Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ed Wood (1994) Review

Ed Wood
Director: Tim Burton
Year: 1994
Country: USA
Edward D. Wood Jr. is known particularly for doing films that are categorized as some of the worst ever made (examples are Plan 9 from Outer Space and Glen or Glenda?). If you've watch this films, or others by him, you know how bad films can get, but at the same time you know how a terrible film can grow with you, becoming an excellent guilty pleasure to watch hundreds of times despite its so horrendous its laughable. Ed Wood had a talent, not to make good films but to make films with heart, even though they were plain bad. At the end, his films were simply watched for mere curiosity or for some good laughs. He is terrible, that's true, but not enough to call him the real worst director of all times. If you compare Ed Wood with some modern day brainless idiots with a cam like Uwe Boll, Friedberg and Seltzerbeg, Michael Bay and Uli Lommel, Ed Wood is great.
And now, director Tim Burton and star Johnny Depp team up once again to create what is probably their best collaboration: Ed Wood, a biopic about the man and his films.

The film tells the story of Edward D. Wood Jr. and how he struggled to make his projects. He was at first a theater producer, whose plays didn't receive any more praise than his latter movies did. But then when the opportunity came to tell the story of his cross-dressing nature he did his best (sadly, it was apparently his best) to direct it. and upon meeting Bela Lugosi, star of popular films like Dracula and White Zombie, he sees his opportunity to become famous. Further on, the film explores his relationships with women, as well with Bela Lugosi, and how he struggled through Hollywood to get his films made, and how badly they were received when they finally came out.

Tim Burton is, or at least once was, a great director (unlike Ed wood). He did films such as Edward Scissorhands and A Nightmare Before Christmas, which were received warmly when they were released. -Nowadays he does some barely decent films-. These films were great, and some have achieved a cult status. But the best of all of them, his greatest and finest piece of work, his ultimate masterpiece, is the Ed Wood biopic.

The film is serious enough to be a drama, and funny enough to be a comedy, so I think this fits into the genre of dramedy or comedy-drama perfectly, aside from being a biographical film.

The performances in this film are excellent in my opinion. Johnny Depp gives one of his best performances (probably not better than Curse of the Black Pearl and Sweeny Todd, but still), and most of the supporting cast also doing an exceptional job. But the best is Martin Landau as the actor Bela Lugosi. Martin Landau gets into his character, becoming the count Dracula in his aging days, in his struggles to be remembered as someone other than a once-great-now-forgotten-junkie-star. His performance was so good that earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor (though I think the award should have gone to Samuel L. Jackson for Pulp Fiction).

The writing for this film is very clever and smart. The film satirizes the world of Hollywood as well as creating a touching story. You can see in the film how they try to make fun of Ed Wood but at the same time making him a lovable character. Just think of the scenes where he is directing: the shot is really terrible, but he still says "Perfect!", that's clearly making fun of him. But despite its humorous nature, the screenplay does try to make Ed look good. He is actually a very sympathetic character, he is just like any other struggling young director who's trying to get his project done. After seeing this, I have not seen Ed Wood the same way I did before: before I saw him as just another idiot trying so hard that the end result was damned awful, but after I now see him as a person who wants nothing else than achieving his dream of becoming a director.
For the other characters, the highlight is again Bela Lugosi. After all, the film also focuses on the fading star. The screenwriters did a good job with this character too, making fun of him in some scenes and at the same time making him sympathetic, though much lesser than Ed.

The rest of the production values are very good too. Tim Burton's direction is excellent, with the appropiate tone and feel, bringing the story into the screen in such an interesting fashion. The music is a little extravagant in some parts, but tolerable, and the rest of it is quite good. The scenery, costumes and make up are also very well done, making the feel of the 1950's come to life.

I won't ever see Ed Wood again as I did before watching this film. It is excellently acted, marvelously written and wonderfully directed, covering all of the other aspects nicely too. If you thought Ed Wood was another idiot with a camera and a few actors think again, he is just another director fighting for his dream, though actually talentless.
My score: 93%
My Recommendation: Recommended, for fans and non-fans of Edward D. Wood Jr.

1 comment:

  1. I love ED WOOD. One of the few Tim Burton movies I like. Great review.