alice, and making Pee-Wee or Batman.

    If anyone can say how there’s a real difference, please explain. No one knew who Batman was?

    I don’t see how ANYONE could love Brother’s Grimm. That movie is even right in my wheelhouse for the kind of shit that I love, but once again Gilliam fucked it up, let’s have actors screaming into a wide-angle lens for two hours. Peter Stormare almost single-handedly ruins it.

    I really like Batman Returns, but that is really one clunker of a script on so many levels. What works works because of what Burton and the actors brought, the rest is mush. They spend like five minutes setting up Catwoman and Penguin teaming up only to have two minutes of them doing anything, then Penguin tries to kill her. Lame. Then the horrible campy jokes, the terrible one-liners. Of course the guy who wrote Heathers wrote that…that dialogue worked for Heathers but I hate it in a Batman movie. There’s a lot to love in that movie, but a lot that sucks too.

  156. Burton used to be on a strict “one for them, one for me” schedule. Now they’re all for them.

  157. Burton´s movies strentgth lies mostly not on the script, but highly on atmosphere and style. and if you don´t like his sense of style, i can understand. But his both Batman-movies has considerable flaws, even if I love em to death. They have a defintite studio-feel to them. especially when there is a “carchase”. They are re-using the same street! It looks ridiculous. But the aestethics are undenibly gorgeous.

  158. Sorry for my bad spelling. I have poured quite a considerable amount of liquor inside my body.

  159. I don’t know, Majestyk…you don’t think he was genuinely attracted to material like Sweeney? That’s right up his alley. And why WOULDN’T he want to do Alice? In fact it seemed so cliche that he was making that movie, like it was the way too perfect fit. Corpse Bride? Big Fish?

  160. “I am attracted to this project that the studio is interested in pursuing but will give to someone else if I pass” is not the same thing as “I have a burning desire to make a movie where a guy has scissors for hands and I will not stop until it gets made.” Sure, he’s doing movies that fit his aesthetic. But it’s still work for hire, not stuff that he dreamed up himself.

  161. So Tim Burton didn´t dream up Batman. What a loss….

  162. RISE OF THE PLANETS will be awesome. The director is unknown. But I will stay positive on this according to the trailer

  163. Mr. Majestyk – But how much of his early stuff besides EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and his shorts did he actually dream up himself? And were studios really anxious to get into the lucrative cannibal musical market before Burton wanted to make SWEENEY TODD?

  164. Fine. Whatever. Burton’s doing exactly the same thing he always did only he sucks now and makes way more money.

  165. Is nobody except me exicted about the RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES? ( too many “of” if you ask me). Looks brilliant and no Tim Burton to blame (…)

  166. I think that trailer pretty much looks like the worst thing ever. It tells every twist in the story, which would be fine if the story didn’t look like DEEP BLUE MONKEYS crossed with PROJECT X, minus the sympathy factor you get from real monkeys. The CGI apes look way too anthropomorphized, which drops them dead in the middle of the uncanny valley. I just don’t see any way for the movie to get over that hump. Somebody else mentioned that it could be the unintentional comedy of the year. That’s about all the hope I have for it.

    Wait, are we sure it’s a real movie? Maybe it’s one of those conceptual art projects that James Franco does all the time now.

  167. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the kind of movie I won’t see opening weekend but am open to seeing if the fine people here say that it is worth watching.

    I’m a coward.

  168. “Fine. Whatever. Burton’s doing exactly the same thing he always did only he sucks now and makes way more money.”

    See, I wouldn’t even argue with this necessarily.

  169. The negativity train seem to go nonstop to hell. I though it looked better than I hoped for.There were some good looks from Ceaser that got my attention. At least we have got rid of the ” Al Jolson”-apes this times.That IS a plus.

  170. So it tells every twist of the story.Whatever.It IS called RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.Duhh!

  171. I think it´s about time we did away with humans pretending to be monkeys.

  172. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 29th, 2011 at 11:34 am

    I’d never say Burton sucks now (he needs at least 2 more stinkers in a row to get that tag).
    POTA sucked, Wonka sucked, Alice sucked… But there are YEARS between all those movies.
    Big Fish came between POTA and Wonka. Corpse Bride and Sweeney Todd came between Wonka and Alice.
    I actually have very high hopes for Dark Shadows and the full length Frankenweenie.

  173. I know I`LL go see this new movie. it looks a hell of a lot better than that TB piece of shit. Anyone else?

  174. And by the way has anyone seen any of the sequels of the original PLANET OF THE APES?
    BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES remains among the upper echelons of my favourite fucked up sequels, mutated humans (Humans 2.0) with telekinesis powers living underneath the earth, worshipping an atomic bomb loking like a giant penis??! WTF??!

  175. “So it tells every twist of the story.Whatever.”

    The trailer is just a litany of several different types of generic scenes that I never enjoy. I think it was when it shows the horrible misunderstanding where the money defends John Lithgow and everybody gets mad at him that I was like, “Oh. It’s THAT kind of movie. The kind of movie where the poor monkey/robot/alien/stray dog/black guy in a southern town gets shit on for the whole movie and even when he tries to do good everybody willfully misinterprets his actions to a cartoonish extent. I don’t like that kind of movie.” By giving away the whole plot, the trailer made it clear that it was not the kind of plot I had any interest in. If you do, that’s a matter of taste and I respect that.

    But do you really think the apes look good? They’re like POLAR EXPRESS creepy to me, and not in a good way.

  176. Mr Majestyk-They are at least not humans pretending to be apes. THAT is a big plus to me. And yes it probably is a matter of personal taste

  177. Are most people really on board with CGI apes being better than the people in makeup? I haven’t been converted yet. Hopefully it works better in context than it does in the trailers and the thirty five thousand TV ads I’ve seen in the last week, because otherwise I’m not gonna be sold on it. Yes, there is one shot in one of the trailers that has an impressive emotion in the eyes, but most of the footage to me looks like more weightless, not there digital imagery floating around live action backgrounds. The apes in the original movies had such presence, personality and a good look to them.

    Even in this horrible remake they’re an impressive makeup creation and the actors did a good job of moving like animals, if you’re into that sort of thing. In the new one it’s still humans pretending to be animals, it’s just that they’re doing it via satellite so you don’t even believe they’re standing there. And they’re not even supposed to be evolved, clothes-wearing apes so it’s more of an acting stretch.

  178. Now the thing about apes, chimpanzes or gorillas or whatever is that they are considerably stronger than normal human beings and that is something (the only thing I enjoy) about the TB movie got right. The 5 first movies just seemed goofy in thatv aspect.

  179. Zombie Paul

    Are you trying to start an internet-fight, man?

    First you insult an image the defined my early sexuality before I even knew what sexuality was. (Also, what kind of awesomely fucked up 12-year olds are you hanging around if they’re all about dominatrix gear and BDSM?)

    Then you insult Daniel Water’s script! Daniel fuckin’ Waters! He’s one of my favorite modern screenwriters and I happen to think that Batman Returns is some of his finest work.

    Finally, you compliment Mask of the Phantasm only to say that it has “shitty animation.” It’s like we live in slightly alternate dimensions where everything is exactly the same, except ‘awesome’ and ‘suck’ have opposite definitions. Is this some kind of elaborate viral marketing for “Another Earth”?

  180. I don´t think this is a remake. It tries to re-tell of how the apes evolve into the dominant species. And that is not the same thing. And I ( after watching the TB movie) find it refreshing in NOT seeing the actors behind the mask and pointing “OHH !That´s Tim Roth!” and seeing a genuine threat to mankind, After all…. apes are so much fucking stronger than humans. They could pull your arms out of your socket wookie-style. i am reallly looking forward to this. it could turn out to be a complete stinker. But after seeing DEATH RACE by Paul W.S Anderson I prefer to remain positive. It looks better Than TB-fucker.

