Dark Shadows

2012-05-10 10:27
 
What it's about:

Liverpool native Barnabus Collins (played by Johnny Depp) used to be the wealthy heir to his family’s empire in 18th century Collinsport, on the east coast of the US. But his bright future comes to a premature end when he loses his betrothed Josette and is turned into a vampire by his maid Angelique (Eva Green), a witch whose love he spurned. Buried underground for 200 years, he is unearthed and arrives back at his manor in 1972 to discover that the remains of his family are a dysfunctional lot who have driven his legacy into the ground.

What we thought:

If Johnny Depp keeps this up, he will add his name to that growing list of Hollywood A-listers who invariably find themselves playing the same character repeatedly.

In Dark Shadows, Depp's vampire character gets some great lines as a supernatural anachronism, strutting around town with an arrogance of purpose that will no doubt delight fans.

But the ghosts of his past, great roles – Edward Scissorhands, Captain Jack Sparrow, Sweeney Todd – are ever-present, diluting all the fun and potential for this character to be nearly as memorable. Based on the TV series from the 70s and 80s, the film maintains the original’s schlocky elements, with particularly overstated performances from Depp and Eva Green, and a sitcom-like playfulness to the scenes of family disarray.

Tim Burton has assembled a pretty great cast (though any cast that includes Michelle Pfeiffer is automatically above par) and, on paper at least, their characters are intriguing. Pfeiffer is the long-suffering matriarch of the family, Elizabeth, who suffers her sullen teenage daughter (Chloe Moretz) the most. Johnny Lee Miller is her wastrel brother Roger, who is as bad a father to his young son David as he is a businessman.

Helena Bonham Carter is the live-in psychiatrist Dr Julia Hoffman, brought in to help David deal with his mother’s death some years earlier and takes a special interest in Barnabus' strange nature.

And then there’s the mysterious young woman who calls herself Victoria (Bella Heathcote), who is hired as Sam’s governess and bears a striking resemblance to Barnabus' dearly departed love Josette.

Everyone in the Collins mansion seems to be holding a secret of some sort, and instead of getting to know his family better, Barnabus becomes obsessed with restoring their good name and their fish canning empire that’s been closed down since competition from Angelique’s company Angel Bay crushed them into bankruptcy.

But not even vampires learn from their past mistakes, and Barnabus' pride gets in the way again when he comes face-to-face with his arch nemesis, who not only cursed him but his entire family line.

However, all the careful set up doesn’t really amount to much as Burton ignores his characters and focuses on the sexually charged rivalry between Barnabus and Angelique, while offering spooky clues to Victoria’s own strange history.

Neither avenue is as interesting as Burton thinks it is and makes waste of the talent he has at his disposal – most tragically Michelle Pfeiffer, whose great comedic timing and fantastic face does what it can to enliven the movie’s studiously dry humour.

Jackie Earle Haley is a hoot as the Collins' dim househand in an unfortunately minor role, so it’s left to Depp and Green to do all the heavy lifting. The sparks should be flying all over the screen when these two go head to head, but even a chaotic scene as when Barnabus and Angelique finally deal with their sexual tension is suspiciously lacking in sizzle or just plain entertainment.

While all the ingredients for a fun and wacky little retro comedy are present, Dark Shadows is minor Tim Burton that’s too stingy with its serving size to fully satisfy.

Hopefully Burton has better luck with the sequel that begs to be made after the film’s sort-of thrilling finale.


Johnny Depp is in danger of recycling his characters as he plays the vampire Barnabus Collins, who returns to his family home in 1972 to find his legacy ruined.

