Tim Burton Movies Kinda Suck

Over the years, I feel that I’ve been fed this narrative concerning Tim Burton, and what an amazing director he is – he’s so creative, that sort of thing.  In my head, I call him “The Guy With The Stereotypical Goth Art Student Look Who Makes Almost Every Movie He Directs Look Like German Expressionism,” because that’s easier than remembering his name is ‘Tim Burton.’


Anyway, I decided I needed to pull up a list of his movies and break this shit down and figure out if he is creative, if his body of work is good or bad, what’s up with that hair and how in the hell did he end up married to Helena Bonham Carter, who I consider to be a Stone Cold Fox.


That is the EXACT expression one should wear if they are married to Tim Burton. Especially when you look like Helena Bonham Carter.

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure  (1985)
I like this movie very much.  Pee-wee’s Big Adventure kicks all kinds of ass, but it’s not as though Burton wrote the thing and it’s just a road movie; I don’t find it to be an especially creative film.  But it’s fun!

Beetlejuice  (1988)
I’m a big Beetlejuice fan and had this on VHS the moment it was available.  I’ve seen this movie more times than is healthy, but what can I say?  It’s Michael Keaton and Alec Baldwin!  Two of my favorites coming together!  “Nice fuckin’ model!”  The movie has a lot of that patented Burton German Expressionism, but it works – it’s a weird movie and it has a weird look.  It’s all good.

Batman  (1989)
This movie changed things – it made comic book movies cool.  Even if this movie isn’t especially faithful to the Batman character, Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson act the shit out of it, and Burton does a great job behind the camera – not to mention it being Danny Elfman’s best score.  I also had this movie on VHS and the soundtrack on cassette (not the Prince one, the Danny Elfman one – no time for “Batdance” in my preadolescent life), and I ran them both into the ground.

Edward Scissorhands  (1990)
I know just about everybody but me loves this movie, but frankly, I think it’s balls.  Johnny Depp is good in it, but I find it boring as hell.  I just don’t care about any of the characters – except the love interest, I fucking HATE HER!  I want Edward to fucking decapitate her!  I want him to make that snow he created for her run red!  Fill the night air with her screams!  Wear her as a suit, Buffalo Bill style!

Batman Returns  (1992)
If it wasn’t for Christopher Walken, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer, this movie would really suck.  The story is totally weak, but the acting is fun.  It’s got a decent amount of patented Burton German Expressionism – as much as he could wedge into an action movie.

The Nightmare Before Christmas  (1993)
I still haven’t seen this, but it’s on my list.  Looks like it’s full of patented Burton German Expressionism!
Wait, he didn’t direct this movie?  Or write it?  Then why in the hell is his name above the title?!?

Ed Wood  (1994)
This movie rocks and all of the performances are awesome, especially Johnny Depp and Martin Landau.  I highly recommend it.

Mars Attacks!  (1996)
Jack Nicholson cracks me up in both his roles, but let’s be honest – this movie sucks the big one.  The aliens are funny, though.

Oh, and fuck you, whoever wrote this movie – I like “Indian Love Call,” even if it is kinda racist.  Slim Whitman told me to tell you to go screw.

Sleepy Hollow  (1999)
This movie didn’t get good reviews, but I’ve always meant to see it.

Planet of the Apes  (2001)
I’m a big fan of the original, but holy shit this movie sucks.  I think it’s the worst performance I’ve seen Mark Wahlberg give, but more than that, this is one of the most boring action movies I’ve ever seen with an ending that makes the audience go, “What the?”  Never a good idea to confuse your audience in the last five minutes and have them walk right out of the movie with the last bit fresh in their mind – the bit that made the least sense of all.

Big Fish  (2004)
I had high hopes for this one based on a very well cut trailer, but this movie is kinda boring.  It’s watchable, but nothing special.  The concept sounded so great, but it just never gets moving.

Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride  (2005)
Still didn’t see this, but it’s on my list.  It got good notices, but what sorta egotistical asshole put’s his name in the title like this?  As soon as you see the title Corpse Bride you just know it’s a Tim Burton movie – I mean shit, it’s not going to be a Robert Zemekis joint.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory   (2005)
I don’t know how one could fuck up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory so badly, but Burton managed it.  The original film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, is a perfectly good movie and didn’t need an update, never mind a shitty one, or an added subplot about Wonka’s weird daddy issues, who is ironically a dentist.  I just wasn’t feeling the new Oompa Loompas or their songs…  it lacked charm and style.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street  (2007)
This got decent reviews, but I skipped it – I’d just seen the play… OK, maybe that was 8 years before this, but I decided I was good on Sweeney Todd.

Alice in Wonderland  (2010)
At this point, I don’t need to see another Tim Burton/Johnny Depp “Let’s get together and be cooky!” mash-up, and the reviews were bad, so I stayed away.

Dark Shadows (2012)
Jesus Tap Dancing Christ!  I JUST SAID:

I don’t need to see another Tim Burton/Johnny Depp “Let’s get together and be cooky!” mash-up!

Also, the Dark Shadows TV show was a soap opera, not a slap stick comedy!  Why change the genre?  Can you imagine if Star Trek The Motion Picture had changed the genre from sci-fi to comedy, with Kirk tripping over his chair or some shit?

Frankenweenie (2012)
What the fuck is this shit?  I guess we’ll find out in November.  Here’s the blurb:

From creative genius Tim Burton

Wait, wait, wait – stop right there.  I just went through this dude’s movies and I think creative genius might be a bit of an exaggeration.  Basically, the guy takes existing properties and turns them into movies.  Let’s count ’em:

  1. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure  (1985)
  2. Beetlejuice  (1988)
  3. Batman  (1989)
  4. Edward Scissorhands  (1990)
  5. Batman Returns  (1992)
  6. Sleepy Hollow  (1999)
  7. Planet of the Apes  (2001)
  8. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory   (2005)
  9. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street  (2007)
  10. Alice in Wonderland  (2010)
  11. Dark Shadows (2012)

Here are the movies he’s made that aren’t already famous properties:

  1. The Nightmare Before Christmas  (1993)
  2. Ed Wood  (1994)
  3. Mars Attacks!  (1996)
  4. Big Fish  (2004)
  5. Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride  (2005)

Creative genius, huh?  OK, sorry I cut you off.  Continue:

From creative genius Tim Burton comes Frankenweenie, a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life-with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous. A stop-motion animated film, Frankenweenie will be filmed in black and white and rendered in 3D, which will elevate the classic style to a whole new experience. — (C) Disney

So Disney is releasing a Tim Burton movie about a boy who resurrects his dog.  Yeah, by ‘losing,’ you mean the dog died.  That’s just great.  I can’t wait to see this movie – and by “can’t wait,” I mean I WOULD NEVER, EVER PAY TO WATCH A MOVIE THAT GUARANTEES A DOG WILL DIE IN THE FIRST ACT!  What in the hell is Disney thinking?

OK, that’s all the analysis I care to give.  The dude’s not especially creative, he just takes stuff that already exists and presents it to you in a way you might not expect…  sometimes.  That’s not the same as coming up with your own thing, which, granted, he does every once in a while, but usually he’s working with something we already understand.  And he’s like “I tweaked it!  Look how zany I made [that thing you already know about]!”

That’s bullshit.  You suck, Tim Burton.

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About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of CreativeJamie.com, BomberBanter.com and editor in chief of ComicBookClog.com

Posted on April 28, 2012, in movie review and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. Such a spot-on post. He has a few good movies (I enjoy Batman and Big Fish), but overall much of what he does is unoriginal and weird for the sake of being weird.

    • He’s certainly made some good movies, but for whatever reason, he gets a lot of credit for being creative and innovative, but he doesn’t do much. the trailer for big fish says, “From the imagination of director Tim Burton,” which makes it sound like he wrote the movie, but it was actually Daniel Wallace (novel) and John August (screenplay), and I don’t get why that happens, but that’s his rep, despite the fact that it’s not especially true…unless you’re comparing him to Michael Bay. I’m willing to say he’s more creative than michael bay. so am i. so are you – and i don’t even know you, but i’ll just go out on a limb – it’s an easy limb to go out on!

      thanks for commenting!

  2. It’s because Burton was one of the first guys to be weird, for the sake of weird!! A new Director breaking onto the scene now like him would be told to go screw himself. Same with Bay. Just ’cause they’ve been doing what they’ve been doing for a while… people just let ’em get away with it.

    I am more impressed with a Eastwood directed venture, where I don’t know it’s Eastwood behind the camera, until the guy with the cheerful Bass voice tells me so in the Trailer. However, the first frame of a Burton Trailer (Fade In from Black on a cemetery at night) or a Bay Trailer (something blows up) makes you know right away whose movie it is.

    Burton’s a hack… and that’s why he’s still making movies. He’s created a niche for his style of films. He can keep churning out the same ‘something dead comes back to life’, or ‘Johnny Depp being weird’ movies for years, and someone will Produce / watch them.

  3. Mars Attacks was a line of trading cards in the 1960’s, it’s not original material by Burton.

    I think you’re being too kind to Burton, he hasn’t had anywhere near as many good movies as you’re claiming.

    Here are the Burton movies I enjoyed:

    Pee Wee, Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Big Fish. Some of those were just mediocre, but enjoyable.

    The rest of his films range from mediocre/boring (Mars Attacks) to some of the worst big-money Hollywood movies of the last 50 years (everything he’s made in the last 18 years is total trash).

    Why on earth would he spend the money to buy the rights to Dark Shadows, then make it a dark comedy? The only thing the movie has in common with the TV show is the name Barnabus Collins and Collinwood.

    What’s worse, is that actual Dark Shadows TV show fans, and that was a fantastic show, are now cursed to never get a proper movie adaptation. Burton ruined any chances of that. Who would buy the rights and make a real Dark Shadows movie now that Burton has destroyed it’s marketability?

  4. Hi Dean,

    Thanks for commenting!

    “Mars Attacks was a line of trading cards in the 1960′s, it’s not original material by Burton.”

    You are quite right – shame on me for not correcting that mistake after I found out about the trading cards. That part of this post completely slipped my mind.

    Not knowing hardly anything about Dark Shadows, I can’t imagine how the fans feel, but if someone rebooted Star Trek: The Next Generation as a dark comedy, I’d be pissed as hell. But who knows; maybe someone will make another Dark Shadows movie in 10 or 20 years; Burton’s movie has given the brand publicity, and there’s no such thing as bad publicity. That might make it easier to get another movie made in the future.

    For whatever reason, there are some things about Mars Attacks that I Iike; they mostly all have something to do with Jack Nicholson, thought

  5. Why don’t you watch the movies you haven’t seen yet before “breaking this shit down” (e.g. Nightmare before Christmas, Sleepy Hollow), not that I am defending this dude, who has completely lost it; me searching ‘why does Tim Burton suck so much’ and finding your ill-informed post.

    Anywho, I appreciate your hate.

    • It turns out, Tim Burton didn’t direct Nightmare before Christmas – he didn’t write the screenplay, either – he just did the story summary. So, I don’t feel to bad about skipping that one

      • He also got credit for working on a movie (Coraline) he didn’t even touch. It drives me batty how people automatically assume anything remotely dark is Tim Burton’s work. Funnily enough, it was Henry Selick who made Coraline, and also the person who got overshadowed by Tim Burton’s name in The Nightmare Before Christmas.

