This is Jeff Bayer, and I don't update this site very often. If you'd like to listen to my current movie podcast you can find it at MovieBS.com.

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows Directed by: Tim Burton Cast: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloë Grace Moretz Running Time: 1 hr 53 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: May 11, 2012

PLOT: Barnabas Collins (Depp) is a vampire set free in the '70s. Now he tries to return his family to power, while a witch (Green) has other plans.

WHO'S IT FOR? Fans who will turn a blind eye to "story" and just want to see Burton play around with Depp.


Burton and Depp make a good team in their own genre of  "odd, quirky entertainment." They've proved this with past works like Ed Wood and Edward Scissorhands. Lately they've managed to focus on the odd, and not the entertainment with Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So, when it was announced that they were resurrecting the '70s vampire soap opera "Dark Shadows," part of me thought that sounded good, the other part ... odd.

We start with the serious. A scorned lover turns Barnabas Collins into a vampire, and then locks him up. You see, the lover is a witch named Angelique (Green). Angelique's motivation, as well as the entire beginning is quickly (and poorly) explained with a Depp voiceover.

Once Barnabas is thrust into the '70s, the serious gives way to Burton's off-beat creative whims. The cast of characters is colorful, with Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman, Jackie Earle Haley as Willie Loomis, and Chloë Grace Moretz as Carolyn Stoddard all giving quality performances. The star of course is Depp, as his vampire must deal with cars, hippies and trying to win the love of a woman. That part is absolutely fun, but there's plenty that doesn't flow. There's also the fact that Barnabas is clearly in love, yet he's also willing to sleep around. Plus, Depp is old(er). We know this. He's closing in on 50 years old. Yet the object of his affection, Victoria (Bella Heathcote) looks like she's 17.

Barnabas kills, and it doesn't really matter. Ghosts exist, disappear for huge chunks of time, and it doesn't really matter. Even a werewolf pops up, and it doesn't really matter. The biggest "doesn't really matter" of them all is the fishing hook in this film. Angelique is a witch who spends the majority of her time building up a fishing empire. Then, when Barnabas builds up a competing business, Angelique yells at her corporate board. I guess she forgot she could magically destroy just about anything in town. I don't want to even talk about sunlight only burning Barnabas part of the time.

Pfeiffer doesn't have one truly memorable moment. There's a section where we're told the young David Collins (Gulliver McGrath) is really warming up to Barnabas, yet we having seen the two of them talk in at least 30 minutes. Christopher Lee is given one scene with no meat on it.

Dark Shadows seems like a reason for Burton to play in a comfortable surrounding, with characters we've seen before. It also seems he was dying to make a film set in the '70s (focusing a lot on the music of the time) and this was the best excuse/subject he could find. The problem is the film just doesn't flow. It feels like an eight-episode TV show, edited together to make a two-hour film.

Burton and Depp are at it again. What "it" means now seems to be the film will look cool, Depp will have some moments, but overall, you won't feel totally satisfied.


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Dark Shadows