Sunday, May 20, 2012

Phil sees DARK SHADOWS at the Camera 7 Runeyard Campbell-May 18, 2012

I'm just gonna go ahead and say this right off the bat: Tim Burton has not made an original film since EDWARD SCISSORHANDS and that was way back in 1990! And while A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS was very groundbreaking and original and his followup CORPSE BRIDE still played on this dark theme concept, his live action films have been, putting it mildly, crap. So it came to no surprise when I saw his latest film DARK SHADOWS, I knew it wasn't gonna be good. And lo and behold, I was correct.

Based on the old ABC American Gothic soap opera created by Dan Curtis that ran from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971, this "re-imagination" stars Johnny Depp (how original) as Barnabas Collins, the only son of wealthy parents Joshua and Naomi Collins. In the year 1752, the Collins family travels to the New World from England settles in Collinsport, Maine, named after them and because of their fishing business. Two decades after his parent's death, Barnabas is a young man; is rich, powerful and the master of Collinwood Manor. However things go sour for him when he scorns the heart of a witch named Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), who kills his fiance, turns him into a vampire and buries him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed and emerges into the year 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his estate has fallen into ruin. Inside he meets his now dysfunctional Collins family: patriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer),  her daughter Carolyn (Chloe Moretz), her brother Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller) and his son David (Gulliver McGrath), David's doctor Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), David's governess Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote), and their groundskeeper/butler Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley). Barnabas plans to rebuild the family business to its former glory, but when he discovers that the competitor is owned and operated by none other than Angelique, their bitter feud reignites once more, with yet again the Collins family hanging in the balance.

So the only items I enjoyed about the film was the set design and the cinematography. The sets of the grand Collinwood Manor were indeed extraordinary and impressive; creating the look of a magnificent old English castle that came complete with secret rooms and passages. Cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel did a great job capturing the images, but other than these two items, the rest of the film fell flat on its face.

Half the time I didn't know if the film was supposed to be campy, scary, funny, or dark. All these elements were never fully balanced in my opinion and this caused me to question the film the entire time I was watching it. I did laugh when I was supposed to, some scenes were scary visually, but a lot of the performances were too over the top or under developed. Depp came off like a cross between Nosferatu and Grandpa from THE MUSTERS complete with a hideous bangs. Pfeiffer's acting was too stiff, and Haley's character didn't really need to be there. I could go on for days as to what was wrong with the film, but I don't have the time nor the patience, so I'll just say this: Tim Burton need to get a real job now.

DARK SHADOWS just plain sucks! There, is said it! It sucks, it's stupid, it's lame, it's proof that Burton needs to get back to his roots and create something original other taking existing properties and remaking them. So skip this film all together and see something else. One out of five stars.

DARK SHADOWS is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Camera Cinemas here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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