Johnny Depp-Tim Burton collaboration is a flat out disaster; Statham's 'Safe' is a gritty 1970s-style throwback
There is something so sad about a movie that wants to be funny and isn’t. Dark Shadows is exhibit one, another collaboration between director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp, a union that has produced excellent results in the past (Edward Scissorhands, Alice in Wonderland) and some misfires (Sweeney Todd).
The movie plays its parody elements dead straight, with a plot revolving around a befuddled vampire who can’t quite get the hang of life in modern times and his nemesis, a witch who relishes the modern world.
Depp plays the vampire, Barnabas Collins, who has been locked away in a coffin for 200 years, put there by the vengeful witch Angelique (Eva Green), whose love for Barnabas was spurned in favor of the innocent Josette. In revenge mode, Angelique bewitches Josette, who plunges to her death over a cliff.
This all happens before the opening credits, then we are sent forward in time to the discovery of the Barnabas Collins casket and the release of Barnabas, who revives his spirits with some fresh kills and then goes home to meet his modern ancestors.
The plot is based on the hit vampire soap opera TV show of the same name from the 1960s. I never watched it so I can’t explain the fascination that led to Burton’s interest in reviving the story.
The vampire angle is almost a side issue. Yes, Barnabas kills construction workers and a band of hippies, but it is not with any malice. He wishes he didn’t thirst for fresh human blood, but what can you do when a witch has cursed you?
A series I did watch as a child was The Addams Family, and Dark Shadows comes off as a wan rip-off of that show without any of the laughter or wit that John Astin brought to the TV series and was later continued by Raul Julia in the movie version.
Dark Shadows just sits there flat and boring, with the energy of the actors in lock down mode thanks to laugh lines that get no laughter and a storyline that never goes anywhere interesting,
The only actor who almost pulls off her performance is Green. She is outlandishly over-the-top and determined to breathe some life into this total misfire. Unfortunately, except for a couple of rare joke set-ups that actually work, her efforts are in vain.
’70s Throwback ‘Safe’
My fellow film critics and I tend to use previous films of a similar genre to compare and contrast the worthiness of the latest entry in that genre. However, when your film is titled Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, there isn’t much hope of finding a similar effort for a side by side comparison.
Joss Whedon, the man behind beloved TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, has unleashed a ton of unadulterated popcorn movie fun with his marvelous multi-superhero extravaganza, The Avengers. It’s everything you would expect from a comic book adaptation that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it delivers plenty of action along with an equal amount of superhero temper tantrums.
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