With Tim Burtons reputation of brilliant dark but magical gothic films such as Corpse Bride and Edward Scissorhands I was incredibly excited to watch Dark Shadows with the leading role played by Johnny Depp who goes hand and hand with Tim Burton and his films. Dark Shadows follows cursed vampire Barnabas Collins when he is accidentally freed from his coffin by construction workers. He returns to his manor house to find his odd, quirky and dysfunctional descendants and helps them revive the Collins family business and clashes with a rival business that Barnabas must overcome throughout the film whilst finding love with a governess who reminds him of a previous love.
Whilst Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter all performed to perfection bringing so much charm to their characters, the rest of the cast fell somewhat short of bringing anything engaging to the screen. I also felt as if Bonham Carter was destined for a bigger role, but the end of the film left room for a sequel which she would more than likely appear in judging from its open ending. Visually Dark Shadows is stunning, with impressive settings and beautifully tasteful costumes and make-up combined with wonderful cinematographic shadowing and lighting that enhances everything on screen similarly done in Burtons recent Alice In Wonderland.
Tim Burton does an incredibly good job at creating gothic themed movies that are dark, distinguished and enchanting, with incredibly simple plots for children to enjoy and not be scared of the unusual characters he presents on screen often with Johnny Depp featuring in many of his films. Yet again Burton does exactly that, a simple plot, but actually too simple a plot and feels somewhat worn out and lazy on Burtons part. The film has a slow start, with not very much in the middle and a decent ‘fight’ scene at the end with snappy one line jokes from Depp throughout. The script and character was clearly made for Depp, and he delivers a perfectly charismatic performance which makes the film bearable enough to watch, but without Depp I fear this film would be an incredibly tedious experience.
It’s not an overly amazing or thrilling experience and you don’t really gain anything from watching Dark Shadows, but I would say every Tim Burton film, and every role that Johnny Depp portrays are both worth a watch. I wouldn’t say it’s a film you’ll love, but perhaps enjoy if you’re a casual film watcher as long as you’re not expecting to be blown away.