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Tim Burton
Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Diane Wiest, Alan Arkin, Vincent Price, Anthony Michael Hall
Writing Credits:
Caroline Thompson

His Scars Run Deep.

An uncommonly gentle young man, who happens to have scissors for hands, falls in love with a beautiful girl.

Box Office:
$20 million.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 4.0
English Dolby Surround 2.0
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 11/8/2005

• Audio Commentary with Director Tim Burton
• Isolated Score and Audio Commentary with Composer Danny Elfman
• Featurette
• Concept Art
• Trailer and TV Spots
• Booklet
• Easter Egg
• Collectible Tin
• Movie Images


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Edward Scissorhands: 15th Anniversary Edition (1990)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 19, 2015)

Prior to the late 1990 release of Edward Scissorhands, I was already pretty firmly in the bag for director Tim Burton. After all, I'd absolutely adored two of his three prior efforts: both 1985's Pee-wee's Big Adventure and 1989's Batman were - and remain - some of my all-time favorite films. I'd also enjoyed Burton's other picture, 1988's Beetlejuice, but not to such a great extent.

As such, it was a given that I'd see Scissorhands but not so definite that I'd enjoy it. The movie seemed to offer a few negatives.

For one, it just looked campy and silly, and it didn't help that Johnny Depp played the lead role. The man held a very different place in popular culture 25 years ago, since he then was known best as a teen-idol who starred on TV's 21 Jump Street; his movie career had not taken off to any significant extent.

So I didn't really relish my viewing of Scissorhands since I thought it'd be something of a mess. In a way, I was right, as the movie does contain significant flaws. However, the end product more than justifies those mistakes, as Scissorhands provided an absolutely beautiful and surprisingly touching experience.

Scissorhands offers an unusual combination of Pinocchio and Beauty and the Beast, as artificially-made Edward (Depp) - whose creator wasn't able to finish him - encounters the real world of suburbia and experiences a wide variety of emotions previously unknown to him. As he slowly becomes involved in this environment, he finds himself placed into more and more problematic situations and complications.

Prior to my first viewing of Scissorhands in 1990, I'd expected it would mostly be a wacky romp without any heart, and much of the movie follows along that path. Its greatest weaknesses stem from its radical inconsistency. The film flits through various topics rapidly and alters mood and tone frequently. At times it feels like Burton wants to cram in so much material that he becomes his own worst enemy.

The pacing seriously suffers due to this attempt. I felt like I'd start to get into a certain mood attached to the film when it would suddenly be disrupted by another element. Clearly some of this was intentional – such as when her aggressive boyfriend Jim (Anthony Michael Hall) breaks up Kim's (Winona Ryder) ice-dancing - but other times seem less purposeful and can be simply clumsy.

However, as frustrated as I get with Scissorhands, I always forgive Burton the flaws because he's never made a movie with more heart. In fact, only Big Fish shows any signs of the sorts of emotion and spirit found here; while I love his pictures, they don't tend to go for that kind of experience.

In Scissorhands, however, we find the closest thing to a sentimental, heart-tugging tale Burton can offer. In no way do I mean to imply that Burton overtly tries to spring the water-works. In fact, it's probably his earnest lack of pretense that makes the piece fly, since I didn't feel as though he tried to manipulate me. Instead, Scissorhands functions as a compelling and moving film just because of the sheer inspired beauty Burton occasionally brings to the screen.

For all its flaws, there are some scenes in Scissorhands that stand as some of the most lovely and poetic I've seen. When Burton focuses on the romantic aspects of the tale, the movie doesn't just fly - it soars. There's a sad sweetness to those segments that absolutely kills me to this day, and those are the parts you'll remember long after the film ends.

Danny Elfman's gorgeous score strongly helps. Frankly, I've never been a huge fan of Elfman's work, as too much of it sounds like variations on the same theme. His music to Scissorhands bears his trademarks, but it boasts a beauty and grandeur that fail to appear in his other scores. As such, the music becomes a nearly-perfect partner with Burton's visuals as they occasionally create one of the most lovely film experiences I've witnessed.

It helps that the movie's acting is generally quite good. At times Depp seems forced and self-conscious as Edward; there's periodically a quality to his work that suggests he tried too hard. However, he also provides some moments of understated elegance. As with a few of the film's clumsy transitions, I think part of what I see as a problem was intentional, since Depp becomes much more natural and fluid in the role and the movie progresses. Overall it's a strong performance that was a revelation from some TV-bimbo.

While the other cast members are good, I've always maintained a particular fondness for Alan Arkin's turn as Bill Boggs, the patriarch in the picture. He presents a delightful and entertaining air of “suburban dad” detachment that never fails to amuse me. He’s totally oblivious to all the problems around him and never quite gets the point, but not in a mean way. From little things like the way he watches out for his wife while he sneaks a drink or the manner in which he utters "damn them all to hell", Arkin provides a virtually perfect turn.

I wish I could say the same for the rest of Edward Scissorhands, but unfortunately it has far too many flaws to ever flirt with perfection. Frankly, I don't think Tim Burton will ever create a film that isn't messy and problematic to some degree, and guess what? I don't care. I'll take work that's ambitious and inspired but frustrating over something fluid, slick and soulless. In Edward Scissorhands, we find some very awkward moments, but Burton produces enough beauty and magic to make the whole experience worthwhile.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Edward Scissorhands appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The transfer offered a mix of highs and lows.

