Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dark Shadows

In “Dark Shadows” we’re treated to Tim Burton’s re-imagining of the TV cult classic from the early 70’s.  As with most of Tim Burton's films, the usual friends Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter come along for the cinematic experience that reintroduces a new generation to the town of Collinsport, Maine.

Tim Burton brilliantly begins the film with the character background of Barnabas Collins using a voice over provided by Johnny Depp.  In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued the Collins family name.  Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) is a rich, powerful playboy, until he makes the mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), a witch, who curses him and turns him into a vampire and buries him alive for two centuries.
 Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp), is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection.  The family is lead by siblings Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeifer) and Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller) with their children Carolyn Stoddard (Chloë Grace Moretz) and David Collins (Gulliver McGrath), respectively.  Also in the house is Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) who is a psychiatrist intending to help David Collins who is coping with the recent loss of his mother; the young and beautiful Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote) who is answering a newspaper advertisement for a nannie position; and the drunk house hand Willie (Jackie Earle Haley). 

It may go unnoticed by some, but Seth Grahame-Smith is the writer of the screenplay and also wrote the novel "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter", which comes to theaters June 2012.  Seth Grahame-Smith has an interesting way of writing the vampire that is different than the cliches used over the years.  He finds a way to make the vampire a compassionate character, which is much like the original Barnabas Collins portrayed by Jonathan Frid.

"Dark Shadows" is a very entertaining film that pays honest respect to the original series and could possibly even be a possible sequel for Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.  The Gothic television soap opera was wildly over-the-top in its day, and this new movie seeks to outdo that camp, with clever writing and crashing waves against the rocks to reflect the change between scenes.  The film brings an endless parade of sight gags and cultural references to the decade many of us have forgotten.  For the new generation and the old, this is a 3 Quack film that will visually impress.  

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