Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Video review: "Dark Shadows"

The long, painful decline of Tim Burton from one of America's freshest filmmaking voices to hack-for-hire director has been going on for over a decade now. Other than the occasional, fleeting return to a semblance of his former form -- "Big Fish," "Corpse Bride" -- he's mostly spent his time remaking musty intellectual properties like "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Alice in Wonderland."

Sad to say, but audiences have happily followed him down the rabbit hole of mediocrity. His recent films have made exponentially more money than his previous, more personal work.

That is, until "Dark Shadows." With this remake of the cult favorite TV show from the 1960s, audiences couldn't wrap their heads around Johnny Depp as a fish-pale vampire awoken during the 1970s and forced to co-exist with his less-than-groovy descendants (Michelle Pfeiffer and Chloƫ Grace Moretz among them).

Meanwhile, he must renew his battle with the witch (Eva Green) who imprisoned him long ago out of a twisted sense of love.

Gothic themes and macabre elements have always been part and parcel of the Burton package. But here it often seems like he and Depp are making a strange movie just for the sake of being strange.

The result is a curiously flat affair, not particularly scary and even less funny.

Here's hoping Burton's next movie -- yet another remake, but at least of his own short film "Frankenweenie" -- will fly higher. If not, it's time to put a stake through the heart of his career.

Video extras are a barely a step above so-so, and virtually non-existent of you don't spring for the Blu-ray edition. The DVD comes with only a single feature, a making-of featurette about the cast and their characters.

Go for the Blu-ray and you'll get eight more featurettes, focusing on such topics as the town of Collinsport, the extensive makeup process to turn the winsome Depp into a creepy bloodsucker, recapturing the fashion and music of the '70s and the film's special effects.

You also get six deleted scenes.

Movie: 2 stars out of four
Extras: 2.5 stars

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this review of Dark Shadows, Christopher! I rented Dark Shadows online shortly before leaving my office at DISH on Friday afternoon and it was ready to watch on my Hopper DVR the moment I walked in my door. After watching the film I was left with the feeling that Burton and Depp are out of ideas. They have been making the same movie for over a decade while occasionally including Helena Bonham Carter to “mix things up”. The script was equally problematic with its myriad of plot lines that abruptly start and stop throughout the movie. If you are a fan of Depp and Burton then you will want to see the movie, but I wouldn’t go out and buy it.