'Dark Shadows': What the Critics Are Saying
Tim Burton's big-budget feature film Dark Shadows, starring long-time collaborator Johnny Depp, is an adaption of the '60s and '70s TV show, which ran on ABC in 1,225 episodes.
Depp plays the vampire Barnabas Collins, an 18th century vampire who reappears in today's world. The cast also includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Christopher Lee and Alice Cooper. The film, which opened in theaters on May 11, earned $550,000 during midnight runs.
While the partnership betweeen Burton and Depp has been known to bring success in the past, reviews for their latest film have been mixed.
Read below for a sampling of the critics' reviews:
The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy says of the movie, "director Tim Burton has stylish fun with a morally-and-time-warped family visited by an undead 18th century relative, as does Johnny Depp in the role of the antique British-accented vampire. But the humor slithers between the clever and the sophomoric and the film too often seems willing to settle for mild humor at the expense of hippie-era mores instead of pursuing the palpable temptation to become genuinely twisted." As for Depp's performance, McCarthy writes, "Depp is right on the money in a studiously controlled, steadfastly humorous performance that takes its rightful place in his personal portrait gallery of one-off misfits. Equipped with pointed fingers, the actor successfully channels the role's creator, Jonathan Frid, who died just last month at age 87, while adding distinctive riffs and vocal intonations of his own. He's a continual pleasure to watch."
The Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan says, "This film has much more to do with what goes on inside director Tim Burton's head than with any TV show, no matter how beloved. In fact, Dark Shadows is as good an example as any of what might be called the Way of Tim, a style of making films that, like the drinking of blood, is very much an acquired taste and, unless you're a vampire, not worth the effort."
The New York Times' Manohla Dargis points out, "Of all the morbid beauties in Tim Burton’s work, the spooky goth girls and deathly pale boys, none wear their ghoulishness as lightly or winningly as Johnny Depp. And what a bewitching corpse he makes in Dark Shadows, Mr. Burton’s most pleasurable film in years."
Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman emphasizes Depp's performance saying, "Is more than just funny, it’s ghoulishly endearing. He caresses each line with great care, as if it were a piece of candy he’s unwrapping, and he gives Barnabas a quality of almost elfin innocence that recalls the characters Depp has memorably played for Burton, like Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood. But Dark Shadows, entertaining as it is, is a milder echo of those earlier collaborations. Burton references cheeky time capsule artifacts, like lava lamps and Troll dolls. He piles on period pop chestnuts like the Carpenters’ Top of the World and he stages a trippy grand ball presided over by Alice Cooper. I found much of this stuff irresistible, but Dark Shadows is likably skewed fun that, at times, is a little too knowing about being a piece of kitsch."
Alonso Duralde from The Chicago Tribune criticizes the movie comparing it to the TV series from the 60's, "But now we get the movie itself, which turns out to be not particularly funny and not at all scary, with characters so barely defined that they would work only in a spoof of the material. (Which brings us back to the "not particularly funny" problem.)"
Indiewire's Leonard Maltin writes that Dark Shadows "Is an amusing piece of high camp, stoked by Depp’s deadpan star performance and the kind of elaborate trappings one would expect from Burton," and he also says that, "If you’re hoping for big, Addams Family-style laughs, however, you may come away disappointed. There isn’t much substance here, and once you absorb the tone of the film and acquaint yourself with its colorful characters, the movie has no big surprises in store."