- Director:Tim Burton
- Cast:Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Bella Heathcote, Chloe Moretz, Michelle Pfeiffer
- Release Date:May 10, 2012
- Running time:113 minutes
- Film Worth:$15.00
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
While Tim Burton disappointingly reins in the weirdness and struggles to nail the tone, this is still packed with memorable moments and terrific performances.
Despite his penchant for basic black and obvious distrust of hair styling products, Tim Burton is, indeed, now a part of the Hollywood firmament. Sure, he's a hell of a lot more inventive and unusual than the likes of Michael Bay or Peter Berg, but his days of making wacked out but utterly wonderful masterpieces like Ed Wood and Edward Scissorhands appear to be well and truly over. With the recent likes of Alice In Wonderland and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, he's proven himself an industry player of the first order, delivering major blockbusters with a minimum of either controversy or genuine feeling. None of this, mind you, is to say that Tim Burton is bad. He's just - to use a distressingly appropriate cliché - not as good as he used to be. The big budget quirk-fest, Dark Shadows, does nothing to curtail what appears to be a major plateau in Burton's career. We might hopefully see an upswing with his to-be-released-later-this-year animated film, Frankenweenie (which is based on one of his early short films), but for the time being, Tim Burton appears to be stuck in a Hollywood rut.
Based on the largely-unseen-in-Australia (though now conveniently available on DVD) US Gothic soap opera TV series from the mid-sixties/early seventies, Dark Shadows begins with an obviously expensive, horribly clumsy, and largely unnecessary 1700s prologue before kicking off proper (to the delirious sounds of The Moody Blues' "Nights In White Satin", no less) in 1972. This is where we meet vampire, Barnabas Collins (the ever beautiful Johnny Depp, clouded in white makeup and having a ball with his arch, amusing character), who is awakened from a centuries-old slumber and tossed into a not-so-brave-new-world replete with lava lamps, The Carpenters, television, and mini-skirts. After immediately sating his thirst for blood, Barnabas sets about restoring the fortunes of his ailing family (presided over by a regal, funny, captivating and breathtakingly beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer), and doing battle with the witch-cum-successful-businesswoman (the bizarrely beautiful Eva Green, proving again to be a singularly strange and unsettling screen presence) who turned him into a vampire when he spurned her advances over two centuries ago.
While populated with a cast of impossibly attractive oddballs (Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller and Alice Cooper also appear) obviously high on the film's kinkily realised seventies setting and camp theatrics, and filled with memorable moments (the curiously lurid sight of brilliant baby faced teenager, Chloe Grace Moretz, dancing seductively to Donovan's "Season Of The Witch" is troubling, to say the least), Dark Shadows never really goes far enough. Burton awkwardly walks a tonal tightrope, not quite deciding if he's making a fish-out-of-water comedy, a dark-hued romance, or a big horror thriller. The climax, meanwhile, is the kind of unfocused sound-and-fury extravaganza seen in too many Hollywood blockbusters these days, and while the film offers up a refreshingly large collection of fascinating female characters (young Aussie, Bella Heathcote, is terrific as Barnabas' love interest), Dark Shadows is the work of a masterful filmmaker not firing on all cylinders...but even when he's not at his best, Tim Burton is still pretty damn good.