It is amazing that the first time the audience is introduced to Edward Scissorhands, there is already emotion. Scissorhands (Johnny Depp) is seen briefly in silhouette, and then comes forward with depressed eyes. This is the type of shot that goes beyond acting, because the emotion comes from the eyes. You can feel his sadness, as if years of isolation have both terrified him and left him helpless.
It makes scenes later, after he has brought into the suburbs by a friendly, non-judgmental mother of two named Peg (Diane West), completely engrossing. The happiness on Scissorhands face as he finds something he can do to help, grooming pets, trimming hedges, or hair designs, is likewise believable.
Undoubtedly, that is the quality that helped Edwards Scissorhands remain relevant over 20-years later. The non-specified time period, with gaudy single but brightly colored homes, helps the film age gracefully, if not become stronger.
This is inventive and unique fantasy, a true modern fairy tale with that gothic edge only Tim Burton could provide. Obvious parallels to the Frankenstein story can easily be made, but the Frankenstein monster was never allowed to show this level of openness, or even be accepted.
Only through a disastrous series of misunderstandings does the nosey public revolt, and by then Scissorhands is a character wholly invested in the audience. He doesn’t have instilled morals, yet he only tries to do the right thing. He is as sympathetic as any character could be, and not once does this script feel heavy-handed or forced.
Even more impressive, the film never actually makes it clear what Edward Scissorhands is. Created by a gentle, caring inventor (Vincent Price), he has a heart apparently made from a cookie. Everyone simply accepts him as human, even enjoying his company until things take that unfortunate, depressing turn. He is such a strong character, it never matters what he is or how he came to be. It only matters what he does.
A dated MPEG-2 encode is the likely source for this transfers problems, which is a shame, because behind the low bitrate digital compression lies something that could be impressive. Colors are generally strong, with intense saturation that only becomes a problem near the end when everyone wears bright red clothing for Christmas. This leads to some significant bleeding.
There is a slight digital quality that typically remains evident, but is usually under control. Notably, during the talk show appearance, the background behind Scissorhands is loaded with excessive artifacting and noise.
Faces lack a level of crispness, and likewise much detail. Close-ups are prevalent and can be marginally impressive. The make-up on Scissorhands is certainly evident, and the occasional pores do show through. Some irritating ringing is a bother around high contrast edges, readily apparent when Scissorhands first walks into the home.
Black crush is a routine problem despite the impressive depth. Environmental objects lack crisp definition, such as the leaves on all of the hedges. Grain is unobtrusive and kept under control despite the questionable choice of encoders. Source damage is minimal, limited to minor specks.
Fox delivers a rare DTS-HD 4.0 mix for the film, one that shows its age in certain aspects. Danny Elfman’s greats score comes through beautifully, with a wonderful crispness and clean highs free of distortion.
Dialogue is the concern, including some faded, flat, and hollow conversations. It is perfectly audible, but it lacks that lively quality modern films, or even those restored, can carry. There is nothing notably discrete beyond the music, as much of the action scenes (as limited as they are) tend to be maintained by the center channel.
Two separate commentaries are included, one by Tim Burton and one by composer Danny Elfman. A brief featurette from 1990 offers limited information, and trailers for this and other films are included.