Dark Shadows (2012)

Dark Shadows
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Fantasy themes and violence

Director: Tim Burton
Actors: Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloe Grace Moretz, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Bella Heathcote, Gulliver Mcgrath, Christopher Lee

An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection.

DVD
Status: QuickPick
Run time: 113mins
Origin: UNITED STATES
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Audio Formats: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
Staying alive
by Simon Miraudo,

Dark Shadows is Tim Burton's best film in a decade. You'd have to go all the way back to Big Fish, or perhaps even 1999's Sleepy Hollow to find anything comparable in quality. That might be damning it with faint praise, however. Even the biggest Burtonees wouldn't go to the mattresses over the joy-killing, childhood-ending Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or his just-OK adaptations of Sweeney Todd and Alice in Wonderland. Lest we forget he's also responsible for coining the phrase "reimagining" while promoting his Planet of the Apes do-over back in 2001; two crimes that we're still paying for today. Ape Lincoln! That was a thing! Dark Shadows deserves better than to be called his "best film in a decade" merely by trumping such cinematic sludge (seriously... Ape. Lincoln.). Sure, it cont...

Dark Shadows is Tim Burton's best film in a decade. You'd have to go all the way back to Big Fish, or perhaps even 1999's Sleepy Hollow to find anything comparable in quality. That might be damning it with faint praise, however. Even the biggest Burtonees wouldn't go to the mattresses over the joy-killing, childhood-ending Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or his just-OK adaptations of Sweeney Todd and Alice in Wonderland. Lest we forget he's also responsible for coining the phrase "reimagining" while promoting his Planet of the Apes do-over back in 2001; two crimes that we're still paying for today. Ape Lincoln! That was a thing!

Dark Shadows deserves better than to be called his "best film in a decade" merely by trumping such cinematic sludge (seriously... Ape. Lincoln.). Sure, it continues the trend of modernising a pre-existing property, which feels like an enormous, ongoing practical joke for a filmmaker as imaginative as he. Here though, he takes the Brady Bunch Movie approach, sweetly skewering the 1960s supernatural soap opera it's based upon and good-naturedly teasing the era in which it was spawned. And yes, his regular co-conspirators Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and the shaman that renders them all ageless have returned to wreak scenery-eating havoc once again, but the resulting bubbly concoction is significantly more delectable than anything they've conjured together in some time.

I've never seen the original Dark Shadows series - mostly because I usually steer clear of soaps that don't have the words "Gossip" or "Girl" in the title - so I'm not sure how faithful Burton and screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith are (John August has a story credit). I'd investigate, but seeing as "faithfulness" is rarely a signifier of excellence in an adaptation, I'll happily keep myself in the Shadows. Depp takes on the role of Barnabas Collins, an 18th century aristocrat/loverat who unwisely beds Angelique (Eva Green), one of the maids at his parent's estate, Collinwood. When Barnabus spurns her for the true love of his life, Josette du Pres (Bella Heathcote), Angelique reveals herself to be a witch and takes her revenge; first by killing his mum and dad, then by entrancing Josette and driving her to suicide, and finally by turning him into a vampire. It makes sense that Depp would co-produce a movie in which he gets to play a love-maker so potent he can send a woman into a homicidal rage.

Buried alive by angry villagers for 200 years, Barnabus emerges in 1971, where he is greeted by the flashing yellow 'M' of Mephistopheles himself - or, as we know it, McDonald's. After supping on the blood of some nearby workman, he trudges back to the now-decrepit Collinwood Manor and attempts to ingratiate himself to his descendants: matriarch Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer), her rebellious daughter Carolyn (Chloë Moretz), Elizabeth's brother Roger (Jonny Lee Miller), his haunted - literally - son David (Gulliver McGrath), the boy's drunken, live-in shrink, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Bonham Carter), and housekeeper Willie (Jackie Earle Haley). Though he (barely) keeps the secret of his undeadliness from them, he invites Elizabeth into his inner sanctum, offering her a glimpse at the family's hidden treasure and assisting her in the rebuilding of the Collins name. Maybe the out-of-time lothario will even learn how to fit into the seventies, and charm David's governess Victoria (Heathcote again) too! Cue up countless disco earworms, mild drug references, and an Alice Cooper cameo. He is clearly not under the spell of the aforementioned, age-halting shaman.

