CRITIQUED: DARK SHADOWS

So, the bloom has finally fallen off the rose. And no, we’re not talking about Orlando Bloom. That’s a different movie. We’re actually talking about the decades-long über-collaboration between film director Tim Burton and superstar Johnny Depp. They’ve done seven films together before this year’s Dark Shadows, all of them mired in the macabre and weird, but never at a loss for quality entertainment. That all ends here, in our honest opinion. And I’m not gloating, but it really is about time.

 

There was Scorsese and De Niro, Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers—the best movies ever made were arguably helmed by both a brilliant director and a competent and willing leading actor. They worked because the director knew how to get the best out of their actor, and the actor knew what the director was looking for before anyone else did—they served as an extension of the director on-screen. Chemistry is so important for a film to work successfully. And even these classic collaborations had a foreseeable end.
In the case of Dark Shadows, there didn’t seem to be any of that chemistry evident between these characters there. No chemistry between Depp and Eva Green (other than a particularly odd love scene—odd for a Burton flick at least), Depp and regular co-collaborator Helena Bonham Carter, even bona fide actors Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloë Grace Moretz and Johnny Lee Miller. The always reliable Jackie Earle Haley even disappointed—it all just fell flat and felt wanting for any kind of excitement.
There was especially no chemistry between Depp and lead Bella Heathcoate, but on top of that, their relationship seemed borderline pedophilic. I understand the whole eternal vampire thing, it’s been beaten over our heads ad nauseum for the past few years as it is. But something just felt wrong about their story, and Depp especially came off creepier than necessary. We just don’t think there is anything more Depp and Burton can deliver together in a film. We were subjected to brilliance so consistently with them, the billing alone guaranteed at least several million in box-office numbers. But that doesn’t mean we should accept everything they make, and we certainly can’t here.
Seeing as how I don’t remember this TV show ever existing (I wasn’t born in the late 1960s, early 70s when this sitcom was in its heyday after all), I had no emotional connection to the material. After taking a few hours to have a movie sink in before I critique, I realized if I have no connection to the film at all, should it really matter when I decide to write about it? I’ll gain no different perspective  from after initial viewing to current state, so realizing this, I gave this film two viewings to make sure I wasn’t biased by the very recent experience of The Avengers, or anything nearly as enjoyable. Guess what? No change in opinion. Would it be wrong for me to say I enjoyed the previews of coming attractions more than I did the film? Because that’s what happened.
So to conclude, if you’re a fan of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp collaborations, find a new hobby (Say, become a Joss Whedon fan instead?). Save your money. Better yet, pay to see Avengers again, or hold out for Dark Knight Rises. You’ll be glad you did.

Our Rating: 

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