      • Yeah, I don’t get it… But there it is – people think burton is a genius for some reason

  6. Completely agree.

  7. First off: I hate everything Burton’s done beginning with Mars Attacks, and wanted to see some intelligent analysis of his crappiness. I do however, love all the previous stuff, including the original Frankenweenie short film…
    Lastly: Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands were not existing properties. Beetlejuice was an original screenplay (not adapted from anything. The cartoon came later, if that’s what you’re thinking of.), and Edward Scissorhands was an original creation of Burton’s (not a take on the porno Edward Penishands, if THAT’S what you’re thinking of. Funny as hell for like a minute. Anyway, that’s all I bothered watching…); and Ed Wood was a well known director before the Burton film. Also, Pee Wee was a popular stage show and HBO special, but did not become the mainstream success and franchise until after the Burton film, which was followed later by the kids show.

  8. I feel like you have zero credibility solely on the fact you didn’t see a bunch of his movies. If you’re going to make a large generalization about his body of work, maybe you should watch the entire body of work. I’m by no means a big Tim Burton fan and I agree that Edward Scissorhands is overrated but you skipped out on Sweeney Todd? That’s his best movie.

    • Hi Dave,
      I see what you’re saying, but by the time Sweeny Todd came out, I felt like a battered house wife – was I really going back in THERE again? I decided no. Also, I’ve seen Sweeny Todd (as a play) already and I’m not a big fan, so I don’t have much interest in seeing it again. That being said, it’s kinda unfair for me to judge Burton s adaptation when I’m propositioned to dislike the source material. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was the opposite situation

  9. It’s terrible that he gets his name and credit for riding on the backs of other more creative people. Hollywood is officially unfair! I liked the story of Edward Scissorhands (though sometimes it feels like the characters are forced to do things real people wouldn’t do all for the sake of moving the plot.) and the concept of Nightmare Before Christmas…And all along I thought this was his stuff. All he does is character design. He adds swirls, stripes and odd angles and gets credit for everything!

  10. Hey Jamie you are an egotistical, self loathing asshole who has nothing better to do than to talk shit about people who are 100 times more interesting and talented than you’ll ever be with your mid life crisis having, residing hair line winy ass bullshit and quite frankly I personally don’t give a fuck about what you have to say! So like your take on Tim Burton and how “uncreative” you claim him to be you are no better considering your website is called “creative” jamie.com please… creativity isn’t about bashing people that are better than you but that’s what your website claims to be and it’s a fucking joke… you’re a fucking joke! By the way Tim Burton’s a multi-millionare… what are you besides a hypocritical dickhead?

  11. Uh… “Beetlejuice” was not a preexisting property. The cartoon is based on the film, not the other way around.

    I disagree with what you said about “Willy Wonka” being a “perfectly good movie.” Gene Wilder is amazing, but the movie is unwatchable and unspeakably boring without him. I think Burton’s version, despite its additions, was a lot more faithful to the spirit of the book… if not always the letter.

    Everything else is right on the money. TNBC is good but it’s only “based on” some little unpublished story Burton had written and illustrated; it owes nothing to Burton’s direction.

    • Yep, guess I put Beetlejuice in the wrong category. Tim Burton didn’t have any story or screenplay credits there… Which shouldn’t surprise me.
      As for the Chocolate Factory versions, the gene Wilder version is the one I rewatch – I get bored quickly watching Burton’s version

  12. The new mrs peregrines home for peculiar movies is all ready messed up and it hasn’t even come out!!! Ive read the book and seen the trailers for the new movie.
    Already seen these mistakes:
    Oliva is supposed to be emma (Emma is supposed to be able to control fire)
    Mrs.Perigrin is to younger (supposed to look about 60 but looks like shes 20)
    Oliva is just a chacter not really stands out

  13. Tim Burton ruined batman- the dark scenes in bat and bat returns become empty stages for cliche wooden stage props & sets. With weak casting and elfman music as bad as star wars drek .We long for the actors that kept our attention in the television dramas.

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