Ryan 2012/05/10 9:38 AM
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Wow, a Tim Burton movie with Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp. How original and different. But seriously, when last did you see a good Johnny Depp movie? aside from The Rum diary, the last one was Finding Neverland.
Steve 2012/05/10 10:54 AM
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They forgot to mention the roles he plays in Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Anon 2012/05/10 12:12 PM
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Haters gonna hate, keep rolling Johnny.
KMI 2012/05/10 12:15 PM
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FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS!!! LIKE LIKE LIKE!!!
Lanfear 2012/05/10 1:36 PM
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Looking forward to this one! And I don't mind at all that Depp and Helena are in it again, love them both and love their collaborations with Tim Burton. Both those actors are very versatile, just look at Helena recently from screaming "off with their heads" Red Queen, to real-life Queen Elizabeth in The King's Speech. Depp himself made the fantastic The Libertine, The Rum Diaries and the so-so [but good acting] Public Enemies which are way different than his wacky roles. So what? He and Helena have both proven themselves over and again as excellent actors, why shouldn't they have fun?!
Jacob 2012/05/10 1:36 PM
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Tim Burton was once one of hollywood's most innovative directors but sadly appears to have descended into self-parody, perhaps he should swap future projects with Judd Apatow to spice things up a little.
Lanfear 2012/05/10 1:51 PM
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Looking forward to this one! And I don't mind at all that Depp and Helena are in it again, love them both and love their collaborations with Tim Burton. Both those actors are very versatile, just look at Helena recently from screaming "off with their heads" Red Queen, to real-life Queen Elizabeth in The King's Speech. Depp himself made the fantastic The Libertine, The Rum Diaries and the so-so [but good acting] Public Enemies which are way different than his wacky roles. So what? He and Helena have both proven themselves over and again as excellent actors, why shouldn't they have fun?!
BurtonFan 2012/05/10 2:10 PM
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I love Tim Burton movies, especially when they have Helena and Johnny in them! Say what you want, I can't wait for this one to come out omorrow. :)
Tanzie 2012/05/11 7:07 AM
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I love Johnny Depp; he's good in these kind of roles. Maybe he's doing the same thing over and over, but it's okay with me. Go ahead, Johnny!
Bradley 2012/05/11 9:22 AM
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Ummm...would like some coffee with sugar please... ...scrap the movie though...
Ashley 2012/05/14 8:29 AM
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The problem is not Johnny Depp playing similar characters over and over... Johnny Depp is most suited for these genres, he has that eccentric personality and an ability to really step into the shoes of his characters. Also how can you just reference movies he has acted in that have dark story lines and not reference all the movies he has acted in to give the readers a less biased view. Johnny Depp Movie List Hugo Cabret (2011)- M. Rouleau The Rum Diary (2011)- Paul Kemp Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)- Jack Sparrow Rango (2011)- Rango / Lars The Tourist (2010)- Frank Tupelo Alice in Wonderland (2010)- The Mad Hatter Public Enemies (2009)- John Dillinger The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)- Imaginarium Tony #1 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)- Sweeney Todd Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)- Jack Sparrow Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)- Jack Sparrow Corpse Bride (2005)- Victor Van Dort (voice) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)- Willy Wonka The Libertine (2004)- Rochester Finding Neverland (2004)- Sir James Matthew Barrie And They Lived Happily Ever After (2004)- L’inconnu. The DVD title is ‘Happily Ever After’. Secret Window (2004)- Mort Rainey Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)- Sands Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)- Jack Sparrow From Hell (2001)- Inspector Frederick Abberline Blow (2001)- George Jung Chocolat (2000)- Roux Before Night Falls (2000)- Bon Bon / Lieutenant Victor The Man Who Cried (2000)- Cesar Sleepy Hollow (1999)- Ichabod Crane The Astronaut’s Wife (1999)- Commander Spencer Armacost The Ninth Gate (1999)- Dean Corso Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)- Raoul Duke The Brave (1997)- Raphael. Depp also directed this film. Donnie Brasco (1997)- Donnie Brasco / Joseph D. ‘Joe’ Pistone Nick of Time (1995)- Gene Watson Dead Man (1995)- William Blake Don Juan DeMarco (1994)- Don Juan Ed Wood (1994)- Ed Wood What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)- Gilbert Grape Benny & Joon (1993)- Sam Arizona Dream (1993)- Axel Blackmar. The film is also known as ‘The Arrowtooth Waltz’. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare- Guy on TV Edward Scissorhands (1990)- Edward Scissorhands Cry-Baby (1990)- Cry-Baby Platoon (1986)- Lerner Slow Burn (1986- television movie)- Donnie Fleischer Private Resort (1985)- Jack A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)- Glen Lantz
JK 2012/05/14 10:38 AM
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I think he is very good in these kind of roles, why not stick with what you love?
NL 2012/05/14 3:22 PM
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went to watch the movie, Yawn. fell asleep.
Nell 2012/05/18 12:52 PM
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Any movie with Johnny Depp in it will be great. he's is one of the best actors there is. This movies consist of everything a great movie should. Action, Drama, Comedy what more do you want.
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