After the trailer was released, many sat pondering in their seats whether the world needed another vampire flick, even if it did include the dream duo of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Fortunately for Burton, Dark Shadows proved to be a fine movie, for the most part...
I'm not sure why that line is there. Oh well...
To be honest, the expectations I had for this movie were low when I entered the auditorium; the trailer had lead me to believe that nothing good could possibly come of Dark Shadows. However, I was pleasantly surprised soon enough, and found myself enjoying the film rather than palming my face in disappointment. Depp did well balancing the humor and the drama, and Burton continued to toy with my interest, and suspension of disbelief. If there was anything that set me apart from my positive attitude during the first fifteen minutes of the movie it was the mixing: it seemed that somebody had managed to make the music just loud enough to cover up some of the initial narration. Could have been my old-man hearing, but at least I was able to enjoy Elfman's work.
Artistically, the film was awesome. Dark Shadows was as-seventies-as-possible without being excessive, and I think the lack of excess is what made this film stick together. Never was the humor forced, or the plot dragging; Burton made his film ridiculous enough to be humorous, but semi-serious at the same time. Undoubtedly, this balance could not have been possible without the characters apart from Barnabas Collins (Depp).
The dysfunctional Collins family, looking their best
The Collins family made the film. They are much like the Addam's family in the aspect they are all darkly different, but unique in a more realistic manner (assuming you consider the ability to see ghosts more realistic than Thing). Casting for their family was superb: Pfeiffer leads the household as the strong, business oriented mother, Gulliver McGrath plays the youngest (David) who could have definitely used some more screen time, and Chloë Grace Moretz didn't disappoint (to my surprise). Dark Shadows also welcomed newcomer Bella Heathcote, previously in In Time as well as a handful of Australian productions.
Bella Heathcote. Hopefully we'll be seeing more of her soon.
Heathcote plays the live-in governess hired to tutor David, the boy who sees the ghost of his dead mother. Neither of these two characters get enough screen time, though they are, in my opinion, the most interesting of the crew. Maybe I favor them because I would have rather watched a Poltergeist-style film than some cheesy vampire flick, or because I melted when I first stared into Heathcote's eyes. Nevertheless, my opinion was swayed by the events of the film, which I can't relay to you without being a spoiler: and nobody likes a spoiler.
To end on a positive note, I would recommend this movie to anyone looking forward to seeing Johnny Depp play another strange being, or anyone who has enough time on their hands and is looking for a laugh. But, I do have to warn you of THE LAST THIRTY MINUTES.
The last thirty minutes of a movie are the most important of the entire film, second being the first thirty minutes. What is seen in the last thirty minutes is what you remember the best about the film, and if the film does not have a good ending, then obviously what you remember about it will not be positive. Now, you remember early when I said Chloë Grace Moretz didn't disappoint me? Well, that was all up until the last thirty minutes. Without giving anything away, she turns into this thing, which is totally unbelievable, and all suspension of disbelief is thrown out the window along with your lunch and any redemption Moretz received after her terrible job in Hugo.
Regardless of the last thirty minutes, in which I stared at my date as we both questioned what the fuck just happened (might have made sense if we had heard the beginning narration, thank's Elfman), I was able to overcome the cheesiness and look at the film as a whole, and determine, it was good. Good is as positive as I will be today.
Mr. Darko: Do you know that Dark Shadows is based on the T.V. series of the same name than ran in 1966 and has over a 1000 episodes?
Mr. Gorgeous: Yes, I was aware of this connection. The plot line does not conform to the series however, as the character Barnabas Collins didn't show up until a year after the show had been running. It is understood that Barnabas was what made the show popular, however.
Mr. Darko: From other reviews I read it seemed that Dark Shadows spends to much time on Barbaras meets the 70's fun and to little on the story. Did you think the story was as developed as could have been?
Mr: Gorgeous: Looking at the trailer, one should probably come to accept the fact that the main source of humor will be between Barnabas, and the seventies. Lots of good jokes are made, sadly some repeated, but I do have to agree that the amount of time the movie dwells on the vampire vs. society conflict really takes away from the plot line. On reflection, I don't know if I could clearly define any rising action, or main conflict; you've already heard what I've had to say on the denouement.
Feel free to drop anymore questions for Mr. Gorgeous below as Mr. Darko has yet to see this movie.
Dark Shadows IMDb