A colleague at Hollywood.com asked me whether one of the constituents of a good Tim Burton movie was Johnny Depp. After doing some research, we had noticed out of 16 movies, eight with Johnny Depp and eight without, both groups total nearly the exact same gross and averaged the same on the "Tomato Meter" on Rotten Tomatoes. Though this may seem like a deadlock, there are actually some more subtle elements to consider that reveal a kindred spirit action between the both of them, which often transcends their work for the bottom dollar.
First, we should rule out the Batman movies, which prove high on the box office level for Burton — if a little lukewarm critically — without the presence of Depp. The fact that the titular comic book character transcends the director as far as notoriety, makes considering Depp's inclusion a moot point. After all, back in the early '90s, Depp had only begun his film career.
Sandwiched in between these two films, however, is Burton's first film with Depp: Edward Scissorhands (1990). According to Box Office Mojo, while the Batman films made hundreds of millions of dollars during their theatrical runs, Edward Scissorhands maxed out at just over $56 million. The oddball film about an orphaned creation of a mad scientist with scissors for hands stands above Burton's inventive take on Batman as the best received, critically, among this trio of films. No matter the weird and creative spin Burton gave the DC hero, it pales against the Gothic fairy-tale of Edward Scissorhands.
If type-casting was a factor, one might credit Burton for leading Depp to a healthy career of rather quirky characters that have become the actor's bread and butter, from the Buster Keaton-obsessed loner Sam of Benny and Joon (1993) to Captain Jack Sparrow in the blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It has been a diverse career for someone who started on TV as a teen idol on 21 Jump Street, yet one that seems to remain defined by his quirky turn as Edward Scissorhands.
There was another early success for the pair, and sentimentality might want to make this critic argue that it stands as their best work. It also happens to be their critical pinnacle, if least commercial success: 1994's Ed Wood. Their biopic about the cross-dressing director, shot in black and white, benefitted greatly by Depp's scenery-chewing portrayal. However, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) remains one of the collaborators’ purest works on many uncompromising levels, considering its black humor, R-rated horror and the fact that it was a musical, featuring Depp's first singing role in a cockney accent not too different from David Bowie's voice.
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But even without Depp, Burton does not seem helpless to conjure up some the most bizarre and beloved characters of contemporary cinema. One of Burton's most enduring creations remains Jack Skellington and the denizens of Halloweentown. Though The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) was directed by Henry Selick, Burton conceived the story and characters with the help of screenwriter Caroline Thompson. It bombed at the box office, but found new life with a cult following and later a re-release in 3-D (2006). Thompson also helped realize another of his zaniest, beguiling stop-motion experiences, which Burton this time directed: Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (2005). The latter film also included Depp in a lead performance as the bride’s betrothed, playing the straight man to a cast of undead, madcap characters.
Later mutual successes, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) and Alice in Wonderland (2010), have proven Burton and Depp's greatest hits financially. Alice failed with many critics, however, who seemed to have grown tired of Depp's over-the-top reliance on make-up and quirks as the Mad Hatter, and Burton’s diversion from the source material to turn Alice’s story into some sort of action-adventure video game. Commercially, one must also consider that 3-D had reached its height at this point and moviegoers had easily bought into the 3-D hype (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was then one of the rare films released in the even higher-priced IMAX 3-D format), which has since lost its luster. Finally, like Batman, both films were based on previous works of acclaim and popularity that had their built-in audiences and once again transcend the Burton/Depp following.
There were times it seemed Burton needed Depp to achieve success. Mars Attacks! (1996) seemed to bust upon initial release but endures as a campy, send-up of '50s-era sci-fi flying saucer films. However, the director reteamed with Depp for the director’s highly anticipated take on Sleepy Hollow (1999), which only did slightly better critically than Mars but made three times the revenue at the box office. Likewise, Frankenweenie (2012), a third stop-motion animated film associated with Burton but without Depp, and his latest work, fell below expectations, financially. Burton’s take on the Dark Shadows soap opera of the '70s, earlier that year, did not receive a positive critical consensus, but its box office performance was nothing to sneeze at. It featured Depp in another freakish role, as the film's patriarchal vampire.
Considering these events, it would indeed seem that Burton needs Depp. But the fact remains that Burton provided an important channel for defining Depp's career that also enforced the beautiful grotesque of the Burton world. On the other hand, Burton does not necessarily need Depp to continue making his particular brand of cinema. It says something that he can succeed at Deppless ventures like reinventing Batman in his Gothic/freak show aesthetic, and creating an original character as iconic as Beetle Juice (who would spin off into his own Saturday morning cartoon series). That it may seem Burton has failed to reach such success without Depp recently only speaks to the ebb and flow of their track record together. After all, it’s the Burton aesthetic that set the platform for Depp’s career path. Though he may not be as successful at it commercially nowadays, Burton still has a strong sensibility true to his core being. The creatures in the underrated Mars Attacks! and Frankenweenie feature a bizarre yet enchanting melding of horror and humor that walk a precarious line most directors easily tumble off. No one can walk that line and make it on his own terms better than Tim Burton, but does he need Johnny Depp? It's nice to think so. And luckily, they both seem keen on continuing that relationship.
