[Dark Shadows]
Synopsis:A film-adaptation of the 60's supernatural Soap Opera. In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy - until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Brouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive.

Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets. Matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) has called upon live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), to help with her family troubles.

Cast:Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Thomas McDonell, Barbara Heathcoate, Jackie Earle Haley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Moretz, Gulliver McGrath, Johnny Lee Miller.

My Thoughts:Well, for a movie adapted from a late 1960's Soap Opera...

Review:Going into Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" movie adaptation. I wasn't really expecting "great" things. And what I got, was in fact, not "great". More like a "should've been better" movie. Or "should it have?" This film is of course adapted from the 1960's supernatural soap opera of the same name. "Dark Shadows". That starred the late, great Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins. A patriarch of Maine's Collins family.

But also cursed by the witch Angelique, to walk the earth as a blood-sucking vampire! His punishment, for spurning her affections. The movie does an excellent job in carefully lifting the shows storyline and implementing it into the film version. But...for entertainment purposes? If you gave me a choice between watching the movie ''Dark Shadows", and watching old reruns of the t.v. series? I'd more than likely choose the t.v. series.

Even with Johnny Depp starring as Barnabas Collins, this movie just doesn't measure up. One new thing the movie version adds into the thick of things though, is the relationship between Barnabas and Angelique. It's made more modern, as it's now shifted from the whole "love gone bad" thing. To Angelique resenting Barnabas now because he's too rich and snobby for her liking. And she takes this personally.

So after she kills Barnabases first love, and then sentences him to spending eternity as a vampire. As he rests beneath the dirt, Angelique starts up her own company in Collinswood to rival the fishing company of the Collins family. Thus, she becomes the richest person in town. And now the most powerful. All because she was envious or Barnabas and his family. Like I said more modernized. Compared to the t.v. series, in which Angelique was really just a puppeteer of most people in Collinswood with her magic and spells and such. Eva Green plays Angelique in this film, and her chemistry on screen with Depp is quite humorous most of the time.

The two hate each other, but it's also one of those crazy "love/hate" relationships. Where one minute they're throwing verbal quips at one another, and the next they're making out. It's also par for the course in a Tim Burton film. "Dark Shadows" really has his stamp on it, and you can see Burton's brand of humor shine through in many scenes in this film. The rest of the cast has Michelle Pfeiffer playing Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, Chloe Moretz as Carolyn Stoddard, Jonny Lee Miller as Roger Collins, and Gulliver McGrath as little David Collins. Rounding out the star-studded cast is Bella Heathcoate as Victoria Winters, Jackie Earle Haley as Willie Loomis, and Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman.
Summing up these characters in my estimation? Miller and Moretz are the funniest members of the Collins clan behind Barnabas (Depp). Pfeiffer is intriguing on her own level as Elizabeth. But her performance gets better as the film moves on. As her character becomes more involved in the thick of things. Heathcoate as Victoria Winters however is quite boring. And really is just there as the apple of Barnabases eye. Nothing more really. Earle Haley as Willie Loomis is just "goofy".

Too "goofy" at times, but still manages to be funny mostly. I absolutely loved Helena Bonham Carter as Dr. Julia Hoffman though. And I really think she was as close to the original Dr. J.H. played by actress Grayson Hall. As any of the other actors were to their 60's counterparts. Helena's Dr. Julia Hoffman is just as no-nonsense as the 60's version, and in the movie...she's even given a bit of a comedic edge with a lot of common sense stirred in. I thought Chloe Moretz should've gotten more screen time, but she works well enough with what she got.

Depp as Barnabas Collins eats up a lot of screen-time once he's awoken by some hapless construction workers. Upon which he then returns to the Collinswood Estate, and begins the work of trying to return the family name back to the prestige and fortune it once wielded. As well as trying to adjust to the 1970's time period he's now walking around in. A journey which should've been a lot funnier than it was.

But Depp, outside of a few mildly humorous scenes here and there...doesn't really bring out the movies best funny lines. And I think that's because the script was not written well enough. It doesn't surprise me though, there were 4 writers involved here. Always a recipe for disaster, with too many cooks in the kitchen. While 'Dark Shadows" wasn't a disaster, it could've been better script wise. For starters, some of the humor falls flat because it's not delivered properly line wise. And there's also too many one-liners and zingers that come one after the other. Spacing and timing is key in a film that is trying to fall into the mold of the "Addams Family" movies, and films like "Beetlejuice".

"Dark Shadows", despite its weak first half, does manage to build a strong second half which leads into a pretty funny, entertaining, and outrageous finale. So I will give the movie credit for realizing and recognizing a lot of its early mistakes. And correcting them within the course of the picture. Saving it from going further down the trodden path. And credit for this also goes to the performers involved. Once the actors began to hit their stride with the comedy, and character interactions in the movie. Things got better and picked up quite nicely. So as a result, the finish was strong and good. But I wish this movie had started out better. I might've liked it more.

The opening 9 minutes were good. But then things get kind of bogged down, and don't really manage to pull themselves out of the mud until around the 70 minute mark. That still doesn't make this movie terrible though. Folks who love it will love it as fans of the actors involved. And indeed it is a strong cast. I just wish they hadn't gone the comedy route with this movie. I felt it would've been better as a darker movie. But the comedy here is too omnipresent for the films own good. A darker "Dark Shadows" would've been better. But as a comedy/thriller/horror film, to sum it up...some things work. And other things don't. But all in all, it kind of was a missed opportunity at being a really good Spring time movie.

THE GOOD:In order, Bonham Carter's performance was the best to me. Depp was a close second as Barnabas. Moretz third, and Pfeiffer fourth. Lee Miller, and Earle Haley follow them. Green was decent as Angelique but she was too over the top to ever be taken seriously. The character was not written very well. The 60's Angelique was more sneaky and under-cover. This 2012 version is too "forward" and "outwardly bitchy".

THE BAD:Again, Green as Angelique was overdone. I also craved a darker film version. As the t.v. show was dark and serious at times. The movie version leaned too much comedy. The first half of the movie moves along too slowly and doesn't develop the characters quickly enough to really hit its stride.

OVERALL:Two stars out of four.

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