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Dark Shadows Movie Poster

Dark Shadows: Movie Review

Genre: Comedy
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Tim Burton

Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Chloe Grace Moretz, Bella Heathcote, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Gulliver McGrath
Released by: Warner Bros.

In Short: The usually weirdly wonderful duo of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton stumble a bit in this flat rehashing of the 1970s television soap opera all about a vampire and his odd family.

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Depp and Burton Stumble with a Bland Bloodsucker

ost of the eight movies that director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp have made together, since their first collaboration in 1990 with "Edward Scissorhands," have delighted audiences with their wit, style and weirdly wonderful sensibility. You know (and probably love) most of them, from "Ed Wood" and "Sleepy Hollow" in the 1990s to "The Corpse Bride," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," to their most recent, "Alice in Wonderland," which raked in an astonishing one billion dollars at the worldwide box office.

So naturally, the excitement of seeing the dynamic duo's latest collaboration was palpable in the crowded theater, as "Dark Shadows" unfolded. But sadly for all us fans out there, the excitement in the place quickly turned to disappointment, and ultimately, to boredom.

The film starts out well enough, beginning back in 1752 as the wealthy Collins family, with little Barnabas in tow, set sail from England to America (Maine, to be exact) with the plan to amass more fortune with a fleet of fishing boats. By the time Barnabas (Depp) is grown, they have done just that, with even the local town of Collinsport bearing the family name. But then things begin to go terribly wrong, and our hero ends up a very stylized vampire, with dead-white skin, a crazy hairstyle and a penchant for sucking blood.

Eva Green in Dark Shadows Johnny Depp and Jonny Lee Miller in Dark Shadows

Cut to 1972, when Barnabas reemerges from a very long rest, to discover that both the world and his family fortunes have changed dramatically. Joining forces with the matriarch of the clan (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her assorted children, siblings and hangers-on, he vows to bring the family back to its former wealth and glory. And away we go, with a painfully predictable plot that any 12-year-old kid could have fashioned.

"Dark Shadows" does have some fun moments (especially the ones making jokes about Barnabas being a fish out of water in the modern age) and a lot of Burton's trademark cool visuals, but overall it is a painfully slowly paced tale that sadly never really engages the audience, not even in the over-the-top final sequences. Perhaps if our collective expectations weren't so high, the movie might play a bit better. But because Burton and Depp are usually so wildly creative together, the flatness of this flick is even more disappointing than if someone else had tried to re-imagine the cult 1970s television series of the same name. Sadly, this particular vampire should have been left in his coffin.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

(Updated: 05/09/13 DM)

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