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Dark Shadows Review (2012)

Dark Shadows Review

 

  Dark Shadows was a supernatural soap opera that aired on daytime television on the ABC network in the late 60's and early 70's. The show revolved around the Collins family and the fictional town of Collinsport, Maine.

 

  The popularity of Dark Shadows skyrocketed when the character of Barnabus Collins (Jonathan Frid) was added to the cast. Barnabus was an ancestor of the current day Collins family who became a vampire due to a witches curse in 1795.

 

Jonathan Frid as Vampire Barnabus Collins

The original daytime vampire.

 

  Both director Tim Burton and star Johnny Depp where huge fans of the Dark Shadows soap opera and have wanted to make a new film adaption of the series for years. Fast forward to today and we now have the current theatrical release of Dark Shadows.

 

  It is hard to capture a series that ran for several years and totaled 1,225 episodes. Boiling it down to its very essence so that you can fit the story that you want to tell within the limits allowed by a major motion picture, it is an incredibly difficult task to say the least.

 

  The story focuses on Barnabus Collins (Johnny Depp) beginning in Liverpool, England in the 1700's. We watch as the Collins family head off to their new home in the Americas to build a thriving fishing empire and to lay down the roots of both the town of Collinsport, Maine and the family manor house of Collinwood.

 

  We learn that family above all else is what the Collins value. After Barnabus breaks the heart of a young woman named Agelique Bouchard (Eva Green) because she is not his one true love, tragedy after tragedy begins to befall the Collins family.

 

  Barnabus loses everyone he loves and begins to suspect that there is a dark hand behind everything that is happening. At the moment of his death Barnabus is cursed to become a vampire by his former paramour Angelique.

 

  Not content to just curse Barnabus, Angelique leads an angry mob to Collinwood to imprison Barnabus within an iron coffin that is than buried in the ground.

 

  The movie than changes focus to the year 1972 to follow a woman named Maggie Evans (Bella Heathcote).

 

  On the train ride to Collinsport, Maggie creates the identity of Victoria Winters for herself; an identity that she hopes will allow her to escape the past that haunts her. Victoria is to become the new nanny for the Collins family. But little does she know of the strange history that surrounds the Collins family nor the general decline of their fortunes.

 

  After two centuries trapped within the buried iron coffin, Barnabus is released by a work crew that was digging in the area. A vampire trapped for nearly 200 years will have a mighty thirst indeed when he awakens.

 

  As core to his family tradition Barnabus returns to Collinwood to reunite with that which is most important to him of all, family.

 

Dark Shadows Clue Edition

This is a very strange game of Clue.

 

  The premise and story behind Dark Shadows is very impressive, unfortunately the execution of said story is left with a lot to be desired. Tim Burton took a confusing route with his direction of Dark Shadows.

 

  The compass spins all over the place throughout the movie, one moment it is a serious drama, the next it is soap opera over acting, and then swings yet again to become campy to the extreme, followed by a round of comedy. I know that the soap opera was known for its camp and over acting but in this format it is very jarring.

 

For the love of Pete! Pick one style and stick with it already

 

  I have not seen this kind of thing in film since Joel Shumacher's Batman & Robin. This is not a good thing.

 

Bat Nipples

When your movie keeps making us think of this movie, you're in deep trouble.

 

  The constant switching in style really brings this basic fish out of water story to a grinding halt. If Burton had chosen to focus on just one of the many styles that present themselves in Dark Shadows then I think this could have been a really successful film.

 

Dark Shadows Caroline

The Blues Clues reboot is not what I expected...

 

  The comedy is painful to watch, especially when Barnabus is baffled by both roads and light houses, two things that in his original time existed in at least a basic form that he should have easily recognized.

 

  The strangest thing is that when the scenes are played with a serious focus you can see the hint of a very excellent film struggling to swim to the surface. Several scenes featuring Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins-Stockard screamed out to me that this, this is what the movie should have been!

 

Movie math Dark Shadows

Sometimes math is just weird.

 

  Overall I get what Tim Burton was going for with Dark Shadows, but in the end his encapsulation of the Dark Shadows universe leaves a lot to be desired. Skip seeing this one in the theaters, heck skip the DVD release, wait for Dark Shadows to hit television.

 

   Final verdict for Dark Shadows 5/10. This movie had a real chance at being an incredible retelling of the Dark Shadows story, but lacks the focus needed to reach the watermark that would have made it a true success that could have resurrected the series.

 

 ~Professor

 

 

 

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