film review: Dark Shadows (2012)

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film review: Dark Shadows (2012)

It’s a testament to his prior work that I still call myself a Tim Burton fan. It’s been almost 10 years since he’s made a film that I can really say I liked. There have been films that were tolerable… films that were ok… but nothing actually… good.

Dark Shadows 2012, Johnny Depp posterDark Shadows isn’t good either. If I’m being honest. I’d like to say that there were some good parts. There were some good parts. But all in all, it’s a bit of a mess.

I think the problem with Tim Burton these days is he’s become lazy. Or at least I can only assume. I can see no other reason why he’d make a film like this. Tim Burton was one of the rare people who could really be described as a visionary director… that’s no longer the case. He had a vision, but somewhere along the way in the last decade or so he just… stopped dreaming.

It doesn’t help that his last effort, Alice in Wonderland, made over a $1bn worldwide. It resides just outside of the top 10 highest grossing films of all time. Success like that undoubtedly encourages one further down the path one’s on, even if almost half the critics are saying to stay away from that dark and hollow pass.

With Dark Shadows, Tim Burton has taken a run down that pass. In a zig zag fashion. Perhaps it’s some kind of experimental film-making, but I couldn’t find a plot in this film. It’s a movie composed entirely of sub plot. Every time it looks like one of the sub plots is going to take over, we’re scooted on over to something else.

The second big problem is tone. Now this is more an issue with the trailer than anything else but it feels like this should be a funny film. It’s not a funny film. There’s funny parts, and there are even parts that are meant to be funny… but a lot of it is played quite straight an po-faced. Which is confusing when… well… mixed with the funny parts. Is this a comedy or a drama?

Actually, I’d love to know if anyone does know – Was the Dark Shadows TV series a comedy or a drama?

It’s a real pity because, as usual, there’s a decent cast on offer. We know that Tim Burton stalwarts Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter can act. Michelle Pfeiffer, Jackie Earle Haley, Chole Grace Moretz, Johnny Lee Miller, all decent (I hadn’t noticed till now that there were so many triple names in this). Shame they had no time to prove themselves.

All of this culminates in an ending that… well, I still don’t understand exactly what happened in the end. There was a desparate attempt to wrap every sub plot together, that’s what happened at the end.

I can’t recommend this film, which is a shame because… I’m still a Tim Burton fan… I’m just not sure I should be. Let’s see what Frankenweenie has to offer…


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