What is most surprising, and most enjoyable, about Dark Shadows is the prevalence of sex, which has been absent from Burton's work since, well, pretty much always. As well it should feature prominently here. Fornication of varying deviance is one of the hallmarks of operatic daytime dramas, and Burton takes to it - and the genre in general - with aplomb. I won't spoil which pairings we're treated to, but needless to say, we get the classic soapie form of every action having a reaction, into infinity, and it all begins with Barnabus giving it to Angelique.

The seemingly endless train of sexual ramifications and increasingly ridiculous revelations is an enjoyable one to ride (ahem), though it poses a problem when Burton and his writers need to wrap things up in the third act. Even still, they can't resist a last not-so-shocking twist to maintain momentum right up until the final frame. Dark Shadows moves with buoyancy and ease. The 1970s setting also affords Burton an opportunity to create a cotton-candy-canvas for his caricatures to play, and we know how much he likes that. Despite the title - and all the on-screen bloodletting - it's a light affair; fun, and funny, and filled with appealing performances (Moretz and Green in particular). As for Depp, some may have tired of his shtick, but I'll continue to cheerfully gobble it up so long as he can continue producing uniquely tuned characters such as his Barnabas, who relishes such hackneyed lines as, "A woman doctor? What an age this is."

4/5

Check out Simon's other reviews here.

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Member Reviews (77)

