If it wasn't for Twilight, I might be blaming Tim Burton and
Johnny Depp for ruining vampires.
Depp stars as Barnabas Collins - the son of a wealthy entrepreneur who
came to America in the 1760's and built a massive business and an
entire town in Maine. Barnabas spurned the love of a servant, Angelique
(Eva Green), who became a witch, killed everyone he loved and turned
Barnabas into a vampire. Then, she trapped him in a coffin (makes the
modern day equivalent of writing nasty things on his Facebook page look
pretty weak, doesn't it?).
When Barnabas is set free two hundred years later, can he restore the
family name to honor and defeat Angelique?
Dark Shadows has so much going for it, but
none of it pays off in movie magic. Director Burton and writer Seth
Grahame-Smith (based on the 60's soap opera) strain to find a tone, but
never really discover nor define it.
Dark Shadows is a quiet movie (both from the
silence of the crowd and the lack of big time drama). The funny stuff
just isn't funny, and the movie never becomes the fish out of water
rapid fire comedy you might think it should be based on all of the
marketing. On top of that, the drama is never that dramatic. Everyone
is acting in a very subdued way to add a creepy vibe that only comes
off as dull because the vibe never contributes to anything.
I don't know how they did it, but Burton and Grahame-Smith have created
an uneventful and sparse movie with a thin plot, which somehow becomes
an overcrowded picture accomplishing nothing. Talk about your
Burton and Grahame-Smith give us great characters, but never use them
in the right way. Chloe Grace Moretz is one of the best young actors
today, and casting her as the rebellious teen Carolyn opposite Depp
should lead to amazing dialogue between the two, a palpable kinship
between similar stars, and delicious twists and turns, but the two
barely have any scenes together, and we are left yearning for more
focus on Carolyn than we get.
Then, Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth could have an amazing rivalry with
Angelique, which is alluded to, but never explored with the details and
depth that would make it come to life, while Helena Bonham Carter
suffers from her character's lack of screen time and development as we
can tell there is so much more about her we never really learn until it
is too late.
Burton and Grahame-Smith lose an entire subplot about the mysterious
Victoria (Bella Heathcote), who appears to be drawn to Barnabas and
this small Maine town. Again, it is hinted she will play an important
role in the movie early on, but Victoria disappears for almost an hour
at one point, and only gets tossed into the mix for twists that don't
have any impact because they haven't done enough to make us feel this
supposedly amazing connection between Barnabas and her.
Worst of all, Burton and Grahame-Smith make the climax into an orgy of
surprise twists that come out of nowhere because the two didn't do
anything to build them up. They just start tossing ideas at the screen
like a kindergartener wildly attacking paper with finger paint.
Seeing a Tim Burton and Johnny Depp movie this bad leaves me as
disappointed as the day I learned (Spoiler Alert) there is no Santa
Dark Shadows is rated PG-13 for comic horror
violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking