Dark Shadows – Review Mar25

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,...

At The Theater #9: Alice in Wonderland Mar09

At The Theater #9: Alice in Wonderland...

Tim Burton’s very hyped, heavily advertised take on the Lewis Carroll classic is surprisingly light on  its Tim Burton. Sure, the surface elements are all there: the characters and their surroundings look weird. But for the most part, this is a by-the-numbers approach to Alice in Wonderland. It’s so by-the-numbers that it comes across a bit pointless. Even the story doesn’t seem new, despite this being Alice’s second trip to Wonderland. Tim Burton must be working with the major theme of if you forget the past, you are doomed to repeat it; Alice at 19 finds herself going through the same motions as Alice at 6. She’s dismissed her earlier adventure in Wonderland, or Underland as she’s told it’s really called, as a bad dream. The Wonderland/Underland misnomer comes across as a one-off bit shoe-horned late in the film. Is there a point to Alice having the name wrong? Is Underland really a better name than Wonderland? I don’t want to come across as too harsh against this movie, as I did enjoy it. Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter is the best performance in this role by someone not named Tom Petty. Although it is weird that the Tim Burtonized Mad Hatter makes Johnny Depp look surprisingly like Elijah Wood. Maybe Wood wasn’t available due to Hobbit commitments, or maybe Burton just thought Depp did a better Scottish accent, but still wanted that Elijah Wood look. The Mad Hobbit Speaking of people looking like other people, am I the only one who thought that Anne Hathaway’s White Queen looked a lot like Lady Gaga? Rah rah rah ah ah ah! White Queen ooh la la! I went to a 3D, but non-Imax showing of Alice in Wonderland. The 3D in the movie was...

At the Theater #4: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Jan29

At the Theater #4: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus...

I have to hand it to Terry Gilliam. Having one of your main actors die in the middle of filming is a big hurdle to overcome. But Gilliam came up with a very creative way to deal with it. Since half of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus takes place in an fantasy world of the mind’s imagination, Gilliam cast the trio of Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell to play the part of the late Heath Ledger’s character Tony, who Ledger plays in the real world scenes. I wasn’t aware of this heading into the movie. I thought Ledger’s death would have been handled the same way as Brandon Lee’s for The Crow: a body double and plenty of shadows. When Tony steps into the Imaginarium, I thought to myself “Wow, Heath Ledger really looks like Johnny Depp here.” And then said, “Wait, is that Johnny Depp?” Watching Depp, Law and Farrell play Tony in the imaginarium was very cool, but finding out afterwards that the three of them gave their paychecks from this movie to Heath Ledger’s young daughter Mathilda was every cooler. Each of them showed some real class with that. Not Heath Ledger.       Also not Heath Ledger Heath Ledger’s final film shows off his charm. The amnesiac Tony quickly takes up with Dr. Parnassus and his roving sideshow and goes to work as their caller, bringing in new customers to help win Doctor Parnassus’s bet with the devil. Ledger’s physical and verbal deftness during his first scene as a member of Dr. Parnassus’s crew reminded me of Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow from The Pirates of the Caribbean movies, which I think helped confuse me when Johnny Depp appeared as Tony in the next scene. I’ve been a fan Ledger’s work...