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Tim Burton, the Marmite of the film Industry.
Dark Shadows (DVD)
Member Name: sbw80
Dark Shadows (DVD)
Advantages: Funny, clever and brilliantly acted
Disadvantages: Not for those who don't like Tim Burton or stylised films
Please note, this review is of the film only.
The film begins its journey in 1752. The Collins couple, with their young son Barnabas, travel from England to create a new live (and a town named after themselves) in America to lead a life of affluence. As Barnabas matures, his actions prompt heartache and revenge which brings with it a curse upon of his family and series of events that result in him 'sleeping' for a couple of decades. When he awakes, Barnabas (Johnny Depp) not only has to learn to deal with the modern living concept of 1972 but also a ruined estate and a dysfunctional bunch of family members and staff including a few ghosts from his past. There are quite a few twists and turns as the film progresses but it's not a standard action film but instead takes on the feeling of a soap opera, in keeping with it's predecessor.
The film is based upon a type of dark gothic soap opera of the same name that ran in the 1960's. It ran from June 1966 to April 1971 on the ABC network in the US. I have to admit that I'd never heard of it but apparently it was very popular (Michelle Pheiffer asked for a part in the film as she was a fan of the original TV series). There are moments in the film where you think "Ah, this must be an in-joke" to the original series, but having never watched it I can't say this ruined my enjoyment of the film even though I didn't get the joke. If you have watched and enjoyed the original series then these moments are likely to enhance your enjoyment of the film but do not take anything away from those who are coming to Dark Shadow's afresh. According to IMDB, Jonathan Frid, Lara Parker, David Selby and Kathryn Leigh Scott from the original series make cameos in the film, during the Ball scene.
From past history, films with a combination of Tim Burton as director and starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter (Married to Tim Burton) have always been an enjoyment to watch. Alice in Wonderland, Sweeny Todd, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Although still not as good as the original) and Corpse Bride (As well as Edward Scissorshands, Sleepy Hollows and Planet of the Apes which each star one of the two) all have that have Tim Burtonesque type feel which Dark Shadows also entails. His films always seem to connote good quality acting with a strong cast and Dark shadows is no exception.
Barnabas Collins - Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean, Edward Scissorhands and lots lot more)
Elizabeth Collins Stoddard - Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns, Grease 2, What Lies Beneath)
Dr. Julia Hoffman - Helena Bonham Carter (Alice in Wonderland, Sweeney Todd, The King's Speech, Planets of the Apes)
Angelique Bouchard - Eva Green (Casino Royale, Camelot TV Series)
Willie Loomis - Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Shutter Island)
Roger Collins - Jonny Lee Miller (Trainspotting, Hackers)
Victoria Winters/Josette du Pres - Bella Heathcote (In Time, Beneath Hill 60)
Carolyn Stoddard - ChloŽ Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, Hugo, 500 Days of Summer)
David Collins - Gulliver McGrath (Hugo)
Silas Clarney - Christopher Lee (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars)
Alice Cooper as himself
The costumes and sets (built at Pinewood studios) are also noteworthy, combining a gothic feel such as Monsters of the Adams family with a 70's style New England small town that feels like it is from a Steven King novel. I also love some of the 70's outfits worn by Carolyn Stoddard and the shirts that Dr Hoffman wears (can we have 70's inspired clothing back in stores soon please).
Although not one who generally notices soundtracks, I did enjoy the music in the film from the likes of Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper (who makes an appearance) and The Carpenters.
Although not really sure what I was coming into (I've learnt a good lesson in life is to never watch movie trailers otherwise there's no point watching the film) I loved this film. On reflecting on other Tim Burton films however I've realised that I've enjoyed them too and therefore maybe Tim Burton films are like Marmite, you either love the stuff or absolutely hate it with a fiery passion (I can't even stand the smell). I really enjoy the gothic film to this film, the intelligence behind the humour, the framing that gives homage to those classic black and white vampire films and staging. I think the acting level is very good, specifically from the younger members of the cast. Yes, the actors are playing similar roles to previous but I don't think abolut that when I'm watching, I get lost in the story which to me suggests that they are playing them well. If I had a choice between watching 90 minutes of comedy that includes some kind of car chase and a case of the runs or dark shadows, I'd choose Dark Shadows every time.
Runtime: 113 Minutes
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
Summary: Truly enjoyable if it's your kinda thing