Rob M
says
Great fun. Johnny Depp is his usual weird self & it was a hoot to see the ditzy characters played by the talented Michelle Pfeiffer (always a favourite, though usually in serious roles) & Helena Bonham Carter as a pill popping alcoholic shrink! Enjoy it for what it is - it doesn't try to be high art.
Posted Friday, 14 February 2014 See my other reviews
I'm not interested in over-analysing this one. Let me simply say the family really enjoyed it.
Posted Tuesday, 11 February 2014 See my other reviews
Pretty lame. Can't believe I'm saying this about a Johnny Depp film, but I wasn't a fan :(
Posted Friday, 31 January 2014 See my other reviews
Michelle M
says
This was disappointing. Such a waste of a great cast. Tim Burton's film are usually so stylishly put together ... what a shame! It was tedious and predictable. Any joy or spark was lost through overworking every aspect.
Posted Wednesday, 8 January 2014 See my other reviews
Joseph
says
Looking forward to the day that Depp does serious films again. If you were a fan of the original and later Dark Shadows don't watch this.
Posted Wednesday, 16 October 2013 See my other reviews
Emma
says
Fantastic movie! I really enjoyed this, very different - as you would expect from Tim Burton!!
Posted Friday, 30 August 2013 See my other reviews
Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter-Burton have worked in so many movies together, I am surprised the press has not cooked up an affair between them by now
Posted Sunday, 14 July 2013 See my other reviews
McLovin
says
Not quite a comedy, not particularly scary, what was was happening? But still an interesting piece of work and worth the time spent. Hmm.
Posted Monday, 10 June 2013 See my other reviews
Kate
says
After the trailer I really expected more from Burton and from Carter and Depp. Found it boring.predictable and almost painful to watch since I'm a big fan of Burton's work and Carter/Depp's acting. I definitely wouldn't bother watching it again or recommend it to anyone.
Posted Monday, 6 May 2013 See my other reviews
Michele
says
This film was alright, just not as good as previous films that the more note worthy actors have been in.
Posted Friday, 3 May 2013 See my other reviews
garrett
says
Quite offbeat - as usual with Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. some good lines and characters, worth a look
Posted Thursday, 2 May 2013 See my other reviews
Lissa
says
Dreadful in every way. These actors must have owed Tim Burton a favour :(
Posted Saturday, 27 April 2013 See my other reviews
Robyn
says
great this movie. Fabulous special effects. Worth watching.
Posted Tuesday, 23 April 2013 See my other reviews
renata
says
stupid movie. I like johnny depp so continued watching it to the end.
Posted Monday, 22 April 2013 See my other reviews
Not vary funny I did not like it
Posted Friday, 5 April 2013 See my other reviews
Tara
says
johnny Depp was fantastic, interesting movie but was a little disappointed with the ending.
Posted Wednesday, 20 March 2013 See my other reviews
Barry B
says
Refreshing take on the Game theme. Funny to
Posted Monday, 18 March 2013 See my other reviews
Stephanie
says
Very funny at the beginning but ends in a boring way.
Posted Sunday, 17 March 2013 See my other reviews
Is it meant to be a comedy? Because if it did, it missed the point.
Posted Wednesday, 6 March 2013 See my other reviews
Steve F
says
Excellent story , some good special effects, If you like Jonny Depp worth watching
Posted Wednesday, 27 February 2013 See my other reviews
Cairo49
says
Really tedious, way too long and completely unfunny. I'm not even sure what it was supposed to be. Great actors couldn't do anything with this one
Posted Wednesday, 27 February 2013 See my other reviews
Gordon
says
This was a lot better than the critics would have you believe. Well worth getting out.
Posted Wednesday, 20 February 2013 See my other reviews
De
says
Quirky...fun...something different. If you like Johhny Depp you will like this too.
Posted Tuesday, 19 February 2013 See my other reviews
darthdorian
says
This movie based on a TV series that was broadcast before twilight came around. . Dark Shadows is what twilight would have been if it was 1 movie and not a trilogy. Dark Shadows has better acting with better actors, but the same plot and the same themes.
Posted Tuesday, 19 February 2013 See my other reviews
poshreany
says
awesome movie liked it heaps more then i had expected.
Posted Saturday, 16 February 2013 See my other reviews
GRAZ
says
VERY BAD
Posted Saturday, 16 February 2013 See my other reviews
Pig McGee
says
Enjoyed the movie a fair bit, especially Johnny Depp's character. Could have explored the storyline a bit more but no real complaints.
Posted Wednesday, 13 February 2013 See my other reviews
KD
says
A bit of fluff viewing, but nonetheless a good 'watch once' film for a saturday night in!
Posted Sunday, 10 February 2013 See my other reviews
This movie had a lot of potential and a great cast but it never really went anywhere. All the best bits were in the trailer. Very disappointing.
Posted Sunday, 10 February 2013 See my other reviews
One of the wprst movies I've ever seen
Posted Saturday, 9 February 2013 See my other reviews
A great cast and promising storyline. It was entertaining but I feel it was let down by a rushed ending, whilst trying to tie in all the loose ends.
Posted Friday, 8 February 2013 See my other reviews
peppaspetals
says
I was so excited about this movie. I love the actors and it looked really funny on the trailers. Unfortunately it lost the plot early, There was little character development. To be honest I already forgotten most of the movie and I only watched it a few days ago.
Posted Thursday, 31 January 2013 See my other reviews
Yeshe
says
This movie was okay, I'm a Johnny Depp fan from way back but it's not one of his best. The supporting cast were better and propped up a fairly predictable script. Didn't look kooky enough to be Tim Burton directed so was a bit disappointed with its visual style. Watch it, but don't expect too much.
