Yes, I am aware that I'm a late bloomer when it comes to attending a showing for the latest Tim Burton film, Dark Shadows. I like to consider my viewing of this gothic, soap-opera flick as the response to a fateful event of when The Avengers was indeed, only selling tickets for that 4:50 showing in the dreaded 3D. Armed with distaste for bulging, three-dimensional films, my friend and I thus decided to make a visit to Dark Shadows on a whim. I had entered the theater with miniscule prior knowledge of the film, but departed dazed and in a mood of uplifting wonder, thanks to another aesthetic creation of director Tim Burton.
I can imagine the Burton aficionados bursting in ecstasy in their seats during the movie. Dark Shadows was certainly not devoid of Burton's trademark gothic theme and wonderfully composed score, thanks to Burton's fellow comrade, Danny Elfman. Burton also featured the prominent duo of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter once again. As I learned later, Dark Shadows is a film version of the Dan Curtis original television series of the same name, which aired from 1966 to 1971. This modern remake features a reparatory of stars and starlets: Johnny Depp portrayed the lustful Barnabas Collinsworth, French actress Eva Green was the dangerously seductive Angelique Bouchard, Michelle Pfeiffer was the domineering Elizabeth Stoddard, Helena Bonham Carter was the covert Dr. Julia Hoffman and Chloe Grace Moretz played the rebellious daughter, Carolyn Stoddard. Newcomer Bella Heathcote snagged the role as Victoria "Vicky" Winters and Josette du Pres. In a nutshell, the film focuses on Barnabas's return from the dead as a vampire into a Maine city set in the 1970's. Barnabas attempts to fit into this new culture as he fervently seeks revenge on Angelique, who had cursed him as a vampire decades earlier for not loving her. Barnabas seeks the help of his Collinsworth descendants, Elizabeth and her family, and they attempt to put a demise to Angelique's reign.
I thought all the actors portrayed their respective roles beautifully, though I do want to extend special praise to Eva Green, who played the role of Angelique. I never have seen the original Dark Shadows before, but I thought Green did a superb job of capturing this sense of nefarious beauty. During specific scenes of the film, I almost felt like I wanted to physically bolt out of the theater due to her malicious nature. However, I did notice that her face was vacant and emotionless at small parts during the film. While her body may have been ready to pounce into a prey, her eyes stayed flat and still. Moving onto the actual storyline, I will admit it was a little confusing at the very beginning, but slowly began to unravel later on. The ending of the film, however, felt very choppy. I later read that Burton had to axe out certain scenes to make the film shorter, which made the last half of the film very rushed. Some characters randomly appear or disappear at certain parts of the film, which detracted from a smooth, cohesive flow. Alice Cooper zealots will be glad to see their favorite musician appearing in a cameo performance in the film (after all, Cooper is on friendly terms with both Burton and Depp). The blend between Elfman's eerily beautiful tunes and the classic 1970s soundtrack fuses together to create a pleasing yet nostalgic effect for some movie folks. I have a few words on the ending: I feel satisfied, yet yearning for more. To me, the ending leaves a vast realm of potential sequel(s) and untold stories. There has been speculation over a potential Dark Shadows sequel due to the nature of the ending, as Michelle Pfeiffer expressed interest in a follow-up film, but for now, Burton remains opposed to a continuation of the film.
In overall, I would rate Dark Shadows an eight out of 10. Some scenes were hauntingly bizarre, while the last half of the movie was rushed to a point where gaps between certain characters became evident. However, I do commend Burton on the overall feeling the film leaves you with afterwards. I loved the quiet slices of humor that were scattered throughout the scenes and the cultural references to the 1970's generation, all mixed together with a haunting, Burton-esque influence. If you have not already been able to enjoy a bucket of popcorn during Dark Shadows -- or if you're a fan of the original Dark Shadows television series or simply a Burton or Depp devotee -- I suggest you give it a watch. Sit back, relax and consume another fine creation of Tim Burton.
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