Thursday, February 24, 2011

Edward Scissorhands (1990 Movie Review)


      When it comes to talented Hollywood writers and directors, one that I find to be one of the most interesting is dark vision-ist Tim Burton. He always has a unique style, heavy atmosphere and imaginative look for his dark and elaborate movies including “Corps Bride”, “Batman” and “Beetlejuice”. One big reoccurring theme in his movies is that there about outcasts, rebels that don’t fit in with the rest of society. One of my favorite films of his that tackles this subject beautifully is the 1990 classic “Edward Scissorhands”. This is a sweet little gothic fairy tale about a creature named Edward that was created in a lab and is now trying to find his way in life.

     The opening credit sequence for this movie is outstanding, full of crazy images and is boasted with yet another terrific score from Danny Elfman. It’s like a tradition for Tim Burton’s movies to have a musical score by Danny Elfman, the two just go together like bread and butter and of all the musical scores that Elfman has composed for Burton, this one is my favorite. It’s creepy, yet it almost sounds like a melody you’d here in a Christmas song. This score was so successful that it’s been used in trailers for several other films including “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and for some reason “The Master of Disguise”. 

The late great prince of horror films Vincent Price makes a few small appearances as the lonely inventor, it’s such a nice little role for him and it’s so appropriate that one of his last films would be a Tim Burton movie because Burtons very first film was a short movie titled “Vincent”, a story about a boy who was obsessed with Vincent Price (Vincent Price also did the narration in this short film). We get to see the inventors crazy lab in all its glory through flashbacks and it’s just a stamp of Tim Burton’s classy look and design, it almost looks like “Frankenstein’s” lab rented out by “Willy Wonka”.    

    The inventors plan is to create a living creature that he can regard as a son, so his life would be more complete. He comes very close to completing it but unfortunately he dies before he could give his creation hands. The look and feel of Edward’s character was inspired by two popular Horror movie monsters. Edward’s scissor hands are very reminiscent of Freddy Krueger’s razor sharp gloves from “A Nightmare on Elm Street”. This character is also very reminiscent of Frankensteins monster from “Frankenstein”. Both creatures were created in a lab by scientists, both are living beings with feelings and emotions, yet there regarded as monsters. One day a local Avon saleswoman named Peg discovers him in the inventors abandoned castle and she invites him to live with her family. The two have really good chemistry, peg is also an outcast in a sense because she is always ignored by her neighbors and is a person that’s often made fun of. Surprisingly, it’s the first half of the film, that you feel the most uncomfortable watching. At first Edward is actually excepted into this neighborhood and everything is all nice and fluffy for the first half but you have this aching feeling that something is going to go wrong and that something bad is going to happen to poor Edward that will change the mood of the film. Once it finally happens, the drama just keeps on coming and it’s an interesting depiction of how someone who differs from the norm can be rejected from society.

     During the second half of the movie, we see a new relationship take place, which is something that I have mixed feelings about. Edward begins to fall in love with Pegs daughter Kim and she in return grows feelings for Edward. I don’t know why but something about this relationship makes me feel like it’s just bringing it down for a wider audience, the two just don’t have as much in common, the same way Edward and Peg did but this is still a very sweet relation. Kim is played by the beautiful young Winona Ryder, (who also starred in an earlier Tim Burton film “Beetlejuice”) and is a true delight to have on screen. What these two characters lack in chemistry, they make up for with some genuinely beautiful scenes. I love that moment with Kim dancing under the falling snow that Edward is creating by chipping of ice for an ice sculpture and the background music once again is a perfect match. Of cores I can’t go without mentioning that beautifully tragic scene where Kim wants Edward to hold her, to which he simply responds by saying “I can’t.” Yeah, according to every woman on the planet, your considered a bad person if you don’t get water eyed at that. There’s actually a lot of comedy in this film that balances off the drama perfectly. My favorite scene is when Kim and Edward first meet, she comes home late from a camping trip, goes into her room only to discover Edward in her bed and what fallows is side splitting laughter from the audience. 

     Aside from honest emotion and dramatic depth, this is a very artistic film. The music, the imagery, the settings, it all gives this film a very unique atmosphere and I absolutely love it. Burtons films usually take place in a warped reality of our own world and this film is no exception. There are distinct looks for the different locations in this film, from the dark and gothic look of the castle, too the wild and crazy factory, too the bright and colorful neighborhood. 

The look of this small neighborhood is just the perfect example of how Tim Burton can take a perfectly normal setting and twist it around. Streets bend at weird angles, hedges are trimmed to look like dinosaurs or family portraits and with so many different, brightly colored houses and cars, it almost looks like a very unique Easter themed town.

     Of cores in the role of Edward is none other than Johnny Depp in his very first collaboration with Tim Burton. His role as Edward is definitely one of his better character performances. The blank look on his face combined with a sweet, kind loving personality is terrific. Depp would go on to be the reoccurring star in many other Burton films including “Sleepy Hollow”, “Ed Wood”, “Corps Bride”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Charley and the Chocolate Factory”, “Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Flint Street” and he will be staring in Burtons upcoming production titled “Dark Shadows”. Gosh Burton, I may like Depp as much as the next fan but give someone else like Robert Downy Jr. a chance to star in your films.

      Overall, despite the gothic overtones in this movie, there is still a heart at the center of this film. Throughout the movie you feel magic, drama, beauty and discomfort, making it a very unique movie experience. It’s not a huge re-watch film but it is still masterfully crafted, holds a strong atmosphere, a hypnotically beautiful musical score and likable characters which make the whole experience worthwhile. I give “Edward Scissorhands” 3 ½ stars.

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