Dark Shadows; A Johnny-Depp-Lovin-Momma's View
*Disclaimer: I am NOT a movie reviewer. My only qualifications here are that I like to watch them.*
This may come as a big surprise to those of you who know me and have been following me for a while, but I simply ADORE Johnny Depp. I know, shocking news huh? So when readers asked me to write a review on Dark Shadows, I had to ask myself if this was something I could do objectively. After viewing the film, I think I can do it without showing too much bias toward Johnny, so without further ado...
Image courtesy of Warner Bros
When I first discovered what this film was based on, a TV soap opera from the late 1960's, early 1970's, I had mixed emotions. How could this be an entertaining movie with an interesting plot and good character development, and would I be able to follow seeing as I was not around to watch the original series? Vampires are not normally my thing, I have not, nor do I have any plans to touch the Twilight series. Interview With a Vampire? No thanks. Just not my preference, but for Johnny, I was willing to try it out. I must be honest, despite being a big fan of not only Johnny, but Tim Burton as well, I did not have the highest of expectations going into this movie. I am glad to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
The cast in this movie is stellar. Michelle Pfeiffer plays Elizabeth, the head of the Collins family. She is strong, confident, and has an incredible desire to bring her family name back to its previous glory. Chloe Moretz plays Carolyn, the rambunctious teenage daughter. For me, she was simply amazing. Eva Green is Angelique, the witch in pursuit of Barnabas and determined to either have him, or ruin him. Last, but definitely not least, Johnny Depp plays Barnabas Collins, vampire supreme. Devoted not only to love, but to his family as well.
In all unbiased honesty, I felt that Barnabas overpowered the rest. Not that the others were not fabulous, but the awkwardness of a 18th century vampire stuck in 1972 and witty humor of Barnabas is just unequaled by the others. You just can't help but giggle at his reaction to things that we may take for granted. You know, things like roads, cars, silverware, and lava lamps. Some may argue that Barnabas is just another creepy faced Johnny Depp character developed by Tim Burton. Yes, at first I was concerned that all the white powder makeup would be too eerily similar to that of Willy Wonka, but upon further inspection (and trust me there was some serious inspecting going on) the makeup here was so visually appealing you just can't help but examine it, be drawn in by it, to love it.
I've never written a movie or a review before, but I have seen plenty of them. I know what I like and what I don't, and I am not sure this script met all my expectations. While the story line was entertaining and easy to follow. I did enjoy the humor, and the dedication to family, but I was left hoping for more, a more challenging plot, more character development. I felt the story line was incredibly predictable, but these days, I find this to be more and more the case in films. I want to be challenged intellectually, to be left thinking. The only thing I was left thinking was wanting to know more about David and Victoria and the rest of the Collins family.
I like to be visually drawn in, to feel as if I am actually in the movie. The scenery in this move definitely did this for me. Maybe it helped that I was watching it in IMAX, on a screen that was 6 stories tall. Yes, you read that right, 6 stories. The feeling of being in Collinsport, Maine at at Collinwood Manor was surreal and incredible. I truly felt as if I could move in and find my way through the secret passages and massive expanse of a 18th century mansion.
The music in Dark Shadows is nothing short of extraordinary. From Knights in White Satin by the Moody Blues, Superfly by Curtis Mayfield, Bang a Gong by T. Rex, No More Mister Nice Guy by Alice Cooper, Top of the World by the Carpenters, and even a reference to The Joker by The Steve Miller Band. It just doesn't get much better than that. The music is fitting, fantastic, and made me want to get up and dance right there. Who knows, if people hadn't been sitting around me, it could have happened but I am afraid it would have been somewhat frowned upon.
I wanted to go back and see this movie again the same afternoon. (Which I did NOT do, I opted for a pedi instead) I don't think it was because of the less than spectacular script, but because it was better than I had expected it to be. The scenery, the music (oh, the music), the humor, and the characters. Each with their own special trait that sucks you in and keeps your eyes on the screen. I don't think this is going to be the talk of the town come awards season, but I found it entertaining and a pleasure to watch.