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Tanya Khoury: Groping in the dark
June 01, 2012
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For the revival of the Dan Curtis ’66 TV series, Tim Burton teams up with writers John August (Big Fish) and Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) for the adapted film version of Dark Shadows. Johnny Depp not only stars but also is part of the large team of producers; the regular cast features Helena Bonham Carter as well as Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green and a long list of familiar faces that have been featured in countless films and TV shows. Basically a pretty decent ensemble to deliver a once popular show back when there wasn’t so many genres, so many shows to choose from.

The set, costumes, flavour all are typical Tim Burton and Johnny Depp trademark which is why I became very sceptical from the start. I have been quite disappointed by the past films by Burton and have grown weary of all those costumes time and time again. Depp is an accomplished actor who has so much up his sleeve, but the vampire in a coat with an English accent and long nails was just not something I was in the mood for sitting through again. I did though and it was a long 113 minutes if we are being exact.

I have not seen any of the episodes of the series so the story was not familiar to me until the first ten minutes of the film. It begins with Depp’s narration of the story behind Collinwood and their curse. It is a long tale and while you understand the gist from the beginning, throughout the film you become more and more detached from the main story. The number of characters and sub plots involved take away from the main ‘love story’ between Depp and Heathcote’s character. The curse that Eva Green’s cast on him is told so abruptly that there is no room to dwell on the actual storyline. I felt that he wanted to have everything jammed into this one film that the result just felt disjointed and rather boring.

Don’t misunderstand though, the acting was good, the actors know how to deliver and they have been in many films when they have delivered flawlessly. My main issue was the story, it looked familiar although I hadn’t heard of it and it looked overdone, because Burton likes to dwell on his sets and flare. This however, does not bode well with the audience (which I was surprised to see there was very little of in the theatre); I guess they too just had a feeling this will be another spectacle with little or no substance.

On that point, looking at the film from an entertainment perspective rather than a sought after drama, there is little to tell. It was boring, the jokes felt outdated although Depp surely knows how to deliver his lines ever so well. Still that didn’t manage to salvage the film and sadly Burton has come to be that director who keeps doing that with his films. I expected more from the collaboration as I had expected more from the story. After reading that the TV series was a huge success in its day I feel that those loyal audiences would be even more disappointed than I was after enduring that title.

So with all the mixed directions this movie finds itself in and all those mishaps with the plot, I found that I will be more careful when selecting my titles from Burton and hope to see Depp in a more character driven role rather than the overly costumed up one. A bleak 4/10 for Dark Shadows I’m afraid.
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