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Johnny Depp casting a dark shadow over this one
Dark Shadows (DVD)
Member Name: bilbob20
Dark Shadows (DVD)
Advantages: Humourous film and looks great
Disadvantages: The overuse of Johnny Depp means nobody else gets a look-in
With the news that this is Johnny Depp and Tim Burton's eighth film collaboration, one can't help but wonder if Burton lives in a bubble where only Depp and Helena Bonham Carter exist, with occasional peek-in's from other artists. The Depp/Burton/Carter team is fast running out of steam, whilst potential fans of their colourful, but increasingly vacuous material might be fast running out of patience.
Dark Shadows is based on a tv series of the same name from the 1960's. Opening 200 years earlier, we meet Barnabus Collins, who is transformed into a vampire by a jealous witch and buried un-dead. Fast forward to 1972, and we catch up with the Collins family who is headed up with stuffy matriarch Elizabeth, who rules over her feckless brother Roger, their small brood of kids, a drunken psychiatrist and a loopy caretaker. When Barnabus is dug up by some hapless workers, he returns to his former home to rule the family and save the ruins of his home from the clutches of the evil witch who was responsible for his 200 year incarceration.
The problem with this film is the same problem with all of Burton's films. He seems to have a couple of central idea's and seems to revert back to them with almost every film. There's no doubt that he is accomplished as a director and that he works well with his dynamic duo, but must we have Depp in every film. It's getting to a point where we can almost predict Depp's every tic and movement. Soon, we'll be able to mimic his reactions before he even does them himself. Depp should get back out there and focus on being an actor that appeals to the masses rather than a weird dummy for his ventriloquist director.
Meanwhile, other actors, including Carter, are underused and thrown to the side to allow Depp full use of his stage. Michelle Pfeiffer, who I admire greatly, shows potential early on in the film, but is soon forced left-stage. For the grand old age of 54, she's looking good though, and we dont see enough of her on the big screen these days. Jackie Earl Haley is also a hoot to watch, although he looks more dead than Depp does. Everywhere else, the characters and actors appear to be having more fun than the viewer.
There's nothing essentially wrong with the story itself. It's clear and concise enough, it just seems very run of the mill. Burton does a great job with the asthetics, and he certainly seems to have a great relationship with the actors he works with, but it would be just nice to see him change gear or find a film that didn't seem like some weird social commentary with a white face and leather trouser fetish. Putting the fact that this is a barrel of recycled idea's with recycled actors, the film is entertaining and loyal enough to its source material, so if you're not too bothered by the fact that we've seen it all before, then you might get a kick out of some of the humour and off-the-wall characters.
Summary: A strangely entertaining film that could have been better if its supporting actors had been used.