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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Disjointed; too ridiculous for its own good
on May 11, 2012
I think most people can agree that Tim Burton movies have gone downhill in recent years, but I think I tend to enjoy them a bit more than everyone else. While "Alice in Wonderland" and "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" fail in comparison to the likes of "Beetlejuice", "Edward Scissorhands", and "Sleepy Hollow", they're still pretty entertaining at face value. "Dark Shadows" has been rubbing everyone the wrong way ever since that first trailer was released and revealed that the original gothic soap opera from 1966 was now more of a comedic fantasy. Even after viewing the movie, giving a definite opinion of "Dark Shadows" is still rather difficult.
I didn't follow the original series, but I had my doubts about the movie right from the start. Johnny Depp looked really awkward as Barnabas Collins. If you just look at Barnabas, he appears to be an emo Nosferatu. The comedy felt like it didn't belong in a film like this. It was as if Dracula went to the school of slapstick comedy and decided to run around throwing cream pies and squirting everyone in the face with a seltzer water bottle instead of biting them on the neck and either feasting on their blood or turning them into a creature of the night.
"Dark Shadows" is somewhat surprising though. Witnessing the whole McDonalds sponsorship scene was a bit painful, but that scene that takes place where Barnabas awakens in 1972 is when the movie illustrates that it is capable of getting dark and violent. Hell, it may even show a little blood every once in awhile. The humor is very ridiculous throughout, but there are quite a few innuendos and a handful of sex jokes that you may not be expecting. There's an entire conversation revolving around balls, a scene where Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) goes down on Barnabas, a pair of panties being shoved and left in Barnabas' face for an extended period of time, and one of the most awkward sex scenes to be released on the big screen that is even more "regrettable" than Barnabas says it is.
Most of the humor that hits its mark the most involves the outdated speaking method that Barnabas uses. His fascination with "fertile birthing hips," the way he keeps referring to Alice Cooper as a hideous woman, and his fantastically longwinded insults are easily the highlight of the character. Chloe Grace Moretz is fairly entertaining, as well. That could just be because she reminds me of my cousin who wishes she was born in the seventies, but her screen time certainly didn't feel like it was wasted.
"Dark Shadows" is this really bizarre excuse of a movie. Some moments are pretty funny and others are fairly clever, but that's where the movie's charm ends. Everything is overly goofy, ridiculous, and too over the top to be completely coherent. Imagine trying to mix a fruit salad and a garden salad. That weird concoction is pretty much what "Dark Shadows" is to the film world. The fantastical comedy isn't really good or downright awful, but you can't really describe it as anything other than "meh." Despite some interesting performances from the entire cast, everything just feels kind of thrown together without much chemistry or purpose.