“Dark Shadows”: A Welcome Return From Burton and Depp

3 out of 5 stars (average)

Image from http://www.impawards.com/

Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have worked together many times. The two have made some great movies, “Edward Scissorhands”, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, to name a few.  Their last collaboration was on “Alice in Wonderland”, which, in my opinion, wasn’t all that great.  It looked nice, but the story lagged and Depp didn’t seem to have as much fun as he has with the other roles Burton has given him.  In the duo’s new film, “Dark Shadows”, Depp shows the lovable energy he gives his characters, and the story is interesting too.  It’s like an alternative to “Twilight”: it’s a little less violence, same amount of sex, just without all the angst.

In the 1760’s, the Collins family controlled the town of Collinsport, Maine via their fishing business. The son, Barnabus (Depp, having a devil of a time with his character), rejected the love of the young Angelique (Eva Green).  But, since this woman is similar to Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction”, and also a witch, she causes Barnabus’s true love to jump off a cliff, and then turns him into a vampire.  Angelique also turns the town against Barnabus and they lock him in a coffin.

Two centuries later, in 1972, Barnabus reawakens and is out of the coffin. Unaware that the times have changed, he sets back to his old mansion, now owned by his descendants: Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer, in a somewhat restrained role), her brother Roger (Johnny Lee Miller), Dr. Julia Hoffman (Who else would it be then Helena Bonham Carter), and Elizabeth’s children, 15-year-old Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz) and son David (Gulliver McGrath).  He decides to move in with them, with one requirement: no one must know he’s a vampire.  When Barnabus discovers that Angelique has become the new “Big Fish” in town, he decides to return his factory to its former glory and beat her once and for all.  He also is attempting to win the affection of the new housemaid, Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote).

The first 15 minutes of this movie were very strange to me. I then reminded myself that Tim Burton was the director and that he’s the king of strange but good movies.  I enjoyed the fact that the film doesn’t focus too much on Barnabus’s vampirism, but instead gives us a quirky, funny fish-out-of-water tale about a man simply trying to put his family name back together.  The character has a way with words that only Depp could make funny.  (Example: You may place your lips upon my posterior and kiss it repeatedly!)  Again, the first part of the movie seems strange, it doesn’t know what it will do with itself, but it picks up after about 30 minutes or so and is good from there.  This film is not for kids: some vampire-like violence is included, and a good amount of sexual innuendo is present as well.  That said, this is a movie that Tim Burton fans will surely enjoy.

Rated PG-13 for Comic Horror Violence, Sexual Content, Language, some Drug Use, and some Smoking

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