Josh Wilding Reviews: DARK SHADOWS

Dark Shadows has been met with mixed reviews and is expected to be overshadowed by Marvel's The Avengers at the US box office this weekend. So, is it worth checking out? Hit the jump for my spoiler-free take.

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By Josh Wilding - 5/11/2012
In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy...until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He 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...



Tim Burton’s latest live action film sees him once again team with Johnny Depp (and a few other regulars) for Dark Shadows, a fun and beautifully shot horror/comedy hybrid. Despite what has been shown in the various trailers and TV spots, it’s actually surprisingly light on laughs, not because the jokes fall flat, but because there’s a really good story on offer here and some genuinely creepy moments. Due to the fact that it ventures into some pretty grown up territory every now and again, parents may want to think twice about taking along younger children. The story is straightforward enough, and while there’s a one or two quite strange developments in climax of the film (one of which seems to exist solely to give Moretz something to do) it never gets boring. It could have perhaps done with being a little bit shorter however. Burton has created a damn good looking film, and even those who haven’t enjoy the director's past work are sure to find something to love here. It helps that Seth Grahame-Smith's screenplay (from a story written by John August) is so good and the characters all so unique and interesting. It also contains one of the most offbeat sex scenes ever...

Johnny Depp brings the weird and eccentric Barnabas Collins to life wonderfully, never going so over the top that he ends up alienating the audience. Instead, he manages to create a sympathetic and deep character whose quirks make him endearing rather than tedious (unlike in some of his past team-ups with Tim Burton such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Eva Green is delightfully wicked as the evil Angelique, stealing scene after scene, and she’s so absolutely smoking hot, it’s amazing that the screen doesn’t catch fire quicker than Barnabus when he wanders into the sunlight. Despite not being featured as heavily in the promotion of the film as the other cast members, Bella Heathcote (Victoria Winters) is fantastic and serves as the most relatable character who, like us, is looking in at this bizarre family from the outside. Chloe Moretz (Carolyn Stoddard) goes slightly over the top with her performance, but this actually serves to show how talented she really is. Both Helena Bonham Carter (Dr. Julia Hoffman) and Michelle Pfieffer (Elizabeth Collins Stoddard) deliver the kind of quality performances we’ve come to expect from them, but the talents of Johnny Lee Miller (Roger Collins) are unfortunately wasted. Jackie Earle Haley (Willie Loomis) and Gulliver McGrath (David Collins) do well in helping to round out the cast. Keep your eyes peeled for a couple of great cameos too.

Dark Shadows is a great looking film, and finds a nice balance between gothic horror and a stylistic (yet incredibly authentic) 1970s setting. Collinwood Manor looks thoroughly great, while the gnarly trees and creepy exterior really add a level of believability to the location while simultaneously maintaining Burton's trademark style. The stark contrast in colour created through the use of such 70s staples as the McDonalds logo and lava lamps in the town of Collinsport really helps this film visually pop off of the screen, as does the fantastic costume design. The film will undoubtedly look absolutely amazing when it’s released on high-definition Blu-ray. Being set in the 1970s setting also gives director Tim Burton the opportunity to use some great music from that era, and combined with Danny Elfman’s score, Dark Shadows ends up being a pleasure to listen to as well as to watch. The visual effects are also pretty flawless, and it’s hard to find any fault with the film in that respect. If it does falter at all, it's with a few of the character's motivations, but this is a fairly minor complaint all in all.

It's not perfect by any means, but Dark Shadows deserves to do well in a weekend where it's unlucky enough to be overshadowed by Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Sequel? Yes please.





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Wildaniel - 5/11/2012, 1:34 PM
Im gonna watch it tomorrow, should be good!
Greengo - 5/11/2012, 1:35 PM
How bout a spoiler warning?
Greengo - 5/11/2012, 1:36 PM
just kidding I can't believe you gave this 4 stars must be cause you're British
RadicalDuck - 5/11/2012, 1:36 PM
Great review Josh!
ksommer - 5/11/2012, 1:36 PM
No thanks. Zero interest in this movie.
ClarkFarley2012 - 5/11/2012, 1:37 PM
I'll think I'll waif for it on DVD. Just looks lame to me.
marknjoanna - 5/11/2012, 1:37 PM
i like deep but i dont know about this shet.

fear and loathing all the wayyyyyy
by far his best movie,well to me anyways.
RorMachine - 5/11/2012, 1:38 PM
Good stuff dude, I'll definitely see it..when Burton is in form he's awesome.
marvel72 - 5/11/2012, 1:38 PM
i'm actually more surprised that you purchase a ticket to watch this,i'm waiting for it to be shown on tv.
marknjoanna - 5/11/2012, 1:39 PM
I'm gonna check it out...
the minute it hits HBO.

now thats funny as heck gusto.

but thats my plan to.

ill let hbo tell me if i need the b ray lol.
Greengo - 5/11/2012, 1:39 PM
marknjoanna like it DEEP :)
SpiderFan35 - 5/11/2012, 1:40 PM
@Gusto: Close enough?





