Johnny Depp and Tim Burton reunite to bring us - well, not much of anything....
Warner / 113 Minutes / 2012 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: October 2, 2012
Who would have thought that the advent of watching Johnny Depp and Tim Burton continuing to work together would end up being such a drag? I know many folks who turned out to Dark Shadows this summer just because the Burton/Depp teaming was enough to merit a trip to the cinema, but the best compliments about the movie I could wriggle out of them were menial at best - "I liked it, you know?" was pretty much the most enthusiasm I could muster.
And after having the chance to appropriately take in the film on this Blu-ray debut, I can see why even the most dedicated Edward Scissorhands aficionados would have trouble heaping any kind of major praise on Dark Shadows. Getting a major studio - Warner, in this case - to heap money into a postmodern remake/riff on the belovedly cheesy soap opera was definitely a coup for Burton and his squad, but even with their golden spoon, nobody really offers anything in this picture that connects in any intellectual or dramatic fashion.
We, of course, follow the exploits of Barnabas Collins (Depp) in Dark Shadows, a devious and cunning bloodsucker who, after losing the love of his life and rotting in his grave, is resurrected and brought face to face with the 1970s and all the bellbottom swing of its proto-disco flash. His heirs are crazy - Michelle Pfeiffer and Jonny Lee Miller are among them - and we quickly get a match-up between Barnabas and Victoria (Bella Heathcote), a woman who may or may not have been the one to send Barnabas to his dusty almost-death (I'll let you guess how that one plays out).
Like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Burton appears to find thrills in taking the silliness of nostalgia and turning it into a funhouse of bizarre cultural amplifications in Dark Shadows - if anything, the picture's production design is ludicrously fascinating - but while we as viewers wander these madmen halls, Burton apparently forgets to deliver anything but expensive-looking eye candy. If watching Johnny Depp cannonball into yet another zany performance sounds like enough to justify spending two hours in front of Dark Shadows, by all means proceed with this one, but I doubt none but the steadfast Burton/Depp admirers will get anything out of this one save the occasional intriguing oddity.
It's a shame - there used to be so much more to it....