Friday, May 11, 2012
The TV spots for Dark Shadows make it seem like it's going to be a comedy, but in reality, it's more like a drama with some laughs thrown in; an extremely campy drama, too, although the TV show upon which it is based was supposedly very campy as well. The show ran from 1966 to 1971, and Johnny Depp himself wanted to bring it to the big screen. The performances in Dark Shadows are all spot-on, but unfortunately the movie tends to move slowly and wear out its welcome at times.
Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp, The Rum Diary) lives in the 1700s and has found his one true love; before finding her, however, he had the misfortune of fooling around with one of the family maids, Angelique (Eva Green, Casino Royale), who is actually a witch. Angelique decides that if she can't have Barnabas, no one can, and she puts a curse on his beloved, who throws herself off a cliff. Barnabas does as well, in order to save her, but then realizes that Angelique has turned him into a vampire. Angelique leads the townspeople on a witchhunt to the Collins mansion, where they wrap Barnabas in chains and bury him in a coffin.
Two centuries later, in 1972, construction workers are digging in that same spot, when their machines hit the coffin. Curious, they open it, only to find Barnabas, who is extremely thirsty. Barnabas finds his way back to the Collins mansion to find his present-day descendants living there: Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer, New Year's Eve), her daughter Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz, Kick-Ass), her brother Roger (Jonny Lee Miller, TV's Dexter), his strange son David (Gulliver McGrath, Hugo), and a few other people, including David's psychiatrist (Helena Bonham Carter, Alice in Wonderland) and the new nanny Victoria (Bella Heathcote, In Time). Unfortunately, his family has been living in near-poverty since the family business was almost extinct, and Barnabas decides to try and revive it. He also runs into Angelique, who has been alive for the past 200 years, and who is now a successful businesswoman who owns almost the whole town of Collinsport.
Maybe see this film. The movie lags in many places, and although the story is interesting, I sometimes found my attention wandering. Johnny Depp is great, but Eva Green actually steals the show, playing the crazy witch that still lusts after Barnabas after all the years. The Collins family members, too, played their parts nicely, especially Michelle Pfeiffer and Chloe Grace Moretz, who has a paranormal secret of her own. The movie was a lot more campy than I thought it would be, which was fine, but I was surprised to find out it was more of a drama than a comedy. Its PG-13 rating, too, is not entirely accurate in some parts - if there was a rating between PG-13 and R, I would have rated it that, due to a few sexual scenes, though there's not much language in it. The music in the movie is a bright spot, as it's all '70s and '80s music, and fits in very nicely with the film and the dark cinematography. The end sets itself up for a sequel, and I'm betting that if Depp and his co-stars do well at the box office, we may see one happen; I would be interested in seeing it, but only at a matinee or at a free screening.
Dark Shadows is in theaters today, May 11th, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 113 minutes. 3 stars out of 5.