  181. I am totally excited for Rise of the Prepositional Phrases of the Title of the Apes.

    I am 100% going to see that movie opening weekend. I will also be 0% sober.

  182. Prepositional Phrases is not a remake of the first Planet of the Apes film. It’s a remake of one of the sequels. Beneath the Planet of the Apes, I believe. Scott Frank was originally set to write and direct it, but then they fired him…and his name no longer appears in the credits.

  183. I need to clarify something; I used to consider P.W.S.A as somthing of a shitbag, butafter watching his DEATH RACE remake I had what you may call an apiphony (? is that right)

  184. In Sweden I don´t think they will let you in 0% sober…. (..sob…)

  185. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is the only movie this year so far that I am acheing to see…( in theatres)

  186. I could see not hating Daniel Waters but I can’t fathom the guy being a favorite writer. I mean, Demolition Man? Hudson Hawk? Ford Fairlaine? That camper movie? Ugh, all horrible, horrible campy shit that I hate. I don’t mind funny, but I hate that camp sensibility he brings. I would have liked Demolition Man better if it hadn’t been so goofy.

    Grim Grinning Chris, while I wouldn’t argue that Burton has sort of lost it necessarily if people think that…I do agree with you. He’s not a hack now, he’s not a sellout now. He’s the same guy he ever was but he does seem sort of tired from time to time, but I think that’s just because we’re so used to his style. Back in the day I couldn’t even IMAGINE not seeing a Burton movie, but I skipped Alice and waited a long time to see Corpse Bride and Charlie (and then just because it was on tv). But you’re right, he still knocks one out of the park from time to time…seemingly every other movie.

    The new Apes movie looks more boring than Burton’s!

  187. Mr Doctor ; please don´t start that shit with me.. DEMOLITION MAN being bad..? BATMAN RETURNS bad..? No I don´t believe it!!.Noooooooooooooooooooo…………….

  188. BEETLEJUICE was as original as it gets so it’s not all based on pre-existing “works of media” or “works of whoever the fuck really created the universe” either. That’s probably why it’s always been my favorite.

    But I’m biased cause I’ve been watching that movie religiously since VHS back in ’88. It was my introduction to Burton & it’s original quirks influenced me a lot as a person and moviegoer I should say.

    There are a few directors that I always stuck by as a youngin back in those days cause of the influences some of their best movies had on me as a kid. These were the directors who introduced me to cinema in general. Cause of these cats I ended up getting into Hitchcock, Fellini and all that other shit.


    That being the case I would be a liar if I said I didn’t think Burton fell off though. His later movies just lack the heart in his personal touches that you could see in his earlier movies and that’s just the truth. He keeps them on a superficial level (visually still using greys and gothic structures & spirals and blacks and white etc.). However there is no earnestness in them cause their is no heart behind them. They lack soul.

    They same pretty dead & hollow (no pun but SLEEPY HOLLOW & CORPSE BRIDE bored me too). He just seems detached & distant from it all. Almost becoming a caricature of himself as his detractors always infamously say. Even MARS ATTACKS! has charm in it cause of Burton’s quirks. I mean that ingenious way of defeating the martians that’s his way of paying tribute to b-movie sci-fi from the 50’s. It works and it has wit & heart cause that is indeed some fucking awful music lol.

    That’s why the newer ones have a “work for hire” feel with BIG FISH being a big exception. That movie completely works because it feels very sincere and genuine on the part of Burton. It’s just an exception though and not the rule.

  189. DEMOLITION MAN is fucking glorious. If I ever win the lotto one of the things I will have in my movie room will be a solid gold John Spartan Vs. Simon Phoenix statue.

  190. Jareth Cutestory

    July 29th, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    A coworker has spent all afternoon trying to convince me that James Franco intends to go back for an extended villian role on the GENERAL HOSPITAL soap opera. It just seems too awesome for me to believe. Conceptual art indeed.

    By the way, could someone please explain where this idea of “arms being pulled from sockets wookie-style” comes from? All I remember from those films is Chewbacca crying a lot, carrying around the gay robot in a sack, and running away from another robot that looks like a car battery on wheels. Is the arm-ripping something the fans came up with or is it in those prequels I never bothered to see?

    Tawdry: Paul is a genius. I love it when he evaluates a director based only on the director’s worst movies.

  191. Man, I really dig Demolition Man, too. I actually think the script is better than the final product, even though I do like the movie I think the script could have been done better.

    Rise of the Planet of the Apes looks interesting. If I had any friends chomping at the bit to see it I would likely see it opening weekend. If Vern or anyone else here says it’s good I’ll likely get some friends out to see it.

    The problem with the movie, though, is that Planet of the Apes is kind of like most zombie movies in that it’s best to just understand it as a premise. The story of how we got there is usually a little preposterous and silly. I don’t know how they are going to do it but I’m skeptical that the apes could pose a viable threat to the the 7 billion humans with guns in the world.

    I’m having a hard time thinking of a similar type apocalyptic scenario being done well on film. Most zombie films seem to take place after the world falls to the horde of zombies. Even Night of the Living Dead treats the threat as being fairly isolated and manageable and it’s a matter of seeing if our heroes can survive the immediate threat.

    What other movie goes from normal world to it collapsing to something like apes / zombies / Frankenstein Monsters?

  192. Jareth:

    HAN: “That’s because droids don’t pull people’s arms out of their sockets when they lose. Wookiees are known to do that.”

    C3P0: “I see your point, sir. I suggest a new strategy, R2: Let the Wookiee win.”

  193. Jareth Cutestory

    July 29th, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks Majestyk. I bet you didn’t even have to look that quote up either. May the Force live long and prosper.

  194. I double-checked it first. Maybe I didn’t say every little syllable but basically I said it, yeah.


  195. Jareth – sorry, what?

    “Paul is a genius. I love it when he evaluates a director based only on the director’s worst movies.”

    Wait, what have I done to deserve this? What director?

    Oh and Tawdry:

    “’I prefer the term eccentric. But I guess I am a little… nutty.’

    hahaha, isn’t that from that slasher flick Urban Legend?”

    Yes it is. It’s a gem, isn’t it?

    Now if anybody would like to watch the film “Spirited Away”, then rewatch “Mask of the Phantasm”, and THEN defend the latter’s animation to me, I would be very very interested to see what they had to say. Otherwise SHUT IT!

    Look, I LOVE so much about that movie. I give full props to the genius of its story, its villains, its ending, and its scoring. BUT it was a feature-length Saturday morning cartoon with about three frames of animation per second. You know that thing cartoons did where the characters’ lips wouldn’t reflect what the character was saying because there weren’t enough frames of animation to capture their lip movements when they spoke? Yeah, “Mask of the Phantasm” does that.

  196. Wait… did I read that somebody on this forum doesn’t like “Demolition Man”? STONE HIM!!!!

  197. It’s not good.

  198. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 29th, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I dunno… comparing the animation in Mask Of The Phantasm to Spirited Away is kinda unfair.
    MOTP was never intended to be released theatrically and was animated by television animators in less than a year.
    It is still several steps up in animation quality from Batman:TAS (which outside of Tiny Toons/Animaniacs and the Disney Afternoons cartoons) is probably the best television animation ever seen.
    No it, is certainly NOT on the level of Spirited Away, but it’s also nowhere near “shitty”.

