Tim Burton seems to have come of age in the 70s, a decade as oddly gaudy as he is. Dark Shadows is based on a vampire soap, maybe four decades from now there will be a Vampire Diaries movie but doubt that will play for laughs.
I tend to like Burton because he has a clear repetitive style, have not loved a movie of his since Mars Attacks but nobody is perfect. I enjoyed Alice in Wonderland for the stunt casting and individual sequences here and there. Shadows is not as recognizable or as potentially trendy as a goth version of Alice.
Those things don’t make it a bad film (the sort of lame and old hat 70s culture shock jokes might tho), they do make it a film that likely won’t gross 25 percent of Alice’s billion plus.
Oh well, Burton will survive this, so will Depp, and maybe it will be great even (stranger things have happened, I think).
I must say that I’m pretty excited for this. It looks fun and significantly different from much of Burton’s recent films, none of which I liked at all.
I’m really curious about Dark Shadows. I haven’t liked a Tim Burton film since Big Fish, which was almost ten years ago. And his collaboration with Depp has gone beyond the ridiculous to the point of complete disinterest on my part. However the trailer for Dark Shadows makes me curious to see how this films pans out. I expect it to be more of the same but maybe I’ll be wrong. I really do love early Tim Burton and my hope is that someday he’ll get back to his roots.
This is a big weekend for me because Kore-eda’s film I Wish is finally coming to Los Angeles. This is a movie I’ll definitely be seeing opening night.
Next week is going to be a chore, so won’t be able to seek out this one. I’ll catch it on Dvd, but like Tommy, I’m excited for this.
Tim Burton, to me, is like the first friend you ever made in kindergarten who you’ve kept in touch with through the years but watched spiral into drug addiction. Everytime you see him, he vomits in your face but you can’t help but admire at how nice his company is.
^^hahaha, yeah, that’s about right!!
I don’t really feel that Burton’s style is truly ‘gothic’ anymore. it’s more of a strange hybrid between goth and psychadelia. It’s commonly referred to as ‘Disney goth’, and that is almost right, but to me it’s a little stranger than that title suggests.
I really liked Charlie, HATED Alice, and enjoyed Sweeney. Dark Shadows looks crap to me though.
i’d rather see Frankenweenie.
I’m almost definately NOT seeing Dark Shadows…..
But I will try to catch Hick (another Chloe Moretz movie) on demand since It comes out the same day as Dark Shadows……
A Warner Bros. release presented in association with Village Roadshow Pictures of an Infinitum Nihil/GK Films/Zanuck Co. production. Produced by Richard D. Zanuck, Graham King, Johnny Depp, Christi Dembrowski, David Kennedy. Executive producers, Chris Lebenzon, Nigel Gostelow, Tim Headington, Bruce Berman. Co-producer, Katterli Frauenfelder. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay, Seth Grahame-Smith; story, John August, Grahame-Smith, based on the television series created by Dan Curtis.
Barnabas Collins – Johnny Depp Elizabeth Collins Stoddard – Michelle Pfeiffer Dr. Julia Hoffman – Helena Bonham Carter Angelique Bouchard – Eva Green Roger Collins – Jonny Lee Miller Carolyn Stoddard – Chloe Grace Moretz Willie Loomis – Jackie Earle Haley Victoria Winters/Josette DuPres – Bella Heathcote David Collins – Gully McGrath
Few director-star partnerships are as consistently eccentric or malleable as that of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, but even loyalists will detect an odor of mothballs clinging to their eighth bigscreen collaboration, “Dark Shadows.” Outfitting ABC’s cult-worshipped, occult-themed soap opera with super-slick production values and a tone that veers unsteadily between kooky comedy and gothic horror, this bizarre but weirdly bloodless retro-camp exercise is neither funny nor eerie enough to seduce the uninitiated, and will court bemused reactions at best from the series’ still-estimable fan following. Pic’s pedigree could intrigue auds for a spell, but long-term B.O. bewitchment seems unlikely.
Though short-lived by soap standards, “Dark Shadows” (1966-71) garnered instant notoriety and lasting appeal by injecting supernatural elements into the popular daytime serial format. Decades before the ghoulish denizens of “Buffy” and “Angel,” “Twilight” and “True Blood,” series mastermind Dan Curtis introduced viewers to Barnabas Collins, a 200-year-old vampire played with insinuating grace by Jonathan Frid.
Burton and Depp have cited Curtis’ creation as a formative influence, and together with scenarist Seth Grahame-Smith, they have paid tribute to the show’s legacy in predictably whimsical, irreverent fashion. With a smirk and a wink, the filmmakers have inflated an enduring relic into an extravagantly empty postmodern artifact, an object lesson in the perils of camping up a property that had no shortage of camp appeal to begin with.
Gone is the atmosphere of grave, haunted solemnity that lent the series an irresistible conviction, despite its melodramatic trappings and rudimentary special effects. In its place are lavishly detailed sets, some mildly coarse sexual innuendo, and one joke after another predicated on the supposed hilarity of a Victorian aristocrat trying to navigate the era of disco and free love.
That would be Barnabas Collins (Depp), master of Collinwood Mansion, situated near the seaside Maine town of Collinsport. A prologue shrouded in the gray mists of 1795 reveals how Barnabas spurns a jealous witch, Angelique (Eva Green), who proceeds to send his true love (Bella Heathcote) to a watery grave. She then turns Barnabas into a vampire, burying him in a coffin until some very unfortunate construction workers dig him up nearly two centuries later.
