Okay, I have a lot of blogging to do. Finally watched Melancholia so I feel good about making a Top Ten list for 2011 finally. I watched Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith as a part of my Star Wars marathon and have thoughts on that as well as the fact that Friday marks the 35th anniversary of the release of A New Hope. But while it's still relevant and fresh in my mind I think I need to give my review of Dark Shadows first.
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp. I'm really sad to say it, but I think these two are stuck in a bit of a rut. I really REALLY wanted to like Dark Shadows (actually scratch that..I wanted to LOVE it), and I guess a part of me did enjoy it. After all, like most Tim Burton movies it was certainly a beautiful movie to look at right from the opening shot. The sets, costumes and cinematography were all certainly top notch. The movie was perfectly entertaining all the way through and to its credit there were many scenes that REALLY worked for me (for one, I could NOT stop laughing throughout the entire scene of Depp's vampire Barnabus chilling with the hippies.)
So what was wrong with it then? I think one word describes it perfectly: MESS. This movie could maybe have worked if ole Tim knew exactly what he wanted it to be and, as a result, it was more focused. What exactly is this films focus? Is it the mystery behind Victoria? Or is it the humor that comes from Barnabus adjusting to a wacky decade in a different century? Is it the tension between Barnabus and Angelique? Is this movie a comedy or a thriller or a mystery? Pick one and have the other elements support it instead of changing the genre every five minutes. Not that that necessarily couldn't have worked...but it didn't. Also make use of your fresh cast! Michelle Pfeiffer and Chloe Moretz were pretty much wasted, but I did love Eva Green.
Another problem with the movie was that it was unnecessarily trashy...and that's coming from me. The trash seemed cheap and out of place with the genuinely funny humor that came from Barnabus' interaction in a new century. Additionally, one reviewer wrote that one of the biggest problems is that it was a "better setup than payoff." I think that's especially true as the first half WAS much stronger than the crazy and unsatisfying (and often times ridiculous) finale that came after. It almost feels like they either ran out of ideas (and just started making crap up) or had too many ideas and threw everything in the kitchen sink in the end.
Like I said, It's very unfortunate because I do consider myself a Burton fan and there WAS a lot of potential with this one. It came close to hitting the mark, (because some of it truly DID work for me...) but in the end was more of a miss. Entertaining but incredibly flawed. This leads me to think that Johnny and Tim need to take a break from one another. In the last decade, they did do amazingly with Sweeney Todd....but they did "eh" with Alice and Wonderland, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and now Dark Shadows. Aside from Sweeney Todd (the exception that always makes me hope they'll get it right each time they try again) each of them had their best work in the last decade when they were apart from each other. Tim Burton with Big Fish and Johnny Depp with Finding Neverland. Unfortunately, it's been almost ten years since both of those...so seriously guys take a break and artistically reinvent yourselves! Thennnnn you can go back to your weird collaborations! Something tells me they won't, so here's hoping the next one doesn't miss the mark.