Greengo - 5/11/2012, 1:42 PM
she needs a chin implant

that overbite is killer

StrangerX - 5/11/2012, 1:44 PM
4 stars hmmmmm. I might have to check it out.







Hatsas01 - 5/11/2012, 1:45 PM
No...Nope. Just saw it. It's a rental at best. Plays out like 10 -15 mini soap operas smashed together. Not one character is developed enough for you to care about, especially in the Collins family. Even the humor was unbelievably predictable. Eva Green's cleavage is the only thing worth dropping a penny on this for. Save your money or go see Avengers again. Wish we had.
SpiderFan35 - 5/11/2012, 1:46 PM
@Greengo: I don't really look at her face :D

Greengo - 5/11/2012, 1:49 PM

Well maybe it's lockjaw? lol

OnLeatherWings - 5/11/2012, 1:50 PM
Well I'll feel better about watching it when my girlfriend drags me to see it lol
StrangerX - 5/11/2012, 1:50 PM
I think Im just gonna agree with Hatsas01
Greengo - 5/11/2012, 1:51 PM
@Hatsas101: I think Josh has an affinity for Deadly Shadows therefor his review is bias.

GLAD YOU ENJOYED IT THOUGH JOSHY!!
Greengo - 5/11/2012, 1:54 PM
Anyone got some hot shots of Chloe or is she still illegal?
sonofsamadams - 5/11/2012, 1:58 PM
Went to it last night. Way, way better than what I thought it was gonna be. As a matter of fact, its a vast improvement over the past few Depp/Burton films.
SpiderFan35 - 5/11/2012, 1:58 PM
@Gusto: He's a good kid, he just looks at their faces first because of "society". We'll fix him up with time ;)



SpiderFan35 - 5/11/2012, 2:06 PM
@greengo: Yeah she's only 15, sorry bud.



Just kidding ;P

And with that hilarious outlook on pedophilia, I say goodbye for now. Maybe catch you guys later this weekend.

Seeing Avengers again tomorrow! Yay!



chucksome12391 - 5/11/2012, 2:12 PM
I think i will just see The Avengers for a 3rd time. might check this out on DVD.
KidDynamo0 - 5/11/2012, 2:17 PM
Dark Shadows 4/5? Really? 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. No thanks
geeekgod - 5/11/2012, 2:21 PM
eva green deserves four stars alone for that hot french
bod!!! whaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh
geeekgod - 5/11/2012, 2:22 PM
kidDynamo0 rotten tomatoes isn't always right, ya know?
AlexDeLarge87 - 5/11/2012, 2:24 PM
Going to theater Sunday. Hoping the best.
Greengo - 5/11/2012, 2:26 PM
LMAO!!!!!!!

marknjoanna - 5/11/2012, 2:57 PM
Greengo - 5/11/2012, 1:39 PM
Report Comment marknjoanna like it DEEP :)

you just made my petty list congrats.
Bobevanz - 5/11/2012, 3:45 PM
Bobevanz - 5/11/2012, 3:46 PM
ULTIMOSPIDER - 5/11/2012, 4:08 PM
ahhh yes....Eva Green and her delicious milky ma'ams
HeadPool420 - 5/11/2012, 4:52 PM
I think I'll wait for Netflix! That way I can smoke weed through the whole movie! I'm sure I'll like it if I watch it that way.:)
XK1D - 5/11/2012, 5:14 PM
Totally agree, I saw it today and really enjoyed it!
MadTitan - 5/11/2012, 6:22 PM

film looks fun, but a pal of mine told me he watch it on the opening day and there's just but 20 of them watching it, while the theaters with the Big A is still packed with folks. no doubt it's still in the shadow of the superhero ensemble
nvision - 5/11/2012, 6:27 PM
I am a huge Tim Burton fan he has made not only good films in the 1990's but classics such as Beatlejuice, Edward Scissor Hands and of course Batman. But since then He has lost his edge and made more campy and poor pacing stories. Relying on too much of the gothical elements and lacking a good story with memorable scenes that he was known to create in the 90's.

This film does what I believe his earlier successful work has done relying on a good story line with some memorable moments along with a hint of that dark gothical tone. It was great hope he keeps this up and moves on with this mind set and tackles BeatleJuice 2.
TheMyth - 5/11/2012, 8:41 PM
Nice review, I'm surprised honestly since the previews don't sell this at all to me. My dad forced me through the old soap when I was a kid and VHS was still popular, I didn't care for it. So regardless of any reviews I'll be waiting for this one on BluRay... besides, I've still only seen Avengers once lol
ecksmanfan - 5/11/2012, 9:44 PM
Myth...pick a name dammit! My head can't handle the multiple personalities!
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