It’s 1972, technically a year after the TV show ended, which is the film’s way of signaling that, unlike prior bigscreen spinoffs (1970’s “House of Dark Shadows” and 1971’s “Night of Dark Shadows”), this will be a reinvention rather than a continuation. After a nicely haunting credits sequence set to the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin,” the first of many period-specific tunes, young governess Victoria Winters (Heathcote again) takes a position at Collinwood, only to find that the venerable clan, led by formidable matriarch Elizabeth (a fine Michelle Pfeiffer), has fallen on hard times.
Fortunately, Victoria’s arrival coincides with the resurrection of Barnabas, who sets out to restore the Collinses and their failing fishery to their former luster. Pretending to be a distant English cousin, the vampire moves in with Elizabeth and her feckless brother, Roger (Jonny Lee Miller); her impudent teen daughter, Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz); and Roger’s troubled young son, David (Gully McGrath). Also in residence are child psychiatrist Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), a major series character upstaged here by a loud ginger wig; and hired help Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley), whom Barnabas makes his personal Igor.
All this unfolds with a peculiar absence of tension, creepiness or mounting drama, and most of the supporting characters seem to be present as a matter of name-checking obligation. In keeping with Burton’s morbid-to-the-max aesthetic, melanin is in short supply; even the non-undead characters look unreasonably pallid. That also goes for Angelique, still alive, beautiful and bent on either winning or destroying Barnabas after all these years; Green plays the character with memorably witchy flair, projecting a mix of brassy humor and diabolical attitude the rest of the film only intermittently achieves.
Burton’s Collinwood is not an unpleasant place to pass the time. Bruce Delbonnel lenses the cavernous mausoleum of a set (designed by Rick Heinrichs) to look at once foreboding and inviting, and Danny Elfman’s score provides a gentle, spooky caress. Yet the creative spirits haunting the place are strained and self-conscious; the largely mirthless fish-out-of-water jokes — as when Barnabas overreacts to a Karen Carpenter TV appearance, or politely disembowels a bunch of hippies — strand the film somewhere between Austin Powers and Addams Family. The result is a picture too rude and out-there to reproduce the show’s particular pleasures, yet too stilted and tame by contempo standards to deliver much of a bite.
Through it all, Depp gives a typically committed, exquisitely deadpan performance, looking quite at home with his claws, matted-down hair spikes and heavy eye-shadow, and turning the character’s archaic diction into a form of baroque music. As often happens when he gets his freak on, the actor seems lost in a private world, channeling ghosts whose frequency he alone can detect. Up until an f/x-laden climax that desperately conjures everything from “Rebecca” to “Death Becomes Her,” Depp just about holds it all together, unsurprisingly emerging as the pic’s most reliable element.
Frid, who died April 13, is one of several series vets making brief cameos in a party sequence also notably attended, and fronted, by Alice Cooper.
Camera (Technicolor), Bruno Delbonnel; editor, Chris Lebenzon; music, Danny Elfman; music supervisor, Mike Higham; production designer, Rick Heinrichs; supervising art director, Chris Lowe; art directors, Jason Knox-Johnston, Neal Callow, Dean Clegg, Philip Sims, Christian Huband, Richard Selway; set decorator, John Bush; costume designer, Colleen Atwood; sound (Dolby Digital/Datasat/SDDS), Tony Dawe; supervising sound editor, Julian Slater; sound designers, Slater, Tom Sayers; re-recording mixers, Michael Semanick, Tom Johnson; special effects supervisor, Joss Williams; visual effects supervisor, Angus Bickerton; visual effects, MPC, Method Studios Vancouver, the Senate, BUF, Mattes and Miniatures; stunt coordinator, Eunice Huthart; fight choreographer, James Grogan; associate producer, Derek Frey; assistant director, Katterli Frauenfelder; casting, Susie Figgis. Reviewed at Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank, May 3, 2012. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 112 MIN.
I loved Coraline, so I’m very open to Burton.
This looks like it could either be stupidly cheesy or kitschy fun. I’ll wait for the reviews.
Yikes, early reviews for Dark Shadows confirms early suspicions. Not looking good at all.
@Jirin: Burton wasn’t involved with Coraline at all. Not even as a producer.
I saw the trailer for Frankenweenie before The Avengers and wanted to say that that movie will probably break my unofficial Burton boycott (meaning, I wasn’t actively boycotting Burton in protest or to make a statement or anything, I just literally have not been interested in seeing his films for quite some time). It actually looked pretty good (same Nightmare before Christmas/Coraline design of course but I like those movies) and the story actually seems like a lot of fun (versus: some dark tale that has existed before: now Burtonized!).
Dark Shadows is exactly what is uninteresting about Burton’s current career. And really, it’s even difficult to bring up enough energy to explain why these newer movies of his look so boring.
If this is really all that’s coming out next week, well, then, Avengers has even more room to break records and be effused over and… stuff… It seems this year was pretty well set up for Avengers and Hunger Games, I wonder if that same sort of perfect positioning will be achieved again for a while…
I love that – Tim Burton has run out of other peoples’ films to remake so now he’s remaking his own films.