05/11/2012 01:55 pm ET

'Dark Shadows' Review: Johnny Depp Shines In New Tim Burton Film

By Khalil Beckwith

Khalil is a junior at King College Prep. He’s a student reporter for The Mash, a weekly teen publication distributed to Chicagoland high schools.

I’m still stunned at how much I liked “Dark Shadows.” How it managed to make me enjoy it so much is beyond me, since the modification of a soap opera into a feature film doesn’t make the story too average or completely unique. But I suppose it would have to be its undeniable charm.

I prefer Tim Burton’s direction on animated features, but he manages to effectively set the tone of scenes as well as the actors in this movie.

Who expected Johnny Depp to not be good in this? His portrayal of Barnabas Collins, a vampire, is the typical Johnny Depp fare, but with a tinge of oddness that just barely manages to make the performance unique.

Though Depp honestly carried the entire movie by his fangs, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jackie Earle Haley and Bella Heathcote give noteworthy performances. Eva Green, however, made me cringe every time her villainous character appeared. In a movie full of not very over-the-top performances, Green’s stood out to me as being way too twisted to be believable.

However, there are upsides to counteract that one possible miscasting. The high points of the movie, at least comically, were seeing Barnabas react to the swinging ’70s in all its glory. Depp effortlessly pulled off Barnabas’s attempts to socially assimilate, which made the scenes more interesting.

Barnabas was a genuinely interesting character. Some could call him a flawed hero, but he’s actually not. The film makes it very clear that you’re not supposed to accept the fact that Barnabas does bad things. He’s essentially a bad guy, but he’s the protagonist only because of his deep care for his family. And how often does a character like that show up in a movie? Barnabas is a breath of fresh air that’s done well.

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