After a string of misfires, Johnny Depp’s biggest fan has returned with what looks like a mature Oscar contender.
Though most of his recent work has flopped miserably, there is always buzz and intrigue surrounding any new Tim Burton film. After all, Burton created some of the most quirky and unique films that many of us viewed and loved as children. Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, etc were all ingrained into our young minds, and we continue to hold them dear to our hearts. In acknowledging this, we must ask: what happened? Where has the real Tim Burton gone? Sure, he has continued to pump out films consistently, but the majority of them have received an inconceivable amount of universal backlash. With his upcoming Christmas release Big Eyes, however, Burton has the opportunity to save his career and reinvigorate his followers’ love for his work.
This doesn’t look like another Tim Burton film – it looks mature. What’s noticeably lacking is the usual Burton schtick
The first noticeable thing about the trailer for Big Eyes is the lack of the typically odd, Burton-esque visuals; Big Eyes actually looks like a serious movie. Vibrant colors and gothic imagery are eliminated to make way for a much more toned down, yet elegant, colour palette. There is a definite Hitchcock feel to the cinematography, as individual colours stick out, and there is a retro 1950s/60s look to the film. This doesn’t look like another Tim Burton film – it looks mature, and while there are still quirks in the trailer, what’s noticeably lacking is the usual Burton schtick everyone’s used to.
Also immediately noticeable? No Johnny Depp. Make no mistake about it, Depp has starred in many iconic roles, but he has lately hit a steep decline in quality just as Burton has. Thankfully, Big Eyes does not feature Depp in a lead role, or in any role for that matter. This cinematic divorce is the best thing for both Burton and Depp – they know each other like the back of their hands at this point and, much to the dismay of moviegoers everywhere, so do we. We know exactly what to expect from their collaborations; it’s a huge relief to see the pair part ways for at least one film.
In place of Depp as the main protagonist there’s Amy Adams, who has been having a monster career boom in the past five years or so. Here Adams plays Margaret Keane, the real-life artist who painted doe-eyed portraits and initially allowed her husband to take credit for them. As her husband, Walter Keane, there’s two-time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz, an actor who excels at playing likable yet often despicable characters (Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds, Alan Cowan in Carnage). Here, Waltz should fit well as a husband who steals his wife’s glory for his own gains. Krysten Ritter, Danny Huston, Terence Stamp and Wes Anderson favorite Jason Schwartzman round out the main cast.
Big Eyes will probably not feel like classic Burton, but it doesn’t have to. What makes Big Eyes so alluring right now is how un-Burton it appears to be
All in all, Big Eyes definitely looks intriguing, but not in the way that Tim Burton films are intriguing. We all know that Burton’s early work is great – we pine for that next film that’s going to bring us back to that feeling we got from those early movies. Big Eyes will probably not fill that role, but it doesn’t have to. What makes Big Eyes so alluring right now is how un-Burton it appears to be. It looks to be something completely original, something to break the mould of what is expected from the director. It has the potential to be a legitimate Oscar contender. Big Eyes can be the mature and focused movie that Tim Burton needs to reestablish himself as a creator and legitimate filmmaker.
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All images: The Weinstein Company