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Dark Shadows

A 2012 movie directed by Tim Burton based on the supernatural soap opera

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Now for Burton to break from the restraints of the coffin.

  • May 23, 2012
**1/2 out of ****

"Dark Shadows" does well to give us just about everything we've come to expect from a director-and-star collaboration between the highly imaginative Tim Burton and the illusive character actor Johnny Depp. There's a heart and it's always beating; illuminated by Burton's colorful, visionary sets and camerawork. The man knows what he wants, what we want, and what the studio wants in return. He's out to please. Sometimes, this is a problem, and other times, it is not. I honestly don't know whether it's really an issue here, all I know is that I was never bothered to the point where my enjoyment of the material was lost in the ruins of Burton's own uncontrollable mind. Even if Burton kills the head and the movie doesn't work, the body thrives somehow and entertains, if only momentarily. So in this sense, "Dark Shadows" is neither a step down nor a step up for the acclaimed American filmmaker. Those seeking either new highs or new lows will be disappointed, as the film gives us more of the norm; but surprisingly, I find myself quite alright with that. After all, it's certainly more fun to watch a respected and beloved artist have at least some control on his vision and provide a good time than to watch the entire project crumble right onto he or she who conceived it.

The film is adapted from the black-and-white Gothic soap opera of the same name. Enter Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp), a rich and arrogant heir to the throne of a family that rightfully founded and owns Collinport, a fictional town in Maine. Barnabas was raised a man ignorant to the horrors of the supernatural; and unknowingly trespasses into such territories when he breaks the heart of a witch named Angelique (Eva Green), a servant for the Collins family who worked in their mansion, Collinwood Manor. She kills Barnabas's parents and curses his family forever, so that a dark fate lies ahead for anyone who is to fall in love with Barnabas in the future. The curse also turns him into a vampire. Fancy that. After the first attempt fails to convince Barnabas into taking her back, Angelique turns the villagers against him after telling them of his true identity. They whisk him away, place him in a coffin, and there he stays for two hundred years. That was in 1760. Barnabas escapes from the coffin in 1972.

Naturally, he returns home after absorbing the necessary amount of blood that he's been craving all these long years, and realizes just how much it has changed. The members of the house now include: Elizabeth Collins (Michelle Pfeiffer), her brother Roger (Jonny Lee Miller), teenage daughter Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz), the creepy caretaker (Jackie Earle Haley), disturbed 10 year old son David, and his new governess Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcoate). They've all heard stories of Barnabas, and they've also been reluctant to believe all of them. Big mistake on their part, methinks. Barnabas's arrival disturbs and intrigues the members of the household. He piques the interest of the family doctor (Helena Bonham Carter) in particular, who wants nothing more than to study him. Or is that really all? During his stay, Barnabas attempts to revive the family business that has since died; but Angelique also lives amongst the mortals, and she isn't about to let Barnabas take back the position that he once upheld.

Burton's world comes alive, and we're given yet another solid opportunity to share the fun he had in not only making the film, but coming up with the situations that take place within it. The problem is, some scenes work best as individual vignettes, which of course means that the story doesn't really hold a candle to the visual wonders that appear on-screen. This is typical of Burton, but I wish he would return to more personal and emotionally engaging works rather than just do a bunch of needless Hollywood cake walks. But it's like I said; there's still a lot of excitement. The film is weird and full of energy for the most part, with Burton able to collaborate with a lot of people that he has done work with in the past, as well as some newcomers (Alice Cooper has a small but scenery-chewing role). Also, it helps to have some of the members of the original television series' cast make cameo appearances. I don't know if that will be enough to satisfy fans of the source material, but nonetheless, I think anyone associated with the brilliance of Burton will be more than willing to appreciate what he's done to respect one of his biggest inspirations.

At the end of the day, "Dark Shadows" is kind of a mess, but I'm still pretty darn glad that it is...whatever it is, instead of a celebration of sheer style over substance. I enjoyed myself as much as I possibly could, and it was never boring. That's more than I can say for "Alice in Wonderland", Burton's last feature, to be sure. But I still have my gripes. Burton seems anxious to tackle darker emotional themes, but his eagerness wasn't enough and he clearly follows the path of the studio. So what we've got is some damn good looking visuals in search of a proper, compelling story to tell. The characters are quirky and fun to watch, but what else do we expect from ol' Tim? He does make a decent attempt to staple his flare on the whole vampire narrative - with some unique and amusing scenes involving philosophical life discussions with pot-smoking hippies and comically messy love scenes with sexy witches - and yet it still lacks the depth that it would have required to truly take off. See it, don't see it; I don't suppose it matters. Burton has done better but he has also done worse. "Dark Shadows" is reduced to great sights and sounds, absolutely beautiful women, and another off-kilter performance from Depp; but most movies nowadays still walk away with much, much less for me to talk about.

