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May 11 12 10:56 AM
May 11 12 11:21 AM
Doctor 1313 wrote:
Went to a midnight show of this and Domenick's review is pretty much spot on. Let me just add a few things: I was not as impressed by Depp as Barnabas. I felt it was another quirky performance with the emphasis being on "quirky" and not on creating a believable character. He just didn't pull off the back-and-forth between being a comedic "fish out of water" character and a ruthless killer. Case in point: SPOILER--He sits around a campfire with a bunch of hippies trying to find out the modern way to woo a woman. His reaction to a stoned hippie's advice is comedic, then he casually announces he's going to kill them all. Cut to Extreme Wide Shot and we hear their screams as they are slaughtered. There are no shivers, because the comedy undercuts it. END SPOILER.Danny Elfman's score was good, at first, but there aren't many variations of the main theme and it soon becomes repetitious (the TV show theme is not heard anywhere in the film). The climactic battle between Angelique and the Collinses was a huge mess, where it seemed that they just decided to throw everything in. The first 5-10 minutes of the film are great, but the comedy really cheapens it. HOWEVER, if you've seen all the trailers, you've seen just about all of the comedy bits in the film. In fact, the audience seemed to want to laugh at it more, but the gags weren't there. The production design is amazing, but it's like they built a few brilliant sets, then just kept shooting on them again and again. Angelique's office was a prime example of this.There's a scene between Dr. Hoffman and Barnabas that is just embarrassing. I wanted someone to apologize to both actors for making them do it.I think hardcore DS fans will hate it. Regular fans of the show (like me) might tend to enjoy it better if you think of it as a parallel universe. Say, for example, this movie is taking place in one of the sealed rooms in the TV show Collinwood's west wing, just as J.J. Abram's STAR TREK is an alternate universe of the TV show and films. Think of it that way, and it might be a bit more palatable. People who aren't familiar with the show might like it. I did hear a few people say so last night. But the friend I saw it with, who has never seen an episode of the series or either movie in his life, said he didn't like it, but didn't dislike it. He said it gave him no emotional reaction at all, which might be the worst review you can get, actually.DOCTOR 13
May 11 12 11:38 AM
May 11 12 12:13 PM
Joe Karlosi wrote:I just got back from the pizza parlor. They had a TV mounted on the wall and the local news was on. When they got to entertainment they showed more silly clips of the movie, and a female news announcer was saying over it:
"The Tim Burton remake of the old 1960s TV sitcom..." !
I was just about done with my slice as this occurred, and as I got up to leave I muttered - loudly enough that the young teenagers who were there looking at the TV too could hear me -- "It wasn't a 'sitcom'... It's a sitcom now..."
Make that 3 as I'm sure the wife and I will love it!
Jim, for your sake I hope you have a good time. No offense intended with the way this may come out, but.. do you think maybe you're already telling yourself you're gonna like it, sort of opposite of how it's sometimes said that naysayers are making their minds up already in advance that they won't like it? Whatever "pre-conceived" feelings either side has going in, hopefully they'll come here and tell us IF they were mistaken either way. EDITED TO ADD: Phantom XCI too...? What do you guys think? Can a viewer pre-arrange his reaction "for" as well as "against"...?
Make that 3 as I'm sure the wife and I will love it!
May 11 12 12:37 PM
May 11 12 12:40 PM
May 11 12 1:06 PM
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May 11 12 2:59 PM
May 11 12 5:25 PM
May 11 12 5:30 PM
May 11 12 5:39 PM
this today at a matinee as I had the day off.
Having low expectations, I surprisingly enjoyed a lot of this. The farce/slapstick comedic bits do misfire for
the most part, but they’re not overwhelmingly intrusive. I thought Depp was good (particularly with
some of the dialogue he was given; I don’t think you could give Laurence
Olivier a line like “you may strategically place your wonderful
lips upon my posterior
and kiss it repeatedly” and have it work). I
liked Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Greene and Bella Heathcote. Didn’t care for Helena Bonham Carter, but
then I never like her in anything – there’s some indefinable off-putting
quality about her to me.
modern Hollywood style, it is indeed the third act where the wheels come off
with dumb explosions, “CGI ‘cause we can, not ‘cause there’s any reason at all
in the story!”, and sloppy writing with eleventh hour character introductions
and revelations, plus a lot of tying up loose ends that no one cared about and
leaving other plot threads twisting in the wind. The Carolyn revelation is particularly stupid and
But, it is attractive to look
at, and played straight enough that you can be engaged with the story and not just
be waiting for the next gag. I’m pretty
devoted to the original series and ultimately didn’t mind this as a one-off
riff/mild diversion into an alternate take on DS. It certainly wasn’t made in a way that mocks
the original, as I think some feared. But
it sure isn’t going to replace the real Dark Shadows.
May 11 12 5:59 PM
May 11 12 6:48 PM
I saw DARK SHADOWS today at a mid-afternoon matinee. There were only about 25-30 people in one of the larger auditoriums at the multiplex, so my anecdotal take on the box-office is -- not so hot.
As to the movie...I’m not sure if “I liked it a lot” is too mild, or “I loved it” is too enthusiastic, but it’s somewhere in that neighborhood.
First off, it’s not really a comedy. There are comic touches and comic sequences. And much has a sort of light-hearted feel without really being comedy. Frankly, some of the comic sequences are among the weakest parts of the movie. (And I actually liked most of the laugh bits in the trailers.)
And not all of the comedy is of the vampire-fish-out-of-water variety. The time itself -- 1972 --is the butt of much of the humor.
It’s just a very entertaining, and fabulous to look at, movie. I’d agree that it’s about 10-15 minutes too long, but I think almost all movies are too long. Part of the length stems from having too many threads to follow. Resurrected vampire, reincarnated girlfriend, vengeful witch, disturbed doctor, disturbed child, another child with issues of her own, resurrecting a failing business -- I think they could have lost a skein or two and still had plenty to deal with. (I don’t know the TV show, but I’m assuming that a lot of those troubled characters were carried over from the soap. Maybe a case of actually staying too close to the original.)
80% of the female performers were excellent. Helena Bonham Carter was quite good in a role that didn’t seem like a perfect fit. Chloe Grace Moretz was excellent, though at first I thought maybe she was just a bit much. But the performance grew on me. Michelle Pfeiffer is finally showing a bit of her age, but she’s still an exquisite beauty and a first-rate actress who makes not a single wrong step. And Eva Green is nothing short of magnificent. I knew she was a stunning physical thing, but here she eats up this role. Not just beauty, but a lot of talent, and enormous charisma.
But...whats’er-name who played the love interest gets failing marks. In her blond guise, she’s beautiful, but looks too much like the young Michelle Pfeiffer. It confused me and led me to think that something was gonna come of that resemblance. In her modern look, she looked waifish and almost plain alongside the other ladies. Also, and more importantly, it’s not a strong performance. Probably a good thing that she and Eva Green didn’t have a scene between them.
Johnny Lee Miller and Jackie Earl Haley have roles which wouldn’t seem to require actors with three names but both are fine for what they have to do.
Johnny Depp...hmmm. Now here’s the thing. I like Depp. I think he’s a good actor. Not great, nothing to approach his idol, Brando, but good and competent. But beyond that, I’ve always found him pleasant and attractive, a good guy to spend a couple of hours with -- and that’s even better than brilliance for a movie star. As Barnabas Collins, he’s excellent in all the “straight” scenes. Powerful, threatening, romantic -- all good. In the comic sections, though, he sometimes tries too hard and goes too far. A couple of times there was no way to describe it but “mugging.” But those moments were brief. And, from the photos and trailers, I thought his “look” was overdone. But in the movie itself I thought it worked great.
Unlike a previous comment, I thought the movie was at its best at the climax. For me, the last 10 minutes or so were just superb. Just great. I was smilin’ like a son-of-a-gun through the whole ending.
The cameo by the soap stars is indeed an eyeblink long. But even in that quick glimpse, I got the feeling that Mr. Frid might not have been capable of much more. The briefness of the scene may well be a kindness.
All in all, I’d call it a very good movie. Maybe no classic, but well worth my money and time. I enjoyed myself thoroughly.
And one note about all the reviews being quoted here-- it’s true that most critics are not faulting it for lack of devotion to the soap. It’s also true that most of them are criticizing it for not being funny enough. But it’s also being faulted for being “campy,” “violent,” etc. Surely we’re all well aware of the usual treatment horror films typically get from most critics. This is being panned in great part, I think, because of the natural bias of the reviewers against horror films.
And make no mistake...whatever you saw in the trailers and commercials...DARK SHADOWS is indubitably a horror film.
May 11 12 8:21 PM
May 11 12 9:07 PM
May 11 12 9:19 PM
May 11 12 9:30 PM
May 11 12 9:34 PM
In this first post I'll address the quality of Tim Burton's DARK SHADOWS divorced from any attachment I have for Dan Curtis' original conceptualization.
