Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have teamed up for cinematic magic multiple times in the past, beginning with seminal Edward Scissorhands, and their celebrated collaborations rival De Niro-Scorcese and Denzel Washington-Spike Lee.
And there were plenty of fireworks popping off in the spooky horror comedy Dark Shadows. Depp packaged his usual charismatic self into an anachronistic Barnabas Collins who, centuries ago, unwittingly and tragically spurned the advances of vengeful nemesis, Angie (Eva Green), who is a midievel witch. When she doesn’t get what she wants she hatches an assortment of atrocities on his life and family, turns him into a vampire and get the townspeople to bury him alive.
Centuries later, Depp is released and shows up back on the scene and eventually confronts Angie, and that’s where the real meat of Dark Shadows is located. In the interim, he connects with his descendants and also courts the mysterious Victoria Winters, a woman with a strange past who is hired by the family to care for dysfunctional 9-year-old David.
Dark Shadows is a visual spectacular from Burton, who built his reputation from the classics Batman, Beetlejuice as well as Mars Attacks! Former Hollywood queen Michelle Pfeiffer is charming as an aristocrat futilely trying to sustain the Collins family fishing dynasty and Helena Bonham Carter punctuates the film with slovenly comedy as the drunken psychologist Dr. Julia Hoffman, who is woefully underused, by the way.
For the most part, Dark Shadows leans on the broad cinematic shoulders of Depp, who powers an often funny and likeable, if not disjointed and uneven, film.
– terry shropshire