Review: Dark Shadows
OverviewGenre(s): Comedy, Horror
Things We Liked:Johnny Depp uses this Vehicle well I The Script is sharp and interesting
Things We Hated:The ending, the whole thing. I Abrupt/random introductions of key character history I
At this point it seems more than obvious that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are due to do a movie together as often as they can. There seems to be no obstacle so sharp, no mountain so high or valley so low that will keep the pair apart. Most of the time that is a [...]
At this point it seems more than obvious that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are due to do a movie together as often as they can. There seems to be no obstacle so sharp, no mountain so high or valley so low that will keep the pair apart. Most of the time that is a good thing. This movie is, as most Burton designed Depp vehicles go, pretty good.
Johnny does a good job parading about the screen as Barnabas Collins, taking our attention away from the rest of the cast . Unfortunately, as much as Depp fans might not want to hear this, that is not necessarily a good thing. Depp’s character is brooding, infatuated with love and strong-willed. He wants to gain the love of his life back after being locked up in a box for the past couple centuries and strangely he has been afforded just that chance. He wants to place his once proud family line back at the top, where they, of course, rightfully belong, gets that chance too. He wants to claim revenge on the woman who cursed his blood with vampirism. Yet again, check.
The failings here would be easy to blame on the director or the screenwriter. That leaves out the team of people charged with editing and brainstorming ‘great’ ideas. I imagine a board room of some sort with 5 maybe 6 people talking over the original script. They notice that Tim Burton is directing, that Johnny Depp stars, and they take the easiest path, over-use of the eccentric and interesting star. It’s an easy mistake to make. Except for one thing: there are actually good actors in the supporting roles.
Now, normally, the characters in a story that is 1 star driven would play off of the biggest billed actor and find their rhythms. Here there is a definite sense that the writers could have done much more, leaving a lot on the cutting room floor. For instance, there are details left out about pretty much all of the Collins’ family members that become key to the ending of the film. Some of these elements are introduced 30 minutes before the climax, some as close as 30 seconds. Those details are lowered on to the audience as though they should be very significant, or change the overall tide or mood of the picture. In the end they do no such thing.
Strangely, this is when realizing that Dark Shadows is a Johnny Depp vehicle, plays a great relief. Depp as Barnabus sweeps in, flames surrounding, his ghostly face taking over the camera. His stiff Old-English verbiage is delivered and the audience forgives, just a little bit, the shockingly poor timing in the release of information.
I’d like to say that the characters come off as memorable because they are portrayed by my aforementioned good actors. Sadly they are not. In the end, I look at what might have been. Taking a glance back at the source material reveals that Dark Shadows, the original television show would consume over 20 straight days of viewing. To incorporate the entire feel of that series in to one 2 hour movie seems like a plan that goes beyond silly.
One thing is for certain, this movie has set up an interesting conversation point for me personally. Seth Grahame-Smith was the scriptwriter for this particular piece. The adaptation of his novel Abraham Lincoln, Vampire-Hunter is due out soon., which he also scripted. Both Dark Shadows and Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter appealed to me, and this one I was particularly aware that his writing style was at the forefront. I’m hoping that trend continues in Honest Abe’s vampire hunting quest.
Spoilers – Last 30 Minutes
For your enjoyment,the Last 30 minutes of the film as it pertains to Collins Family (and potential future family):
- Barnabas’ love interest’s story of parental abandonment comes to light
- Barnabas scares her off
- The Witch who cursed Barnabas comes for blood
- the whole family reveals their ‘super powers’ werewolf, ghost controller, things of this nature.
- Michelle Pfeiffer has no idea about anything, is very confused, and has a shotgun.
- The witch is unsuccessful and is the only one harmed.
- End of movie