With Tim Burton again taking on a big movie project called “Big Eyes”, fans of his have to assume that he simply can’t be away from taking on work. But that comes after even his most ardent fans have seen some problems with his recent films, notably a lack of the macabre magic that once came easier to him in nearly every production. Whether that’s to do with burnout is a matter of opinion, even if it’s quite clear Burton has never taken a substantial break to digest what he’s accomplished.
And the above seems to be a huge problem in Hollywood lately when reputation gives way to the temptation of taking on projects that shouldn’t be done. Why can’t some producers, directors, or actors negate any more projects and sit back to refresh their batteries for a year or two? I’ve written before that it’s probably due to the simple (or perhaps complex) fear of being forgotten in a short memory world.
Whether that’s Tim Burton’s fear is anyone’s guess. It’s clear, though, that macabre movies are in again, and especially ones for children. Despite the mixed opinion over “Dark Shadows”, his production angle on “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”, and “Frankenweenie”, it has to be pondered whether the temptation to keep working in Hollywood is a detriment to reputations.
That all depends, of course, on what Burton does with his next project of “Big Eyes.” While having macabre elements, it’s really a contentious story about real married couple Walter and Margaret Keane who created eerie paintings of children with alien-like eyes. It all could have possibly attracted Burton because his marriage to Helena Bonham Carter makes up the better half of an effective macabre creative team.
In that sense, this movie may be the refreshing change Burton needed rather than delving into spooky, fictional worlds. “Big Eyes” could end up saying more about the dangers of creative partnerships in marriages than it does explaining why anyone cared to buy paintings of children with large eyes. Yes, that could also mean that Burton should stick to non-fiction (with some half-truths) as he ably displayed in “Ed Wood.”
Is that really the key to Burton reigniting his movie passions? We can’t say for sure that a project he feels inspired about will bring back the magic touch he once had. He probably felt the same about “Dark Shadows”, despite having the dangers of dealing with a TV show too beloved by a devoted fanbase.
For some people, Burton’s last truly great film was arguably “Big Fish” or “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” close to a decade ago. Others might contend that the power bait that pulled Burton into taking on so much work was “Alice in Wonderland” in 2010. When that became a barrel of cash, the offers were likely thrown Burton’s way.
So how does one step away to recharge and reclaim what they arguably lost? The argument might be that it takes more than rest to reclaim a certain missing cinematic ingredient.
In the case of Burton, it could be the reliance on too much CGI, which now designates everything a little colder than it otherwise has potential to be.