5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2012
Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and "Dark Shadows" would seem to be a match made in heaven, high-camp or otherwise. Unfortunately, it's not. The story, which combines a Gothic love triangle, lazy jokes about 1970s pop culture, and 200-year-old vampire Barnabas Collins's struggle to break a curse set on his house by the witch whose love he rejected in the 18th century and restore his family's fortunes, never comes together in any meaningful way. The movie is overpopulated, and we are given little reason to care about any of the characters.
I didn't hate "Dark Shadows," but I couldn't shake the feeling that this was a movie in search of a reason to have been made. It wasn't played straight enough to be taken on its own terms, and it wasn't played over-the-top enough to be campy fun. Burton's always-enjoyable visual style is wasted on this overlong, dull film.
44 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2012
Tim Burton's Dark Shadows is definitive proof that you really CAN polish a turd. Yes, the movie's visuals are quite polished and easy on the eyes, but that does not give the rest of the movie a pass. I am a fan of the original series, and I can tell you that this is by no means anywhere close to the spirit of the original material. I have heard from some that this is a "dark comedy." I would have to disagree. This film plays like a broken metronome that bounces back and forth between puerile wacky slapstick and attempts at horror. The result is a two hour, $150 million identity crisis that is neither funny nor scary. I read recently that there was an earlier version of the script which was penned by John August, who wrote Tim Burton's "Big Fish". August's version was much darker, took itself more seriously, was more complex, and had more of a sense of history to it. August said that there were still some elements of humor to his version, but it wasn't in your face juvenile comedy. Burton and Depp decided to jettison August's script in favor of one written by Seth Grahame-Smith, whose credits include "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" and "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies". These books in Barnes and Noble stores reside in a niche section titled "Paranormal Teen Romance." Every time I pass this section I have to do an eyeroll. Grahame-Smith had never even seen the original series. His "take" was written after viewing some episodes provided by Burton. If you ask the average fan of the original show what they remember most fondly about it they will most likely tell you that it was a particular story arc or a certain character, e.g. Quentin or the Reverend Trask. What you most likely NOT hear from them is that it was campy. That seems to be the one element that was taken from the source materiel and nothing else. If your movie is going to masquerade with the same name as the original, use the same character names as the original, include the name of the series creator in your credits, and even use the same title font as the original, one would assume that you would at least try to retain the slightest semblance to the original. If Burton and Depp wanted to be the slightest bit honest about this movie, they should have named this effort "Puerile Crappy Vampire Out of Time Movie, with One-Joke Premise Stretched for Two Hours." It also didn't help that Depp was made to like like a Geisha that was booted out of a Japanese anime cartoon.
44 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2012
If you have even a modicum of affection or respect for the original TV series from 1966-71, you will not buy this movie, you will not rent it, you will not watch clips of it. You will run, not walk, in the opposite direction.
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp clearly don't understand the meaning of "homage." Homage flatters and honors. This movie ridiculed. In the late and wonderful Jonathan Frid's hands, the character of Barnabas Collins was poignant, nuanced, and at times, quite scary. Johnny Depp turned the character into a candy-colored clown.
Even if you are a Burton/Depp fan (and I used to be), you'll see this film for what it is: a complete mishmash that has no clue what it wants to be. Subplots are thrown in, characters reduced to a single note, lots of flash but no substance.
I was, and still am, a huge fan of the series. When I saw this movie in the theater, I left in tears. If it were possible to give it negative stars, I would do so.
67 of 95 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2012
Tim Burton's twisted reimaging of Dark Shadows is not for everyone - An open mind is a must for this film. It isn't an outright comedy, but it does have fun with the melodrama and stiff style of the original 1960s TV series. Johnny Depp is creepily perfect as the vampire Barnabas, and the rest of the cast is equally good - The stylish visuals are spectacular, the plot is convoluted and perhaps a bit unfocused, but there is obvious love for the source material in Burton's work. The nay-sayers may have cried foul over the film's outrageous approach, but Tim Burton's signature style is a perfect match for the Gothic weirdness of this classic saga. I would have given the film five stars, but a couple of needlessly tacky sexual jokes lowered the tone just a bit - Even so, four strong stars for this off-beat tale of an 18th Century vampire in the modern world.
P.S., If you like this adaptation, don't miss the original 1971 film version, "House of Dark Shadows"
House of Dark Shadows
25 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Tim Burton has made a career off of the `strange and unusual'. In fact, he has rarely strayed from that formula in his entire career. He has made gems like "Edward Scissorhands", "Beetlejuice", "Batman", "The Nightmare before Christmas", "Corpse Bride", "Ed Wood", "Sweeney Todd", and the list goes on and on. He has also teamed up with Johnny Depp now eight times. With "Dark Shadows" he has kept with the `strange and unusual' theme, but the strangest thing about it, is the lack of comedy in the film, despite the trailers obvious comedic tone.
I wasn't sure what to think about "Dark Shadows". I have been a huge fan of Tim Burton over the years, but the trailer promoting the film just didn't grab me as funny. I felt like the trailer was trying to be funny, and I found it `strange' and flat. I know now, after watching the film, that my perception and preconceived notion was the correct one.
