Movie Review: Tim Burton’s DARK SHADOWS 2012

Movie Review: Tim Burton’s DARK SHADOWS 2012

Well today I got the chance to see Tim Burton’s 23rd feature film, DARK SHADOWS. Starring Tim Burton’s actor of choice Johnny Depp, the film is a humor tinged send-up of the long running Gothic soap opera of the same name, DARK SHADOWS.

Rather than go for the Gothic horror element of the original, Tim Burton instead crafts a horror tinged comedy set in the 70s. There’s more of TEEN WOLF in this film than of THE WOMAN IN BLACK.

Add a soundtrack laced with the popular songs of the 70s, that seemingly has nothing to do with the film in question, some broad humor that misses rather than hits, and some groan inducing product placement (MCDONALDS, WHEETIES, MS. BUTTERWORTH all three product placements wasted on me, since I don’t like or purchase/patronize any of those) and you have a film that doesn’t exactly scream… hit.

That said, it’s innocuous enough, and works its way eventually to a satisfactory if unremarkable ending.

It’s not a movie you’re going to consider much if at all when you leave the theater, and in that way it’s like more than a few Burton films. I think both Burton and Depp together have gotten into this habit of making films of a type, with Depp playing these increasingly buffoonish and foppish characters, set in fairytale worlds that are variations on a, possibly, overused theme.

But these are the films Tim Burton likes to tell, so you get what you get. However for my tastes when Tim Burton tries to play it straighter and more serious, as in films such as BATMAN and SLEEPY HOLLOW, is when his films are at the most effective.

Also Johnny Depp is too fine an actor to continually play nothing more than the outlandish fool in successive Burton roles, I would love to see him play a role straight, or explore a character without winking at the audience. Watching Depp in these Burton roles is often like watching a sharp blade continually and purposely… being dulled.

I think DARK SHADOWS would have benefited from more Gothic and less comedy. But we have what we have. And even in a weaker effort, Tim Burton’s set design and visuals are always cinematic feasts.

So DARK SHADOWS isn’t necessarily a bad movie, it’s just not one I would suggest paying to see in the theater, or even being in a hurry to catch on rental, unless you’re a Burton fan, then by all means. But for the rest of you, DARK SHADOWS is a film you can afford to leave… in the shadows.

Grade: C-.