We are currently giving away copies of The Tim Burton Collection on DVD so I’ve got my grubby hands on the DVDs and put together a run-down of the collection.
The first thing to note is that this is a Warner Bros. release so there is no Nightmare Before Christmas or Edward Scissorhands to be found. Get over it.
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
Burton’s feature film debut was a big screen outing for one of children’s television’s most energetic/disturbing characters. Pee-wee’s bike is stolen so he goes on an adventure across America to get it back. Whether you like this film or not will really depend on whether you love or loathe Pee-wee himself. It’s a cult hit! But then so is High School Musical in some circles.*
Michael Keaton as Beetlejuice is not in Beetle Juice/Beetlejuice nearly as much as you’d expect. The focus is instead on the recently deceased couple, Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis, who summon Beetlejuice to scare away the new inhabitants on their former home. An eccentric comedy Beetle Juice is classic Burton and is where he really set the visual style we know, love and mock gently. Worth noting that the DVD for this was in 4:3 aspect ratio when the film should be 1.85:1, disgraceful.
Cast your mind back to when the character of Batman was not to be taken too seriously. It was a time when Batman meant gothic camp and Michael Keaton wore the rubber pointy ears. With Jack Nicholson as a terrifying Joker with a fixed wide grin this Batman is a very different interpretation to Chris Nolan’s but equally valid and a little more fun.
That right, Batman really does return but this time he is sharing the screen with a slimy Penguin, Danny DeVito, and sexy Catwoman, Michelle Pfeiffer in a very shiny catsuit. It’s gothic, it’s fun, it’s Burton. This was the first golden age of Batman, before they stuck nipples on his outfit.
An underrated classic piece of Sci-Fi comedy in my opinion. Mars invades earth and promptly start to kill everyone until Tom Jones comes to the rescue. Starring pretty much everyone you’ve ever heard of, including Jack Nicholson twice, this is a real joy and personal favourite. Keep walking pervert, Natalie Portman is about fourteen in this.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Not wanting to be too negative but Burton’s remake of the amazing 1971 film is absolutely awful. Johnny Depp seems to be channelling Michael Jackson via the Child Catcher. It’s just plain bad and you’d be much better off watching Gene Wilder ham it up for an hour and a half. If it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it, fail and make an unholy mess.
Burton brings together his favourite people, Depp and Bonham Carter, to play a couple who span the line between life and death in a stop-motion animation musical that somehow lacks all the charm of The Nightmare Before Christmas, which it will inevitably be compared to until we all get on with our lives, forget about films and go outside for a bit. The film is fun, but not great.
Burton tackles Hugh Wheeler’s bloody musical with some success. Not for everyone but the gothic tone and dark humour is perfect for Tim Burton and at no point do any Oompa-Loompas try to perform hip-hop. *shudder* My only issue with this film is that Anthony Head had his musical number cut down to a small cameo. We’ll always have those four episodes of Buffy though.
It’s a mixed bag of films but I’d say that the good far outweighs the sole crime against cinema. This is a solid collection of films well worth owning on DVD, but is this the right box set for the task? It is so long as you aren’t a fiend for bonus content as just two of the films, Pee-Wee and Corpse Bride, have special features beyond trailers and scene selection.
It is worth winning a copy though? OF COURSE!
*I have “I Love Troy” socks. Who am I to talk?