Posted Saturday, 26 January 2013 See my other reviews
Kaye
says
Johnny D, as always was great.
Posted Wednesday, 16 January 2013 See my other reviews
Unlike others I quite liked this film.I found the quip comedy from Johnny Depp entertaining. I liked it.
Posted Wednesday, 16 January 2013 See my other reviews
Lisa
says
Not as good as it was promoted, a bit of a disappointment.
Posted Wednesday, 16 January 2013 See my other reviews
Mintiegirl
says
Delightful, quirky, offbeat fun depp, burton, bonham-carter collaboration. It missed some opportunities, often funny and sometimes more dramatic.
Posted Thursday, 27 December 2012 See my other reviews
Noel
says
I do not understand the negative reviews. Johnny Depp is a very talented actor who has the ability to act i many different roles. This movie is just a different type role to some of his other, perhaps funnier, roles. I suspect some people were expecting the movie to be the same as some of his other movies. I loved the movie.
Posted Thursday, 27 December 2012 See my other reviews
Denise
says
It was ok. Enjoyed it but kinda silly
Posted Sunday, 23 December 2012 See my other reviews
jim
says
like the star says never again
Posted Tuesday, 18 December 2012 See my other reviews
Purplesue
says
Just a shame that all the funny bits are seen in the previews on other DVDs, so when you see them in the movie, you know what they're going to say. Other then that, only got a few laughs in what could have been a very funny movie if they'd made more of the plot. Depp good as usual. Wouldn't recommend it I'm afraid.
Posted Sunday, 9 December 2012 See my other reviews
KDSJ
says
Let me just say up front, I'm a huge Johnny Depp / Tim Burton fan - and I really wanted to love this film. But I just couldn't get into it. It had nothing that made me want to keep watching it - it wasn't funny, it didn't create any tension or drama. I fell asleep about 3/4 of the way into it and I didn't care enough to go back and watch the end, so hopefully I'm not missing the best of it.
Posted Friday, 7 December 2012 See my other reviews
Shelley
says
Too dark and not funny....it was supposed to be a comedy right??
Posted Wednesday, 5 December 2012 See my other reviews
Jess
says
Good casting, mildly funny, easy watching
Posted Wednesday, 5 December 2012 See my other reviews
Paul
says
Not the best Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie but it was okay. The trailer made it seem like more of a comedy but it was quite dark and I didn't like the ending. Great soundtrack though. And I am the only one who's noticed that Eva Green is being cast as a witch quite a lot these days?
Posted Wednesday, 5 December 2012 See my other reviews
Sybil
says
So much potential but it just doesn't get there, would have made a great 1 hour tele movie.
Posted Tuesday, 27 November 2012 See my other reviews
Like Johnny Depp who is a good actor. Story a bit weak though
Posted Tuesday, 27 November 2012 See my other reviews
Sarah M
says
Definitely expected more from Burton and Depp. Found it to be a mixture of ridiculous and boring. I definitely wouldn't bother watching it again.
Posted Monday, 26 November 2012 See my other reviews
stanarosa
says
very dark and very boring.
Posted Saturday, 24 November 2012 See my other reviews
I dont know that I laughed at all. I was really disappointed.
Posted Friday, 23 November 2012 See my other reviews
Liz
says
Thumbs up from me. A fun flick, watched it a few times and still had a giggle throughout.
Posted Wednesday, 21 November 2012 See my other reviews
D.M.
says
So disappointed in this film as was a young relative of mine who had seen it before I did. Where's the brilliance of "Beetlejuice" and "The Corpse Bride"? Even "Edward Scissorhands"? Visually, this movie "Dark Shadows" is really astounding, very atmospheric and lavish. However the plot is ridiculous (and other things that are 'off')! I am rather familiar with the original tv series "Dark Shadows" and what Burton did with the characters of this cult-classic series is really terrible. The original characters were interesting enough without Burton making a crazed travesty of it. And also the makeup on Depp, very similarly to his "Alice" movie was gauche. And what's with the mish mash of calling Victoria Winters by the name of Maggie Evans? These women were two different roles in the tv show. I noted that there was a memorium to Dan Curtis, the producer/director of the original tv show, at the end credits. I really wonder what Dan would think of Burton's absurd send up?
Posted Tuesday, 13 November 2012 See my other reviews
D
says
Not one of Depp/Burton's best by far. Some funny moments but few and far between. Disappointing effort.
Posted Monday, 12 November 2012 See my other reviews
Kazza
says
Well not Johnny Depps best, and normally he makes the movies funny, was expecting better but still worth a watch
Posted Sunday, 11 November 2012 See my other reviews
ICP
says
Was expecting more of a laugh after watching the trailers, so on that angle, was a bit disappointing. Storyline ok and overall the movie was enjoyable though. All actors played goo dparts within the movie. Kept the wife awake throughout, so had to be ok.
Posted Monday, 5 November 2012 See my other reviews
bellbird
says
I didn't find this movie very funny & was rather disappointed. Glad i didn't bother going to see at the movies.
Posted Sunday, 4 November 2012 See my other reviews
I was really disappointed with this movie. It is the worst thing I have seen Johny Depp do. The director didn't seem to know whether he was filming a send-up or a serious vampire movie. Acting was wooden and the wqhole thing is not worth watching.
Posted Friday, 2 November 2012 See my other reviews
Eileen
says