  199. If you ask me, SPIRITED AWAY looks worse than MASK OF THE PHANTASM. Might be my allergy against the always the same looking anime characters, that talk by just opening and closing their mouths without paying attention to what they say, though.

  200. It’s also weird that Zombie Paul seems to be annoyed by just that, when Spirited Away (and japanese animation in general) does exactly that. (I only read the comment above mine.)

  201. Are you trying to discern some manner of logic or consistency in the world view of the mighty Paul? Tread carefully, my friend. That way madness lies.

  202. “I dunno… comparing the animation in Mask Of The Phantasm to Spirited Away is kinda unfair.
    MOTP was never intended to be released theatrically and was animated by television animators in less than a year.”


    CJ – I kinda agree about the anime-characters (although I haven’t watched enough anime to really give an educated opinion on that one generally). But are you seriously telling me that, for example, the river-spirit-in-the-bathhouse scene in “Spirited Away” is rivalled by just about anything in “Mask of the Phantasm”, animation-wise? Look, I love a LOT about that movie, as I’ve said. But on every technical level, it is literally an extended Saturday morning cartoon. It shares much of its scoring, actors, and creative staff, with said cartoon. It isn’t and was never intended to be anything more than that. Not only do I think that “Spirited Away” is on a whole other level as “Mask of the Phantasm” in terms of animation, I think it would be a colossal failure for “Spirited Away”‘s creators if it wasn’t!

    This isn’t a question of subjective opinion, it’s one of technical fact. It’s like asking whether a sixteen-bit console could produce “better” graphics than a modern PC game. Look, you might prefer the 256-colour palette as it’s used – I get that. I don’t think you quite “get” my point here though. If you’re seriously arguing that, on a technical level, MotP is better than SA, then I gotta call bullshit. If you’re arguing that MotP LOOKS better than SA… then I gotta concede that it’s a purely subjective point. But, anime-faces aside, I would ask whether you’ve actually seen these two films. Look at the backdrops, the character design, the level of detail, even the most basic things like the lines on the characters’ faces (you can see where they’ve cut corners in MotP to make the process easier and quicker for TV, for example)… there’s just no comparison there.

    How the heck did this argument start anyway? Over a throwaway remark of mine about the fact that “Phantasm’s” less-than-filmatic animation could’ve been one of the factors that caused it to flop?

    Put it this way. Without knowing anything about the two films, you see trailers for “A Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Mask of the Phantasm”. (Which you may well have done, since they came out at about the same time.) Going SOLELY based on the visuals, which one do you think you’re going to see? Think about that and see if you disagree with why I think “Nightmare” did about a gazillion times better than “MotP” at the box-office.

  203. I have a feeling that Rise of the Planet of the Apes is gonna be this generation’s Congo (“STOP EATING MY SESAME CAKE!”)

    and Demolition Man rocks, shut yo mouth

    and CJ, I’m afraid for the crime of insulting SPIRITED AWAY you are now exiled to the Forbidden Zone

  204. Amy want green drop drink.

  205. I don’t think Planet looks like it could be that memorable.

    I liked Congo!

  206. Mask of the Phantasm isn’t even in the same genre as Spirited Away. That’s like complaining that the special effects in an indie horror film don’t match up to Transformers 3.

    Furthermore, I think you could make a very legitimate case that 16 bit graphics can be “better” than console graphics. Do the 16 bit graphics tell you EXACTLY the information that you need to know? Are they clear? Inviting? Yes, Duke Nukem Forever has “better” graphics than Super Contra or whatever, but which one would you rather look at?

    I personally think that Don Hertzfeldt’s cartoons have some of the best animation of the current generation. Are they as vivid as Dreamworks’ output? No. But the detail of the animation is not the quality of the animation. His characters breath and move with importance, I can’t even remember anything about Megamind.

  207. Jareth Cutestory

    July 29th, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Paul: I apologize if it wasn’t you who decided Cronenberg wasn’t any good without seeing VIDEODROME and DEAD RINGERS. I might have confused you with someone else. There were a bunch of Pauls here at one time.

    But I’m positive it was you who declared that Jet Li had never made a good movie based only on having seen KISS OF THE DRAGON, ROMEO MUST DIE, DANNY THE DOG, THE ENFORCER and LETHAL WEAPON 4. That was a Hall of Fame post. Please never leave us for another web site.

  208. I thought you were referring to his dismissal of John Woo based on Mission Impossible 2 and Paycheck. He had seen most of Woo’s stuff other than, you know, the long strring of masterpieces that are the basis for his legendary status. That was one of those times when I was convinced that Paul is some friend of mine intentionally fucking with me to raise my blood pressure.

  209. Jareth Cutestory

    July 29th, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    The Woo discussions were classic. My favorite was that response to your review of RED CLIFF:

    “I guess what I’m asking is – is this a four-hour film which makes good use of that time, or is it a four-hour film that could’ve been fit into one-and-a-half hours if you left out the unnecessary tracking shots and slow motion bullshit?”

    Shine on, you crazy diamond.

  210. I’d like to go up a little bit and add to the Batman Forever issue Vern and Jareth mentioned. Not only was Batman Forever praised at the time, it was considered a vast improvement over Returns. People HATED Returns. “It’s too gross,” they said because of The Penguin and the other sexual weirdness. Too dark, too weird, they wanted a fun Batman.

    So Batman Forever came out and the public went, “Yay, we want this type of Batman. Make more of these.” So they did. It was Batman & Robin. Then the public forgot how much they loved the wonderful green and purple Batman Forever and said, “How dare you make a Batman movie this stupid?”

    My point is, Batman & Robin is exactly the movie the public asked for. It would not have been made that way had it not been for the vocal feedback (and this was 1995, before internet talkbacks) on Forever/post Returns. It is what it is, but audiences need to take a little responsibility. Complain about Batman Returns, praise Batman Forever and you get Batman & Robin.

    We need to be careful how we talk because Hollywood listens. I believe that’s what we’re doing here. But we must never forget the Batman Forever incident. Never forget.

  211. Fred – I totally agree – every single person I knew except me LOVED Forever, and hated Returns. I still chalk it up to a) the country was in love with Jim Carrey at the time b) it had a really popular soundtrack. A little bit of “Kiss from a Rose” goes a long way for some people.

    I’ve defended Batman & Robin on this site endless times – I still maintain it’s more entertaining, funnier, and even more poignant than Forever. Yes it’s an interestingly visual train wreck but I guess that’s an ongoing theme on this board! I love Clooney’s take on Bruce Wayne, and I will say with a straight face that B&R utilizes the “two villain” format better than any of the other Batman films, and yes, I’m including The Dark Knight and Returns. I saw both of them again the other day and my opinion still stands – Forever is just as terrible as I remember – Carrey is obnoxious, Kilmer is a blank, and Tommy Lee Jones somehow manages to recreate his over-the-top performance as Strannix from Under Siege but make it incredibly old-hat and boring. And this is going to piss everyone off, but I saw B&R right after Super 8, and I was actually happy to see a movie that pays off its plot points, that has actual consistent character development, that actually seems to stick by its themes. Oh, but Batman’s suit had nipples so let’s all focus on that and shit on this movie.

    And you’re right – the public DID ask for B&R. We all openly loved Arnold’s cheesy one-liners, then he goes and makes a movie where his ENTIRE PERFORMANCE is one-liners, and then we get all offended and shit on it . Never forget indeed!

