Review in a Hurry: After 200 years in a casket, vampire Barnabas Collins awakens to the swinging 1970s. Unfortunately, the witch who cursed (and buried) him is also still around. Through Tim Burton and his go-to guy Johnny Depp, Dark Shadows is funny, atmospheric and filled with a terrific supporting cast, most notably Michelle Pfeiffer teaming up with Burton for the first time since she slipped into that skintight Catwoman suit.
While the script is a mess and the finale underwhelms, if you still dig the Depp/Burton combo does it really matter? What if you're a fan of the original ABC television show?
The Bigger Picture: Raised as an aristocrat of the old world, stuffy Lord Barnabas Collins (Depp) was quite happy living his life as a mortal. But his affair with maid Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green) got him into trouble since she turned out to be a witch. Spells are cast, true love was lost and a vampire Barnabas became.
Flash forward to 1972 with plenty of jokes about lava lamps, Alice Cooper and bellbottoms.
Depp's take on Barnabus is much more grounded than his eccentric Jack Sparrow-types. He is in white makeup the whole time with a severe ye olde English accent, but it works because Depp is quite funny playing everything deadpan. He's less a vampire and more a really old dude, which is what most vamps really are anyway.
The rest of the cast, which includes Helena Bonham Carter, Chloë Grace Moretz and Jonny Lee Miller, each get a moment to be eccentric or glum, whichever is his or her preference. The standout is Eva Green as Angelique. Green's enthusiasm toward her witchy ways is wicked.
But the script by Seth Grahame-Smith (who also wrote the upcoming Burton-produced Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) can't juggle it all. After a wonderful opening that introduces nanny-to-be Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote, classic Burton ingenue: thin, big eyes, corpse-bridey) as Barnabas' long lost reincarnated love, her scenes are pretty much dropped. Ditto the rest of the Collins clan.
Airing on ABC between in the late '60s, Dark Shadows gleefully crossed the line between soap opera and unintentional camp with low production value and scenes that were shot live. Director Tim Burton's decision to make his version intentionally campy with impressive special effects can—at times—feel like a betrayal of the spirit of the source material. As a fan of Burton though, this is a nice return to form after the generic Alice in Wonderland.
Without a doubt, Dark Shadows will polarize audiences between those that want to see the Collins family tales and those that want to see a Tim Burton flick.
The 180—a Second Opinion: However divided audiences might be there's no denying that three-time Oscar winner Colleen Atwood has outdone herself with the costumes: disco-goth. We dig it.