Oh blah blah blah. Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, gothic settings, kooky outfits, vibrant colour sets. What was once a major deal-breaker is now swimming in a bargain bin. I love all those things in a movie, I do, but when put together they’ve become really really stale. It seems like Mr Burton himself is running low on his own invention – Dark Shadows played out like a 200-year-old patchwork quilt he found in his attic: homages, nods, and re-enactments of Batman, Sweeney Todd, Edward Scissorhands, Alice In Wonderland, Beetlejuice (and probably a few more I didn’t care to count) lurked in not-so-secret passages of each scene.
It is unfortunate that in a particularly lacklustre effort (or more accurately, lack thereof) by Time Burton, Johnny Depp’s performance as Barnabus Collins was nothing short of a distinction. Channelling the very best of his past roles, he reached a delightfully entertaining balance that can be summed up most simply as the intensity and countenance of a demon barber with the comic perfection of a drunk pirate and self-awareness of a mad hatter spewing some of the most memorably quotable lines of the year. My particular favourite being his “goest thou to hell and swiftly please” instruction to Eva Green‘s Angelique Bouchard character.
The rest of the cast – rounded up by the likes of Jackie Earle Hayley, Michelle Pfeiffer and Johnny Lee Miller – did a good enough job of fleshing out the story, but it was not enough to help what looks to be a crumbling Burton mansion. A fantastic tag-team on the part of Depp and screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith, Tim Burton delivered everything we have come to expect of him – and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing any more.
Director: Tim Burton
Producers: Richard D. Zanuck, Graham King, Johnny Depp, Christi Dembrowski & David Kennedy
Screenwriter: Seth Grahame-Smith
Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Hayley, Johnny Lee Miller, Chloe Grace Moretz, Bella Heathcote