Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dark Shadows

Year: 2012
Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Moretz, Jackie Earle Haley, Bella Heathcote, Jonny Lee Miller, Gulliver McGrath

Plot: After Barnabas Collins spurns the affection of a witch, Angelique Bouchard, she curses his family, turns him into a vampire and buries him in the woods. Two hundred years later, Barnabas awakens and finds himself in 1972. He discovers that his once great mansion is in ruins and inhabited by his descendants, who are dysfunctional to say the least. He attempts to rebuild his family's honor by restarting the family's fishing business, but Angelique, who is still alive after all these years, will not let bygones be bygones.

Review: Dark Shadows is based on a horror soap opera of the same name, which isn't too familiar to many, but is a favorite of director Tim Burton and his lead stars Depp and Pfeiffer. In Burton's hands, Dark Shadows is a comedy at its quirkiest, that combines the most unusual characters and putting them in a 70's setting. A brilliant move from Burton indeed, especially if you're into his kind of movies.

The unusual characters in question are Barnabas' family, made up of matriarch Elizabeth, her brother Roger, her rebellious daughter Carolyn and Roger's son David, who claims to be haunted by his late mother's spirit. There is also David's psychiatrist Dr Hoffman, the caretaker Willie and the newest addition to the family, Victoria Winters, David's governess, who resembles Barnabas' lover back in his time. Each of them has a different reaction to Barnabas' presence, which is part of the fun.

And then there is Angelique, who still craves for Barnabas' love, and is still as evil as ever. The two of them spend a lot of the film's runtime sparring verbally and physically, which flip flop from serious to hilarious at a moment's notice.

Burton has done wonders with the film's setting and design, as always. Colleen Atwood's costumes look lovely and the mansion's design is awesome. For music, he brings in Alice Cooper as himself and even throws in The Carpenters' Top Of The World. And then there's a hilarious scene between Barnabas and a group of hippies, which was well executed.

Most of the cast perform to expectations. Depp is his usual quirky self, speaking in 18th century style while everyone else speaks in modern fashion. It's funny half the time but it can have the tendency to wear you out after a while. Pfeiffer is also great as Elizabeth, being the most normal one despite being rather cynical. Moretz and Heathcote are fascinating to watch as Carolyn and Victoria respectively, while Eva Green is perfect as the evil Angelique. She is a lot like her character Morgan in the TV series Camelot, except here she is less serious. 

When Burton and Depp join forces, it's always great, but Dark Shadows isn't without its flaws. Some scenes could have been edited out as they are not really necessary, while some characters could have been better developed or given more time, like Roger and David for instance.

Judging by the way it ended, it's possible a sequel will be made. Hopefully we'll get one as this film seems promising enough. (3.5/5)

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