For all I know, the film will enjoy the same camp following as the television show in which it is based upon. In 1966, the television show "Dark Shadows" debuted on ABC and it was melodramatic, campy and `strange'. The television show was a gothic soap opera and that is exactly what the film is. It centers around Barnabas Collins, a man who unfortunately draws the intense eye of a hired help named Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). He doesn't return her affections and when he falls in love with another. Bouchard, a witch, casts spells that change all of their lives forever.
The film has amazing effects and design. Most Burton films do. I was most drawn by the amazing effect they had for the witch as she cracks from time to time like a porcelain doll. It was an amazing effect, and it isn't the only one. The thing about "Dark Shadows" is that it could have been great. It had the potential to be great, but there were just too many scenes that served no purpose in the film, except to try and be funny and most weren't. The movie jumped from drama to comedy without warning and it never tapped into a single emotion the whole time.
I wanted to like it. That's the thing. When you go into a film `wanting' to like it and knowing you're going to like it, and don't. There's something wrong. A better script should have been written.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2012
I know Hollywood is starved for originality, but mining old TV series isn't working and they can't figure it out. In the same vein as A Team, Starsky/Hutch, Dark Shadows disappoints. It failed to capture the macabre, creepy, campy feel of the TV show. I normally love the Depp/Burton collaborations, but this one fell short. I don't recommend buying it. Maybe as a rental if youre tired of watching Avnegers, but otherwise skip it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2012
This is an amusing romp, at least from time to time, and you cannot beat the 70s vibe with the music and costumes and the amazing production design. The story lacks, though, despite the actors' best efforts.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is a Tim Burton movie! That should have already told me that this is not going to be anything like the original Dark Shadow. Sometimes, I got the impression that Tim Burton could not make up his mind. Is this a comedy or a horror show?
All this tragedy, all this suffering, came about because a young Barnabas spurned the love of the family maid, Angelique. Unfortunately for Barnabas, Angelique is unlike most women. Most women who get spurned simply just suck it up, get depressed, and write poems about it. But not Angelique. Angelique knows witchcraft! She puts together a curse to strike at Barnabas, turning him into a vampire. Unable to control his urge to suck the life blood from humans, Barnabas eventually gets imprisoned and buried away. The people of Collinsport eventually got tired of his dining habits, marches up to Collinwood and takes Barnabas into custody. Driven by Angelique, they imprison Barnabas into a special coffin and buried him deep under ground. Time marched on and eventually these events were forgotten.
Now, fast forward two hundred years into the future, to the year 1972. Construction workers accidentally release Barnabas from his coffin. Still alive, the vampire wakes up from his sleep of two centuries. Immediately, he makes his way back to Collinwood, and finds the once-glorious mansion in a state of decay and disrepair. The family fortune has turned for the worse, it would seem. Barnabas introduces himself to the now dysfunctional Collins family and learns that the once thriving Collins caning plant has been struggling to stay in business. To complicate matters, Barnabas must now learn to adapt to the modern world. Nevertheless, Barnabas makes a vow to his new family that he will bring the family business back to its former glory, and with it, the family finances. Angelique is still alive, naturally. And now owns the biggest business in town.
This is actually a pretty good movie. I'm just not a big fan of Tim Burton's ideas. I much prefer the Dark Shadows revival of the early 1990s. Anyway, I do agree with the comedic and light-hearted treatment of the material. With all of the vampire movies out there (Twilight, True Blood, Underworld, Blade), the last thing Hollywood needed was another stereotypical vampire flick. So, perhaps this may not have been the right moment to bring out another vampire film. And if you must do so, you have to be a little different. And this one certainly is. Vampires are a dime a dozen in cinema today. Perhaps Dan Curtis' vision would have been met with lukewarm reception, given the number of vampire exposure on both the big screen and television. Tim Burton probably felt like he needed to take his movie in another direction. Given that there were other vampire-themed movies to come out in 2012, from the outlandish "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" to the latest in the "Twilight" franchise, it may have been the right thing to do.
Johnny Depp is actually very good as Barnabas. Eva Green and Michelle Pfeifer were pretty good in their respective roles. In my view, Chloe Grace Moretz should have been given better material to work with. She was wasted in this film. Jack Earle Haley is fine as Willie, but I would have much preferred Steve Buscemi for the role.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2012
Dark Shadows (2012). Rated PG-13. Running Time: One hour, 53 mins.
Directed by Tim Burton.
The House of Dark Shadows is Alive. Woof!
I appreciate Tim Burton and Johnny Depp revitalizing Dark Shadows again for those of us middle-aged and seniors who enjoyed the original Dark Shadows soap opera (1966-71) in our younger days. Perhaps this movie will open some new doors and obtain new fans.
Dark Shadows (1966-71) is still more popular than ever. The DVD Collections are selling like hot cakes.
