Dark Shadows

wogma rating: Add to that never-watched 'To Watch' list (?)

quick review:

Okay I’ll admit Dark Shadows is better than the soapy Twilight series – both Johnny Depp and Eva Green give you enough to laugh once in a while. But if you’ve been following the Burton-Depp franchise since Edward Scissorhands in 1990, you will find yourself disappointed with this complacent effort of a film.

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Director: Tim Burton
Running time: 113 minutes
Genres: Comedy, Horror
More Movie Info

Another Tim Burton film starring Johnny Depp – totally did not see that coming! After 7 films together, their films now, are more a celebration of their eccentric partnership than anything else. Dark Shadows is a primary example of this fact. Obviously, Depp plays his part with absolute charm, (he’s like the male Meryl Streep, incapable of doing anything bad, but I digress.) Dark Shadows however, is like a well-dressed girl who has nowhere to go. It’s a grand production, with an elaborate set design and costumes, but lacks substance.

Based on the popular American soap opera from the early 70s, Dark Shadows surrounds vampire Barnabass Collins (Depp) who is resurrected from his coffin at 1972 after 200 years. He finds that the glorious empire is ruined, and his fisheries business is falling. To top it all, the ruthless witch who turned him into a vampire, Angelique (Eva Green) is now ruling their coastal town. The film tracks how he saves his hometown, by teaming up with the Collins’ family matriarch (Michelle Pfieffer).

The basic premise of the film has scope – here is a vampire from 200 years ago who still believes the world starts and ends with him. He’s dated, and the humor stems from that fact that he doesn’t fit. Dark Shadows does have its moments, mainly because we all know Johnny Depp has his way with wit. You will find yourself laughing, but it’s also a token humor that you know is forceful. You realize that you keep expecting the film to get funnier – but it doesn’t.

The performances do manage to give you 140 minutes of entertainment, if you ignore the follies. Eva Green as the drop-dead gorgeous Angelique is the show stopper of the film. She’s sharp, funny (yes the funniest part of the film for sure) and stunning. Like most Tim Burton films, the setting and mood is applaud-able. Sets, costumes and dialogues all transport you to an eccentric alternate world that governs most Burton films. You also find that the soundtrack is dominating by rock classics of the 70s.

Ofcourse, the central factor here is that Dark Shadows is all about Johnny Depp – his extravagant hairdos and frills, his experiments and his charm parade where he tries to knock you off with his humor. Usually, it’s the arrogance that works, but in this case it does seem laborious because it doesn’t have a story to fall back on.

If you’re a fan of the Burton-Depp franchise, you might either be extremely disappointed having expected to be blown away or you might just settle for a complacent effort on their part. Dark Shadows could have been a humorous, engaging film as it’s made with all the right decisions in casting and setting. As it is though, the film falls short of its expectations – like a half-baked attempt that you might enjoy only if you worship Johnny Depp.

This review is by guest reviewer Swetha Ramakrishnan. Swetha Ramakrishnan is currently living and working in Mumbai. She's a self-confessed film enthusiast and can most likely be found talking to anyone and everyone about popular cinema and her love for SRK. Swetha Ramakrishnan also blogs at http://swetharamakrishnan.blogspot.com/.

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None, but it does have some mock thrills
  • Language: > Mostly dated English aiming to be funny
  • Nudity & Sexual content: None
  • Concept: A resurrected vampire’s comical journey to bringing things back in order, 200 years later
  • General Look and Feel: Loud colors, costumes and a Burton-esque feel

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
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