Wednesday, May 23, 2012

a few observations re Dark Shadows 2012

3/5 stars
Visually alluring - the seaport town of Maine comes vibrantly to life... and Colinwood - I understand, a set at Pinewood Studios - is awesome.

A fascinating performance from Johnny Depp, as always - loved how he uses his long fingers to great hypnotic advantage, just call him Barnabas Scissorhands - and good work, although on one note, from Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth and an engaging turn from stunning Eva Green as Angelique Bouchard.

The first hour gets most of its humor from culture shock: for example, Barnabas is released from his coffin after 200 years of imprisonment and views the golden arches of McDonald's for the very first time, with the blood of several construction workers, he has just fed off of, dripping down his chin...

After the first hour, Tim Burton's creative juices begin to dwindle and special effects take over: it's a competitive war between Angelique and Barnabas as to who can produce the biggest interest began to diminish, as the script became less imaginative.

Also, as a devoted fan of the 60s/70s soap, I hated how the character of Dr. Julia Hoffman is drastically changed. In the soap as played by Grayson Hall she was in love with Barnabas and did everything to try to help him; in the film portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter she is a bitter, selfish alcoholic who surreptitiously gives herself transfusions of Barnabas' blood in order to live eternal, regaining youth and sex appeal. And what about her going down on Barnabas midway - talk about a crude, tacky, unnecessary act - what was Burton thinking????!!!!

The film takes place in the 70s--- we hear "Nights in White Satin", The Carpenters' "Top of the World" and Alice Cooper --- but much of Burton's style has the ultra quick pace of NOW, so much so that I couldn't tell when it was all taking place...I half expected Barnabas to produce a computer or ipod from under his cape...Burton's 70s seemed foreign to me (and I lived through them!) nor could I get into the characters' conflicts or was all a very fast, cold, superficial excursion...
Entertaining and enjoyable, certainly left open at the end for a sequel...but, if it does return next summer, I hope it brings back more of the class and originality of the series... writers John August and Seth Grahame-Smith, take note, please!