Blu-ray Review: Edward Scissorhands (25th Anniversary Edition)

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A quarter-century after its original theatrical release, director Tim Burton's dark fairy tale Edward Scissorhands has lost none of its romantic charm. Now, to commemorate the 25th anniversary, 20th Century Fox has reissued Scissorhands with a new transfer struck from a 4K restoration. This film marked the start of Burton and star Johnny Depp's long-standing collaboration and it easily qualifies as one of their best. The simple story of Edward, a man-child created by an elderly inventor (Vincent Price), who was inexplicably given scissors in the place of hands. It's a partly comedic, partly surrealist riff on Frankenstein.

Screenwriter Caroline Thompson crafted the story with Burton, focusing at first on the townspeople's initial wariness of Edward, their eventual acceptance, and lastly their fear of what they simply don't understand. The production design is a character all itself, with the Boggs family's suburb being a relatively non-malicious parody of a typical, middle-class American neighborhood. Avon lady Pegg Boggs discovers the orphaned Edward in the deceased inventor's foreboding mansion. She's rather hilariously attempting to expand her customer base by visiting the towering home, but immediately develops a maternal bond with Edward.

It doesn't take long for the formerly secluded Edward to emerge from his shell once he's staying at the Boggs' house, especially after demonstrating his skillful scissor work—turning everyone's shrubbery into spectacular topiaries and styling the hair of people and pets alike. He also develops a powerful crush on Pegg's daughter Kim (Winona Ryder), who's dating the boorish Jim (Anthony Michael Hall). Meanwhile, there's a light commentary on religious fanaticism when the local holy roller (O-Lan Jones) begins prophesizing that Edward has been sent by the devil. Nothing about the plot of Scissorhands is especially surprising. In fact, it's downright predictable in almost every way. But the attention to detail within every element of the production and the overriding sense of inviting weirdness make the whole thing irresistible.

That said, maybe Scissorhands also marked the beginning of the erosion of Burton's early promise. While he has certainly made good films (even great ones, i.e. Ed Wood) since, Scissorhands seemed to trigger a bit of "whimsy overload" following the carte blanche afforded by his early crowd-pleasing hits (Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, and especially Batman). His vision is fully realized and well balanced throughout Edward Scissorhands, but it wasn't long before some Burton's singular style became the focal point of his films (this has generally worked well in his animated projects, but sometimes has hindered the development of substance in his live-action works).

Right upfront it should be stated: I've not seen the initial Blu-ray release of Edward Scissorhands from several years back. I'd seen very mixed reactions to it and decided to avoid it. The new transfer looks excellent and showcases Stefan Czapsky's cinematography very well (Czapsky would go on to shoot Batman Returns and the stunningly evocative black-and-white Ed Wood). Here the pastel outfits, brilliant blue skies, and colorfully tacky houses pop from the screen, contrasting beautifully with the gothic design of the inventor's mansion and the dark tones of the film's climax. The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA 4.0.

Unfortunately, special features here are the same as on the previous Edward Scissorhands Blu-ray: separate feature-length commentaries by Burton and composer Danny Elfman and a short EPK "making of" piece.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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