More:'Beetle Juice' Almost Wasn't a Tim Burton MovieDepp Reteams with 'Secret Window' Director for a ComedyJohnny Depp in 'Into the Woods': A Bad Idea
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Over the next few months, we’ll see new series soar, old series sour, and so much Jersey Shore madness, we’ll want to shower. Let’s face it: The Fall TV season is intimidating. With dozens of new and returning shows hitting our small screens, we know we have some big choices to make. So, to help you determine what to watch, we’re digging deep into the most notable series premiering this season. Where did each show leave off? Where is it headed? And who should you watch it with? Next up is ABC's big new fish out of water comedy The Neighbors. Except there are no fish, or water. But there are aliens!
New Series: The Neighbors
Premiere Date: Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 9:30 PM
Tag Line: After 10 years of living in isolation in a suburban condo development next to a golf course, a group of aliens is finally invaded by one human family. They both think the other is strange, and they learn very valuable lessons about accepting people and becoming better people (or aliens). Awwwww.
Meet the Weavers: Lenny Venito is Marty, a fat bumbler in the Ralph Kramden sitcom mold. Jami Gertz is Debbie, the take charge mom. Clara Mamet is Amber, the angry teenager and Max Charles and Isabella Cramp are Max and Abby, the interchangeable cute little kids.
The Aliens: They are all named after sports stars, including the leader Larry Bird (Simon Templeman), his wife Jackie Joyner-Kersey (Toks Olagundoye), and their sons Reggie Jackson (Tim Jo) and Dick Butkus (Ian Patrick). Dick Butt Kiss. Giggle. Snort. When they cry, green goo comes out their ears, and they have a communication device called a Pupar, but it is out of batteries so they can't call their home planet, Zabvron. When they change into their alien form, they sort of look like green fish that swallowed a basketball. They don't eat, they nourish themselves by reading. And they all dress alike, have English accents, and are emotionally distant. Basically, it's like liking in the U.K., but without "footie" stars.
People to Watch This With: Alf, Mork, Marvin, and French Stewart. What ever happened to that guy?
Puns Not Used in the Pilot: "Out of this world." "Take me to your leader." Anything about probes. X-Files jokes. Global domination. Ray guns.
Awesome Movies Jami Gertz Was In: Sixteen Candles, Solarbabies, Less Than Zero, The Lost Boys, Twister.
If You Like This, You'll Love: The Burbs, My Stepmother Is an Alien, Mars Needs Moms, Out of This World.
Required Showdown: There must be a race between the aliens' two favorite modes of transportation: a flying saucer and a golf cart.
Punny Athlete Names They Need to Use: Jumbo Cummings, Gregor Fucka, Saatanan Saatana, Kim Yoo Suk, Eddie Stanky, Dick Felt, Dick Shiner, Dick Mast, Dick Pole, Dick Trickle, Johnny Dickshot, Pete LaCock, Misty Hyman, Destinee Hooker, DeWanna Bonner, Ron Tugnutt, Rusty Kuntz, Capt. Jack Glasscock. (I found all of these names here.)
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Major spoilers, theories and possible answers about the movie lie ahead, so be warned. Fans (and haters) of Prometheus, let me start off by saying: Whether you loved or hated the movie — or reside somewhere in between — the great thing about director Ridley Scott's ambitious new sci fi film is that it has stoked a theorizing fire in fans that I can't remember seeing for a long time. In fact, the last time was probably the ending of Inception. Was the whole thing a dream? Did that top stop spinning or were we totally hearing things?
But the mythology of that movie certainly wasn't as rich and deep as Prometheus, which spans decades thanks to the Alien franchise.
And that's half the fun of movies like this: whether your theory is actually the one in the filmmakers' heads, it's cool just to think about it. (And Google at 1 a.m. And read about Greek mythology to find answers. Officially: obsessed).
Everyone's been searching on TV for the next Lost. Well, I think we found it on the big screen.
So, yesterday I posed 13 questions about the movie that I still want answers to. And you responded with some incredibly thoughtful, interesting theories.
Below are the answers that make the most sense to me (click here to see the full list of amazing theories). Do you agree? Do you have your own theories that blow these out of the water? Share them in the comments section below.
