Making movies can be a troublesome and difficult process, with so many aspects to worry about it can be overwhelming. So for a director, who has so many things to worry about, when they come across an actor who they like and can work well with, it makes their lives so much easier. The relationship between director and actor can be a blessing to both artists and movie fans. Just imagine what Quentin Tarantino‘s films would be like if he didn’t have Samuel L Jackson? We’re sure they would still be good, but the partnership that has happened between those two is movie gold. They both know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and they both have a respect for each other that can be seen on screen. No matter what role Jackson is cast in, he always gives his best for Tarantino. A great example of a director/actor partnership that benefits everyone.
However, there are times when a partnership is formed and what at first seems like a dream team, can in fact become a nightmare. This is the case with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. Since the early 90s, they have been BFF’s and worked together on multiple projects. But what was once exciting, is now stale, boring and tired.
We look at the movies that they have worked on together and ask them nicely to end this relationship before it destroys the movie business!
10. Dear Tim Burton…..
As Tim Burton and Johnny Depp have only worked together on nine movies (sorry for deceiving you with the title…), our first entry on the list is an open letter to Mr. Burton. Since he first burst onto the directing scene, Burton has wowed us with some truly stunning and imaginative films. Remember Beetlejuice? Batman? The Nightmare Before Christmas? All these movies are classics and show just what Burton is capable of.
Unfortunately there has been a problem in recent years and that’s Burton’s insistence on casting Johnny Depp in everything. For some reason this is hampering both artists’ abilities to be creative and is causing them both to become mundane and repetitive. So we ask you Mr Burton; with your next movie, please widen your casting net and choose someone who is best for the role; don’t automatically call Depp!
9. Edward Scissorhands – 1990
The movie that started it all. Now, before everyone starts shouting at their computer screens in disbelief, as surely Edward Scissorhands is a classic, let’s just take a moment and understand that this is where it all started to go wrong. The simple fact is that Edward Scissorhands is a great movie. Tim Burton is at his gothic best and Johnny Depp gives a career defining performance as the subtle Frankenstein’s monster character who just wants to be loved. It’s atmospheric, subtle and more importantly character driven, which all the best movies are.
With so much praise, why is it on the list? Because this is what a Depp/Burton movie should be. They raised our expectations levels so high with their first collaboration, that with every movie since, it’s only been a disappointment.
8. Ed Wood – 1994
The second collaboration by Depp and Burton wasn’t really noticed by anyone. Riding high off the success of Edward Scissorhands, Burton wanted to do something different (Which is rare for Burton!). Choosing a biopic about cult director Ed Wood, who is often described as the worst director ever in Hollywood, Burton and Depp went to work.
However, arguments with the studios (as Burton wanted to shoot the movie in black and white) and a very limited cinema release meant that this film bombed. In fact it was a financial disaster only grossing $5 million on an $18 million budget. It was only their second movie together but the warning signs were already starting to show. We should have noticed them sooner!
7. Sleepy Hollow – 1999
Surely this is the movie that should have cemented the Depp/Burton partnership. This popular short story tells the tale of Ichabod Crane as he tries to stop the headless horseman decapitating the residents of the small town of Sleepy Hollow. The story is gothic, scary and has a moral undertone about fear. The movie is perfect and has Burton written all over it.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Although the film looks amazing and has an atmospherical feel to it that only Burton can create, the fact that he once again cast Depp as his leading man was this movie’s downfall. Depp’s portrayal of Crane was so far on the side of meek and helpless that it was comical. This performance stood out for all the wrong reasons and didn’t fit in with the tone of the movie.
6. Corpse Bride – 2005
After the success and truly brilliant animated move The Nightmare Before Christmas, Burton decided to re-enter the world of animation once again with Corpse Bride. Just like The Nightmare Before Christmas, and indeed most Tim Burton movies, the macabre and gothic style would be prominent. Although this movie is decent and some might argue good, it doesn’t even come close to its predecessor.
The only real reason that this film got the critical acclaim it did was because Burton used stop-motion animation, which we all know is a very difficult and time consuming way to make a move. While technically this movie should be applauded, the storyline and performances are already forgotten. If this had been a live action movie, then it would probably be at the bottom of Burton’s list of movies.
5. Sweeney Todd – 2007
Ok, so we must first point out our admiration for Depp’s courage in this movie. Although the movie has all the classic hallmarks of a Tim Burton movie (dark, gothic, etc.) we have to give points for the musical element. As Depp isn’t known for his singing ability, he does throw himself into the role and can hold a tune, of sorts.
However, with Burton’s insistence on using Depp as he leading man once again, we can’t help but feel this hampered the film and stopped it from being a smash hit. With many actors in Hollywood more comfortable with the musical format (just look at Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables!) the casting for this movie should have been more extensive.
4. Dark Shadows – 2012
Yet another box office bomb to come from Burton and Depp. Loosely based on a TV series from the 1960s, Dark Shadows tells the tale of a 200-year-old vampire who has been imprisoned in a coffin. Unearthed and freed from his prison, he makes his way to his family mansion which is now inhabited by his descendants.
Billed as a horror/comedy, the film ends up being neither. Slammed by most critics and audiences, the jokes and comedic moments fall flat and the scares are nowhere to be seen. Depp’s quirky overacting becomes uncomfortable to watch and even the style of the movie doesn’t have the usual Burton feel to it. It’s as if they both phoned it in on this one. This movie was the eighth collaboration between the two and it looks and feels like it.
3. Alice in Wonderland – 2010
This movie started a trend with both Burton and Depp, and that’s the re-make. Not just a re-make from an old, forgotten TV show (Dark Shadows, for example) but a re-make using classic and much loved material.
When the news first broke that Tim Burton would be making Alice in Wonderland, many people (us included!) were excited at the prospect and we all wondered what Burton’s gothic mind could do with CS Lewis’ classic novel. It could’ve been a match made in heaven. But it wasn’t. Instead what we got is a movie that ignores most of the book’s text, and therefore, its heart. Although it looks good, the movie and the performances become generic and boring. This movie was more style over substance. Shame!
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – 2005
Out of all the collaborations and re-makes that Depp and Burton have done, this has to be the worst. It basically took the much loved Roald Dahl book, as well as the classic 1971 film adaptation with Gene Wilder, and threw it on the floor, stomping hard on it until nothing is left and all our childhood memories are left in tatters.
This movie seems to forget the fun, silly and whimsical aspects of the story and tries to give a dramatic and serious undertone. On top of that, we get a Johnny Depp performance that is just disturbing (and not in a good way). Seemingly a cross between Mickey Mouse and Michael Jackson, Depp’s “quirky” side goes into overdrive and his performance becomes harder and more painful to watch as the movie progresses.
1. Alice Through The Looking Glass – 2016
This is the latest, and hopefully last, outing for Burton and Depp. As this movie has only just been released, it’s hard to know exactly where it will fall on the list of Burton or Depp movies. But as the box office sales have been poor and the critics are slamming it in every way possible, the outlook doesn’t look good. That could have more to do with Depp’s personal life getting more publicity for all the wrong reasons. Only time will tell.
A sequel to Alice in Wonderland, this movie, just like its predecessor, only uses the novel as a reference rather than as source material. So we’re left with another generic Hollywood movie that pretends to be something more. The only notable thing about it, and the reason why it might be thought of more fondly, is it’s features the last role played by the late, great Alan Rickman.