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Dark Shadows: Review

Posted 15/10/2012

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Dark Shadows
Each Tim Burton movie exists in its own unique universe—whether live-action, animated, or somewhere in between, his films share an unmistakably quirky, surreal, gothic sensibility. In actor Johnny Depp, he has found a creative soul mate who’s willing to take on weird, wild roles from Edward Scissorhands to Willy Wonka. Now the two have teamed up to reimagine the 70s cult classic TV show ‘Dark Shadows.’ And while we’re sceptical of Hollywood’s often uninspired ‘reboot’ craze, in this case it’s as if the original source material was made for them to play with.

Depp stars as Barnabas Collins, the wealthy master of a Maine manor in the 1700s, who is turned into a vampire and buried alive (er, undead?) by his spurned lover, witch Angelique (Eva Green)—who curses the whole Collins clan for good measure. When Barnabas is unearthed unexpectedly, he finds himself in the 1970s, dealing with what’s left of his family legacy: the now-crumbling manor, a failing business, and a handful of dysfunctional descendants. But he does recognize some familiar faces from back in the day—which is where that whole curse thing comes in...

‘Dark Shadows’ is a visual masterpiece with an amazing ensemble cast. The actors are a fascinatingly eclectic mix, including usual Burton suspects Depp and Helena Bonham Carter along with the indomitable Michelle Pfeiffer, character actors Jackie Earle Haley and Jonny Lee Miller, and It ingénues Green and Chloe Lee Moretz. Each performer brings a different energy, but they all seem to fit seamlessly into the world of Burton’s Collinsport. And these fully human, flawed characters help us connect with the supernatural storylines.

Though the CGI fantasy landscapes inhabited by Alice and Willy Wonka were breathtaking, it’s refreshing to enter a Burton world rooted in tactile, organic reality—thanks in large part to the richly detailed, exquisitely rendered sets(can we get a time-share at Collinwood Manor, please?) and period costumes. ‘Dark Shadows’ is, as they would say in the ’70s, a total trip—in a good way.

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