Tim Burton and Johnny Depp team up once again to bring us a movie with just enough gothic charm and dramatic twists to keep it afloat, though very derivative of Burton's past works. Though effective in entertaining the masses, Dark Shadows proves to be one of Burton's weakest films.
PLOT: Barnabus Collins (Johnny Depp) was once the child of a very wealthy family, whom the town of Collinsport is named after. Things are going very well for Barnabus until he decides to break the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), an evil witch who curses his family with bad luck throughout the rest of their lives. Not only does Angelique curse the entire family, but she also hypnotizes Barnabus' current lover off a cliff and turns Barnabus into a vampire, cursed to live forever locked in a coffin underground. Many years down the road, in the early 1970s, the Collins family is still living, led by Elizabeth (Michelle Pfieffer) and Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller), but they are definitely not as rich as they used to be. Their son, David (Gully McGrath), is being "helped" by alcoholic psychiatrist, Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), and their daughter Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz) is very strange. Things get even stranger for the family when Barnabus is dug up by accident and released to walk the Earth again. Barnabus has plans to restore his family honor, though he becomes distracted by the still-living witch plotting his downfall and the Collins' family aide, Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote), who greatly resembles the woman the witch hypnotized off the cliff that fateful day. The plot is somewhat basic, but executed excellently. The amount of dramatic twists this movie takes isn't phenomenal, but it accumulates enough to save this movie from having a kind of "hollow" plotline. Without the twists, we'd just have a backstory with no more excitement.
ACTING: The performances in this movie are all very brilliantly done. Johnny Depp plays a fantastic part as the gothic Barnabus Collins. Helena Bonham Carter and Eva Green complimented his character well with their performances as Dr. Hoffman and the witch, Angelique. Other fantastic performances came from Chloe Grace Moretz as Carolyn, Bella Heathcote as Victoria Winters, Jackie Earle Haley as housekeeper Mr. Loomis, the late great Christopher Lee as Clarney, and of course, the cameo of shock-rocker Alice Cooper. Each performance only enhanced the gothic and dramatic tone of the movie.
SCORE: The score and soundtrack in this movie are both amazing. Though familiar, the great Danny Elfman conducts an excellent score for the movie. The soundtrack includes classics from artists such as The Moody Blues, Donovan, and, of course, Alice Cooper. Each compliments its own scene accurately.
EFFECTS: The special effects, though flashy, are effective and well done. The effects of Angelique's injuries, the ghost in the manor, the werewolf near the end, and Barnabus himself were probably the most unique and well detailed.
OTHER CONTENT: Dark Shadows isn't a bad movie by far. It's entertaining, bearing an all-star cast, a killer soundtrack, and supple dramatic elements. However, this is probably the movie Tim Burton put his least effort into. Unlike Burton's other works, Dark Shadows misses out on an inner meaning or purpose, rather than to just entertain the masses. However, much like Burton's other works, Dark Shadows tries to convey a sort of realism through a unique, dynamic character. This movie fails at that as it does nothing to convey a true meaning.
Dark Shadows is like a poor man's Edward Scissorhands; it uses some of the same story elements, such as the dynamic character in a surreal environment, but it fails in conveying a true meaning like Burton's past works. Though led by a superb cast, classic soundtrack, and well-executed plot twists, Dark Shadows feels more like a shot at making money by entertaining the masses. The movie is entertaining, but contains little true substance or significance.