The Ruination Of Johnny Depp

So I was looking at this picture of Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter from the latest Tim Burton weird-fest Alice In Wonderland when it suddenly struck me: Burton has ruined this excellent actor. Of course, Depp has always specialized in strange characters. His first films - Edward Scissorhands, Benny and Joon, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and Ed Wood- definitely contained some bizarre characterizations from him. But what made these performances so special was the humanity and depth that Depp instilled in each one; they were fun characters, but they also had a recognizable center full of heart and warmth. As Depp moved into the second phase of his career, he branched out into difficult roles like the ones in Donnie Brasco, Blow, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, andFinding Neverland. These were not cartoons or caricatures; they were adult roles that tackled complex subjects. At this point, it seemed, Depp was transcending his teeny-boppper beginnings and growing into a respectable and powerful actor. Unfortunately, Depp has continued his creative alliance with Burton, whose films have become increasingly removed from reality. In turn, this seems to have affected Depp's performances, both in and out of Burton's universe. In the last five years, Depp has made the following films: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Public Enemies, and Alice in Wonderland. In only one - Public Enemies- could anyone argue that Depp played a recognizable human character that wasn't a complete cartoon. The rest of those performances are shallow, one-note performances lacking in the depth that made some of his earlier craziness so enduring. Even his Jack Sparrow characterization, much vaunted by a stunned public at the time, is lunacy without any real point. From everything I've seen thus far in the promotional materials for Alice In Wonderland, it's clear that Depp is returning yet again to the annoying, pointlessly-eccentric histrionics that have marred recent performances like his widely-hated Willy Wonka. The stupid makeup, the wigs, the lisp, the precious mannerisms ... they all indicate another wasted effort from this once-promising actor. His decline has been like watching someone go through Alzheimer's; they erode until they are no longer recognizable. I sincerely hope that this latest teaming with Burton will be the last one for a while. Depp needs to go back to the basics of creating a human character with whom an audience can identify and relate. Costumes and mannerisms are nice supports, but only in service to a character. They shouldn't bethe character. Depp's early career promised a wealth of dramatic potential, but that promise has been wasted playing in Burton's unrealistic sandbox. It's like dealing with a family member who is addicted to drugs; you know what's best for them, and you only hope they can pull themselves away from the addiction wasting their best years. Johnny, Tim Burton is wasting your best years. Let's see what you can really accomplish before it's too late.

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All you need to know is that I love movies and baseball. I write about both on a temporary medium known as the Internet. Twitter: @rayderousse or @unfilteredlens1 Go St. Louis Cardinals!