  212. Jareth Cutestory

    July 30th, 2011 at 12:46 am

    I actually remember more than one person at the time saying that they liked BATMAN FOREVER but would have preferred a different actor to play the lead, preferably someone less “angry” than Kilmer. The funniest suggestions I heard for replacement Batmen were Mike Meyers, Tom Hanks, Emilio Estavez and most of the MELROSE PLACE cast.

    And that’s why I never go to multiplexes anymore.

  213. Wait…how can Batman Returns be campy? Wasn’t it considered a failure with the public because it was too creepy. Creepy seems like it gets under your skin. Creepy is antithetical to campy. What’s more, Forever and B&R are certainly campy and they are diametrically opposed to Returns. How can returns and Forever both be campy if Forever was made in response to negative audience response toward Returns.

    They cannot both be campy.

    I’d say that Water’s script touches on absurdity and even some sort of psychosexual impressionism if not surrealism. Returns strikes me as a movie that exists mostly from the perspective of the character’s within it. Most movies have an outside viewpoint looking in on the characters, Returns, and most of early-period Burton have a perspective that comes from inside of the various protagonists and antagonists. It is very subjective. The penguin army makes no sense objectively, but from the fractured, subjective perspective of the film’s primary antagonist, the sequence passes muster.

    The problem with Forever and B&R is that they have an objective perspective outside of the madness of Batman and his various adversaries, but the consistent external worldview is that of a man at the end of a Hunter S.Thompson-style Vegas road trip. Actually, you know what it is? I think Domino Harvey is telling the story in Forever and B&R and she’s still high on mescaline.

  214. holy fucking shit, someone actually defending B&R on the internet? now I’ve seen everything

    I love this place, I’m not a fan of B&R, but I love that this the only place where I’ve ever seen anything positive said about it

  215. Oh lord alive.

    – Did I seriously say Cronenberg was no good? I don’t THINK Cronenberg isn’t any good, although I do recall saying that I didn’t see what the big deal was based on the ones I’d seen. I’ve seen the one (can’t remember its name now) with Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris, and vastly enjoyed that. I DID say that some of his other films that I’d seen were overrated (and yes, I haven’t seen “Videodrome”). If this came about as a result of a discussion on that film with Jude Law that takes place in a videogame – can’t remember its name now – then yes, it’s a fucking terrible film that is in many ways incredibly self-indulgent. I certainly blame Cronenberg for THAT one.

    – John Woo – again, having not seen a lot of his films, I dismissed some of the ones I HAD seen. I will to this day maintain that he was, more than anybody else at the time, notable for his overuse of the greatest cinematic abhorrence in action cinema before shakycam. (I am, of course, referring to his shots of doves flying everywhere.) Look, say what you want about me not having seen his early works, but for the most part I fucking LOVE “Face: off”. That’s a matter of public record. If you go down to your local town hall, you will see there enscribed in the stone: “Paul loves Face: Off, you know. Except for the two crap action sequences with the slow-mo.”

    – Jet Li – Didn’t say he’d never MADE a good film, but I think I did say I didn’t want to see any more of his films because of the quality of the ones I HAD seen. Got shot down for that. Maybe rightly so. Look, I’ve seen just about every film Jackie Chan has ever made, and most of Bruce Lee’s. Excuse me if my Jet Li knowledge leaves a bit to be desired, I’ve just never sought out his early stuff because – based on the stuff he had seen – I just didn’t think it was worth looking for. Sorry!

    “Batman Returns” is CAMPY? Overwrought, maybe. Campy…?

  216. Videodrome is awesome Paul and it’s on Criterion blu ray

    you have no excuse not to check it out

  217. Calling BATMAN RETURNS campy is legit. It’s not a huge stretch to see camp in a film where the villain controls a car remotely by riding in one of those coin-op kiddy rides is it?

    I have no problem with camp per say personally, but I also think BATMAN RETURNS is a pretty useless film. Is it reasonably unique and expressive for such a corporate, mainstream film? Yes it is. Unfortuantely it’s also a poorly plotted, dull, mean-spirited, ugly, claustrophobic film which doesn’t really go anywhere. The mass audience and critics from the middlebrow down may have embraced BATMAN FOREVER with grossly disproportionate enthusiasm in 95, but that doesn’t mean their scorn for BATMAN RETURNS was entirely undeserved.

  218. Batman Returns is also the movie where Batman record-scratches a CD like a DJ when fucking with The Penguin. And The Penguin drives around in a giant rubber ducky. And where Christopher Walken says The Penguin will get “unlimited Poontang” which I still can’t believe he says. So yes, certain parts are very campy even though alot of it is dark and disturbing. I still like it better than the first one though -the action sequences are ten times better, and I think it flows alot smoother until the end. Everything after the costume ball (right around the time Batman intercepts the toy train picking up everyone’s kids) falls to pieces.

    Plus it’s totally overstuffed – as much as I love Walken, the script had a hard time juggling THREE villains, and Batman’s absence was really felt – (it’s alot like Robocop 2 where fucking Robocop takes about 30 minutes off the movie to chill.) I really fear The Dark Knight Rises is going to end up like that.

  219. Jareth Cutestory

    July 30th, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Part of the problem in calling any film “campy” is trying to decide on which part of the definition you want to accentuate. I don’t remember the film providing much evidence that Burton approached the material with an ironic appreciation for bad taste, which is the most prevalent defining feature of camp these days, but BATMAN RETURNS is certainly ostentatious, exaggerated, affected and theatrical, which are also elements of the definition. But then those words could apply to Surrealism as well. And, has been said throughout this thread, Burton has some strong, disturbing surrealist tendencies.

    The Adam West BATMAN is considered campy because superheroes and villains are seen as inherently silly in that film, and are explicitly used for comedic purposes. I’m not sure Burton is completely on board that train. I think he takes the superhero part seriously. Nic Cage in KICK ASS probably flirts with camp more than Michael Keaton did.

    There’s always been a bit of condescension toward Burton from the more meat and potatoes action film fan. I remember more than one Chuck Norris fan’s dismissal of Burton as campy using the word in a way verging on homophobia, situating Burton alongside John Waters. I’m inclined to think that there are as many differences between Burton and Waters as there are similarities, but the Norris fans have a point: Burton has strayed pretty far from their preferred heroic template. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    20 years later these guys might have been surprised to learn that WALKER TEXAS RANGER inspires far more derision for being camp than Burton ever did.

  220. Um…since when was Murphy the main character in the original Robocop? If anything, Robocop 2 suffers from focusing too much of the police officer of the future and not enough on the world around him.

  221. Griff – I think Batman and Robin is a great movie to watch if you’re incredibly high on drugs. Don’t ask me how I know that.

    I just watched a neat little one-room thriller called “Exam” that came out last year. Anybody else heard of this film? I hadn’t, but it’s pretty good.

  222. Exam was pretty good, but they played too heavily on the “virus” angle. I remember seeing it at a film festival, but I don’t remember all the details.

  223. Neal2zod and Griff, I really like B&R too. I think there’s room for the crazy silly Batman as well as the angsty realistic one and the dark surreal Burton one. I love the production value devoted to that crazy story. It’s almost like they remade the Batman TV show iwth the budget of the blockbuster movies. I love that it has no emotional stakes whatsoever. Alfred is dying, but [SPOILER TO 14-year-old movie that everyone hates anyway] they save him in the end so they never have to feel sad. That’s good uplifting fantasy there.

    I also see it in proper perspective. It is the socially mandated follow-up to BATMAN FOREVER. Maybe I’m subconsciosuly laughing at all the people who didn’t get what they wanted. I tend to appreciate movies on lots of meta levels. But it’s also accepting the movie it is rather than complaining about what it’s not. They stopped making Burton Batmans. They hadn’t made Nolans yet. Enjoy it.