Burton's production is a disjointed mess, a patchwork quilt of ideas cobbled together for the sole purpose of advancing another scene or set-piece around the repetitive proposition of "wouldn't it be cool if Barnabas (insert comic brainstorm here)". It became clear to me that the storyline was subservient to that proposition throughout the duration of the film. Though I know there was a script, I got the distinct impression that Burton's team made this thing up as they went along.
Plot points come and go and reappear without a rationale. Characters disappear for extended periods of time only to reemerge to conveniently remind us there is a plot, such as it is, and their relevance to it. This is especially disadvantageous to Victoria Winters who is ostensibly the (reincarnated) love interest of Barnabas Collins, though you would barely know it without the precredit sequence and final scene. It's a shame because Bella Heathcote's characterization is one of few with any persistent gravitas, thanks to an innate charisma and ability to make the most of her screentime. But none -- NONE -- of the characters display anything more than two dimensions and most are cardboard cutouts despite obvious talent on the part of the valiant actors to make something of nothing.
Which brings me to DARK SHADOWS' second biggest weakness -- Eva Green's surprisingly flat portrayal of Angelique Bouchard. There was no sizzle, no sexual energy, no mystery. Every aspect of her villainy -- madness, possessiveness, jealousy -- lacked intensity and conviction. As I watched her play, I could not help but compare her to Charlize Theron's Queen Ravenna in the trailer for SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN that unspooled prior to DARK SHADOWS. In seconds, Theron conveyed the unpredictable nature of a particularly feminine brand of evil. Now THAT was Angelique. I know Eva Green is a beautiful woman, but I found her witch somewhat off-putting (I thought her physical earthiness in the precredit sequence much more appealing). I don't know what the makeup artist intended but Green usually looked like she just finished eating a jelly sandwich.
Because Angelique never conveyed a genuine sense of menace, Depp's Barnabas Collins never rose above a second-rate antihero. He had his moments though, sometimes displaying convincing ferocity, particularly when the lines of his face were allowed to show beneath the attempt to make him look like a perpetual twenty-something. He also remained rather likable.
That said, one of the most common expressions on Barnabas' face was a kind of stoic, idiotic surprise usually reserved for men getting a prostate check. This was most often seen in response to a confrontation with Angelique or some incarnation of modernity -- which I have to address.
It is the height of arrogance to suppose that an educated, wealthy and worldly man from the late eighteenth century would face every encounter with twentieth century technology as if it were some manifestation of the supernatural. SPOILER ALERT
In one scene Barnabas Collins approaches a lava lamp like a Kubrick australopithicus studying the monolith.
These moments (and other gags) only serve to subvert Barnabas' dignity for laughs that never come.
I thought Gulliver McGrath was fine as David Collins and quite the little scene stealer. I wish there were more of him. Chloe Grace Moretz is a fine actress though her initial appearance was much too overbearing. Michelle Pfeiffer turned in a decent performance and I rather liked Helen Bonham Carter's Julia Hoffman (with the sole exception of a stupidly gratuitous scene with Barnabas; you'll know it when you see it). But these characters had little to do with advancing the plot and were mostly there to bide their time and help out with the film's climax. More screen time is given to Jackie Earl Haley's Willie Loomis. His portrayal cried out for some sort of sympathetic, redeeming scene but it never is allowed to happen. The only character that evoked any sympathy in me was young David.
The precredit sequence detailing the back history of the Collins family was decent, but unspooled to a voiceover by Barnabas. I wish they would have given more time to his romance with Josette, the spurning of Angelique and the ensuing tragedy. It goes by much too quickly. More character development would have engendered Depp's Barnabas with considerbly more sympathy. Interestingly, the buddy I saw the film with enjoyed the precredit sequence more than any other part of the film and confessed he later became bored to the point of wanting to visit the theater lobby. I was never bored, just increasingly frustrated.
The set design and cinematography was nothing short of superb. I liked the score, especially early on, though I became somewhat immured to it as the movie progressed.
There seemed to be modest pilfering from HBO's TRUE BLOOD and I sensed a conscious nod to TWILIGHT in the final scenes, though in all fairness it may have been Tim Burton's own sense of romance breaking through the quirkiness and sight gags. I did rather like the ending, though it was a case of too little, too late.
There was not quite enough levity to consider DARK SHADOWS a comedy, though there was much too much to consider the humor simply comic relief. The elements of horror were fairly tame, though there is one decent scare that reminded me of the original WOMAN IN BLACK.
DARK SHADOWS is a horror/comedy hybrid that rates two stars.
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