Auteurism is no guarantee of quality- only of characterfulness. Even Ingmar Bergman made stinkers- in fact quite a lot of them. Burton's record is very mixed. Edward Scissorhands is a little too emo for me and Beetlejuice too busy and hyperactive. I'm not fond of superheroes, so don't expect me to be much of a fan of the Batman movies. Mars Attacks- which the critics were lukewarm about- amuses me greatly.
Burton's talent is for telling small, strange, piquant stories- he's an Edward Gorey of the big screen- and very big budgets do him no favours; his ideas get swamped by the scenery. Sleepy Hollow, good as it is, would have been even better if it had been cheaper and shorter. His masterpieces are small films: Ed Wood and the Corpse Bride- both of them as close to perfection as a film can be. I saw The Corpse Bride for the first time last night. What a charmer! Who'd have thought decomposition could be so funny, or the reunion of a little boy with his grandfather's corpse so moving?
Next up is the new Alice in Wonderland. This is a sacred text for me and I'm nervous. Putting Burton and Carroll together might seem like a marriage made in heaven - but the same could have been said about Burton and Dahl- and look what a mismatch that turned out to be. Yoke Burton to a writer with an imagination as strong and quirky as his own and he fights for dominance. I've seen the trailer. It looks amazing, but the story- something about the Red Queen taking over Wonderland- sounds really, really stupid. We'll see. One thing's certain; even if it's a very bad film it will be bad in a way only one man could possibly have achieved.