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Dark Shadows review
If there is one director that is a Hit or Miss Director that I actually enjoy, it is Tim Burton. Tim Burton is an incredibly talent director, and while he does tend use some of the same actors in films like Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, and tends to make movies that are more style over substance, his films tend to at least be enjoyable for me, whether it has such a good style to the point where I genially enjoy it, or actually becomes a really great movie on its own whether it that great Tim Burton style or not. However, with that being said, much like another hit director from the 80s, Steven Spielberg, Burton’s films as of recent are either hit or miss. Either his recent films are excellent like Sweeney Todd, really bad like his Planet of the Apes remake, or just plain mediocre all together like Alice in Wonderland. And despite having a pretty decent first half and even the perfect thing for Tim Burton to do as a film, Dark Shadows ends up being one of Burton’s misses.
Now, despite not knowing too much about the Dark Shadows television series, looking at the film before any footage was released, it definitely seemed like something that Tim Burton would make a great movie out of. It’s a gothic story that has some actual real vampires in it, with Burton directing and a great cast to go with it, you would expect a serious dark drama like the original show and done really well. Until, you saw the trailer for Dark Shadows, which ends up feeling more like a comedy than the serious film you would expect for Tim Burton to do. However, to the film’s credit, the first half of the movie actually starts out pretty decent in both the drama and comedy aspects. The main set up for the story is done pretty well, despite some major flaws at the beginning though becomes bigger problems later on, the story starts out very interesting with the Barnabas Collins character. Even when it got to the humor during the first half of the movie, most of it at first is done pretty well, it’s not too ridiculously over the top and it’s while not laugh out loud funny, it is at least chuckle worthy when it comes to most of the jokes at the beginning. Though, despite all the decent effort put into the first half of the movie, the film falls apart in the second half. The humor becomes more over the top and ridiculous, plot holes tend to stand out more, and especially near the very end of the movie, it just gets ridiculous in general. It’s a shame really because the movie really was starting out alright, however it’s one of those films where whether it starts out great or good, the second half of the movie over stays it’s welcome and just ends up killing the movie, turning it into a mediocre or weak movie rather than a good one.
As I mentioned earlier, the film does have a great cast and also to the film’s credit, it does a great job of showing off these great actors’ talent. Even with the whole Johnny Depp and Tim Burton team up becoming tiresome, Johnny Depp is phenomenal as Barnabas Collins, acting more like a vampire than most of the other vampire incarnations. Depp also does a good job delivering lines as well, even when it is not the best script he’s working with, he does manage to even a weaker line into one that was pretty funny. Helena Bonham Carter, while again over-used by Burton, also does a very good job here, despite some major flaws with her character as a whole. Jackie Earle Haley also does an excellent job being one of the funnier parts of the movie; however unfortunately, he does not have enough screen time as he should. Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloe Mortez, and the rest of the cast also do a fine job as well. However, if there is one flaw with the movie is like I mentioned earlier with Jackie Earle Haley, a lot of the great cast here, isn’t used as much as they should be. While you do see a lot of Johnny Depp in the film and some of the other characters, most of the supporting cast don’t have enough time to show off their true talent. And not only that their characters are not developed that well too, though that’s more of a problem with the scrip more than anything else. However, at least whenever the supporting cast, or even the main cast are on screen, they really do the best with what they got, even when it’s at its worst.
I also mentioned earlier that Tim Burton does have a great style for his films. And, despite not being too stylistic with this movie, Burton does manage to give Dark Shadows both a good gothic and 1970s look to it. The set design, the make-up and some of the CG in the film are done very well and make Dark Shadows a visually impressive looking film. However, it’s not stylistic enough or even good enough to save the movie when it eventually falls flat.
Over-all, Dark Shadows is a movie that had a ton of great potential, but never really uses that great potential and just ends up turning out as a mediocre project by Tim Burton. If they had a better script or even just a better second half of the movie, it would have been a lot better than it already was. Though for now, like Alice in Wonderland, is a film that could have ended up great, especially in the hands of Tim Burton, but just ends up being a forgettable disappointing film. If you are a hardcore Tim Burton fan or a hardcore Johnny Depp fan and you have to see this movie, see it at a matinee price because you will at least get some enjoyment out of it. But if you’re like me or not a fan of Tim Burton, you’re probably better off sticking with Sweeney Todd for now or wait till Frankenweenie comes out if you want to see a really good movie by Tim Burton.