‘Dark Shadows’ – What Did You Think?

There was the time when the release of a new Tim Burton movie seemed like a major event. And, after Alice in Wonderland made an insane amount of money thanks in part to being part of the immediate post-Avatar 3D boom, for Hollywood the release of a Burton movie remains a big deal. The director has a lot of fans still, for reasons that include his own particular blend of the weird and comic, an idiosyncratic approach to design, and his long working relationship with Johnny Depp.

Dark Shadows brings all those factors to bear, or attempts to. It is a remake/continuation/alternate look at a daytime soap opera that started in the ’60s and ran until the early ’70s. (The film is set primarily in 1972, just after the show went off the air.) Vampire Barnabas Collins (Depp) is locked away for hundreds of years by the witch Angelique (Eva Green). Freed, he returns to his old family home, where he finds a collection of characters that is almost as eccentric and downtrodden as he is.

Depp and Burton have talked about making this film for quite some time, and now that it has arrived, we want to know what you thought of it. Chime in below, where as always in posts of this sort, full spoilers are fair game.

As my review likely made clear, I didn’t care much for Dark Shadows, though there were a few things in the film that did work. Eva Green was entertaining, and the costumes made her look great. But much of the cast has very little to do. There’s almost a reason for Helena Bonham Carter‘s character to be in the movie, but as the would-be romantic lead Bella Heathcote is totally overshadowed by Green. And Jonny Lee Miller looks like he’s about to develop into some stock and sneaky antagonistic force, and then is just booted out of the film altogether.

The camp aspect is strange, too. I have to assume that slathering Depp in layers of grease paint was meant to make him look artificially made up. Looks like the guy was used as a mop-up rag after finals week at clown college. And Depp’s prosthetic fingertips look like the crudely applied rubber applications that they are. Burton has paid tribute to the king of cheap schlock, Ed Wood, so these had to be conscious choices. I just don’t think they work as intended.

So what did you think of Dark Shadows? Did the film work as a goofy send-up / homage to the show? Or did the comedy and camp fall flat?

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