Dark Shadows, the new collaboration between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, a remake of the late 60’s television show of the same name, is a disappointing train wreck of flat characters, weak storytelling, and is guilty of a mundane premise. This is just another movie (a la Alice in Wonderland) where the names Tim Burton and Johnny Depp don’t go synonymous with greatness.
Barnabas Collins (Depp) is a vampire, imprisoned for 200 years in a coffin by his arch nemesis and lover-to-the-end-of-time Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), and wakes up in 1972, only to find that he is in a different place, different time, and that his family fortune is all but none. He heads back to his home in Collinsport and seizes the opportunity to help his living heirs and hopefully destroy Angelique once and for all.
One of the problems this movie has, albeit a lot, is that nothing ever seems too big of a deal. The 1972 Collins family is struggling to survive; yet no one works. They all blame the lack of their once successful…fishing company on Angelique’s slow turning monopoly “Angel Bay Seafood”. I know there’s a point where you have to suspend disbelief but come on, battling seafood companies?
The Collins’ are a collection of great actors but horrible characters. Michelle Pfeiffer, the so-called matriarch, is nothing more than a brooding house mom with too much time on her hands. I personally kept getting distracted by her ridiculous eyelashes. Jonny Lee Miller, as the dim-witted selfish brother offers nothing exciting during his screen time and when he leaves us it is with relief rather than regret because it wasn’t like he was doing much when he was on screen anyway. Chloe Moretz, one of the few child actors nowadays that I am actually excited to see grow up into a fine actress, is wasted as a brooding teenager, having no new insightful moments or any act relative to the story at hand. Her turn in the third act is unjustified and is over as soon as it starts. Helena Bonham Carter. Well. This movie really made me miss the Bonham Carter that was in Fight Club because since she got hitched to Burton, she seems to be playing loud obnoxious characters that aren’t funny and waste time on screen (think the Red Queen and now this atrocity).
The only redeeming quality Dark Shadows has is that its soundtrack is pretty awesome, giving us some 70s tunes that we haven’t heard in a while and making good use of the time period with production design. It also reminds people like me that when something is being marketed as the new Tim Burton-Johnny Depp movie, I know now not to get as excited as I used to.