I'll go ahead and say that I haven't seen any of the Dark Shadows series. None of it. From the original black and white to the remake from 1991 on NBC. What I knew about the series was that it was a soap opera through and through. Pretty much except for that I really knew nothing about the series or what it was about except it was based around the supernatural. Not a bad premise to base a soap around in my opinion.
For those that aren't used to watching daytime soap operas the film will more than likely seem like a chore to watch at times. The reason for this is because director Tim Burton made the film with that in mind. Let me explain of what that entails. While most movies are story based, soaps are played out like serials from the 30's and 40'. That means that action is usually put to the back for more dialogue to move the story along. Whether that means by drama or comedy, it all basically goes. Though I should also mention that comedy in most soaps are used sparingly. And now we come back full circle to Dark Shadows and the failure of the previews for the movie. First and foremost Dark Shadows isn't a comedy. Yes it has comedic elements to it, but those come from more of the situations that Johnny Depp's character Barnabas Collins happens into to. Usually from trying to find someplace to sleep that is out of sunlight more than anything else. Other than those scenes there's mostly only drama with everything coming to a head at the end of the movie.
Johnny Depp is probably one of the more recognizable actors around thanks to playing some oddball roles and enjoying it. Just look at The Pirates Of The Caribbean movies for proof of that. Yet his portrayal of Barnabas Collins just doesn't work.Yes, sometimes playing someone as odd for the sake of it is understandable, but this time it is over done. This film was bound to either sink or swim with Depp's performance and this one sinks due to it. He plays Barnabas as a stuffy uptight prick of a used to be man who can't get the stick out of his ass. The biggest problem with Baranbas is that you just don't care about the character. And when Barnabas does get interesting the movie is just about over. Maybe if Depp had added some humanity into his character the audience might have felt something for him and make the time investment in the film worthwhile. As it is, he's just, well boring. Eva Green, as Angelique Bouchard, does in my opinion the best job in the movie as her story makes her the one that was wronged and she has to show that in every scene. From running a company that pretty much owns the town the story takes place in, to making sure that every generation of the Collins family is cursed in some form or the other. Whenever Green is on screen she steals every scene. From the over-the-top facial expressions to when she speaks quietly, she understands the pain that Angelique felt when she was first scorned. While some of Green's acting is over the top, it goes to help her character in the long run and also makes her character seem the most human in the movie.
The look of the movie is nice. There really isn't no shots that really stick out for most of the runtime for Dark Shadows though. As I mentioned before, most of the real interesting parts of the film happens at the end where all the story lines converge. The worst part of all this is waiting for something to happen in the movie. All this is made worse by Depp's preening and posturing during these waiting times. There's just something missing from this film that is easy to point out and that's the weirdness that was the old Tim Burton. The actual estate of Collinwood is a perfect set and setting for so much to happen at and in, yet we're giving boardrooms and jetties instead. The one true bright spot as I said was the end of the film where Depp reigns back in his acting and makes Barnabas finally likable and the house comes alive in more ways than one and the Collins' curses that are mentioned before in the film are finally all shown. But all this is too little too late to save the film from being pretentious mostly thanks to the Barnabas character and Depp's portrayal of him. I know this might look like a hate piece against Johnny Depp but it is not. I just know he can carry a movie with ease but in this one he just doesn't seem to care.
Directed by Tim Burton
Johnny Depp - Barnabas Collins
Michelle Pfeiffer - Elizabeth Collins Stoddard
Eva Green - Angelique - Bouchard
An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better.
If only this happened at the beginning of the film the movie might have been different.
The film shipped to theaters with the name "Night Moves".
The producers scoured the UK and Maine to find an appropriate fishing village to film Collinsport in, but couldn't find one that fit. Thus they constructed the whole town from scratch in Pinewood Studios.
Quick rundown of Tim Burton and the stars of the Dark Shadows and the amount of films they've done with the director:
Johnny Depp - 8
Helena Bonham Carter - 7
Christopher Lee - 5
Michelle Pfeiffer - 2