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Ranked: Tim Burton Films From Worst to Best
With Dark Shadows out this week, we're looking at the canon of America's most-loved goth.
By Molly Horan
Tim Burton's films are polarizing affairs: you're typically either a fan of his meticulous vision or you're not. But there's no denying that he's left a unique stamp on American film. With his latest, Dark Shadows, out this week, we're reviewing Burton's entire filmography from worst to best.
14. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
In Disney 3-D, the awfulness that was this film really jumped out at you. Unable to decide whether he was making a children's movie or a dark-minded teen movie, Burton delivered a re-imagining of Alice that was confused and poorly lit and did unspeakable things to Johnny Depp's eyelashes.
13. Planet of the Apes (2001)
Burton's Planet of the Apes is all concept, no story. Within twenty minutes, the apes' flying-leaps are no longer interesting, and the cultural inversions (Apes treat us like animals! Some apes are like animal-rights activists, but they're human-rights activists!) are no longer provocative. That leaves you an hour and forty minutes to enjoy Mark Wahlberg's stunned-realization face.
12. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Any movie that messed with our memories of the Gene Wilder Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was bound to get some backlash, but this repackaging, with its completely unnecessary back story for Mr. Wonka and its techno Oompa-Loompas, was enough to induce cries of, "What have you done to it?"
11. Mars Attacks! (1996)
It can be hard to pinpoint the line that divides terrible movies and movies so terrible they're good. Wherever it is, Mars Attacks! is on the wrong side of it. Though it means to parody bad sci-fi, you'll probably have less fun with Mars Attacks! than you would with the films it tries to skewer.
10. Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Sleepy Hollow can best be enjoyed with the volume off. A visually stunning example of Burton's graveyard aesthetics, it's deflated by clunky dialogue and the utter lack of chemistry between Christina Ricci and Johnny Depp. It does win bonus points for cleverly incorporating steampunk design well before that look became a cliche.
9. Corpse Bride (2005)
A decent kid's movie that will always live in the shadow of the far superior The Nightmare Before Christmas (which Burton wrote but didn't direct). Corpse Bride seemed to come less from any desire to tell a story and more out of a need for new Hot Topic sweatshirts. The stars are Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and some dancing skeletons; it's like Burton went to the supply closet and took out the first things he could find.
8. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
A film based on a bloody musical that was truly in Burton's wheelhouse. Though you'd think a movie about a mad barber slitting people's throats would require some gore, Burton lets the blood wash out the character development, making Sweeney Todd feel less like the complicated story of a good man driven to evil acts, and more like a slasher movie with some singing.