    Man, I cam to this thread trying to defend ALIEN RESURRECTION and ended up saving BATMAN AND ROBIN instead.

    I still say, whichever Alien movie is your favorite, ALIEN RESURRECTION is the second best one. Obviously the best is either ALIEN or ALIENS. If it’s ALIEN, then RESURRECTION is the only sequel that recaptured that feel of a creepy ship and newly evolving monsters. If it’s ALIENS then RESURRECTION is the only sequel that offers that level of alien action.

  224. sorry, you guys have misinterpreted me, I’m not a fan of BATMAN AND ROBIN (in my opinion pretty much the only good thing about it is the visuals), I just thought it was neat to see someone defend it because it proves this place is the total opposite of sites like AICN

  225. The one thing I always did like about B&R was that it had the best and most sincere scenes between Bruce Wayne and Alfred. I could never buy Michael Caine as Alfred. As hard as I’ve tried I just see Michael Caine. It’s sort of like how some people never bought Jack as The Joker cause they only see Jack.

    To top it off Bale’s Wayne is pretty bland so much so that they decided to turn him into Tony Stark in his public persona starting with BEGINS as opposed to the aloof billionaire from the animated series, Adam West show, the comics or the Kilmer movie. So I just don’t really buy their chemistry. It just seems forced. But boy Gough and Clooney I could actually believe as a father figure and his surrogate son. It’s probably the one reason I’d revisit that movie every now and then aside from the sheer absurdity of some of Arnold’s one-liners.

  226. Should’ve read

    *into Tony Stark to see if he could play it more interesting


    *aloof and naive yet still somewhat warm billionaire

  227. I donno, one of the things I like best about the Nolan Batmen is the depiction of Bruce Wayne. Playing Wayne as a sort of riff on Patrick Bateman is so perfect. It really adds a lot of dimension to the character. In fact, I take his super raspy voice as a legitimate, thought out, character choice. He’s not playing a tough guy, he’s playing a rich playboy who is PLAYING a tough guy. Of course he’s going to do hyper masculine things.

  228. Well the thing is though that Batman IS a tough guy. The one thing I appreciated about the Burton ones was the level of subtlety used to drive that point home. All you had to do was look into Keaton’s eyes and you knew this guy meant business.

    I laugh at Bale for the reason you stated “it all seems pretend”. I will also say that the public Bruce from the Burton ones while the most removed from the source material out of them all is probably the most “realistic” one when I think about it. I mean I’d wager that a billionaire who saw his parents gunned down in cold blood in front of him as a kid would be reclusive & extremely reserved due to such trauma. That was a nice touch.

    The one thing I do like about the Nolan movies though is the way they handle the “real” Bruce Wayne. I think the Batman shit is sometimes over the top and they try way too hard with the public Bruce you mentioned Bateman and that’s probably it for me; it’s too yuppie. The private Bruce though the one that in these movies only Alfred and Rachel knew. The guy who studies pics of the gotham underground at his home & goes out in his civvies dressed like a hobo to eavesdrop and do some detective work was pretty damn good.

  229. Griff, I got you. I was addressing you as one of the posters representing this alternative view on the site!

    Also, Vern, I’m also confused by the appeal of “real” Apes. Wasn’t the whole point that apes evolved into humanistic overlords? Now it’ll just be monkeys running around.

  230. Tawdry…I think RoboCop was considered the main character of the movie, which is why it was called RoboCop. Yeah, maybe there’s a big gallery of supporting players, but at the end of the day it’s about Murphy.

    And a movie can be campy and creepy. Watch Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein. Motel Hell. People thought Penguin was gross…well, Troma movies are gross too, and also campy.

    And a movie in which a character is getting pelted by vegetables at a speech, which is right out of a cartoon…and THEN comments on it by asking aloud why did people bring said vegetables to a speech…is campy.

  231. Mr. Doctor,

    not to pull rank or nothing, but one of the dude’s who wrote Robocop would tend to disagree with you on that one. The film was more inspired by Network than it was by Commando.

  232. don’t just stare at it, EAT IT!

  233. Unfortunately, once a piece of art is out there, it doesn’t matter what the writer says. They’re usually the worst at evaluating what they wrote anyway.

    I agree RoboCop has a great broad spectrum of characters who are all doing interesting things. But Murphy/RoboCop is in every second or third scene, and the thrust of the movie is about him. He’s still the main character.

  234. And actually my main problem with the second movie was the opposite…they flirted with the idea of Murphy trying to regain his life back, watching his wife and such. I thought they could be going in some interesting places. But then they just dropped everything to tell that kind of lame story about Nuke, and then RoboCop gets brainwashed, and it was like a bad 80s movie cartoon, like what they might do if they made a gory He-Man.

  235. That’s like saying the Monster is the main character in Frankenstein or that Hannibal Lector is the main character in Silence of the Lambs. Yes, he is the most memorable bit, but he is not the primary focus of the script or the feature. And that’s objectively discernible.

  236. Wait, so who’s the main character then? Nancy Allen? And how/why did we get into this argument while discussing the parade we had to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes by Tim Burton?

  237. I would say that the film is a true ensemble piece. Robocop isn’t in it enough of the film to be the lead. He is a pawn for the whole of the story, and we know it, so he is not active enough to be the primary protagonist narratively. But again, who is the MAIN character in Network? In Traffic? In Dr. Strangelove? In many of Altman’s best films. They are all ensemble pieces. If you removed any one character the whole of the plot would falter. Even characters who do not meet are integral to each other’s lives.

  238. I saw Burton’s PotA when it came out, and…I honestly can’t remember a thing about it. I don’t remember ANY specific scenes, I don’t remember ANY specific characters, and until I read the review, I couldn’t have even told you who starred in it. All I really remember is that I never had any desire to see it again after I initially saw it.

  239. “To top it off Bale’s Wayne is pretty bland so much so that they decided to turn him into Tony Stark in his public persona starting with BEGINS as opposed to the aloof billionaire from the animated series, Adam West show, the comics or the Kilmer movie.”
    Actually he’s regularly played Bruce Wayne as an “irresponsible party boy” in the comics, though possibly with the implication “Bruce Wayne” is just using that as a way to not have to deal with trauma of what happened. In Batman: Year One, he comes back to Gotham for the first time in years with the press hounding him for where he’s been and what he’s been doing, but he just ignores them, then later cultivates alibis around the playboy persona, including when Gordon suspects he’s Batman and goes to question him, and he’s got a few bimbos with him that he supposedly spent time with, but who conveniently can’t speak english to verify that. More recently though he’s decided to expand the mission worldwide with a “Batman Inc.” and has come out publicly as Bruce and admitted he funds Batman, and will be running this organisation himself, so seems to be dropping that persona a bit.

  240. Man, I hate every little thing Grant Morrison has done with Batman. I guess maybe I should be grateful. Batman used to be the center of my comics-buying universe. Once I gave up everything with a bat symbol on the cover, practically my entire interest in superhero comics fell apart. It was a domino effect, spreading even to Marvel. I spend a lot less money on comics now, which is a real boon. So thank you, Grant Morrison, for being so very talented and clever and unreadable. You buy me several beers a week.

  241. Jareth Cutestory

    July 31st, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Mr. Doctor: I agree with you that tehre are elements of camp in Burton’s films, but, as far as BATMAN RETURNS is concerned, this element has only come to the forefront of the discussion fairly recently.

