Friday, May 11, 2012

Dark Shadows: Movie Review


A beautiful but boring production of vampires and witches and love and other nonsense.

I’m assuming it’s the recent obsession with vampires, including teenage vampire love and nonsensical vampire lore, that has made it okay to make movies based on bad 1960s horror- drama soap operas. I had also assumed that Tim Burton’s remake of “Dark Shadows” would be a comedy. In that case, at least, I was wrong. Unfortunately, the film stayed faithful to the original and was more soap opera-like than comedic.2012

Directed by: Tim Burton

Screenplay by: Seth Grahame-Smith

Starring: Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Bella Heathcote and Michelle Pfeiffer

Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is from the 1770s but had a curse placed on him (because of unrequited love) and is pulled from his coffin as a vampire in 1972. There are a few quick jokes making fun of the 1970s and the changing of the times, and then sprinkled throughout there are a handful of funny one-liners as Barnabas comes to terms with the new-age world. I would have actually preferred the movie if that was the entire thing. But instead it was mostly about rich families trying to maintain their wealth and control their fortune and status in a small community. It’s also about vampires and witches falling in love and determining their destiny.

These characters really don’t do anything interesting so I certainly don’t care about their future, whether it’s a lack of a future or an eternal future. Again, as a comedy, it could have at least been entertaining. Being a Tim Burton film though, he obviously cares more about the visuals than the characters or the story. It was a fairly detailed atmosphere, combining mystery-like illustrated art work with 1970s lavish musical sets.

The costuming was pretty exquisite. Over-the-top in some cases, but I’m assuming that was the point. The best part was the stylistic flair to Eva Green’s witch named Angelique. The clothes and make-up alone defined that character. And that was counteracted with this ethereal beauty of Bella Heathcote and her innocent and unadorned love. I have singled those two actresses out because they were the only two that tried to make this movie interesting on some level.

Since costumes don’t comprise an entire movie, the rest was the soundtrack. Littered with catchy pop tunes, we were supposed to be singing along to songs that defined a generation. Obviously that last bit is an exaggeration, but the influence on the movie is not. There was even an entire Alice Cooper concert thrown in just for the fun of it. “Dark Shadows” was made just for the fun of it all, but why wasn’t it more funny?