Dark Shadows – Film Review
TITLE: Dark Shadows
STARRING: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley
DIRECTOR: Tim Burton
STUDIO: Warner Bros.
RUN TIME: 113 minutes
RELEASE DATE: May 11, 2012
By Seth Miller
Staff Writer, Part-Time Ninja
I don’t know if there will ever be an apocalypse in my lifetime; but while others have seen signs in the news or their daily life, I have seen a couple of things at the theater that have at least made me consider the possibility of an imminent end of the world scenario. The first is the success of The Avengers because its great reception exposed Joss Whedon to even larger audiences, but since Firefly was cancelled I have always held the belief that the universe will not let him have too much success. The only way to stop him now is to end the world.
The second is the fact that we have finally reached critical mass when it comes to films with Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. Not to say there haven’t been good if not great movies from their collaboration, but after Dark Shadows we have reached an inverse proportion between the number of films and their quality.
In the 1700s, Barnabas Collins (Depp) is on top of the world with a booming family fishing business and a woman he loves. Unfortunately, he spurns the affections of one of his servants who is also a witch (Green) and is cursed to be a vampire for the rest of his life. He wakes up in 1972 after being buried alive for 200 years and finds his family and business are falling apart. He resolves to restore his family to their former glory and defeat the witch who has harassed his family for over 200 years.
The only thing this film has going for it is Depp. As a man trapped in an unfamiliar world and living with a curse he hates, Depp brings humor and enough heart to elevate the film for a few moments. Green has fun with her role as the scorned witch and brings a delightfully evil energy to the role while also being somewhat sympathetic.
The thing thats holds this film back are very fundamental. Depp and Green have roles that have more to them then descriptions that can be summed up in one sentence, but the same can’t be said for the rest of the characters. For a film whose overriding message is that family is the most important thing in life, the family has nothing to really distinguish them except some broad characterization and a supernatural element that, in the case of one character, feels shoehorned at the end just to make them weirder in the hope it would make them interesting.
The biggest problem for this film is the fact that it is remake of a TV soap opera and there are a lot of clichés from those types of shows. Love triangles, out of left field plot developments, and just the general tone of the film feels like a gothic soap opera that may work on TV but doesn’t translate to film. If you are a fan of films by Tim Burton starring Johnny Depp, then don’t see this movie. You will be even more disappointed than I was.
Front page image and interior stills from collider.com.