Every Tim Burton Movie, Ranked From 'Beetlejuice' to 'Batman'
Whether he's reinvigorating washed-up superheroes, exploring the lives of misfit artists or proving that there's still a place for stop-motion animation in today's Hollywood, Tim Burton has had quite an impressive career. Now he's tackling one of his biggest challenges yet, as he remakes the animated Disney classic "Dumbo" for 21st Century audiences. Read on to find out how we rank that remake and the other 19 films in Burton's resume.
20. 'Planet of the Apes' (2001)
Recent years have shown us that it's perfectly possible to remake the original "Planet of the Apes" in a way that both honors the original and pushes the franchise in bold new directions. So what happened here? This 2001 reboot delivered much better ape makeup, but literally everything else about it fell light years short.
19. 'Alice in Wonderland' (2010)
You can blame this 2010 film for helping spark the current trend of live-action remakes of animated Disney classics. "Alice in Wonderland" may have raked in tons of cash, but sometimes there's no accounting for good taste. This bloated, annoying mess of a fantasy epic hardly measures up to the original.
18. 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' (2005)
Burton and frequent partner Johnny Depp have given us some great films over the years. This is not one of them. The duo managed to take a beloved all-ages classic and turn it into a creepy, off-putting mess. Sure, it's technically more faithful to the book in some ways, but we'll take Gene Widler's Willy Wonka over Depp's any day.
17. ‘Dark Shadows’ (2012)
The highest praise critics were able to muster for this big-budget remake of the classic soap opera is that it looked fantastic. But its beauty only runs skin deep. We all needed a long break from Burton/Depp collaborations after this one.
16. 'Mars Attacks!' (1996)
You have to admire Burton's chutzpah for so doggedly working to make a blockbuster movie about an old series of novelty trading cards. But as various critics have pointed out, the end result plays like the kind of lousy B-movie Ed Wood might have churned out. Even the once groundbreaking special effects fail to stand the test of time.
15. 'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children' (2016)
After a string of underwhelming releases, Burton had the good sense to tackle something very much in his wheelhouse for this 2016 release. Sort of an X-Men movie by way of YA fantasy, "Miss Peregrine's" mostly makes up for its undercooked story with a strong sense of visual style.
14. 'Big Eyes' (2014)
Burton has long shown a fascination with misfit and outcast artists in his work, which made this biopic of painter Margaret Keane a natural choice. The end result is no "Ed Wood," but it is a fascinating glimpse at a woman fighting for the professional respect she deserves, and a film that goes against the familiar visual grain of most Burton movies.
13. 'Sleepy Hollow' (1999)
Back before Hollywood studios strip-mined every fairy tale and piece of folklore, "Sleepy Hollow" showed us how to turn a classic American story into a lavish blockbuster. Burton's keen visual eye helps elevate this expanded take on "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." It's funny, stylish and downright terrifying in equal measure. Plus, you can't go wrong with Christopher Walken as the Headless Horseman.
12. 'Tim Burton's Corpse Bride' (2005)
The world can always use more lavish stop-motion animated movies, and Burton is thankfully always happy to deliver. "Corpse Bride" doesn't just look great, it packs in a winning blend of macabre humor and a sweetly sentimental love story. Beneath the ghastly trappings, it's basically a classic Disney movie through and through.
11. 'Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street' (2007)
We're hard-pressed to think of a musical more suited for the tag-team trio of Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, and Helena Bonham Carter. The underrated "Sweeney Todd" is a grim -- but very entertaining -- look at a Victorian London barber who becomes a mass murderer in his pursuit of revenge. Depp even proved he has some pretty decent pipes on this one.
10. 'Big Fish' (2003)
Throw "Forrest Gump" and "The Princess Bride" in a blender and filter them through Burton's unique lens and this is the result. This comedic fantasy offers a heartfelt look at a father and son trying to reconnect through the power of story. Sometimes earnest, family-friendly Tim Burton is the best kind of Tim Burton.
9. 'Dumbo' (2019)
Burton returns to the circus in this surprisingly imaginative and emotional live action adaptation of the animated Disney classic. Since the original was only an hour long, Burton has had to add much to this new story, namely a bunch of human characters (namely an evil circus impresario played by Michael Keaton who wants to swallow up Dumbo’s modest act). As always, it’s a visual feat, particularly during the many circus sequences (he even manages to fit in an ode to “Pink Elephants on Parade”) but it should really be commended for its sly humor, satirical underpinnings (the “destination circus” that seeks to immortalize Dumbo feels like a creepy Disneyland) and lovely ecological message.
8. 'Frankenweenie' (2012)
Even as Burton struggled to recapture that old magic in live-action form, this 2012 animated movie proved he still has the knack for crafting great animation. Far more than being yet another take on the story of Franksstein, this delightful, stylish animated movie is a testament to the unbreakable bond between a boy and his dog.
7. 'Pee-wee's Big Adventure' (1985)
It's impressive just how fully formed Burton's voice and visual eye were in his 1985 directorial debut. This whimsical comedy sends the titular hero on a road trip of a lifetime as he attempts to track down his stolen bicycle. It's an adventure that still holds up more than three decades later.
6. 'Beetlejuice' (1988)
Burton barely had two nickels to rub together making this kooky 1988 comedy, yet he still managed to craft one of the most visually unique comedies of the decade. Beetlejuice is a demented supernatural comedy unlike any other, and it's one that helped launch Michael Keaton into super-stardom.
5. 'Batman' (1989)
Before this movie came along, most moviegoers thought of Batman as that silly fellow who surfs in full costume and dances the Batusi. This lush, grim blockbuster put the "dark" back in Dark Knight. Jack Nicholson's Joker was a scene-stealer, but Michael Keaton rarely gets the credit he deserves for his portrayal of the haunted, slightly demented Bruce Wayne.
4. 'The Nightmare Before Christmas' (1993)
Burton didn't technically direct this 1993 animated film, but his DNA is all over this kooky Halloween/Christmas mash-up. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a truly delightful blend of horror, romance and comedy, as well as being one of the most visually revolutionary animated films of the past several decades.
3. 'Batman Returns' (1992)
Tim Burton delivered a worthy (and arguably better) followup to 1989's “Batman." This sequel recaptured much of what made the original great, but bolstered it with a great lineup of villains and a far better love story. If only we had gotten the Catwoman spinoff that was promised...
2. 'Edward Scissorhands' (1990)
Many Burton movies feature love stories of one sort or another, but no tale of doomed romance remains as beautifully haunting as the one in "Edward Scissorhands." This modern fairy tale showcases Burton's unique voice as well as any, and it also features what may well by the best performance of Johnny Depp's prolific career.
1. 'Ed Wood' (1994)
It's ironic that a biopic about a man widely regarded as one of the worst directors in Hollywood history winds up being the best movie in Burton's career. Burton's greatest asset with this film, even beyond his terrific sense of style, is his emphasis on leaving cynicism behind and celebrating the titular artist for what he tried to give the world. This is a movie about a group of misfits briefly finding meaning with each other, and that's the type of story Burton tells better than anyone.