Saturday, June 23, 2012

Review for Dark Shadows (2012 movie)

As a big fan of the original Dark Shadows with all its cheesy goodness and homemade feel, it was with much excitement and a bit of trepidation that I finally ventured out to see this reboot on the big screen.  I'm happy to say it wasn't a complete disaster, but it was a bit disappointing.

Let me start out by saying that this movie was made by people who enjoyed the original, there was a sense of fun and energy revolving around the scenes with the two main protagonists acting with gleeful abandon.  Johnny Depp as the new Barnabas Collins did an admirable job of bringing the emotions of lost love and disillusionment with the changes of time to this complicated character and his presence overshadowed every other actor in the film with the exception of Barnabas' nemesis, Angelique Bouchard (played with wildly sexy abandon by Eva Green).  The chemistry was crackling between these two every time they shared a scene.  It's too bad they weren't together more often.

As to the rest of the cast, they were rather bland (with the minor exception of Helena Bonham Carter playing Dr. Julia Hoffman, who can always be counted on to go over the top and leave a lasting impression).  The excitement that Depp and Green brought to the screen was definitely lacking from most of the remaining cast which caused things to drag whenever Depp wasn't onscreen.  The actress playing Barnabas' long lost love Victoria (Bella Heathcote) was my biggest disappointment in the cast considering her importance to Barnabas.  There was absolutely no chemistry between Heathcote and Depp, so their love story fizzled and caused the emotional impact of the film's ending to be diminished.  The cameos from some of the original cast members was a wonderfully sentimental sight to see, particularly knowing that Jonathan Frid the original Barnabas died shortly after filming his scenes.  Having Alice Cooper show up as a musical guest was also wonderfully inspired and elicited one of many funny jokes. 

The gothic atmosphere of the story really drew me in, and while I enjoyed the humorous moments they disrupted the overall flow and feel of the original.  This movie needed to either go all in on the gothic aspect or go totally campy/humorous, this back and forth felt a bit schizophrenic and diminished my overall enjoyment.  The ending of the movie was where I had the biggest issues though.  It was drawn out way to long and one or two hidden traits about the Collins children came way out of left field to affect the outcome of the story in an unbelievable way.

Overall this movie was entertaining, even with the quibbles I had with it.  I had hoped for better, but am grateful it wasn't worse.  As a sentimental ode to the original Dark Shadows and Jonathan Frid's Barnabas Collins it succeeds and should bring a smile to all those who first stepped into the original Dark Shadows world.

My rating for this is a B!

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