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May 25, 2012
Burton has always been great with visual storytelling. I just wished that the story was a little more ambitious here, but then it can be refreshing to see something different than the same old kind of revamp.
More Dark Shadows (2012 Film) reviews
review by . May 12, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Tim Burton Brings Barnabas Collins in the Swinging, Hip 70's....
When I first heard that Tim Burton was making a film based on the vampire soap opera of the same name “Dark Shadows“, I have to admit I really didn’t know what to think. Burton is great in making his own material but I have always had mixed feelings when it comes to him re-interpreting other people’s works. I loved “Nightmare Before Christmas”, “Beetlejuice” and “Edward Scissorhands”. I even liked “Cabin Boy” but I had …
review by . May 26, 2012
posted in Dark Shadows
I'm an old school Dark Shadows fan who used to run home from school like everyone else, saw both of the original films when they came out, protested at NBC when the 1991 series was cancellled and have attended several of the conventions. Given all that I really enjoyed this film that injected comedy and changed the Barnabas Collins tale.     This one left off the time travel and had Barnabas freed from his coffin into a present where Collinwood is in ruins and the family is far …
review by . May 13, 2012
posted in Dark Shadows
Dark Shadows (2012) is destined to split the audience into two camps.      Camp A will love this movie because they are fans of the Burton/Depp team. In their eyes, B/D can do no wrong, because the source material is immaterial. They go in expecting only to be entertained by a certain kind of shtick...and in this particular case, they received it in spades, and therefore went home from the theater quite pleased from having their expectations met.      Camp …
review by . September 05, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
   There's no miracle that Tim Burton knows how to create dark cartoonish worlds in which wild colors and vivid characters battle for the enchanted ground of these fantastic universes. Dark Shadows is wild, goofy, and colorful but it kinda feels like an asthma crisis. You know you have this urgency and impatience to watch the next Tim Burton film but even as a fan of him it does nothing in the end but providing you sudden gasps time after time. It's an interesting thing because …
review by . May 15, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
A Visually Beautiful Gothic-Like And Delightful Film
      Tim Burton and Johnny Depp come together again in this wonderfully delightful film.  Depp proves again that he is capable of successfully portraying any type of character - his talent seems to reach out to the viewer in a huge way - every role he has played he always manages to convince me he really is the character he's playing; it's almost hypnotic, and his role as Barnabas Collins was no exception.      The film starts out as Collins …
review by . May 12, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         In a 2007 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Johnny Depp proudly stated that, as he grew up watching Dark Shadows, he wanted to be the vampire Barnabas Collins. “I think lots of kids did,” he said. “He was super-mysterious, with that really weird hairdo and the wolf’s-head cane. Good stuff.” Depp is now luckier than ever to be dear friends with Tim Burton; apart from the fact that he helmed this year’s film …
review by . May 10, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Remember when Tim Burton had some indie cred, and his emo movies were something new that brought credibility and something different to the movies.  Remember seeing his remake of Planet of the Apes, how he had them wear those stupid hats, just how upset you got seeing it, and wishing things could go back to the way they were.  It hasn't.  You would think a movie based on a sixties vampire soap opera would be right up his alley.  And maybe it was.  And Burton …
review by . May 10, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
'Dark Shadows' 'Two Jews On Film' Show Their Teeth Over Johnny Depp's Campy Performance (Video)
      By Joan Alperin Schwartz      For those of you, like myself, who aren't familiar with the television series 'Dark Shadows' which ran from 1966-1971, here are the film's cliff notes...   The year...1750 (give or take)      A wealthy young man named Barnabus Collins (Johnny Depp) gets it on with his maid, Angelique (Eva Green) who just happens to be a witch...She feels the love...He...not so …
review by . May 10, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
DARK SHADOWS Written by Seth Grahame-Smith Directed by Tim Burton Starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Eva Green   Barnabas Collins: Of all the servants I could have spurned, I got the witch.   The original soap opera television series, DARK SHADOWS, is before my time, I’m afraid. I’ve never seen the show but from what I understand, it was a bizarre endeavor that, about six months into its roughly 5-year and 1225 episode run, introduced ghosts and other supernatural …
Quick Tip by . September 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Can't wait for this film to arrive. It changes the storyline from what has been done before as it is told in chronological order, without the time travel that the previous incarnations had. Great cast including Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Lee and original stars Jonathan Frid, Kathryn Lee Scott, Lara Parker and David Selby. Depp looks like Michael Jackson in some of the shots.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


The first photos from the set of TimBurton’s Dark Shadows adaptation have surfaced online and they reveal Johnny Depp looking about as creepy as you would expect him to look in a Burton film. In case you’re unaware, Dark Shadows sees Depp making a turn as Barnabas Collins, a powerful playboy who is buried alive in the 18th century only to reemerge in 1972 as a vampire who is none too pleased with the ruin of his once fine piece of real estate.
Check out the set photos and an official synopsis after the jump. Also starring Chloe Moretz, Helena Bonham Carter, EvaGreen, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Lee and Jackie Earle Haley, Dark Shadows is slated to hittheaters on May 11th, 2012.
Click over to Celebuzz to check out more Dark Shadows set pics [click to enlarge]:
Here’s the official film synopsis:
In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet—or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy…until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him ...
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