Dark Shadows: Finally, a Vampire Movie That’s Not Twilight, Or Is It?

I saw Dark Shadows Yesterday. As a Tim Burton and Johnny Depp fan (I guess since they seem to always make movies together I don’t need to even say both their names) I had some expectations for this movie that I usually do not have. I’m sure my regular readers know by now I am a cynic. Interestingly, I have never had such a bipolar experience with a film. I usually either love a movie, or hate it. Yet, there were very specific things that I loved about Dark Shadows, and some very specific things that were just God awful.

Dark Shadows, released the summer of 2012, directed by Tim Burton, is a movie based on the popular 70’s television show of the same name. In this film, the witch Angelique (Eva Green) transforms Barnabas Collin (Johnny Depp) into a vampire and imprisons him because he will not return her love. 200 years go by, and Barnabas’s coffin is dug up and he is set free. He connects with the new Collins’s family and tries to restore the family business while Angelique tries to burn it to the ground.

There were some awesome things about Dark Shadows. First off, Johnny Depp. Johnny Depp is one of those actors that when you see him in a role, you don’t think, “Oh, that’s Johnny Depp.” You see his character. In my opinion, Depp is more suited toi play a vampire than he is to play a pirate. I just felt he did the role seemlessly as always. As far as I’m concerned, Robert Pattenson is out of the job.

However, the actress I was even more impressed with was Eva Green. She played a witch extremely well, mainly through her powerful eyes which expressed emotion like no one I have ever seen. Her eyes flashed so hot that I think she could make the saying “if looks copuld kills” a reality. Her performance was a joy to watch.

The part of this film that I loved the most, however, was an effects shot when the witch Angelique dies. I know that my regular readers will be shocked. Me, enjoying special effects? I’m usually always ranting about them. But let me explain. In this shot, as Angelique is dying, her skin starts cracking, literally, as if she is delicate glass or porcelain. The effect is not only beautiful, but it really solidifies the character in the audiences’ minds. Angelique is cold and hard but also vulnerable and hollow. So, yes, I do like the effects shot, but the difference here is that it adds to the story rather than trying to hide the fact that there is none (couch cough Michael Bay).

But now, let me whip out my sarcasm. Just as there were many things I loved about Dark Shadows, there was a lot that I hated. Most of these problems I believe happen in the ending. The story becomes quite contrived and forced. First, during the standoff between Angelique and the Collins’s family it is randomly revealed that Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a werewolf. This comes completely out of nowhere. Carolyn’s character is odd. She is dark and sexually charged, but I thought pretty much every 15 year old girl was like that in the 70’s. I feel as if the screenwriter was working on this scene and started thinking, “Hmmmm, maybe if I do some research on vampires I can flesh out this scene,” and picks up a copy of Twilight, thinking no one would notice. We did.

Second problem with the ending. After killing Angelique, Barnabas has to save Victoria (Bella Heathcoat), the woman he loves. Under one of Angelique’s spell, she is going to plunge herself off a cliff. Barnabas saves her just in time. He tells her he wants them to be together, but Victoria says they can’t because he is immortal and she is not (sound horrifyingly familiar to anyone yet?). She says the only way they can be together is if he turns her into a vampire. (Have you gotten it yet?) Barnabas says no, and then Victoria throws herself off the cliff (I guess feminism hadn’t really made a huge dent in the 70’s). Barnabas jumps after her and bites her neck, turning her into a vampire before they crash to the ground. So please tell me you see the similarities here. This entire plot sequence is Twilight! I can just see the screenwriter thinking, “Hmmmm well, I’m stuck, and it helped before,” so he picked up Twilight again. Also notice that terrifyingly, the first name of the actress who plays Victoria is Bella. Even more scary is the blatant similarity between “Collins” and “Cullen.” Seeing that the Dark Shadows TV show came before Twilight, that’s just a coincidence, right? Right? Just wait. In the sequel, Barnabas will be sparkly, and Victoria will be caught between him and the sensual Carolyn, because she can give her things that Barnabas can’t. But Victoria can’t deny that Barnabas is her true love, because she has no emotional depth or mind of her own.

Despite the terror of the last two paragraphs, remember the good things I told you about this movie. Since there is such a disparity between good and bad elements, I think I can only give Dark Shadows a score of 5. Despite the fact that it is basically a good version of Twilight, it is quite entertaining, so give it a try.

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A Note From a Dismayed Moviegoer

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Dear Squids,

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve been reading a lot more about movies, watching trailers, discovering what movies are coming out, and stuff like that. Strangely, that has proven to be a very depressing activity. First I discover that James Cameron is creating a sequel to Avatar. Then yesterday I find out than just when we thought the Twilight Saga was at it’s end, an adaptation of Meyer’s other book The Host is also being transferred to the big screen. Yay, another opportunity for Stephanie Meyer to set back feminism 100 years!  And to add the cherry on the sundae, Michael Bay is working on a fourth Transformers to be released the summer of 2014. Kill me now.

I sat through the first Transformers (blame my boyfriend at the time). There was no story to speak of. Just a bunch of senseless action and explosions. But I did love that touching moment in which Shia Labeouf tries so hard to actually be an actor and says “I won’t leave you Bumblebee!” I laughed out loud at the hilarity and also cursed Bay for stealing two hours of my life. And then the credits went up, and around me, the packed audience gave it a standing ovation. And as I continued to sit, asserting my defiance, I couldn’t figure out whether I was going to have an aneurism or just become a cynic. Any of my regular readers will know the later occurred.

You’d think that after insulting American history by screwing with the moon landing and proving that this franchise’s female lead was an expendable bimbo just used for sex appeal (OK, I know we all knew that to begin with, but still) that these movies would be dead. Apparently not. And even though Shia Labeouf himself is not going to be involved, the project is still full steam ahead. Well, of course that’s not an issue. You have no real story, so you have no need for characters!

So come summer 2014, if someone comes up to me and says “Allison, do you wanna see the new Transformers movie?” I’m just going to give them my greatest dead stare until they stop annoying me. Then, hopefully, this franchise will truly be at it’s end. But if Cher has proven anything, it’s that we can never be sure of that.