So many Tim Burton movies have great ideas and beautiful visuals, but somehow go a little flat in the telling. For example, BIG FISH had some great things to look at, along with a some fun performances...but in the end it was too pleased with itself to make an emotional impact and the ending was muddled. BATMAN was a visual and acting delight as well, but had absolutely no suspense because the action sequences were dull...it was clearly not what interested Burton, but it meant the movie never got the pulse racing. SLEEPY HOLLOW, with another quirky Johnny Depp performance, again never achieved any real suspense because it was too busy dwelling on cool sets and sweeping camera angles. Burton is the master of visual flair, but he sometimes lets the "fun" of a good story get forgotten in all the fussiness.
ED WOOD, I'm very happy to say, does not fall into this trap. It's one of his best two or three films (I'm thinking EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and the new CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY belong up there too.) He's got the help of telling a story packed with off-the-wall (but real) characters, just like he loves. Ed Wood, universally acknowledged as the worst director ever, is brilliantly played by Depp. He brings an ebullience to the part, a joyful cluelessness, that really makes it work, and explains how Wood didn't quite get the fact that he had NO TALENT!
We basically follow Wood and his troupe through the making of his three "greatest" films...GLEN OR GLENDA, BRIDE OF THE MONSTER and PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. We see how Wood attracted investors, how every scene only needed to be shot once, because it was "perfect" and how Wood's personal obsession with cross-dressing and Angora sweaters affected his "art." But mostly we see his funny and very touching relationship with Bela Lugosi, a sad old man passed the end of his career and near the end of his life.
Unlike so many Burton films, we actually feel real pain and emotion from the brilliant Martin Landau as Lugosi. His pain at being a "has-been" and a drug addict is palpable. His thick Hungarian accent drips with the pain and the self-awareness. Lugosi is enfeebled, but his mind is always lively enough to appreciate what a wretch he has become. Wood is just so thrilled to be close to a "star" that he creates the most ludicrous dialogue and characters for Lugosi...but eventually we see that Wood truly sees Lugosi as a friend too. A hero. Their scenes together are always interesting...and Landau steals every moment of the film he's in. His Oscar win was richly deserved.
If you're a fan of Woods' bad movies, you'll really like the incredibly faithful reproductions of scenes from his films, particularly PLAN 9. It's obvious that while Burton, Depp and the rest certainly realize how bad the movies were, they also understand how making those films was a small break from the sad realities of life for the crew that made them.
As I said...Depp is very good in the film. He's a huge bundle of energy and vocal tics. His head is constantly nodding and shaking at the same time, as he's forced to compromise this "ideals" again and again and again. I've heard it suggested that he should have been nominated for an Oscar for the part...but as much as I like him in the role, I can't quite agree. It's a very mannered performance...trying to be realistic and also evoke some of the bad acting of the films that Woods made. In later life, Woods became a big alcoholic and the maker of soft-core adult movies. He obviously had a dark side, but Depp has pretty much chosen to leave that out. It's not a BAD choice, but it limits our connection with Woods as a real person just a little.
The supporting cast is very good. Bill Murray is droll, and also has the single best line in the movie. That line is the word "Sure." You'll have to see the film to get it, but you'll know just what I mean. Sarah Jessica Parker and Patricia Arquette are quite fine.
The film, in lovely black and white, is a humdinger. It's rated "R" for some outbursts of very coarse language (pretty much from Lugosi) which are very funny, but in general, the movie is not for kids. And if you can possibly see PLAN 9 before ED WOOD, I would recommend it. It gives you all the context you need! Enjoy!!!
**** out of **** Often called the worst film director of all time - with his films also given the privilege of being regarded as some of the crappiest ever produced - it would seem that Edward D. Wood Jr. would have no reason to be optimistic. Yet, played here by Johnny Depp, he has nothing to do but smile. Certainly a whacky, peculiar individual; Ed believed his area of expertise to be filmmaking, even though he didn't know jack-squat on the subject. He never went to film … more
"Honey, what if I'm wrong? What if I just don't got it?" "Ed, it was only one review." "Orson Welles was only 26 when he made Citizen Kane. I'm already 30." "Ed, you're still young. This is the time in your life when you're supposed to be struggling." "I know. But I'm scared it's not going to get any better than this." … more
A very offbeat movie indeed. Johnny Depp is quite adept at portraying this astonishingly talentless film director. The oddball characters that Martin Landau and Bill Murray play are quite entertaining as well. The black and white setting works well with the mood of the film.The twists and turns that Depp encountes in getting this film releases are indded comical. Although the formula tires just a little bit towards the end, the overall impression is a good one. Worthy of a viewing.
Edward D. Wood Jr. was an actor writer-director-producer, occasionally in drag, who combined meager bursts of talent with an undying optimism to create some of the most bizarrely memorable "B" movies to ever come out of Tinseltown. Though Wood died in obscurity as an alcoholic in 1978, his films have been considered cult classics for years.
He is consistently voted the worst director who ever lived. You would think this an odd subject, but director Tim Burton harnesses the undying hopefulness that made Wood such a character. Shot in black and white, just like Wood's creations, this stylized, witty production captures the poetic absurdity of Wood's films and his unconventional life.
Burton's recreation of Wood's wonderfully awfulPlan 9 from Outer Spacelooks much better than the original low-budget quickie. Burton tackled an extremely strange subject matter for a biopic, but Wood is presented as naive almost to the point of delusion, so the story works. The pace sags in the middle, as the weirdness starts to wear thin, but Depp proves himself an adroit actor, even while wearing angora and a blonde wig. Wood's unconventional repertoire company is faithfully reproduced, including an Academy Award-winning Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi.
Landau is pathetic, droll, and charismatic as the elderly junkie who made his last screen appearances in Wood's films.--Rochelle ...