Tim Burton has made some of the most enchanting movies of the last few decades, but his big risks don't always pay off. The director has a distinctive style that doesn't always suit the material he is given – a problem that could become more prominent in our increasingly franchise-obsessed world. Here's a look back at times when Burton has missed his mark.
Burton is between two highly-anticipated projects right now: Wednesday and Beetlejuice 2, both starring Jenna Ortega. Of course, the Hollywood labor strikes have work on Beetlejuice 2 paused, but that doesn't mean expectations will be dropping at all. Burton is known for a dark yet silly style and cartoonish aesthetic, and those strengths were already proven to work with Beetlejuice. In other cases, it has not been such a good fit.
Burton is one of the most stylistic directors working today and many movie buffs find it sad that there seems to be less and less room for experimentation as studios lean on recognizability and universality. Burton's flops only prove how singular his voice really is since it can't just be cut and pasted onto any old story. Here's a look back at movies that are not counted among Burton's many achievements.
Alice in Wonderland
Even at the time when it came out in 2010, Burton's take on Alice in Wonderland was not a critical hit. In retrospect, visual effects may have been just a little short of his ambitious plans at the time, and the use of 3-D glasses in the theater did not do much to help.
On top of that, many felt that Burton's jarring style clashed with the story's central theme of juxtaposing innocence with adult cynicism. Instead, Burton counted on his quirky characters and set to make magic on their own, putting a heavy emphasis on Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter.prevnext
Planet of the Apes
Years before the recent, relatively successful trilogy of remakes, Burton made an ill-fated attempt at rebooting Planet of the Apes. Given how poor the reception to his 2001 attempt was, it makes sense that fans were nervous to see James Franco take another stab at it recently.
Burton's Planet of the Apes featured a mixture of make up and CGI somehow more unnerving than the plain rubber masks from the original. It also starred Mark Wahlberg as the lead human, consigning the movie to a pretty standard action genre in many eyes.prevnext
Burton fans were buzzing in 2005 when he brought back the stop-motion style of The Nightmare Before Christmas for another horror-themed jaunt. Unfortunately, this one fell a bit flat. To many critics, there was not enough story here to justify the movie's existence, and it seemed to be an excuse for Burton to parade out his latest nightmares on the big screen.prevnext
Burton came into the world of super hero films strong in 1989 with Batman starring Michael Keaton. Unfortunately, it seems he could not capture lightning in a bottle twice, as Batman Returns veered off in some strange directions.
The movie features some iconic, if not universally beloved imagery, with Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito playing bizarre versions of Catwoman and The Penguin, respectively. The movie bore all of Burton's trademark quirkiness, and unfortunately, it did not serve it well.prevnext
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Burton may have been asking for trouble when he tried to remake one of the most classic films in existence. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was far from the delightful Gene Wilder romp that preceded it, as well as the novel that both films are based on.
This may be one of Depp's most unnerving performances ever, under Burton or otherwise. Through Burton's eyes, the story seemed more horrifying than through other perspectives, and in this case that may not be a good thing.prevnext
One of Burton's oldest movies to make it on the list is the 1996 sci-fi horror Mars Attacks! The movie jumped the gun on 3-D animation in a way that even audiences at the time did not care for. Beyond that, the pulpy premise drove real conspiracy theorist paranoia for some and dimply discomforted others, with its flippant use of real-world imagery and issues.prevnext
Sleepy Hollow seemed a good fit for Burton, and for his beloved muse Johnny Depp, for that matter. The 1999 film told the classic story of the Headless Horseman, with Depp playing the heroic Ichabod Crane.
While Burton seemed to try and tone down his garishness in this film, many critics felt it could have used more. The hesitant lack of camp made for a movie that fell somewhere in the middle, where Burton's fans and the audience at large dared not go.prevnext
Finally, in 2012, Burton made another animated feature based on a stop-motion short he originally made in 1984. Frankenweenie tells the story of a horrifically revived dog and his prankster of an owner.
It was not well-received — to the extent that it was received at all — by Hollywood. Among Burton's die-hard fans, many were simply disappointed to see his signature animation style on a new story rather than a true follow-up to The Nightmare Before Christmas.prev