Sharpness was the point of most concern. The majority of the movie appeared reasonably concise and crisp, but some scenes - usually wide or medium shots - seemed overly fuzzy and soft; in fact, a few moments bordered on blurry. Admittedly, these were rare, but they created notable distractions. Moiré effects and jagged edges caused no problems, and I noticed only a little edge enhancement. In the realm of source flaws, a few specks and nicks popped up, but most of the film lacked any form of defect.

Colors largely appeared lush and rich, especially some of the deeper tones like velvety reds. Occasionally some of the brighter hues looked less than ideal and could be somewhat heavy, but for the most part colors were well-reproduced. Black levels seemed dark and solid, and contrast was good. Shadow detail looked smooth and appropriately opaque but without any excessive density. All of this added up to a “B-”.

Also positive was the Dolby Digital 4.0 soundtrack of Edward Scissorhands. The soundfield appeared moderately restricted. The forward speakers offered a modest but nicely broad spectrum in which we heard a fair amount of ambient audio from the sides; it remained gentle at most times, though some useful sound - like the snipping of Edward's blades – could pop up there. The surrounds mainly provided light reinforcement of the forward speakers. Music and some effects appeared from the rears, but this was a very forward-oriented soundtrack.

The quality was good. Dialogue always sounded crisp and natural, and I discerned no problems related to intelligibility; the speech appeared nicely-recorded. Except for a couple of gunshots toward the end, effects were clear and clean without any distortion, and they also demonstrated reasonable dimensionality.

Through the film, the music appeared bright and dynamic. I thought Danny Elfman’s score sounded lively and added warmth to the mix. The audio lacked enough ambition for a grade above a “B”, but it seemed satisfactory for this story.

A small roster of extras rounds out the disc. First up is a screen-specific audio commentary from director Tim Burton. He chats about the story’s origins and inspirations, casting and the work of the actors, visual design, sets and locations, and general technical issues.

Burton’s taken a lot of abuse over the years for this commentary, which many regard as an unadulterated bore. To be sure, Burton goes silent too often, and this leaves a lot of dead air. Nonetheless, he chimes in with some good material along the way. I wouldn’t call this a great – or even good – commentary, but it’s moderately informative and definitely better than some folks say.

Next we get a commentary/isolated score. This one presents information from composer Danny Elfman along with the music. As often is the case with these kinds of tracks, some speech covers a few music cues; I'd guess that these small blemishes occurred due to contractual obligations. Most of the score plays uninterrupted, but be aware that you can't get a perfect music track from the DVD. One disappointment: the score is presented in Dolby Surround 2.0 and doesn't sound nearly as good as the 4.0 track for the regular soundtrack.

As for the commentary, Elfman discusses what he attempted to do with the music and he also relates some facts about his career as a whole. Elfman adds some insight to the experience, and although some fairly long pauses between comments can occur, his statements were interesting and valuable.

The rest of the supplements are much more ordinary. A 1990 featurette appears; it runs for four minutes and 35 seconds. This program is a little more interesting than most promotional pieces, but not by much; it combines a few film clips, some behind the scenes shots and a good number of interview snippets. For its length, the show isn't bad, but it seems very ordinary nonetheless.

In the Sound Bites area, we get more interviews with the participants. We find clips from Burton, Elfman, actors Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Alan Arkin, Vincent Price, and writer Caroline Thompson. The segments last between 23 and 91 seconds, and the section totals about eight minutes.

These interviews are from the same source as the ones used in the featurette. In fact, a few of them repeat statements heard in that program. In keeping with the spirit of that offering, the sound bites are pretty dull and uninformative; don't expect to discover any gems of insight here. Navigation is frustrating as well; since no "play all" option appears, you' ll have to return to the "Sound Bites" menu repeatedly just to work through the limited information.

Another area provides some advertising. We find two US trailers plus one US TV spot and two Spanish TV promos. One comment: don't watch these – or anything else, actually - unless you've already seen the movie; all of these sources reveal far too much information about the story.

Finally, Concept Art offers just what it states. We get six drawings, mainly of Edward. It ain't much, but it's there! The disc’s booklet presents a few comments about Tim Burton.

Speaking of "not much", I found a very minor Easter egg. If you click "down" from the "Concept Art" listing, a "scissors" icon will light. Click it to find a "special thanks to." roster. (Hey, I said it wasn't much!)

Finally, this release comes in a Collectible Tin. Inside this set, we get six cards with film images on them. Whoopee! For those minor trinkets, you’ll spend an extra $5 over the cost of the DVD alone.

If you compare all the comments about picture/sound to those I wrote in my review of the 10th Anniversary Edition of Scissorhands, you’ll find them to be identical. You know why? Because except for the “Collectible Tin” and movie pictures, the packages are exactly the same!

I don’t simply mean that they used the same transfer – it’s also the same disc. Only the new packaging indicates this is the 15th Anniversary release; the DVD itself still refers to the 10th anniversary!

That goes beyond cheesy in my book. If you put out a new version of a movie, make it a new version.

I still love the film, though. Despite some serious flaws, Edward Scissorhands remains a minor classic just because of the sheer loveliness of so much of the film. While it's too inconsistent to be his best film overall, Tim Burton will probably never equal the heights of this movie. The DVD offers generally solid picture and sound plus some bland but decent supplements.

If you don’t already own the old Scissorhands DVD, go ahead and pick up the DVD-only version. With a list price of $15, it’s nice and cheap. I see no reason to drop an extra $5 for the “Collectible Tin” edition. Don’t bother with this set if you have the prior DVD, though. They’re literally identical, so you’ll get no form of “upgrade” here.

To rate this film, visit the original review of EDWARD SCISSORHANDS

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