Friday, May 11, 2012

Movie Review: "Dark Shadows"

Far from a great film. 
Number one rule if you're doing a remake, have a reason for doing it.  Second rule of doing a remake, if you're going to change the style and tone of the series that you're remaking, then have a reason for doing it as well.  Unfortunately for Tim Burton's remake of the 1960's cult classic vampire soap opera, Dark Shadows, he breaks both of these roles. 

In another collaboration with Burton, Johnny Depp portrays Barnabas Collins, a 1700's man who wronged an evil witch, and is now cursed to live eternity as a vampire.  Where the movie falls apart is when Barnabas is unearthed in 1960's America, where he reunites with his modern day ancestors at their ancestral home in Maine.  Seeing as how this happens about ten minutes into the movie, you can see my problem. 

Here's why Dark Shadows does not succeed.  Unlike the 1960's TV show it's remaking, it's intentionally trying to be funny.  The original show was campy, but it was because they did not have the money to pull off what they were trying to do, so it often came across as unintentionally funny.  What this movie does, is it turns Barnabas' quest of trying to rebuild the family's shipping empire while having a showdown with the witch that cursed him, into a grand farce.  It's a movie that's cracking jokes around every turn, not interested in delivering a fun supernatural adventure, but in trying to be something that the original never was.  Now, would I be so negative if the movie actually was funny?  Probably not, but the thing is, the movie isn't funny.

Featuring countless jokes about 1960's counter culture, such as hippies, the jokes just aren't funny.  Rather than being clever, the movie reverts to innuendos and humor we've seen countless times before.  I seriously would have enjoyed this story so much more if it was just played straight, and let humor be evoked through the absurdity of seeing supernatural beings battle one another, rather than intentionally trying to create that wink-wink, nudge-nudge form of comedy.  Honestly, the only ray of shining light is the hauntingly beautiful, and colorful lensing of the cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel.

I give Dark Shadows an F

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