    The general tone of genre film these days is pretty grim and realistic. A film like WE ARE WHAT WE ARE is probably about as close as a horror film can get to being a Alejandro González Iñárritu film, and if stuff like TOURSITAS and DARK KNIGHT are any indication, this is the new normal.

    It’s easy to forget how candy-coated and naive mainstream films were in the 1980s. Back then, Burton was considered subversive in the same way that BLUE VELVET was (at least on the surface) and the BATMAN films were seen as pretty dark. The words “nasty,” “kinky” and even “horrific” were often used to describe the film back in the 1980s, which is absurd to us now, but back in the days when GOONIES and RUSKIES defined mainstream tastes and sensibilities, this wasn’t an over-reaction.

    By the way WE ARE WHAT WE ARE is really good. I certainly don’t mean to bash it.

    Wait, there’s a version of Batman out there with bimbos? And Nolan failed to put that in his first two Batman films? Is he saving that for the grand finale?

    Also, we all know that ROBOCOP is a buddy film: TANGO & CASH, TURNER & HOOCH, ROBO & UNICORN.

  242. Jareth: I get your point but BATMAN RETURNS came out in 1992, which was in the nineties in my opinion.

  243. “Wait, there’s a version of Batman out there with bimbos? And Nolan failed to put that in his first two Batman films? Is he saving that for the grand finale?”
    What about the hotel scene in BEGINS?

  244. Stu Frank Miller is not the end all be all of Batman comics. Matter of fact I don’t even really like his stuff all that much YEAR ONE aside. Read Batman comics from the 70’s by the likes of Steve Englehart, Denny O’
    Neill, Len Wein or the 80’s by the likes of Mike Barr or Marv Wolfman or Alan Grant. You will see what I mean. Watch BATMAN FOREVER and watch how Kilmer handles himself in public or the animated series from the 90’s. THAT’s what the comics showcased. BB and TDK disappoint me greatly there.

    Nevertheless I still do enjoy them. I also love what Morrison has done with the comics. His run got me back into them after I took a couple of years off once that horrible HUSH shit finished. It’s been so meticulous while also exploring ideas I always wanted to see explore (Dick Grayson becoming Batman for longer than one story arc, Batman’s influence on the world & time, Batman having a biological son, The Joker being such a wildcard that he has no set personality traits) that I can’t get enough of it. Though as of late I’ve greatly preferred DETECTIVE COMICS by Zack Snyder over Morrison’s BATMAN INC it’s still an incredibly ambitious take on Batman lore.

  245. LOL I meant SCOTT Snyder not Zack. I just finished watching WATCHMEN a while ago and I guess his name stuck in my mind.

  246. Is Marv Wolfman his real name, btw? I watched some old MY LITTLE PONY episodes with my girlfriend’s niece a while back and he wrote at least one of them, credited as Marv Wolfman. Made me wonder why someone with such an alias would keep it when he writes PONY episodes.

  247. “Stu Frank Miller is not the end all be all of Batman comics. ”
    I wasn’t trying to suggest he was, but you were talking about the aloof billionaire take being in the comics as if that’s all there’s been, but the playboy thing has at least been a common way of handling it since Year One, which means we’ve had over 20 years of that, making it a reasonable thing for film makers to do. It’s why I don’t really mind the idea of reboots for comic book franchises since there’s typically enough material to do various takes, and that would be good for their plans to reboot after Dark Knight Rises.

  248. Snyder’s run is great btw, and I think the whole Inc. thing has been great in making it an “either/or” decision about different writers, which some people seem to fixate on like they did with Morrison/Dini a few years ago.
    CJ: from wikipedia:
    “Wolfman, on the panel “Marvel Comics: The Method and the Madness” at the 1974 New York Comic Art Convention, told the audience that when he first began working for DC, he received DC’s first writing credit on their mystery magazines. In those days Gerry Conway wrote pages between the actual stories which had the book’s hosts tell you what was coming up. In one, knowing Marv wrote the next story, Conway wrote that the following story was told to him by a “wandering Wolfman.” The comics code, which did not permit the mention of werewolves or wolfmen, demanded it be removed. DC informed the code authority that the Wolfman in question was Marv’s real name, so the code insisted that he be given a credit to show the Wolfman in question was a real person and not a monster. Once Wolfman was given a credit, the other writers demanded them too. Shortly, credits were given to all writers and artists”

  249. ^Wolfman also co-created Blade, by the way.

  250. I know about Wolfman and Blade. That’s why I was so amused by him, writing My Little Pony episodes.

  251. I thought MY LITTLE PONY was hip now?

  252. I’m talking about the show from the 80’s, not that ugly looking flash cartoon that is apparently only useful for internet memes, that are even lamer than the average internet meme.

  253. Jareth Cutestory

    July 31st, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Thanks for the correction, Majestyk. I should have substituted HOME ALONE 2 for GOONIES and ALADDIN for RUSKIES.

    But actually, CRYING GAME, UNFORGIVEN and THE PLAYER came out the same year as BATMAN RETURNS, so the tide was definitely changing to more sombre stuff in 1992 (ENCINO MAN notwithstanding).

    Also, apparently UNDER SEIGE made more money than LAST OF THE MOHICANS, BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP and SCENT OF A WOMAN. That surprises me.

  254. UNDER SIEGE was such a badass movie that I remember my mom being 8 months pregnant with my sis and still taking me to see it in cold ass weather cause even SHE was interested by the trailers. In retrospect I saw quite a lot of Seagal movies with my parents as a kid & sometimes at the cinema. Probably a subconscious reason that I’ve always gravitated towards this site considering SEAGALOGY and all.

  255. Do you guys think it would be funny if I set it to detect all comments with the word “Batman” as spam?

  256. That would be hilarious. I’d throw the words “Lucas” and “Star Wars” into the spam filter as well.

  257. I am glad I am not the only one who enjoys the big slice of cheese that is BATMAN & ROBIN.
    Too bad it tries to be serious as well in the middle of all the crazy fucking shit that exists inside this
    highly entertaining garbage.

  258. Can we also make the word “croatoan” spam? Because that would be pretty funny.

  259. Instead of spamfilter I have another suggestion,Vern. Why don´t you review BATMAN & ROBIN? At least you´ll get everything Batman-related into one place. ( As shitstorm of them admittedly) Instead of having them popping up in any subject or movie that has the slightest relation to Batman.

    This is not a very good suggestion either.since it´s pretty much asking for trouble. But since we are all nice guys here, I guess it could be good discussions.

  260. Shouldn’t just be “Batman” either it should be all his A.K.A.’s so toss “The Caped Crusader”, “The Bat-Man”, “Bruce Wayne” and “The Dark Knight” in there too. The only way to even discuss the character anymore on the board is by referring to him as Matches Malone.

  261. Looks like we got ourselves a spambot trying to peddle him some Batman.

  262. Jareth Cutestory

    July 31st, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    ShootMckay: Vern’s introduction to the NERD SHIT thread reads: “Since every conversation lately seems to turn into Batman or Superman, here is a thread to do it without derailing important The Phantom or fighting owls analysis.”

    It also has the best screen capture picture at the top that should put to rest the debate about whether or not Burton’s SPAM MAN RETURNS is campy or not.

  263. Murphy is SO the main character of Robocop. It’s all about how he comes back to life and remembers who he used to be. And Howard Beale is the main character of Network. He’s the instigator of change and the other characters react and adapt to him. Ensembles can still have main characters, like Harry Potter, Frodo and Luke Skywalker.

    Clarice is the main character of Silence of the Lambs because Lecter’s role is to help her develop.

  264. Fred:

    I disagree. Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings are all predicated upon a classic hero myth. Harry Potter even has a deus ex machina sword just like Beowulf!

