Steen: Burton and company lost amid Dark Shadows

A few ‘wrinklies’ but mostly young folks in the half empty theatre for the late Saturday showing of Dark Shadows.

A few ‘wrinklies’ but mostly young folks in the half empty theatre for the late Saturday showing of Dark Shadows.

Originally a TV series which ran from 1966 to 1971, Dark Shadows is a freaky soap opera in which the rich Collins family of Maine was beset by strange occurrences. In fact, three of the original TV cast, Lara Parker, Jonathan Frid and David Selby, had cameo vappearances in the 2012 movie.

So the story opens in 1970 Liverpool where the Collins family, along with son Barnabas, board a ship for the New World to make their fortune in shipping and later in the fisheries industry.

Of course it all goes horribly wrong when Angelique Bouchard (played by Eva Green of Casino Royale fame) falls for Barnabas (Johnny Depp) and the love is not reciprocated. Since Angelique is a very powerful witch, curses follow and the luckless Barnabas is turned into a vampire and locked in a coffin for 200 years.

Are you with me so far?

And so, into the 21st century comes the old world Barnabas, newly broken out of his coffin prison and set to restore the Collins family name and fortune, which in the past 200 years has been all but destroyed.

Barnabas hopes also to have some semblance of life, hindered only slightly by the fact that he is a blood sucking vampire.

Mayhem, of course, ensues.

What doesn’t follow is a good movie—short on laughs, short on good acting and short on entertainment, this is about as bad as it gets. The only thing it’s not short on is length—it goes way too long and gets really boring mid-way through the show.

Sure, Depp and Burton have quirky natures and it showed in some collaborations, but unlike Edward Scissorhands and Alice in Wonderland, Depp isn’t able to pull off the magic in Dark Shadows.

Helena Bonham Carter is actually quite good as the oft-drunk Dr. Julia Hoffman, but even her efforts are not enough to pull this out of the toilet.

Michelle Pfeiffer is definitely not in her element and the rest of the cast doesn’t shine either. It appears they hope that Depp will somehow pull it off once again, and he doesn’t.

I suspect Dark Shadows won’t last long in the theatres and I eagerly await Judy Dench in the upcoming Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which should be out next weekend.

There were no best lines in this one—the closest I got was: “She’s as useful as a bucket with a hole in the bottom” spoken of an elderly maid.

I give this two reels, only because there was a spate of interesting special affects.


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