I love Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, but I think these two guys need some time apart. Dark Shadows is the 8th collaboration for the quirky pair and it’s far from their best work.
Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands and Sweeney Todd are in the top tier of Burton/Depp flicks; with the rest just being mildly amusing thanks to Burton’s genius and Depp’s charisma.
Sadly, Dark Shadows is the latest of the “rest”.
Before we hide in the shadows, lets sink our teeth into some trailers.
TRAILERS ATTACHED TO DARK SHADOWS:
Gangster Squad- I’m a sucker for film noir gangster movies. Especially when you have as good a cast (Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin) as Squad has. Penn’s Mickey Cohen could be as great as DeNiro’s Al Capone was in The Untouchables. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Argo- The story behind the 1979 Iran hostage crisis should make for a great movie. Ben Affleck is slowly becoming an actor/director/writer/producer to be reckoned with. I hope this is as good as The Town. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
That’s My Boy- Just when you thought Adam Sandler couldn’t sink any lower than last year’s Razzie “winner” Jack & Jill, he comes back with this garbage. The only positive I got from the trailer was the fact that Sandler is returning to his R rating roots. : Sell My Stock!
Snow White & The Huntsman- I expect Charlize Theron to steal every scene in this movie as the evil queen. This is slowly becoming one of my must sees for this Summer. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Frankenweenie- Tim Burton takes his love for a dog and mashes it up with his love of horror films. The trailer looks impressive and I like the idea of Burton remaking a short film he made back in 1984. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
NOW ON WITH THE MAIN EVENT…
Dark Shadows is based on a popular soap opera from the late 60′s that dealt with vampires, witches and other things that go bump in the night. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (who also produced the movie) were rabid fans of the show, so it’s no surprise that they would be involved with the big screen adaptation.
The film starts out in the year 1752, young Barnabas Collins and his rich parents, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Depp) practically owns the small fishing town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and a playboy. He makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique, who is not just some ordinary girl. She is an evil witch. Angelique (Eva Green) dooms him to a fate worse than death by turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The current dysfunctional Collins family also have their own dark secrets, including a governess who reminds Barnabas of a past love.
The movie really shines early on as a gothic horror tale. It also shines later on as a wacky comedy. The problem is, the two genres never meld the way Burton thinks they should. Is it a movie that shows a family’s horrible curse or is it a fish-out-of-water plot? The scenes of Barnabas dealing with early 70′s pop culture are highly amusing.
Depp once again plays dress up and he is a pleasure to watch. He’s one of the few actors today that can make almost anything watchable. Only he could speak like a man of the 1700′s; talking about a 15 year old girl’s “birthing hips” or uttering lines like “oh dear, hath my scent offended thee?” and make it funny.
It was nice to see Michelle Pfeiffer back on the screen. It’s hard to believe that its been 20 years since Burton directed her as that sex kitten, Catwoman. She still looks beautiful and you can tell she had fun playing the matriarch of the Collins family. Eva Green has fantastic chemistry with Depp as they kiss, fight and have some wild undead sex. It’s a shame Bella Heathcote, who plays Barnabas’ true love, didn’t show the same flair as Green’s Angelique did. Throughout the movie I wondered why Barnabas loved Victoria (Heathcote) so much. Helena Bonham Carter isn’t given much to do with her role as a doctor, while Chloe Grace Moretz plays a wild teen named Carolyn with plenty of gusto. This actress is going to be dominating Hollywood for decades to come.
Some cameos like Christopher Lee as a sea captain, Alice Cooper as himself and a blink-if-you-miss-it scene with the original Dark Shadows cast were nice touches.
The darker scenes in this movie did remind me that Tim Burton hadn’t completely lost his macabre style. As for Depp,; I will see him in just about anything, but he is one more campy role away from becoming the new George Hamilton. I know this younger generation thinks of him as Jack Sparrow and The Mad Hatter, but I don’t want people to forget that he is still the marvelous actor who gave us characters like Ed Wood and Donnie Brasco.
Without Burton’s unique vision and Depp’s eccentricities, I’m not sure this movie would have even gotten made.
Don’t get me wrong. Dark Shadows has it’s share of fun moments and there’s a good movie buried deep inside. It’s just a shame that we have to dig so hard just to find it.
I give DARK SHADOWS **1/2 out of ****.