Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Film Review: Dark Shadows (2012)

Dark Shadows

Directed by: Tim Burton

Starring: Johnny Depp
Eva Green
Michelle Pheiffer
Chloe Mortez

Synopsis: An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection. (Via IMDB)


I'm really excited about some of the movies due to be released within the next two months. Despite the bad reviews, I'm still pretty excited about Prometheus (I freaking LOVE Alien), and I KNOW Batman will blow my mind. It's got me keen to watch movies at the cinema, but since these aren't out yet, I decided (along with the boyfriend and a couple of friends) to go see Dark Shadows.

Yeah, I know, I know. I definitely didn't go in expecting anything fantastic, but I've loved so many Johnny Depp and Tim Burton films that I'm not sure I'd ever be able to completely ignore a collaboration between them (although seriously, someone needs to force these two to spend some time apart). And you know what? I didn't hate it, I didn't even mind it. The ending is a train wreck, and there are some HUGE plot issues, but for the most part it was a fun, kinda silly movie that was visually quite impressive. So, should I start with the good or the bad? Actually, I might just switch between the two for as long as I can.

1. (Good) The 1970s styling was a great accompaniment to Burton's dark visuals. I'm a firm believer that when Burton mixes his dark/gothic stylings with hyper-real colours he produces his best films. Think Edward Scissorhands, Beatle Juice or Pleasantville (not a Burton film I know).

2. (Bad) Ugh, Johnny Depp is doing his vaguely English "I'm really quite odd" character again. What happened to the amazing character actor who played Edward Scissorhands? I feel like every character he plays lately is just a slightly different version of the previous one. It's not quirky or weird or outrageous, it's boring.

3. (Good) There were some real laugh out loud moments. The scene with the hippies in the woods was one of the best scenes of the film, and if the rest had been more like it, then I think we'd all be praising the campy awesomeness of this film rather than sighing and yawning.

4.(Bad) The story, in case you haven't been following this film, begins in the 1700s when Barnabas (Depp) spurns the maid he was banging (Eva Green) to marry a young delicate flower. Turns out Eva Green is a witch, and she kills his parents, his fiance and turns Depp into a vampire who is then buried alive in a coffin. With Depp gone, the Collins family line should be over, however when he finds a way out 200 years later there are 4 Collins' living in Barnabas' family mansion. Where did they come from? When the American line of Collins' died, did some cousins from England move over and claim the house? You need to explain this people!

5. (Good) Alice Cooper has a cameo...as himself. This is hilarious and truly bizarre. They don't even try to make him look 40 years younger, he's old and wrinkly and freaking kick ass. But I love Alice Cooper so maybe I'm just biassed.

6. (Bad) Chloe Mortez, what the hell! She's such a fantastic young actress, but in this movie she's terrible! She's meant to be the moody teenager but she comes across as a caricature of this. She does this stupid lip snarl like she thinks she's Iggy Pop, and she's weirdly sexualised (I honestly thought something was going to happen between her and her uncle) which I found incredibly uncomfortable. She was not on form in this film, hopefully this isn't a sign of what's to come.

7. (Good) Michelle Pheiffer and Eva Green. These two women are both great throughout the film on their own (although Green doesn't seem to know if she's supposed to have a French or American accent), but it is their scenes together which truly shone.

8. (Bad) The plot. It...isn't great. It was written by Seth Grahame-Smith (who wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and I wonder if part of his talent is adapting, rather than writing original content. I know this was based on a TV show, but from the reviews I've read it isn't particularly close to the show at all, so it seems he was mostly on his own. Without a plot framework to work on, the pacing was off, threads of stories were introduced but never expanded upon or concluded, and the ending was like a 15 year old writing fan fiction - so many weird things are dropped in without warning. Maybe I'm being unfair on Seth, but until I see a book or film that is amazing that was truly an independent work, I stand by this.

Ok, to be honest I can't really think of any more good points, but a fair few bad ones. So I guess I'll leave it here! It isn't terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but I think both Tim Burton and Johnny Depp need to push out of this quirky comfort zone they've created, because while it can be amazing when done right, the last few they've done together have been stale and unpolished and only so-so. If they had spent more time ( a lot more time) on the script and swapped out Chloe Mortez for someone else, I think it could have been a really successful film. Instead it seems rushed, and the plot holes over shadow the good acting, interesting visuals and geniunely funny comedic moments.


  1. I really want to see this!! I think I will wait for video. There are sooo many summer movies that I want to see.


    Angela's Anxious Life

  2. Probably a good idea. It was pretty enjoyable, but the ending was kind of ridiculous and spoiled the whole thing for me. Definitely not the worst thing out at the moment, but not the greatest Depp/Burton collab either.

  3. When I saw the preview for this movie I decided that I wasn't going to see it in theaters. Now I know for sure that I'll probably even wait for it to be released on netflix instant-queue.

    Side note: Prometheus is awesome!!

  4. I completely FAILED at seeing this, so I'm going to have to wait for it on DVD (and get it I shall- I'm trying to own all the Johnny Depp films, so... even if it's bad, I need it, you know!) but I feel like... I'm always excited about a Burton/Depp film, and almost always disappointed which makes me sad cause Edward Scissorhands is the best thing ever, and well... why can't they do that again? (Sweeney Todd was fairly awesome though. Gotta love Depp's singing!)

    I also agree with their having some time apart- but I feel like, if Burton didn't use Johnny, then he'd get upset! It's like... they just want to hang out and make films and have fun, without considering that, by using the same actors all the time, it's sort of like making the same film over and over again. Le sigh.

  5. Oh yeah, and BATMAAAAAAAAAAN! So excited! I will NOT miss that at the cinema!

  6. Definitely see it Laura because, y'know, Johnny Depp, but yeah it definitely isn't the greatest thing they ever created together. I think a big part of the problem with Burton/Depp is that Burton makes such a specific style of film so it seems even more closed in when they're constantly using the same actors. If he was one of those directors that moves from romance to horror to sci-fi to kids without the very specific cinematic style it might not be quite so big an issue.

    But I could never truly dislike a collab between these two (except maybe Wonka) because it's Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. They're both so amazing!

  7. I was so excited for this but have heard mostly bad things, which is disappointing. I love Johnny Depp and Tim Burton! And Chloe Moretz - so sad to hear she's no good here!
    I hated Pride and Prejudice and Zombies though so...



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