Dark Shadows: Movie Review

How relative is ‘strange’ really? 

Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloe Moretz , Helena Bonham Carter, Jonny Lee Miller, Gulliver McGrath, Jackie Earle Haley, Bella Heathcote, Ray Shirley, Ivan Kaye, Christopher Lee, Alice Cooper

Synopsis: In 1772, the master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy…until he makes the mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard, a witch.
She turns him into a vampire, and then buries him alive.
When he is freed two centuries later he finds his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better…

Review: Why do we love Johnny Depp? Is it his acting prowess? Is it his versatility – the ability with which he switches from one challenging role to another? Or something else? Probably it is the union of the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp duo who have given us nothing short of movie marvels in the past. Right from “Edward Scissorhands” to “Alice in Wonderland”, all their films have become movie memorabilia for a true fanatic to have collected the DVDs as soon as they come out in stores.

The beauty of a Tim Burton film always reflects in its cinematography (Bruno Delbonnel known best for “Amelie” and “A Very Long Engagement”) and a well-woven script before the words are enacted by a stellar cast and expertly directed. It is but a great experience to watch Johnny Depp everytime he’s out there performing. He emotes so well in each of his scenes, lovingly devoting time to each one of those expressions that you simply feel that you belong there, in the scene – nothing short of feeling at ‘home’ with the star!

Besides, the film boasts of a huge and great array of highly acclaimed actors all coming together for this film. Helena Bonham Carter (pretty much all Tim Burton films and Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter franchise) is a very talented actress, the camera just has to capture her in the flow, as though the roles are tailor-made for her. Just like, “Dark Shadows”, where she plays Dr. Julia Hoffman, a resident doctor in Collinwood. Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard does an impressive job as perhaps the only sane living Collins – the legendary family of Maine who came to settle in America in the last 18th Century from Liverpool. However, the performance that will completely stun the audiences is the one from Eva Green (Bond girl in Casino Royale), I was completely awestruck by her performance. Perhaps she made for the perfect vamp in the film, playing Angelique Bouchard, an evil witch who was crazily in love with Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp here). The appreciation of the cast does not just end here for despite the better known actors as mentioned prior, none of them seemed typecasted.

Now, to talk about the story, I was a tad-bit disappointed. There was a certain expectation from a story written for a Tim Burton film and “Dark Shadows” did not live upto it. The trailers looked more than promising but the outcome was sheer laziness. It was a ready script that had to be polished and adapted to the likeness of a typical Tim Burton film franchise. But what we saw, was somehow unfathomable and in some parts, ridiculous (now you must watch the film to gauge that part). The television series, “Dark Shadows” starring Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins came out in 1966 establishing a new and albeit one of the best blood-sucking vampires the world would see. With Count Dracula and more recently, Edward Cullen giving competition for the coveted title, it must have been a tough fight, I say.

A lot of scenes were forceful inserts, something that was not required, maybe the same could have been done differently with more finesse. The film highlights the thought, "family is the only real wealth", so it shows the Collins family, whoever remains of it and who has joined them as an extended family, all with their inner demons intact which surface quite often. Also, Barnabas Collins’ (Johnny Depp) obsession with looking for Satan a.k.a. Mephistopheles is hilarious especially the one where he mistakes a well-known fast-food brand for a glowing sign indicating Satan’s presence. But again, the best part of the film was still Eva Green, she completely lived up to the phrase, “Hell Hath No Fury like a Witch Scorned”, tweaked as per suited, ofcourse.

And, an added attraction, no two – Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) was hyptonised by Barnabas Collins and the first-ever Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) made a guest appearance too. This was in some way a tribute to Mr. Frid, a fabulous actor who we lost this year. In conclusion, I would only say that when heading for the film, expect little, like you would a general film, no strings attached – you will enjoy more. Besides, Johnny Depp is a star. His charm shall hypnotise and beckon you to watch the film solely for him. Such is the law of attraction, don’t you agree?

Verdict: Watch the film in theatres only, the fabulous direction and acting is what you must look out for!

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2 Comments

  1. Kos

    May 17, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    How can you put this movie in the ‘horror’ genre, when its literally a comedy.
    the ending was downright unbecoming of a Tim Burton movie. it left a bad taste in ones mouth. with such a stellar cast, expectations were much, much higher.

  2. niroop

    May 20, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    worth watching once!! johnny depp!! he’s jus awesome!!

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