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Edward Scissorhands
1990 - PG-13 - 105 Mins.
Director: Tim Burton
Producer: Tim Burton and Denise Di Novi
Written By: Tim Burton and Caroline Thompson
Starring: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, and Vincent Price as The Inventor
Review by: John Ulmer
Official Site: N/A
Tim Burton is a brilliant visual director but with 'Edward Scissorhands' he managed to combine these talents with classic storytelling. 'Scissorhands' is his best film, abandoning the slight characterizations and special effects-driven spectacle of the (albeit hugely enjoyable) 'Batman' and serving up a convincingly detailed left-of-center fairytale romance.

The story is a fairly basic Frankenstein-esque tale of alienation and the empowerment of love. Edward (Johnny Depp) is a lonely man with scissors for hands, crafted by an eccentric inventor (magnificently played by Vincent Price in flashbacks) prior to his death. After Edward witnesses the death of his creator he stays locked away inside his mansion, which is located atop an otherwise cheerfully picture-perfect neighborhood community.

Then one day a nosy neighbor (Dianne Wiest) decides to investigate, and ends up bringing Edward into town. He falls in love with a local girl (Winona Ryder), and witnesses first-hand the joys of life, until he accidentally injures a young boy and becomes the enemy of the overreacting town. Soon everyone is out to get him for no good reason – the climax is beautifully done and, because Burton has allowed his characters to expand so much, it's also very touching.

The movie is decidedly odd but in a good way – the only problem is that it is occasionally quite shallow. Burton's never been as good at telling believable stories as he has mythical, exciting fables (see 'Sleepy Hollow' for a similar example). Even Burton's 'Big Fish' – arguably his most story-oriented film of his career – was somewhat shady. The mix of screwball dark comedy, horror, drama, romance and elements and familiar happenings of other genres results in a very different combination. You can literally "feel" the vibe of this picture, its heart pulsing black blood.

The movie was a childhood project of Burton, who drew sketches of Edward as a boy and used to alienate himself from his hostile surroundings by taking refuge in fictional stories involving the scissor-handed hero. As a result, Burton's affinity for the subject is evident – it's clear that he takes this entire project very seriously.

The acting is marvelous – Depp's performance is one of his finest. Depp has formed a Scorsese/De Niro-like companionship with Burton over the years, teaming up for various pictures (including 'Sleepy Hollow' and the upcoming 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'). He's always had fun relishing his over-the-top and absurdly dark roles. In 'Scissorhands' he gives the equivalent of a Travis Bickle – a man who feels shunned by society, only to open his heart and have it feel crushed again. This is possibly one of the reasons the film is able to affect its audience so well to this very day. The tale does not grow old because the values are timeless.

'Edward Scissorhands,' despite its occasional flaws, finally gave Burton the chance to unleash his talents as a visual filmmaker along with a pretty solid story mold. The result is a sublimely dark rom-com-drama that never conforms to the typical genre clichés and becomes quite a unique film in its own little world.
Movie Guru Rating
An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant. An important film.  A substantive artistic achievement.  Resonant.
  4.5 out of 5 stars

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