    Meanwhile, Network, Traffic, Dr. Strangelove and Robocop are all about the world in which they take place. I would maintain that the Cold War is the main character in Strangelove, the DEA is the main character in Traffic, The TV network is the main character in Network and OCP is the main character in Robocop. Each of the human characters acts as an extension or an element of the whole.

  265. I think the problem with the NERD SHIT thread though is it barely gets posted in because replies to it vanish from the list of recent posts because the replies in newer topics bury them, so nobody knows there’s stuff to talk about in there.

  266. Tawdry, that gets into topics like “the city is a character in the movie” and I always have a problem with that. A city is not a character. It’s a place. Evocative, yes, but not a character. So I can’t buy that a political climate, an agency, or a company are characters. They are settings.

    Strangelove and Traffic are ensembles where each thread may have a protaganist but I’ll give you there’s no one main character. Althought Sellers cleverly gets around that by playing all the protaganists and the title character (who is not a protaganist) to earn top billing.

  267. Mandrake is the main character in Dr. Strangelove.

  268. I would argue that the Planet of the Apes is the main character in Planet of the Apes, and Mark Wahlberg is the setting. Except I’m too busy.

  269. Vern, your explanation makes the Burton film make sense after all these years. I defer!

  270. Jareth Cutestory

    July 31st, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Stu: Check out the “Most Comments” section of the menu beneath the “Jibber Jabber” section on the right hand side of this page. NERD SHIT is the fourth most popular thread, and has been for some time; this current thread is ninth.

  271. Poor Vern – sorry about contributing to the derailing of this column (but I have to point out that yes, Murphy is totally the main character of Robocop – it’s no more an ensemble than Star Wars or Blade Runner – just because these movies fully realize their worlds don’t make their worlds the main character)

    So sorta back on the topic – I have all the original Planet of the Apes in my netflix queue – do you think it’s going to be necessary to see these before the new one? Or should I just say to hell with it and watch the new one first? Do they need to be watched in order? If not, which ones should i watch/skip?

  272. I can imagine that Fox doesn’t want people to think that they have to watch a 50 years old movie series first, before they can watch RISE OF THE DAY OF THE DAWN OF THE NIGHT OF THE PLANET OF CURE OF THE ALZHEIMER OF THE APES (Because they wanna get the kids into theatres and kids consider every movie that was made before 1995 as old and therefore as lame), so I would say screw it.
    But they ARE recommended viewing in general, even though every movie for a whole different reason, so don’t delete them from your queue.

  273. neal- I think you should see the original 4 ones at least. It is not a requirement to see the new one. But they are fun nonetheless. the 5:th BATTLE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is quite dull..
    Personally, i think the first 2 sequels are actually quite good ( part 2 is fucked up bizarre kind of good).
    They aer worthwhile seeing. This new RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES hold no significace to the old ones. It is ( hopefully a better one) re-telling of how the apes conquered the earth…. I can´t believe that last sentance made sense…..

  274. See them all is my recommendation….like anyone cares…

  275. I bought the original dvd boxset release of PLANET OF THE APES and it was expensive as shit here in Sweden. Nowadays, you could probably buy the same boxset for cheap money

  276. The only chiefextra on that boxset was a tremendous 2-hour documentary on the entire franchise.That was like 10 years ago..

  277. Tawdry must be a screenwriter to think such craziness. I agree with you and Fred, Traffic and Strangelove are real ensembles…yet each thread still has a lead character. Those are more ensembles, RoboCop clearly is not.

    And if you’re disappointed that the second got away from that formula then that points it out, because the second was much the same. You had many scenes with the mayor or OCP or the drug dealers. Same stuff.

    I mean, in the end of RoboCop, what wouldn’t work if it wasn’t about Murphy is at the end when he says he’s not RoboCop, he’s Murphy. If it were a movie like Strangelove, that doesn’t really work.

    And Batman Returns was ALWAYS campy. I disliked it way back then because of it, that’s not recent. That’s when EVERY action or comic book movie had to have tons of one-liners or jokes. Like they tried to make every movie a Scharzenegger picture. Like look at Judge Dredd or any cop action movie, look what they did to Riggs in Lethal Weapon. Only the first Burton Batman totally worked as a whole in the first series of Batmen for me, and now I like what Nolan is doing. Now maybe these movies are going too far over the top in the other direction, but I’d rather the creators take this stuff more seriously and not like we’re all wasting our time seeing that shit.

  278. JC-Fair enough, I guess I just got convinced it wasn’t really used much because the gaps between discourse seem to be longer and more frequent than other threads. I’ll endeavour to only talk about [REDACTED] where appropriate, and it kinda was here since we were talking about Tim Burton’s take on it.
    Another annoying thing about the new remake I’ve seen in trailers is that female character seems to arbitrarily objecting to Franco’s work with a “some things were never meant to be meddled with” warning. There better be some damn good reasoning for that in the actual film and not just setting up an “I told you so, look what your hubris has wrought!” moment.

  279. The new movie is NOT a remake. It is a re-imaginig of the whole shit. Thank God we will not see humans pretending to be apes in this one.I am actually looking forward to watching RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. ( a lot of of´s in my opinion) .

  280. “The new movie is NOT a remake. It is a re-imaginig of the whole shit.”
    Slip of the tongue. I actually do get annoyed by people calling the new CONAN a remake because it’s actually a new adaptation of the original books, like the new APES is.

  281. “Do you guys think it would be funny if I set it to detect all comments with the word “Batman” as spam?”

    Vern – yes. Yes, it would.

    Stu – some of the most unintentionally hilarious scenes in movie history were filmed with the “evil science” formula in mind. (For example: “IF ONLY WE’D NOT STARTED TO MEDDLE IN GOD’S DOMAIN, WE WOULDN’T BE BESIEGED BY AN ARMY OF FIRE-BREATHING MUTANT CACTI!”) And let’s face it, this movie’s probably not going to be any good for anything BUT unintentional hilarity*, so might as well get as much of that as possible.

    [* – yeah, I’m an optimist at heart.]

  282. Jared – I’m sorry I’m super late in responding, but that Spielberg quote was taken from Quint’s interview with him over on AICN

    I kinda wish you guys had more to say about my theory that overuse of CGI is what made Tim Burton lose his mojo, because I think that’s the case

    I’m just a practical effects nut though, I find the sequence in Blade Runner where the spinner is flying through the city more impressive than pretty much any CGI effect

  283. Griff – I think I missed where you explained that theory, but I don’t see it. This here PLANET OF THE APES is I think clearly Burton’s worst movie by far, and it doesn’t have what could be reasonably described as an overuse of CGI. In fact I listened to some of his commentary track after watching it and he said that the whole reason he wanted to do the movie was because he loves practical makeup effects and thinks there’s “something primal” about them.

    His most CGI-heavy movie would have to be MARS ATTACKS!, wouldn’t it? He originally planned to use stop motion puppets on that but it turned out it would be so expensive the martians wouldn’t be in it very much, so ILM convinced him that they could do a good job of it with the computer machines. Even for the people who don’t like that movie I would think (unless they were Paul or somebody) they would still say the martians were the best part of the movie, right?

    Which movies of his do you think overuse CGI? I can’t think which one you could be talking about.

  284. “Thank God we will not see humans pretending to be apes in this one.”

    Sorry God, but not so fast on thanking Him, Shoot. You will most definitely see humans pretending to be apes if you see that movie. Andy Serkis plays Caesar. It’s just that he’s doing it through computers so that it won’t look like he’s actually in the same room as the other humans like in the good Planet of the Apes movies.

