Dark Shadows ***
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp return to the theaters with an unusual adaptation. Dark Shadows was a soap opera like Days of our Lives or General Hospital, but in a world inhabited by vampires, witches and ghosts. A complete revolution, way ahead of its time, the tv show was cancelled after a five years running, something not really usual for a soap opera. General Hospital and Days of Our Lives are still running… Dan Curtis created something different. A show that became a cult show, with a movie released in 1970 (with most of the original cast), a tv movie in 2005 and a remake in the early 90’s with Joseph Gordon Levitt…
And now the Tim Burton movie. Dark Shadows universe is perfect for Burton’s skills. The gothic ambience, the tragic love story, the odd characters… The movie has the scent of his previous work, specially Sleepy Hollow. The story of Barnabas Collins, a man turned vampire by a witch’s curse, that finds himself in 1972, with a new family (the heirs of the Collins name) and the same witch trying to screw his life. And, of course, the love of his life in a way he never expected. As you can see, perfect for Tim Burton.
The atmosphere is great. Really great. It has some flashes form Burton’s greatest movies. The way the ghosts appear, the mansion… It makes you wonder if Burton is really coming back with the brilliance of Ed Wood or Edward Scissorhands. And it has some pretty funny moments (like the McDonalds joke, simply great). But the jokes are not always funny, or not as funny as they want to be. Some of them are just… let’s say unoriginal (Barnabas confronting the 70’s world… we have seen it so many times before…).
But the real problem is that the movie is too slow. Sometimes you can really think that nothing is happening on screen, that the story doesn’t moves forward. Like a soap opera… It goes round and round with some clichés and some jokes, and the two hour ride becomes a too long ride. It has powerful moments (almost anytime the ghost appears on screen) but a boring script. Not always, but sometimes it makes you wonder when is going to happen something. Anything. When the third act begins it’s too late for anyone that is not a Tim Burton fan.
Johnny Depp wears a costume for Burton again. He’s the real heart of the movie. Without him the movie would’ve been less funny and interesting. But there are three actresses that are specially great in the movie. The always beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer and the unique Chloe Grace Moretz, a girl that steals every scene she is on (with a really disturbing image… and the way she appears in the background so many times). And, of course, the gorgeous Eva Green, a witch you will remember for years… You can watch the movie just for them. An enjoyable film that could have been really better. Maybe next time.