Is there anyone who doesn’t like Johnny Depp? Obviously the level to which your affections may run will vary dramatically, and likely be dependent upon your fondness for the seemingly never-ending stream of Pirates of the Caribbean films. But, it would surely be rare to find someone who actually dislikes everyone’s favourite Keith Richards impersonator… wouldn’t it?
Interestingly, if you take out the Pirates films, Depp has never truly been a box office banker. Alice In Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are exceptions, although their success is more to do with Tim Burton and the classical nature of the stories than any other factors. No, Depp has rarely had a hit and has more often than not had a miss; even the actually-pretty-good The Lone Ranger and Transcendence are considered financial flops. Perhaps then, Depp is an actor who should be judged on performance rather than result? This new Blu-ray collection presents a case for both the prosecution and the defence.
Of the four films included, it is the two with regular collaborator Burton that are the most troublesome. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) is an indulgently macabre treat that assaults the senses through lavish visuals and almost pantomime performances, but like any treat it becomes a little too sickly after you’ve consumed nearly all of it. Dark Shadows (2012), on the other hand, feels like a film that a student would make if they were trying, and ultimately failing, to imitate Burton’s unique style. With a script that needed at least one more pass and scenes that linger, outstaying they’re already lukewarm welcome, Dark Shadows is a tedious affair from which no-one in the esteemed cast, that also includes Eva Green and Michelle Pfeiffer, emerges from with any credit.
The two interesting films are The Astronaut’s Wife (1999) and Don Juan DeMarco (1994). The former is an interesting sci-fi thriller tinged with elements of horror that demonstrates Depp’s often forgotten subtlety as an actor. The latter taps into the same quality he showed in Benny & Joon and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape; a quiet depiction of a lovable misfit in a misunderstanding world and will remind you of Depp’s inherent early career likeability.
Only the most ardent Depp fan will truly enjoy all this collection. With two of Depp and Burton’s worst films and two others that are more eclectic in style, it is hard to know who this new release is for. If you really want to broaden your Johnny Depp cinematic knowledge, perhaps Ed Wood or Donnie Brasco would be more rewarding? Failing that, revisit The Lone Ranger and Transcendence; they’re actually pretty good.
JOHNNY DEPP COLLECTION / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: JOHNNY DEPP, EVA GREEN, HELENA BONHAM CARTER, CHARLIZE THERON, MARLON BRANDON / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW