Wasn’t planning on seeing Dark Shadows at all, let alone in the theater, based on the somewhat painful looking trailer and the fact that I have grown tired of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s dependency on one another, but my mother requested we take her as a birthday gift and how can I say no to that? I went in filled with dread after reading the bad reviews the film received, but I left fairly satisfied. While it’s a far cry from the duo’s earlier collaborations Edward Scissorhands or Ed Wood, it was more enjoyable that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Alice in Wonderland.
Depp is clearly enjoying himself in this film and the scenes of his Barnabas Collins encountering modern technology are all pretty fun. However, Depp’s career has been plagued by his love of campy characters which don’t allow him to show is true gifts as an actor. While he certainly has banked enough cash over his career to ensure he never has to do anything he doesn’t want to do, it’s clear that his main concern at this point is having a good time, not making art. While Depp, Burton, and Helena Bonham Carter obviously enjoy working together, you get the impression that they are holding each other back.
I found Chloe Grace Moretz as Carolyn Stoddard painful to watch and listen to. I’m not terribly familiar with her work (I think the only movie I saw her in was Hugo) but I find it a bit disturbing she has become the go to teen actress for more mature teen roles. It’s like she plays all the characters other teen actresses aren’t allowed by their parents to take on. I hope she has good handlers because she seems like a Hollywood tragedy waiting to happen. She slinks through every scene as a total sex kitten and hisses every line of dialogue. It’s a bit tiresome but did remind me how confusing your early teens can be when you first start wanting to be sexy and adult.
I’ve never been a big fan of Michelle Pfeiffer but I couldn’t take my eyes off of her in this film. Her hair, her costumes, she is very inch perfection in the role. But she isn’t just well-aged eye candy, she has great chemistry with Depp and she brings the right about of icy, dry wit to female head of the Collins family Elizabeth.
I couldn’t decide how I felt about Eva Green in this movie. There was something very alien to her in this film, which could have been the result of the extreme costuming and make-up. She reminded me of Lisa Maria, Tim Burton’s former love and frequent muse. Also, her voice didn’t match her body to me. She is a Brit playing an American, so it is literally isn’t her voice. Helena Bonham Carter looks great in the film but a lot of what’s supposed to be fun about her, doesn’t really work for me. Why would they trust this woman who is clearly unstable with the care of an all ready troubled young boy. Was the doctor at all like this in the show?
While this is far from the worst film Burton and Depp have worked on together but their frequent misses have grown tiresome and it might be best for everybody if they let some tire pass before they work together again.