Tim Burton is an amazing director and he doesn't disappoint with this one. Helena BC is so funny and Jonny Depp is just great, as usual.
Posted Friday, 2 November 2012 See my other reviews
Shane
says
It was OK, not the best not the worst. Great Music.
Posted Thursday, 1 November 2012 See my other reviews
andrea
says
loved it,loved it.Johnny Depp is such an amazing actor,his portrayal is fantastic could watch it all day.
Posted Thursday, 25 October 2012 See my other reviews
christine
says
I really enjoyed this the second time around more after seeing it at the movies. It is a dark comedy but i love Johnny Depp and he brings so much variety to a role
Posted Wednesday, 24 October 2012 See my other reviews
Larry
says
The first half of this Movie was enjoyable, but the second half failed to hold the novelty factor (18th century character adapting to a 20th Century world) and ended up becoming quite boring.
Posted Saturday, 20 October 2012 See my other reviews
GaryH
says
Derivative, sloppy and unpleasant. The music's good, though.
Posted Friday, 19 October 2012 See my other reviews
Margit
says
A good movie, great costumes and makeup
Posted Thursday, 18 October 2012 See my other reviews
Lyn
says
A fairly typical Tim Burton / Johnny Depp movie. Much better than the dreadful Alice in Wonderland, but not as good as Sweeney Todd or Sleepy Hollow.
Posted Thursday, 18 October 2012 See my other reviews
AnnE.
says
If you love the wonderful imaginary world that has been created by Johnny Depp & Tim Burton previously you certainly won't be disappointed in this new installment, it is every bit as magical & unique as you would expect. Maybe my famly are a little 'strange' but we loved every second and wouldn't hesitate this movie for a great evenings entertinment .
Posted Monday, 15 October 2012 See my other reviews
Mrs D
says
Weird - cant say I was overly impressed.
Posted Monday, 15 October 2012 See my other reviews
Johno
says
I loved it, Johnny Depp is outstanding but I found the ending involving the daughter a bit hard to swallow.
Posted Sunday, 14 October 2012 See my other reviews
joffa
says
for tim burton, johnny depp, helena bonham carter (& michelle phiefer now) fans, this new installment of the now famous 'team-up' is definitely no let down. i loved this, it was well worth waiting for. Very well cast, acted, effects, storyline. All complimented each other. Recomended viewing
Posted Saturday, 13 October 2012 See my other reviews
MLV
says
loved it
Posted Friday, 12 October 2012 See my other reviews
Sil
says
Not the best but entertaining and pleasant, great performances.
Posted Saturday, 6 October 2012 See my other reviews
DeDe
says
Such a boring movie, I would gve it 1/2 a star if I could but 1 is the minimum :(
Posted Friday, 5 October 2012 See my other reviews
Stuart
says
this movie was quite boring, very predictable and went nowhere.It was not offensive but just not good - 1 1/2 stars
Posted Thursday, 4 October 2012 See my other reviews
Julien
says
A pleasant movie but the story is a bit shallow. the actors are great in their role and it is well played. I personally was expecting something on the comedy side but no, the only laughable moment are in the trailer and pretty much the hole story line is in the trailer.
Posted Thursday, 4 October 2012 See my other reviews
Aaron Ramon Ki Re
says
Another weird and whacky tale by Burton. Johnny Depp brilliant as usual but the supporting cast is also great to watch. It was a good through to about 3/4 of the movie where it begins to feel a little rushed and the finale is quickly slapped together as if there were time constraints on the movie for it to finish before it went too much over time. Despite this flaw it is still worth watching.
Posted Thursday, 27 September 2012 See my other reviews
Nathan D.
says
Be prepared for a pointless journey that has more plot holes than a sieve . It begins in the standard Burton style and does engage for the first 15 mins then the story just seems to idle along with the end sequences just throwing in 1 liners to explain events that have very little to do with the actual story . On the whole I would say this is one of Burton's worst films to date and the whole feel of the movie is a mish mash that has very little body to the plot . All glitz and no substance .
Posted Wednesday, 27 June 2012 See my other reviews
Smelliott
says
This movie worked for me in a way that no other Burton/Depp film has in a long time. It had REAL vitality to it (no pun intended) and had me laughing out loud on several occasions. I read reviews and listened to friends who had seen it in order to gauge whether I should bother in threatening my fond memories of watching the Dark Shadows tv series in my early adulthood. I finally gave in and saw it because I realized how long it had been since seeing a good vampire movie and I knew Burton and Depp were captivated by the original daytime drama (so there was some hope placed on them doing it justice, but definitely no assurance i.e. Alice in Wonderland). The special FX and makeup weren't overdone and they were used in all the right places; informing the background of the characters was done very well to bring even non-viewers of the tv series in-the-know; and I wasn't let down at all in the attraction to the grave and sexy supernatural tendencies of vampirism. Dark Shadows is unmistakeably a Burton film with Mr. Depp being no.1 consipirator to bring out the goth and absurd. The plot and supporting cast could've been given more attention to feel more cohesive and compelling, but overall, there is an alluring combination of lightness and darkness that delightfully carried me through this film. For me, it was a breath of fresh air for the Burton & Depp pairing—still though, Johnny needs to stop letting Captain Jack Sparrow's swagger trickle into every eccentric character he portrays. It's getting old.
Posted Sunday, 20 May 2012 See my other reviews
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