(CNN) — “Balls. That’s how a family shows a power,” declares Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins in “Dark Shadows” to a faraway descendants collected around a cooking table.
In his day — a 1700s — throwing a celebration was a domestic act. But 200 years after — in 1972, to be accurate — balls are out of style. Women’s lib is in a air, and his film is installed with powerful, eccentric women. The hippies are dropping out. And vampires are an anachronism.
I improved acknowledge from a start we never saw Dan Curtis’ scary “Dark Shadows” soap opera, a curio that ran from 1966 to 1971. The belated blockbuster book arrives pleasantness of executive Tim Burton, star Depp and “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” clerk Seth Grahame-Smith, a mash-up beast patrol presumably some-more prone to stay than Curtis was, and positively some-more tickled by a sentimental “modernity” of a Nixon era.
The fruit of their labors is mostly weirdly comical — when it’s not only plain bemusing — though frequency a dumb joke a trailers suggest. And it falls good brief of satire. The gags are there alright, though so is a soap in roughly equal measure. Always stronger on medieval atmosphere than story, Burton dedicates uncalled-for screentime to a Collins’ lifeless fortunes in a fish canning business (I’m not kidding).
More promisingly, he dishes adult tortured intrigue some-more or reduction true — or as true as a regretful triangle between an indignant witch, a lovelorn vampire and a remains is ever expected to be — and smuggles during slightest a smidgeon of intense romantic container into a spectacularly dysfunctional dynamics of a Collins clan.
As we know by now, in Burton’s films being a misfit is a symbol of distinction. And if Depp’s Barnabas is by his possess acknowledgment an unfortunate beast with buckets of blood on his hands, he’s some-more or reduction excluded of dignified guilt, redeemed by his loyalty, firmness and joining to a family.
On tip of which, Depp is fun.
He’s a prophesy in monochrome with his pale complexion, black garment and hair. His elongated fingers wobble hypnotizing off-hand webs in skinny air, and he pounces on any and each syllable of developed 18th century tongue for limit pomp. But blemish a aspect and this turns out to be another arch, vale spin from an actor who seems to provide his roles like extended celebration pieces, sniffing out any forgive for vaudeville and hang a consequences.
His Barnabas is a life of a celebration though unfit to take severely as a worried soul. Despite his protestations, there is changed small feverishness between him and his beloved, Victoria (an intriguingly dismal Bella Heathcote).
If we can’t join him, kick him: that seems to be Eva Green’s game, effectively out-vamping Depp as Barnabas’ spurned partner and nemesis, brittle, randy temptress Angelique. Also preening for courtesy though given rather reduction to play is Michelle Pfeiffer — who contingency have suspicion she was behind in Eastwick — as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, a de facto conduct of a family, Helena Bonham Carter Burton as dypso head-doctor Julia Hoffman and Chloe Grace Moretz as Elizabeth’s really youth daughter Caroline. Then there is Alice Cooper as plain aged Alice Cooper.
They’re all troupers, though step behind a moment, we competence feel a bit ill about a design that shrugs off mixed murders and vilifies an abused housemaid who rebels opposite a aged European amicable hierarchies.
Unfortunately, Burton and Depp’s ironic, isolated diagnosis invites only that kind of idle reflection. The design looks grand, though a foundations are shaky.
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