Tim Burton and Johnny Depp team up again for a very entertaining, quasi-Addams family romp. Joined by the kooky but wonderful Helena Bonham Carter, Michelle Pfeiffer, Alice Cooper (he’s still with us?) and Christopher Lee, this is a sumptuous feast of a movie that has nothing to say about anything!
Perhaps Dark Shadows is just a vehicle for Johnny Depp to display his prodigious talent, which he does in spades. Depp plays Barnabus Collins, a tragically hilarious vampire, victimized by an evil witch called Angelique. I am flummoxed by the choice of actress (Eva Greene) for this potentially juicy part. Why not Cate Blanchett or similar who could match Mr Depp’s vibrant character acting.
That aside, there is much to be enjoyed in Dark Shadows: Johnny Depp’s brilliant delivery, very kitsch 70′s clothing, music and satire, delicious visuals, great cameos and a passable plot. However, about two-thirds into it, the movie loses energy, as though no one knew how to finish it. Maybe the clichéd and inevitable witch versus vampire showdown demoralised cast and crew, who knows?
And on the matter of witches, are we not long past defining witches as evil women with dark powers? Witches were wise women with the gifts of the feminine – intuition, healing with herbs and attunement with Nature. Come on Timothy, let’s have something original and spicy. One great part played by one charismatic actor does not a great movie make.
After recently watching The Beaver, an extraordinary, original and disturbing portrayal of mental illness directed by Jodie Foster, Dark Shadows looks like Play School. Interestingly, the only two ‘normal’ characters in Dark Shadows (David played by Gulliver McGrath and Victoria – Bella Heathcote) are both labelled crazy and victimized for seeing and talking to ghosts. Perhaps Tim Burton would produce a more memorable offering if he explored this subject more deeply, instead of dishing up the same old looks-great-has-no-flavour, over-the-top experience.
I’m being a little mean, but I like a movie that has something to say and this one doesn’t! Despite all this, Dark Shadows is very enjoyable to watch on the big screen and if you’re a fan of Johnny Depp, it’s unmissable!
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