Movie Review: “Dark Shadows” – Burton and Depp Disappoint

Written by Emily McWilliams May 16, 2012


Once again Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton team up for their latest film collaboration. This time, it is an adaptation of the 1970’s soap opera “Dark Shadows”.  The original television show was known for its campy style and quirky humour that emerged out of the show’s low budget and frequently flubbed lines.  Burton and Depp attempt to capitalize on the show’s reputation but ultimately fail to hold a contemporary audience’s attention.

Vampires, and Witches, and Fishing! Oh My!

The film centers around the Collins, a prominent British family that sets up a fishing industry in America during the 18th century.  Depp plays the family’s only son Barnabas, who makes the mistake of falling in love with the family’s servant, Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green).  Barnabas breaks Angelique’s heart, causing her to use her powers as a witch to curse the Collins family and turn Barnabas into a vampire.  Barnabas is trapped for over 200 years until a construction crew accidently uncovers his coffin and unleashes him into the year 1972.  Since Barnabas’ imprisonment, the dysfunctional Collins family has spiraled into poverty as a result of a rival fishing company controlled by Angelique.  It is up to Barnabas to return to the Collins family to their former glory in the fishing industry and break the curse that Angelique cast.

Depp Outshines Cast Mates in His Portrayal of the Undead

Johnny Depp is perfect in his portrayal as Barnabas Collins.  His ability to combine the film’s melodramatic tone with hilarious one-liners as he encounters the culture shock of the 1970’s were the best moments in the film.  Depp conveys his versatility and strength as an actor in “Dark Shadows” and does not fall short in his dedication to the role.  Eva Green as Baranabas’ scorn lover Angelique is equally delightful as she portrays her character with equal elements of viciousness and sexiness.  The relationship between these two is electric and….acrobatic to say the least.

Despite a strong cast that features Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earl Haley, and Chloe Grace Moretz, the rest of the characters in the film are underdeveloped and one-dimensional.  Coming off of the success of Kick-Ass and Hugo, Moretz performance was the most disappointing as her portrayal of sixteen – year – old Carolyn was completely one-toned and typical teenage angst.  That being said, the biggest downfall of this film was that the scenes without Depp were almost unwatchable.  It was extremely evident that Depp and his performance carried this film and without him the scenes dragged on into irrelevant subplots involving the other characters.  The problem with these subplots is that by the end of the film, none of them were really wrapped up or had a satisfying conclusion.  It was amazing how some scenes which seemed unnecessary were given so much screen time, while the ending was very rushed and just kind of thrown together.

Burton Misses the Mark

While die-hard Tim Burton fans will not be disappointed with the film’s gothic sets and costumes, the drawn-out plot lacks the usual ingenuity and creativity of Burton’s other works.  Despite Depp’s strong characterization, it seems that this film will unfortunately be forgotten as a result of the mediocre plot.

My Rating: 6/10

 

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