I was not a fan of Dark Shadows. The movie was flaccid and did not give me any Tim Burton delight that I normally get from a Burton movie. Actually, none of his movies have given me a cinematic chubby since Big Fish. You can also count Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street because it gave me a semi — but enough with the erectile movie metaphors. I chose to review the movie review of Simon Miraudo of Quickflix. It was a decent review, but when he led with “Dark Shadows is Tim Burton‘s best film in a decade.” Really? OF THE DECADE? That said, I had to explore his argument.
I, like Mr. Miraudo, did not watch the retro soap opera in which this movie was based. But before I get into all that I want to share with you a quote he injected into his review:
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 there’s that.
In any case, I wonder if I had to be a fan of the original series to appreciate this movie. There are moments in the movie when original cast members pop up on screen. I only know this because at the screening I was at, there were about three or four diehard Dark Shadows fans in the audience and they nearly climaxed every time a cast member made their cameo. I had no idea who they were and I have a feeling that if I did, I may have appreciated this movie more.
So back to what Mr. Miraudo said about this movie being Burton’s best of the decade — I see where he is coming from. Now that I think of it, the only other movie he has directed since 2010 is Alice in Wonderland — and that was just unfortunate. Miraudo also goes on to refer to Burton’s forthcoming production effort of Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter as “cinematic sludge”. To that I say, “PSHAW!” That movie is going to rock my pants off.
Miraudo also says that this movie “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.” Yes, but I don’t think it skewered it enough. Dark Shadows could have dialed up the volume on the melodramatic and the campy. I was hungry for it, but wasn’t fed enough. Instead, it was just a choppy loaf of kind-of humorous, semi-dramatic other-worldly Burton fodder. I love me some Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Michelle Pfeiffer — but I didn’t care about their characters as much as I should have. I was more concerned with Jackie Earle Haley, who plays the butler Willie, who is the most entertaining character with the least screen time. Of the actors, Miraudo says, the movie is “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.”
I agree with Depp and definitely with Eva Green as the movie’s witchy antagonist Angelique (Green is deliciously villainous and is the second most entertaining in the movie). As for his praise for Chloë Moretz, I beg to differ. I guess she’s a good actress, but some of her recent talk show appearances fog my opinion about her. The best way I can put it is: she seems like your typical annoying teenager. And I do not like annoying teenagers.
Miraudo closes, saying that Dark Shadows is “a light affair; fun, and funny…” I can live with that. I see why he likes this movie. I, on the other hand, appreciated the trip to the world of Burton’s vision of the ’70s (awesome soundtrack, by the way) and Barnabas Collins, but would not recommend the trip to anyone else. Watch Edward Scissorhands instead.
Dark Shadows opens in theaters today.