Wednesday, May 16, 2012
The Case for Pale Shadows
It was a bit strange to walk away from a movie and feel like I had just watched a pilot for a TV series.
I mean, I know Dark Shadows is based on a TV series, and there are movies that are made to have sequels (like the awesome Avengers), but the ending of Dark Shadows and the (minor) revelations made in the last few minutes had me thinking that there would be more to come next week, and there was no guarantee that the next offering would be spectacular.
But then, the film itself was a bit of an odd one. The trailer focuses on the humourous parts of the film, mainly the culture clash of a 17th century man (well, Vampire) finding himself in the Hippie 70s, but the film is actually... well, not really that funny. It's light in places, but then dark in others; it's about true love and family, but also about the dark arts and there is a pretty high body count. The joys of the 1970s are played up to the hilt (the fashion, the hobbies, and there is a huge amount of era music), though ultimately there is no reason the film actually needs to be set in that decade at all (though it's probably because the TV series was).
Johnny Depp is as awesome as ever as leading man/vampire Barnabas Collins, but it is really Michelle Pfeiffer as his descendant Elizabeth Collins Stoddard who steals the show, despite her criminal under use. Helena Bonham Carter (as the wife of the director, Tim Burton perhaps?) is also along with a shocking red wig, and Eva Green vamps it up as a sultry yet scorned sorceress Angelique Bouchard. Meanwhile Chloe Moretz does a one-note disgruntled teenager (channeling Kristen Stewart, perhaps), and the rest of the supporting cast kind of get lost in the shadows (pun intended) of the big acting guns.
It all looks splendid. It all sounds splendid. And yet, it all feels a bit empty. There isn't much (pardon this pun) heart in the events that unfold, and therein lies the fairly so-so reaction. It's not bad, its just not particularly good, and, afterwards, it was more enjoyable to talk about other films once we had exhausted the discussion on how average Dark Shadows all seemed.
Verdict: Tim and Johnny get together and make another film that looks amazing, has some great performances and is... well, okay and not that special. I don't know how successful their last collaborations have been, but I was looking forward to Dark Shadows with a little wariness, and the film did nothing to make me any less wary about their next team effort. 6 fangs out of 10, with a few brownie points for almost getting through an entire Carpenters song.