Posted by Alia Haddad on May 16, 2012 at 7:16 am
Well, this confirms it (as if it hadn’t been confirmed before): Tim Burton has most definitely lost it. How can I be so sure? Well, because Dark Shadows was just that bad. What had been billed to be the campy, fun vampire hit with a stellar cast of the summer, turned out to be an unbearable take of what not to do when making a vampire movie, let alone a summer blockbuster.
Running at just under 2 hours, the movie somehow felt impossibly long. Perhaps this was due to the never-ending plot lines that just kept being brought up. While the plot synopsis is simple enough– a vampire, Barnabas Collins, who has been imprisoned for over 200 years is now back to reclaim his town-supporting family fishing business and to reek vengeance on the witch who made him this way– the movie was plagued with so many minor and departing story lines that it became extremely hard to follow, and even harder to care. There were so many story lines (and apparently not enough running time), that a central plot point was never discussed. Why was Barnabas’s two love interests throughout the film played by the same actress, despite the former one’s death 200 years prior? Did Burton think he might overlook that weird detail in order to spare us some obvious back story? If so, Mr. Burton, it was not so obvious.
In addition to the ridiculously murky plot, and not to mention the obscuring of popular vampire folklore, the acting was just sort of meh. While I realize that Webster’s has yet to define just what “meh” means, there is really no other way to describe the acting and participation in the film. In a movie where the cast should have been charismatic and lovable before all else, the cast was running on lukewarm. This was especially disappointing when considering how star-laden Dark Shadows was. I mean, with a cast of Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Johnny Lee Miller, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Alice Cooper, one expects this movie to be, at the very least, fun to watch because of all that star power. But, alas, there isn’t enough star power in the world to save this film.
To be fair, there were some lighter spots in a film that was mainly dark(shadows) in my eyes. First, typical to any Burton film, Dark Shadows was hyper-stylized. This quality could definitely be a bad one if you aren’t a fan of this type of stylization, but luckily, I am. And if Edward Scissorhands taught me anything, it’s that Burton is at his stylization best when he’s working in a modern period (50s onward); because Dark Shadows took place mainly in the 1970s, I lucked out! Second, and this goes hand in hand with the visual stylization of the film, the music was definitely on the good side, great even.
Sadly, a movie’s style and soundtrack isn’t ever enough to save it from bad movie (and box office) despair–e.g., Elizabethtown-- and this definitely proved true in Dark Shadows. If you’re looking for an entertaining summer vampire movie, then I suggest waiting for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.
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