After seeing Sleepy Hollow (1991) and Alice in Wonderland (2010), I then got the idea of what Tim Burton and Johnny Depp might do with Dark Shadows (2012). It was very different and tried to be more of a comedy to honor the 1970's and the Dark Shadows story.
The movie opens giving us a brief history of the Collins family and how this town of Collinsport was built up by the Collins Family. Now it's 1972 and Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote) is at first taking a train ride and then having to hitch a ride to the Collinwood Estate. The song "Nights in White Satin" by Moody Blues, is played to help us get in the mood.
A chained coffin is excavated deep underground from where one of Angelique's building projects will be constructed. A workman breaks the chains from around the coffin and the strong power of Barnabas Collins is unleashed. Everyone is killed at the construction site. Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has been locked away for 195 years and has an incredible thirst for human blood. You see he is a vampire. For the first time, Barnabas sees a McDonald's Restaurant and a paved road with an automobile. He makes his way back to the Collinwood Estate.
This movie includes the cameo appearance of four original cast members of Dark Shadows (ABC 1966-71). Jonathan Frid ("Barnabas Collins"), Kathryn Leigh Scott ("Maggie"), Lara Parker ("Angelique") and David Selby ("Quentin").
My eyes were focused on Jonathan Frid and Kathryn Leigh Scott and although they were together, Lara Parker and David Selby went by too fast for me to see clearly. They should have let them stop and all say a few lines so they could be seen real good on film.
How interesting to note that Jonathan Frid became popular with his first appearance as "Barnabas Collins" in Dark Shadows in 1967 and his final role was in this "Dark Shadows" movie. He made his exit stage left. He passed away April 14, 2012 at the age of 87.
Christopher Lee also has a small role who was known in his prime as Dracula, Prince of Darkness. Dracula Prince of Darkness/The Satanic Rites of Dracula.
Alice Cooper sings a couple songs from his heyday in the 1970's.
Everyone has their own opinion of how a new Dark Shadows movie could be. I would like to add my 2 cents worth.
I don't think it was necessary for Johnny Depp to wear the white make-up at all. He could have played "Barnabas" with his own natural face and skin tone and it would have worked.
I didn't care for Jackie Earle Haley as "Willie" and thought it would have been great if the original "Willie" from the tv series could have played "Willie" again. Karlen did played "Willie" again in House of Dark Shadows (1970) and "Alex Jenkins" in Night Of Dark Shadows (1971).
Eva Green you know as "Vesper Lynd" in Casino Royale [HD] (2006) and now Penny Dreadful: Season 1 [Blu-ray].
They made "Carolyn" a girl of 15 years old in this version. I thought Chloe Grace Moretz did a wonderful job and I think we will be seeing much more of her as an actress in her adult years to come.
I wanted so much to hear Michelle Pfeiffer say "Meow" in this film, but not even close.
Jonny Lee Miller is the grandson of Bernard Lee who played "M" in the James Bond movies in 1962-1979. Jonny is now on the CBS tv series Elementary: Season 1.
Dark Shadows was broadcast on the ABC Network before or after "General Hospital" in your area. In the end, in 1971, they wanted to replace it with the "Password" game show.
Others played "Barnabas", Ben Cross in Dark Shadows (1990-91) and Alec Newman in an unaired pilot in 2004.
If they were to ever make a serious "Dark Shadows", I have wondered how soap opera actor Victor Irizarry would have faired.
This 2012 movie does have its faults, but if they wanted to make a Dark Shadows Part 2, I would go see it.
Dark Shadows: The Complete Original Series (Deluxe Edition) (ABC 1966-71).
House of Dark Shadows (1970).
Night of Dark Shadows (1971) (1971).
Dark Shadows: The Revival - The Complete Series (NBC 1990-91).
June 27, 2016 will mark the 50th Anniversary of Dark Shadows.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2013
It is not the worst movie of the year, at least that much could be said for Tim Burton's Dark Shadows. Fans of Burton's films pretty much know what to expect here: an Elfman score that could have easily come from any other movie he scored; the screen-stealing presence of Johnny Depp; supporting actress Helena Bonham Carter (who wields a pretty decent American accent in this film); and gorgeous landscapes-oh, the landscapes and set designs are the best part of the film, as it usually goes for Burton. Dark Shadows also boasts a respectable battery of supporting actors/actresses in Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloe Grace Moretz and Jackie Earle Haley. The downside: Depp's portrayal of Barnabas Collins is so utterly over the top and hammy that one wonders how he and Burton were ever allowed to get signed off to do this film; the script is about as imaginative as what you would expect a fusion of Dick and Jane and the Hardy Boys would result in, but to give it its due, what the plot lacks in originality (or even homage to the original) it more than makes up for with wild careening inconsistencies; the climax plods and the ending is about as hackneyed and as give the people what they want trite as you could ever hope for. Please, please, PLEASE keep Burton away from remakes as he has f'ed up Sleepy Hollow, f'ed up Alice in Wonderland and royally f'ed up Willy Wonka. Now Dark Shadows can be cast to that pile---would that it could be sealed in the coffin that Barnabas Collins was and sealed away for 200 years.