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Movie Review: Dim 'Shadows'

Johnny Depp-Tim Burton collaboration is a flat out disaster; Statham's 'Safe' is a gritty 1970s-style throwback

By Lori Hoffman
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 4 | Posted May. 12, 2012

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Dark Shadows

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’

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Comments 1 - 4 of 4
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1. Spelling Police said... on May 12, 2012 at 10:17PM

“*Vain”

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2. Anonymous said... on May 13, 2012 at 10:49AM

“This movie lacks a good plot so badly that one wonders during the film - yes, during watching! That's how disturbingly empty this film is! - whether they may have forgotten to cut everything into the film that they actually shot. I seriously felt like something has accidentally not been edited and just forgotten. Whole characters disappear out of the film for long periods of time, nothing is ever explained, and whoever wrote that was either 8 years old or drunk or both. Yikes, what a waste of money. On the bright side - there is a pretty good re-occurring ghost-sequence, and Barnabas is hellish sexy.”

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3. Anonymous said... on May 15, 2012 at 09:00AM

“I've never liked any of Tim Burton's movies - they are all so dark & ever so tediously long - it's ashame that such a talented movie star who is 'fun' to watch (beside being handsome) spends so much of his time in Burton's movies.”

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4. Don Hurley said... on May 19, 2012 at 10:50AM

“I still remain a huge fan of the original Dark Shadows TV series. I think the problem with this film remake is that it will not satisfy the yearning of nostalgia for original fans....and does not do enough to make new ones for the the next generation. The first ten minutes begin with a bang....and it fizzles out from there. I'm not sorry I saw it....but the film had the potential to be so much more.”

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