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dir Tim Burton
scr Seth Grahame-Smith
prd Christi Dembrowski, Johnny Depp, David Kennedy, Graham King, Richard D Zanuck
with Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Bella Heathcote, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jonny Lee Miller, Gulliver McGrath, Ray Shirley, Christopher Lee, Alice Cooper
release UK/US 11.May.12
12/UK Warner 1h53
Family values: Depp and Pfeiffer
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
There were 1,245 episodes of the gothic soap Dark Shadows between 1966 and 1971, so adapting it into a movie was never going to be easy. The script is an odd mix of smart dialog and random plot-strands, and while Burton gets the style right he never quite finds the tone.
After spending nearly 200 years trapped in a coffin, Barnabas Collins (Depp) is released to rejoin what's left of his wealthy New England family in 1972. The matriarch Elizabeth (Pfeiffer) now lives in the falling-down manor Collinswood with her brother Roger (Miller), her daughter (Moretz) and his son (McGrath), as well as a live-in shrink (Bonham Carter), a caretaker (Haley) and a new governess (Heathcote). But Angelique (Green), the witch who turned Barnabas into a vampire, is still trying to destroy the family.
The script is a collection of soap-opera story threads: Angelique's increasingly maniacal efforts to thwart Barnabas from saving the Collins family business, Barnabas' sudden crush on the governess who looks like his long-lost love, the young son's mental instability after his mother's death. Strangely, this leaves the terrific Pfeiffer with nothing to do but radiate her character's exasperation. Bonham Carter, Moretz, Haley have fun even though they too sit mainly on the sidelines. And Miller is completely superfluous.
Through all of this, Depp once again camps it up to fine effect as an undead gentleman outside of his time. This leaves Green to give a wildly over-the-top performance that calls to mind the Meryl-Goldie diva-off Death Becomes Her, especially when the effects wizards get their hands on her. But the film isn't a broad comedy, and there are occasional moments when everything comes together into something rather sophisticated and darkly witty.
Indeed, the script is packed with clever dialog, and Burton keeps it eye-catching, with first-rate effects, clever set design and warm cinematography. The 1970s period allows for a steady stream of amusing gags, plus music from the Carpenters to Alice Cooper, who pops in to perform a couple of numbers on-screen. But for the most part, it's simply not funny enough to keep us entertained and not dramatic enough to hold our interest.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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