Dark Shadows – Review

2/5 – Another
2/5 – Watch the trailer instead.

After the disappointment that was Alice in Wonderland, I had high hopes for Dark Shadows to be the movie that would redeem Tim Burton in my eyes. The trailer looked very funny. But as can often be the case, the best parts of Dark Shadows were in the trailer.

If you’re not familiar with the origins of Dark Shadows, the film is based on an old soap opera of the same name. A family from the 60s (or the 70s in the film version) has a very distant relative move in with them…namely a recently unearthed vampire ancestor.

The trailer for Dark Shadows made the movie seem like it would be very tongue-in-cheek and campy, like the excellent Brady Bunch movie from the 1990s. Unfortunately, the tongue-in-cheek campiness is kept to a minimum beyond what what was already shown in the trailer.

Instead, we get a movie that was overly long and slowly paced. The screenplay seemed lazily written. Maybe screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith was trying to make the movie feel like a soap opera brought to the big screen, but there was a little too much deus-ex-machina towards the end. One character gets special powers out of nowhere, turning the tide in the climatic battle. The love story between Barnabus and Victoria never goes anywhere and seems tacked on. Victoria is often relegated to the background, despite being Barnabus’s supposed reincarnated true love.

The movie is not completely bad. There are some funny lines and amusing montages, but as a whole it’s a disappointment.

Johnny Depp should play Michael Jackson in the Michael Jackson story.

After watching the movie, I turned on an episode of the Dark Shadows television series on Netflix’s streaming service. Wow, I thought the movie was slow. It amazes me that fans can watch this show in marathon sessions. Dark Shadows the TV show is the definition of slow. I didn’t even make it to the introduction of Barnabus. There was a scene where a character was staring at the wall of a crypt for a good 30 seconds. It was like watching a small-screen adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

I recommend listening to the This American Life story on a Dark Shadows convention more than watching either the movie or TV versions of Dark Shadows. That story was great.

I haven’t given up on Tim Burton yet. I still very much look forward to watching Frankenweenie. The trailer looks great, but then again so did the trailer for Dark Shadows.