  285. I have not seen it, but isn’t Alice In Wonderland mostly CGI?

  286. Griff – oh yeah, I forgot that one. Well, I liked the CGI in that one too. Too bad about the script.

  287. Is the spaceship sequence in Blade Runner really all that different from a CG scene though? It’s still all bluescreens and such, it’s not exactly practical effects, even though there are models. But they still use a lot of models in movies now, they did in the Star Wars prequels and Lord of the Rings, even though those movies got bashed for CG.

    I think the big difference is any hack directors using effects, and it’s hard to compare them to a master like Ridley Scott. Obviously there’s going to be a quality difference. They used a lot of practical effects in Troll 2, I think any CG is better than THAT.

    But Vern’s right, Burton’s decline is usually pinned on Planet of the Apes, which seems pretty much focused on practical work. The CG argument doesn’t fly. Yeah, Alice…but the movie Burton made just before that was Sweeney, which wasn’t a CG fest and before that was a stop-motion movie.

    Come on guys, it’s 2011. Stop bashing CG.

  288. I’m all for CG, as long as there is an actual script/engaging characters/dialogue to back it up, and as long as the CG doesn’t distract me.

    I’m not a Star Wars dude, so the prequels did not rape my childhood, adolescence, or fetal development. But those prequels are an object lesson in bad CG. Bad, because the films felt like 100% fake green screen environments, and bad because the dialogue was so horrible and the key performances so wooden.

    I haven’t even seen Alice, but from everything I heard, it’s not worth me seeing.

  289. Correction:

    I was wrong regarding Robocop. The writer DOES consider Murphy/robo to be the main character.

  290. Surprisingly enough, it turns out that the new Planet of the Apes movie is actually really fucking good. The special effects would be a little offputting in another film, but the story and the performances are so good that they make you look past the effects and just see the characters.

    Also, for a while there in the middle, it turns into a prison movie. The transition is pretty much seamless.

  291. So, they are using Mo-Cap or stuff like that in this movie? That has worked really well in the past and Andy Serkis has become like a “Digital Lon Chaney”. Well, that´s good news. because 100% CGI apes
    would just as bad as masks on humans. I think we got past that point on relying on rubber masks, . Because if there is something that hasn´t aged that well from the old PLANET OF THE APES-flicks are the ape-performances. The masks are very well done and you see the actors performances. But they don´t move like apes…more like humans pretending to be apes.

  292. It’s really great motion capture performance , but it still looks like humans performing apes just because they’re doing stuff that’s choreographed, and you can always tell a digital animal from a real one. So good work, but let’s not pretend we’re now watching “real apes.” Just trading one technology for another.

    The ape rampage is awesome, but the characters are so one dimensional it’s embarassing.

  293. Fred Topel: You really thought Caesar was a one-dimensional character? I mean, I can understand maybe thinking that Maurice or Boda were one-dimensional (although I’m think they might get developed more in a sequel), but I thought Caesar was the heart of this movie.

  294. No, wait, his name was Koba, not Boda. My bad. I guess he must have been a one-dimensional character if I can’t even remember his damn name.

    Guess you have a point, there, Fred.

  295. No, no, not at all. I should have specified the HUMAN characters are embarassingly one dimensional. The apes are fantastic but they’ve got to deal with Draco Malfoy, greedy CEO guy, hot sensitive doctor love interest, Brian Cox typecast and, worst of all, angry neighbor.

  296. Planet of the Apes was terrible, so I’m gonna talk about one of the Burton movies I do like–Beetlejuice.

    Even though he’s fallen off, I’m a big fan of this guy’s movies. Even the weak ones (except for POTA) have a real strong visual identity that make them fun to watch.

    Beetlejuice is a good example of that. It’s a good example of what Burton does well–makes a comedy centered around a weird, perverse, kinda-creepy-but-hilarious character with really trippy stage direction. His movies are fun, but never in an insulting way. I don’t really think there’s a single other director like him.

    I think what it boils down to is that Burton makes good character pieces for his movies. He’ll introduce at least one very weird-but-interesting character and center the whole movie around him or her. With the exception of Ed Wood (which has several complex characters), they’re never too complex: I think he’d rather you have fun and be slightly disturbed by what you’re seeing on screen than get bogged down in analyzing the character. No one’s gonna write any essays on Beetlejuice, but he’s somehow interesting enough to be the centerpiece of a movie.

  297. Also: Batman 89 is raw. The man should get props alone for basically bringing credibility back to Batman at that point and making him a badass again. Before that, most people who weren’t comics fans thought of Batman as the guy from the 60s show who ran around with fighting crime with a kid in his underwear.

    Not only did Burton give the character his credibility back, but he did it with a -comedian-.

  298. Jack: BEETLEJUICE really gave audiences the feeling that all sorts of neat shit could be effortlessly summoned from Burton’s imagination, and that he was capable of cobbling together a more loose-limbed narrative and sympathetic set design to house his madcap creations in.

    I’ve always been particularly impressed with his odd juxtapositions and playing against expectations: reluctant, domestic-minded ghosts as opposed to vengeful ghouls, an afterlife with a tedious waiting room, Jeffrey Jones not playing a weasel for a change. Really good stuff. It’s kind of sad to see him strain from the effort of creating something similar in later films like CORPSE BRIDE.

    Also, I’m just going to assume that you’re not the “Jack” being addressed at the very top of this page.

  299. So….am I the only one who thinks monkey Helena Bonham Carter is more attractive than the human version?

  300. caruso_stalker217

    November 29th, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Monkey Helena Bonham Carter is tied with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Fucked Up Teeth Helena Bonham Carter for Most Attractive Helena Bonham Carter.

    If I were Marky Mark I definitely would have stayed behind to bang Monkey Helena Bonham Carter, is what I’m saying.

  301. Had a hankering to watch this after enjoying the latest APES film. It’s certainly an unsuccessful film, but it is a little more interesting now than it was in the 2000s. Part of that is technical, the make-up, sets etc. It feels more like something from the mid-90s than the early-00s in some ways; it has the vacuity of a lot of early-00s pop culture, but it’s not the obnoxiousness.

    For all this introduced the term “re-imagining” into our lexicon, I really doubt this film would make much sense or have much of a hook to anyone who didn’t know what the original was about.

    I had remembered a key failing was that there was no attempt at social commentary relative to the originals, but that’s not really fair, if anything this is more concerned with that than the more recent films. It might be that the race and immigration issues it addresses are much more at the forefront of our minds than they were in 2001. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily done well but it is there.

    What it’s trying to do with Heston and the gun is indeed interesting. If I had to guess it takes the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” mantra, and seems to utilise that as an example of our mastery of technology, and how that distinguishes us from animals. Maybe not, but it doesn’t really seem anti-gun, although it doesn’t seem like anyone behind the story is into guns.

    It’s interesting that some people felt that they were taking advantage of Heston, and that he may not have really known what he was doing; I never felt that about this, but I recently watched the infamous TOWN & COUNTRY from the same year, where I did get a bit of that impression. Granted, we’re looking at these from a perspective where we know Heston had Alzheimer’s, which he himself didn’t know in 2001.

  302. Oh, and I do actually quite like Tim Roth as Thade. I wont say he’s not one dimensional, nor that his scheme makes much sense, but I do feel he has more presence than a lot of villains, and it’s pretty impressive that he’s playing a character which doesn’t really have any obvious connection or mannerisms in common with any characters he’s played before or since. It’s the kind of performance which would definitely get a lot of attention were he not slathered in makeup.

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