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From Tim Burton, acclaimed director of BIG FISH, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, and BATMAN, and the producer of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, comes the hilarious, true-life story of the wackiest filmmaker in Hollywood history, Ed Wood! Johnny Depp (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL, CHOCOLAT, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS) stars as the high-spirited movieman who refuses to let unfinished scenes, terrible reviews, and hostile studio executives derail his big-screen dreams. With an oddball collection of showbiz misfits, Ed takes the art of bad moviemaking to an all-time low! The all-star cast features Bill Murray (LOST IN TRANSLATION, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS), Sarah Jessica Parker (TV's SEX AND THE CITY), Patricia Arquette (STIGMATA, LITTLE NICKY), and an Academy Award(R)-winning performance by Martin Landau (Best Supporting Actor, 1994) as Bela Lugosi. Hailed by critics everywhere, this laugh-packed comedy hit is sure to entertain everyone!
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In this film, shot in perfectly suited black and white, Johnny Depp plays Ed Wood in the greatest performance of his career. Depp shines as the eccentric director, and truly brings the character to life in a way that genuinely makes the audience like and appreciate Ed. The other towering figure in the movie is that of Martin Landau (who deservedly won an Oscar for this performance) as Ed's friend Bela Lugosi, the great man of gothic horror films. Landau is mesmerizing as Lugosi, and people familiar with Wood's films will be amazed by the uncanny accuracy of his performance. Through the relationship of these two men, the audience really comes to appreciate Wood's fundamental humanity. I can't say enough about Landau's performance. Rarely has there ever been another biopic performance as accurate or powerful.
The film traces Ed's film career from his personal statement about angora in "Glen or Glenda," through the "Bride of the Monster" debacle (the scene of Bela flailng with the unmotorized octopus alone is worth the price of the DVD), and finally to his opus, the film for which he will always be remembered, "Plan Nine From Outer Space." The sets throughout the film are absolutely perfect, and the interesting thing is how Director Tim Burton made the "Wood" sets look perfectly shoddy, without making them into a parody. The lighting and makeup are also perfect (Rick Baker also won an Oscar for makeup) and greatly enhance the period feel of the film.
Tim Burton will always have a special place in my heart for thoughtfully casting original Wood regulars Paul Marco, Conrad Brooks and Gregory Walcott in small roles. That was a greatly appreciated and gentlemanly touch.
The DVD was definitely worth the wait. There are several "making of" features (one featuring Johnny Depp in drag in a meat packing plant), the original trailer, commentary from several principals of the film, and a delightful (and extremely strange) music video, directed by, of all people, Toni Basil.
This is a great movie, and from what I have read about Wood, is generally quite accurate. The entire supporting cast is fabulous (particularly Bill Murray), and they truly manage to capture the essence of the Ed Wood experience. This is suitable for all audiences except young children. There are some language issues, and some issues of confused sexuality (crossdressing; angora fetish) that are not suitable for pre-teens.
Ed Wood finally got the recognition he deserved; I only wish he were around to enjoy it. He died in poverty in 1978. I recommend this film without any reservations. Thank you, Tim Burton.
ED WOOD: Depp's lovable, loopy Wood is more used car salesman than artist; all ambition and enthusiasm, but devoid of even an atom of talent. He's a tireless and effective cheerleader, though, and when we see him watch every take with wide-eyed wonder, we understand that what drives him drives every artist --as Wood himself realizes when he meets Orson Welles and discovers that they share similar problems as "filmmakers."
The center of gravity of the film, however, is the genuinely affectionate friendship that develops between Wood and Lugosi--the latter washed-up, desiccated, addicted to morphine, yet still attempting to retain some dignity. "Ed Wood" succeeds both as "biopic" parody and as a fond, ultimately touching tribute from a visionary filmmaker to a pair of casualties of their own vision.
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