1. What was that nasty DNA tea that the opening scene Engineer drank? "Primordial juice. He knew what he was getting into. He was a seeder of life. Is it dissimilar to the black goo? That is the question." — Vamsee Valetti "The opening scene in Prometheus has me wonder if this was the 'seeding' or terraforming of Earth or the Engineers testing our their new Bioform black goo on a poor bastard from a safe distance. Obviously the Bioform kills Engineers (read: bad times) and the byproduct created life, humans, taxes, reality TV, Justin Bieber (read: very bad times)." — smelly_jelly 2. Was he following orders and sacrificing himself to create life on another planet or had he gone rogue? "I personally think there are a number of philosophically different godlike beings. Some of them sought to create life on other worlds to fulfill their biological manifest destiny, while others sought to destroy the mutant offspring of those others." — Tim Tebow "The big white guys that look like they are sculpted from marble have striking resemblances with humans (More specifically men). The bible states that God created man in his image. Ancient civilizations could have been depicted as Gods and worshiped. The guy in the beginning who did a body shot and went cliff diving in the waterfall that started live was dressed differently than the engineer in the sleep pod who ripped off the robot head. Bodyshot guy arrived in a different ship that was a disc/ saucer (or Halo, if you see where I'm getting at). He could have been part of a good guy faction that wanted to start life for mankind (an Angel). The skeletal suit engineer who wrecked everybody's shit flew a ship that looked like a broken halo, hence demons because demons are described to be fallen angels. Similar appearances but different mentalities." — Palinga 3. Did Weyland hire the most idiotic biologist and geologist on purpose? (Seriously, petting the slimy alien snake-thing? Amateur.)Consensus: No. Just dumb. 4. Is Vickers really a robot? (Sure, she's Weyland's "daughter." But David is his "son.") "No. A robot wouldn't have needed to wake up and do exercises after hypersleeping." — In-search-of-answers 5. Did David revenge-kill Tom Hardy's twin? (Or was he simply driven by child-like curiosity?) "Yes. It was revenge for 'David, why do you need a suit? You doesn't breathing anyway.' David really trying to be 'human-like' and really overreacts when humans notices his differences, you can see it in the briefing scene." — Joss13 6. Why did the black goo turn tattooed Ginger Beard into a Dawn of the Dead-Zac-Snyder zombie? "It didn't. It created a weapon." — Eric Miller 7. Why was the surgery pod configured only for men? Was it meant for Weyland all along? And if it was so expensive, couldn't the creators configure it for men and women?"It was 'very expensive equipment' for Weyland. Seriously, it's obvious. It's just 2090, not 2590." — Joss13 8. Why didn't Shaw tell anyone she just pulled an alien fetus out of herself (arcade-game style)? "It was cut out of the movie. Everyone knew. Ford tried to wake her up and Shaw defies her. After the operation and at the deck, everythingis hunky dory. Even, David acknowledges it with a witty dialogue. Blame the executives for this scenario." — Vamsee Valetti 9. What did David say to the Engineer? "Depends on whether you think he had his own motivations or not but I think he was plotting the whole time and said something to intentionally anger him and set his plan in motion." — Lukeareyou 10. Was he trying to kill his creator (Weyland)? "David understood markings well enough to activate the historical holograms. He knew how to communnicate with an Engineer, and ultimately he was able to help Shaw fly one of their ships. So David knows way more than anyone in the movie. He may already know the answer to Shaw's last question. You can't know how to fly a computer driven ship and not know how to access the computer for specific information." — In-search-of-answers 11. Is Vickers really dead? (See #4) "If Vickers was an android, why didn't she just turn right/left to escape the oncoming spaceship?" — Imaute 12. What exactly is the black goo? (A weapon of mass destruction? An evolutionary accelerator?) "Substance designed to weaponize humans, the purpose for which they were created." — Eric Miller "There may be the case that it is all meant for biological warfare of some type. The way these creatures and xenomorphs utilize hosts in a parasitic/symbiotic fashion could be evidence of that." — Genesis_518 "After thought, I think the black goo uses RNA or DNA already present in the ecosystem.(remember they disturbed bugs in the chamber of the vases when walking). And given in past Alien films the offspring take on more characteristics by breeding in different hosts." — Sawkrumbs 13. And of course, the biggie: Why did the Engineers create humans and now want to destroy them? (Did they begin to feel threatened by their creations? Were they "fixing" the actions of a rogue Engineer? Were they really pissed that humans created nukes — and Jersey Shore?) "Why the Engineers don't like us: Perhaps Earth was not the first experiment or humans turned out to be more less than the desired outcome. Let's say the original Alien with the cute psychotic xenomorphs only came about via a mutation originally started by an infected human host. This infection and mutation may have led to the damn-near demise of the Engineers race. Humans + bioform = xenomorphs. Engineers + bioform = dead Engineer. Which is worse?" — smelly_jelly Follow Michelle on Twitter @HWMichelleLee More: 'Prometheus' Theories: Greek Mythology Offers Answers (SPOILERS) 'Prometheus' Concept Artist Explains How the Movie Fixes 'Alien' 'Prometheus' and Defying the R-Rated Blockbuster Odds ''Prometheus': 13 Questions We Want Answers To — SPOILER-HEAVY
While exploring the universe, Fi and Fum, androids from the planet ZR-3, penetrate a time warp and land on Earth. Anxious to make friends, they invite two earthlings, Alice and Jerry, aboard their saucer-shaped spacecraft. Suddenly, as curious people begin to gather around the alien craft, Fum becomes alarmed and hurriedly activates the launch mechanism. The ship zooms back into space and becomes lost in time. Stories concern their adventures as well as Fi and Fum's attempts to return their passengers to twentieth century Earth.