- Plot Resolution
Making a splash not everyone enjoyed, Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows attempted to recreate the vibes of the 1970s in this TV series turned movie. While it did not bode well in its box office premiere, I think it will turn into a huge hit. From the stellar costuming, to a soundtrack that complements the action perfectly, this movie slipped under the radar this past weekend. There were a few unresolved mini-plots that I’m hoping inspire a sequel, but none were important enough to take away from the main focus of the flick.
Johnny Depp plays the quirky and charming Barnabas Collins, a 200 year-old vampire who was the first bizarre creature in the cursed lineage of the first great family in Collinsport, Maine. Keeping in the style of the original series, the movie was often filmed with a soft focus lens that creates the dreamy aura often associated with that decade. The characters were, of course, cast perfectly. Helena Bonham Carter, shockingly, played the good Doctor Hoffman, a psychiatrist with a bit of a drinking problem, and Michelle Pfeiffer as the beautiful and smart Elizabeth Collins, who is trying her hardest to keep their family name untarnished, while taking care of her daughter, and her nephew, and trying to maintain the estate.
As a fashion merchandising major, I’ve studied the costumes of the past, including heavy emphasis on the past centuries’ trends. The clothing in the 70s were made of very distinctive fabrics, because of the fibers that were available. Colleen Atwood was the brilliant mind behind the costumes of this film, she is a favorite of Tim Burton’s, having worked with him on Alice in Wonderland, Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, and a few more. The majority of the main characters’ costumes were all made for the movie, and the accuracy on both the color scheme and patterns, as well as the actual fabrics used because what was available back then is no longer available in the same weight. Not only was the fit perfect on every actor, but extremely believably of the period. Dr. Hoffman’s bright orange hair was also brilliantly done, my mom says she remembers her aunts having similarly colored hairdos. Depp’s regal attire was lovely as well, he looked like an image out of a history book. I look forward to seeing Atwood’s work in the upcoming Snow White and The Huntsman.
Soundtrack and Alice Cooper as Alice Cooper:
Music played a pivotal role in the mood of DS, from cueing in at the perfect moment, to playing off a hilariously awkward pause. Danny Elfman, the usual choice of Burton’s, helped with setting the mood, but it was really a great mix of the 70s best, along with a hilarious cameo performance by Alice Cooper. He was supposed to be portraying himself from that decade, I wasn’t quite convinced. He was a little silly and not as impressive as the Alice of the day would have been, I’m sure. But still an extremely fun detail for Burton to include, I laughed as I’m sure he expected us to.
As I mentioned earlier, the soft focus lens really adds the 70s haze that I imagine existed back then. The quick choppy cuts Burton loves to include were certainly there, as well as some very awesome Burton-y effects you would expect. In the beginning it wasn’t as dark as I would’ve assumed; however, it slowly got darker as the movie progressed, which was a very fitting effect.
Borderline perfect. The brother, Roger, played an unimportant role in the film and I could have done without him. But Depp, Pfeiffer, Carter, and many others band together to create a cheeky comedy that is so 70s! It seems like they are overacting in the beginning, but as soon as you are introduced to more characters it all fits together. With surprise cameos from different british television shows, like Skins, you can see the english roots of all the actors and production crew. They all became wonderfully American for their roles and if I didn’t know better I would have thought the whole cast was American. We all know Johnny Depp can deliver a memorable performance, but he was truly fit for Barnabas. His innocent displacement is very endearing, often yelling at the newer technology of the day, and even giving a dramatic reading of The Joker by the Steve Miller Band. Eva Green was the delightful witch that you loved to hate, and she was also stunningly beautiful.
The one drawback to this otherwise fantastic flick, was the many unresolved and dangling sub-plots that left audience members wanting more. It seemed like they were trying to cram everything from the series into this one movie, leaving a lot of loose ends. I hope this means there will be a sequel, but if not then there are some unanswered questions I’d like to ask Mr. Burton. The relationship between the son, David, and the governess, Vicky is never established, nor talked about once we are introduced to the two of them. These few un-ended mini plots don’t effect the end result of the film, but it does make it feel cluttered when I think back on everything that happened in that short 113 minutes. There were a few mildly uncomfortable sex scenes which I felt could have been excluded, as they didn’t really aid the film in any way. All in all though, perfect casting, perfect costuming, perfect music. I would like to see it at least three more times, and I’ll still keep my fingers crossed for a sequel.
Rating: 4.5 Out of 5