I Saw A Film Today… Dark Shadows

I feel I need to issue an apologize to you wonderful people who are actually taking time out of your busy lives to read my words. The apology is in regards to my laziness to post reviews in a quick and consistent fashion. I mean, this month alone I’ve only posted a review of The Avengers, while I have also seen LockoutThe Five Year Engagement, and Pirates! Band of Misfits. So I promise to get these reviews out to as soon as possible.  Wont happen again, I promise.

******

In the late 1700’s, the Collins family founds a prosperous fishing town in Maine and appropriately name it Collinsport. But when Barnabas Collins’ (Johnny Depp) parents are killed by a falling piece of masonry, Barnabas suspects foul play. Turns out a jealous lover and maid of his named Angelique (Eva Green) is actually a witch who curses Barnabas to live the life of a vampire and then has he locked and buried in a coffin, never to see world again.

Fast forward 200 years (more specifically the year is 1972) and Barnabas is awoken by a construction crew building a McDeath restaurant. When he makes his way back to his familiy’s old manor, he finds it occupied by his distant relatives. This includes a strong mother named Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer), a feisty daughter (Chloe Grace Moretz), a strange son (Gulliver McGrath), and Elizabeth’s morally loose brother (Jonny Lee Miller). Other’s who live on estate are an odd caretaker (Jackie Earle Haley), a drunkard psychiatrist (Helen Bonham Carter), and a mysterious governess (Bella Heathcote) whom Barny takes an interest in.

In this mysterious time of bell bottoms and shag carpeting, Barnabas learns that his families once prosperous fishing business is now no more and has been taken over by another company, which just so happens to be run by the same person who put Barnabas in his coffin prison. As Barnabas tries to restore his families good name, he soon realizes that Angelique will not willingly allow him to do so or let him slip through her fingers once again.

One of the biggest problems I have with Tim Burton’s film is there is usually very little concrete structure to them. Sure, there is some back story to this film. And the above synopsis of the film is the main story. But the filling of this film are just aimless side steps. There really is no direction or even a destination and central drive for this film. And the final twenty minutes or so of the film is just a mess. It is almost as if Burton felt that the story just was not making the cut and made the mistake of throwing in random shocking revelations.

Another problem with this film is Burton’s obsessive use of Johnny Depp. This will be the eighth collaboration between the two and rarely has the talented actor truly been put to good use. It always seems as if Depp’s parts or satirical or parodies of his characters instead of what his actual character should be. This film is no exception.

Not to say Depp isn’t nearly pitch perfect in this as a 18th-century vampire in the 1970’s. The rest of the cast is great as well, although it does seem that once again Burton has set his story in another town that has a sign outside of it that says “you must be this pale or paler to enter this bleak town”. Michelle Pfeiffer is surprisingly good and chilling. Other notable performances come from young Bella Heathcote, the always reliable Helena Bonham Carter, and the underrated Jackie Earle Haley

This film starts off extremely strong, only to quickly descend into  mediocrity. Depp’s wild performance is the real saving factor here. I think Burton and Depp need to take a vacation from each other for a while.

Verdict: RENT IT!

*Rated PG-13 for comic horror violence, sexual content, some drug use, language, and smoking.

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