Tag Archives: Tim Burton

The Set of 400: #205 – My Favorite Microwaved Spray Paint

Today! Because mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it –

Batman Returns (1992)

Directed by Tim Burton (x3)

Starring Michael Keaton (x3), Michelle Pfeiffer, Danny DeVito (x4), Christopher Walken, Michael Gough (x2), Michael Murphy (x4), Pat Hingle (x2), Vincent Schiavelli (x4), Andrew Bryniarski, Jan Hooks (x2), Steve Witting, Paul Reubens (x3), Cristi Conaway

A superhero outing aggressively not holding up, Batman Returns was basically my favorite movie when I was 12 years old. I’d been waiting three years for the next Bat-adventure, and where this manner of suspense might raise expectations far higher than a film could reach nowadays, back then it just functioned as a way to excuse a lot of their choices. We finally had another Keaton/Burton Bat-flick! And it had the Penguin! And Catwoman! And…Christopher Walken in a ridiculous wig!

And style-wise, it’s still a pretty cool movie. Between the Christmas setting, the weirder, twistier sets than the first movie, Michelle Pfeiffer’s super dramatic eye makeup, and a marked increase in the Tim Burton-ness of the design, it’s a sequel that takes off in bizarre other directions, while still maintaining the overall gloom and moodiness set in place by the original.

Maybe it’s not so much the make up as all the time spent on that hair!

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The Set of 400: #310 – My Favorite Weaponized Slim Whitman Tune

Today! Because if the Martians land, they’re going to need a place to stay, just like everybody else –

Mars Attacks! (1996)

Directed by Tim Burton

Starring Jack Nicholson (x2), Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Danny DeVito (x2), Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael J. Fox (x2), Martin Short, Rod Steiger, Lukas Haas, Tom Jones, Jim Brown, Natalie Portman (x3), Lisa Marie, Sylvia Sidney, Pam Grier, Paul Winfield, Jack Black (x3), Joe Don Baker (x2), Ray J, Christina Applegate, Barbet Schroeder (x2), Willie Garson (x2), Rance Howard (x3), O-Lan Jones, Brian Haley

I know some people were really turned off by Tim Burton’s trading card adaptation global invasion sci-fi comedy, but I really dug it in that epic winter of 1996. Ah, ’96! This is already the sixth movie from that landmark, okay-ish year for films! Coming a few months after Independence Day, I guess everyone really wanted a wild action comedy of international destruction, but Tim Burton is not that director. He can give you quirky odd-ballery, but as for fight scenes or action sequences, well, look at that track record. His Batman movies are far more mood and atmosphere than slam-bang thrills. Sleepy Hollow – better, I guess, what with Ray Park as the Headless Horseman, but the staging didn’t vastly improve. Planet of the Apes – come on. So really, anyone wanting more out of Mars Attacks! was probably kidding themselves a bit too much.

What you get is a pretty fun, funny, throwback spoof of cheesy alien flicks, which quickly devolves into a cheesy alien flick itself, blurring that parody line until it basically disappears. I was really amped for this film come my senior year of high school – figure, you’ve got Nicholson playing wacky duel roles, in a roundabout nod to Dr. Strangelove’s end-of-the-world grapplings, as the president and a huckster casino owner, plus it reunited him with his Batman director, never mind the all-star cast reminiscent of ’70s disaster films, including a James Bond, a Teen Wolf, Foxy Brown, Ed Grimley, and the Penguin.

Never mind Carrie Bradshaw’s terrific work as this dog

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The Set of 400: #371 – My Favorite Swimming Pool Bathtub Brawl

Today! Because I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel –

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Directed by Tim Burton

Starring Paul Reubens (x2), Elizabeth Daily, Mark Holton, Diane Salinger, Judd Omen, Alice Nunn, Jan Hooks, Jason Hervey, Cassandra Peterson, Phil Hartman, James Brolin, Morgan Fairchild, Milton Berle

Look, no one is more surprised than me that Pee-wee’s first big screen outing is still hanging around my favorite films list 30-some-odd years on, but here we are. I know there’s a certain section of the fandom that is still all-in on this movie, and would’ve proudly put it higher, but I’m a touch embarrassed. Me, someone who stuck Godspell ahead of 14 films on this list.

But why should I be embarrassed? Sure, Pee-wee objectively is kinda juvenile nonsense, but this movie so far transcended everything else connected to the character (except maybe the original brilliant stage show) that it only really fits the canon in that Pee-wee is the protagonist. This was Tim Burton at his hyper-inventive best! Surreal! Bizarre! Wonderfully inventive! His bicycle alone is an ingenious creation that drives the entire plot, from bizarro inventor’s house to the Alamo to the big screen. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #379 – My Favorite Self Lobotomy

Today! Because you aren’t comprehending the position that you’re in –

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Directed by Henry Selick

Starring Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara, William Hickey, Glenn Shadix, Paul Reubens, Ken Page, Edward Ivory, Greg Proops

As the years have gone by, The Nightmare Before Christmas has become more and more a vehicle to sell tie-in merchandise. Disney’s not one to let these sort of opportunities slide, so even though it was fairly successful in its initial release, it quickly morphed into something very different. And it’s nice that this movie found an audience – it is a terrific piece of ghoulish fun – but I do think the movie itself tends to get a bit lost in all the Halloween costumes, figurines, and whatnot. Continue reading

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