Infantile as it may be, I really can’t stand the pairing of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. I find Depp’s performances in these instances obnoxious and immune to interest, whilst Burton’s direction is something I’ve never found myself gelling with outside of 1994s Ed Wood. Their distortion of conventional filmmaking is acceptable, but not wholly interesting to me, especially when they churn out such similar feeling films over and over, without much difference between the gothic horrors Burton prides himself on. Still, Edward Scissorhands does at least try something interesting, where it blends these aforementioned gothic notions with a criticism on idyllic suburbia. At least, it would’ve done if it weren’t so boring, and had the message not been fumbled this could have been truly spectacular.
With some spectacular set design throughout, most of the interest comes from the contrast and clash of two wholly different inspirations. Bo Welch’s filtered, colourful suburbia comes to blows with the drab, grey tones of Burton’s direction. They click together rather well, and make for some brash distinction between the two worlds that Edward Scissorhands looks together. Our titular character, played by Depp, comes from the eerie, mysterious castle, invented by the nameless Inventor (Vincent Price). Its build-up in these early moments and flashbacks is far more interesting than anything else the film has to offer.
Depp’s performance is odd, to say the least. He shares the screen with a whole host of recognisable faces, from the aforementioned Price to Alan Arkin, Winona Ryder and Dianne Weist. All are extremely talented, and I have such a great deal of respect for their performances outside of Edward Scissorhands. Arkin, Ryder and Weist have appeared in some of my all-time favourites, whilst Depp brought to life Hunter S. Thompson in such a unique and engaging way, that it’s hard not to love at least some aspects of his abilities as a performer. Here, however, there’s not much spark between such a credible cast.
Absolutely fine, a competent film that doesn’t overstay its welcome, Edward Scissorhands is a time capsule of Burton tropes. Many of these tropes I find myself at odds with, but the inclusion of Vincent Price and the various relatively memorable scenes make the film at least worth the watch. It’s nothing incredible, and I expected much more from a movie where Johnny Depp dressed up as a goth with scissors for hands, but I’m used to the Burton and Depp pairing fumbling more than they can salvage. Just look at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory if you need an example of how wrong their collaborations can go.