Dark Shadows Movie Review
Before I get into my review, I want to make it clear that typically, I love Tim Burton’s work. He’s one of my favorite artists. In fact, I’ve already drawn caricatures from three of his other movies (which I’ll be linking throughout this review). I say “artist” rather than “director” because Burton has always been more concerned with style and visuals than with plot. For most directors this would be a huge problem, but since Burton’s style is so unique the audience is willing to forgive a lot more. When it works, it really works. When it doesn’t, you get Dark Shadows.
There is almost nothing redeeming about this movie. This movie was made for no one. The tone is all over the place, it’s not funny, and if it wasn’t Tim Burton/Johnny Depp I doubt it would have been made. I hated, hated, HATED this movie. It’s easily Burton’s worst, and he’s put out some real trash over the last ten years. I’ll go over the pros and cons. Spoilers follow, but are you really going to see it?
This is tough, but I did find a couple of positive aspects of this film. (They’re both related to the art and effects department.)
- The visual effects are top notch, as always. The fight at the end features some impressive effects work. There’s an effect in which Eva Green’s skin is gradually shattering like porcelain. The cracking is seamless and subtle at first, then it gradually gets more distinct and deep. Making Alice Cooper look 40 years younger is impressive as well. (Although his appearance in this movie is ultimately pointless.)
- The main set is gorgeous. The art department successfully communicates an old, opulent house that has been left to decay. The subtle visual cues help transport the viewer into that world. The 1970s decorum added to a Georgian mansion is a nice touch, as well.
Oh, there is so much wrong with this film, I don’t even know where to begin.
- The story is all over the place, and forgettable. That’s the cardinal sin of a movie, to be forgettable.
- Did anyone try to act in this movie? I think everyone’s performance was phoned in, except for maybe the hippies. Johnny Depp looks bored. Eva Green chews the scenery, as always. Michelle Pfeiffer just wants her paycheck.
- The jokes fall flat. Every single one. I only remember two of the jokes, and I didn’t laugh at either of them. The rest I can’t even remember. This was a comedy, right?
- Too much padding. Several scenes could have easily been cut from this movie. Hell, several characters could have been cut from this movie. What was the point of Jonny Lee Miller’s character? Or Jackie Earle Haley’s? If these characters weren’t in the original soap opera, I doubt they would have been in this movie. They don’t do anything.
- The tone of this movie is scattered. It goes from family sitcom to gory horror to sex “comedy”, often within the same scene. I’m totally in favor with mixing horror with comedy, but it’s a balancing trick to do it right. Evil Dead II and Cabin in the Woods do it right. Beetlejuice does it right. This movie does it wrong.
- The vampire rules in this movie make Twilight look sophisticated. Barnabas has caught fire from standing in the sun and he can’t tell? Yet he can go out in the sun if he has an umbrella? Okay. Fantasy is fine, just be consistent.
- The twist ending is incredibly stupid. Helena Bonham Carter is still alive (undead?) at the bottom of the ocean? Who didn’t see that coming? Who cares? She didn’t have a character anyway.
I could go on and on, but I really don’t want to give this waste of celluloid any more of my time or attention. There’s not much to like about this movie, and unless you’re a hardcore Tim Burton completist, there’s no reason to see it. Even if you are, you should probably skip it.
Story: ★ of 5
Drama: ★ of 5
Comedy: ★ of 5
Visuals: ★★★★★ of 5
Overall: ★½ of 5
I haven’t seen Big Eyes yet, but I’m hoping it’s better. (I’ve heard it is.) The last Tim Burton movie that I really liked was Big Fish, and that came out 12 years ago. He’s due. Do you agree with this review? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.
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