Oct 13, 2012

Movie Review: Dark Shadows

In the year 1760, the Collins family moves from Liverpool to set up a fishing community in Maine, which becomes known as Collinsport. A young Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) begins fooling around with the maid (Eva Green), who unbeknownst to him at the time, is actually a witch. When he rejects her love, she curses his family, killing his parents. 16 years later, in 1776, Barnabas Collins watches his girlfriend, under the jealous witch's spell, leap to her death off a cliff and he tries to follow suit. Not wanting to allow Barnabas an easy way out, the witch turns him into an immortal vampire before he can hit the ground, ensuring his life. Then, to further torture him, rallies a mob to lock him in a chained up casket and bury him deep in the ground. 196 years later, in 1972, a construction sight uncovers the casket freeing Barnabas, who intends to restore his family's honor and bring down the witch who's politically taken over Collinsport.

The theatrical film, Dark Shadows, running 113 minutes is based off a gothic soap opera from the 1960's/1970's of the same name that is considered a cult classic. The TV show was renowned for it's numerous plot twists, multitude of supernatural elements and creature features, all of which was a rarity at the time. Running nearly two full hours, the film adaptation tries to honor this by throwing in as many twists, turns, and supernatural elements and creatures as possible while still making some semblance of sense. Unfortunately, and this may be coming just as someone who has never seen the cult classic TV show, I felt honoring the patterns and themes of the TV show sacrificed integral plot and story construction and progression. Too much time is spent hamming it up with corny jokes and trying to run several different subplots rather than just focusing on Barnabas Collins. Minor goals that Barnabas set are set out in the story and then quickly abandoned. Love interests are spoken up but never acted upon. In fact, just the opposite. Barnabas pines over one woman for the majority of the film but has sexual encounters with two others. It also isn't even explained by the Collins' family, particularly the matriarch, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer), responds to the fact her new guest is a bloodthirsty murderering monster with Adamms Family-like indifference.

The acting in this film really carries it. Johnny Depp is a total pro, Jackie Earle Haley, although playing a bit part, really brings a true element of comedy amidst cornball, and Eva Green was absolutely terrifying as Angelique Bouchard. Despite my undying love for Chloe Grace Moretz, I wasn't a fan of her portrayal of Carolyn Stoddard, Elizabeth's rebellious daughter, but I blame it entirely on Tim Burton. Given her roles in (500) Days of Summer, Kick-Ass, and Let Me In, I know she didn't have to be so cliched and corny. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp talked her up big when promoting the movie, showing that even professionals know of her real acting chops.

Overall, this movie can be summed up simply: if you've seen one Tim Burton film, you've seen them all. Ricky Gervais summed it up fantastic.

Overall rating...

2.5 / 5