CAST: Eva Green, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller; DIRECTOR: Tim Burton; WRITER: Dan Curtis, John August, Seth Grahame-Smith; GENRE: Comedy / Fantasy; PRODUCED BY: Richard, D. Zanuck, Graham King, Johnny Depp, Christi Dembrowski, David Kennedy; CINEMATOGRAPHY: Bruno Delbonnel; EDITING BY: Chris Lebenzon; DISTRIBUTED BY: Warner Bros.; LOCATION: United States; RUNNING TIME: 113 minutes
Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 2
Cinema rating: For viewers 14 years old and above
Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet—or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy...until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets.— Warner Bros.
Tim Burton revives the classic cult series through Dark Shadows, tagged as a “murderously funny fantasy” starring Depp as Gothic vampire Barnabbas Collins. The movie may be escapist, all right, and with production designer Rick Heinrichs providing the atmospheric interiors, exploited to the max by cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, and topped off with the tingling score by Danny Elfmann, it does provide an elegant and glamorous escape, whether or not you go for vampires or Goths.
For a bit of history: the original Dark Shadows, Dan Curtis’s vividly melodramatic ABC-TV series, pioneered the use of supernatural elements in soap opera. It ran weekdays from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971, amassing 1,225 episodes, which is more than most other sci-fi series, including Doctor Who and Star Trek. Now—both director Burton and star Depp have professed to being obsessed with Dark Shadows in their youth, and especially with debonair vampire Barnabas Collins, the series’ most memorable character.
Those who have seen the original (even internet-smart kids nowadays can download the complete original series) would naturally compare this Dark Shadows to the original concept; they might notice that Burton’s adaptation relies for impact on jokes and special effects instead of the foreboding atmosphere of the original. The dashing vampire playboy is sometimes overpowered by Depp, the go-to for such bizarre character roles, who as the vampire resurrected after 200 years is a stranger to the modern world circa 1971, when they had only television. Imagine how that vampire would react had he lain underground for another 40 years, when we have internet and all that! Anyway, it’s an old team, as Burton and Depp also collaborated on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland.
Would you want children to see Dark Shadows (2012)? Why not, as long as you warn them it’s fiction. There’s a lesson somewhat to be learned here about fooling around with love. Jilted women (like the witch who falls madly in love with Collins) could give you hell even if they can’t turn you into a vampire or curse your whole family; they could be witchy enough to make your life really miserable, even if only through Facebook. Depp’s role here exhibits a mellowed character towards the end, who—although as a vampire he also inflicts harm on others—may not be totally unredeemable.