Sunday, May 13, 2012

Dark Shadows: Undead on Arrival

Dustin McNeill's photo sums it up.

I come not to bury Dark Shadows, but to praise it.

Joseph Smith's Friday night ticket.
As the weekend winds down, it looks like the movie will struggle to earn $30 million in its opening weekend. While this number isn't dismal, it's not the homerun that WB was probably hoping for when Tim Burton and Johnny Depp agreed to collaborate again. International box office receipts should be better, though, given that Depp is one of the few actors in the world who can still be considered a "star." It's highly unlikely that Dark Shadows will lose money, but it's doubtful that we'll get a sequel unless the International figures are spectacular.

As of Sunday morning, though, it appears Dark Shadows will be a lukewarm success, at best. It's got a "rotten" rating of 41% at Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a weak 58% audience rating. It's got a 56 at Metacritic, which is slightly better, but still not good enough to be considered a "positive" rating. These numbers are significantly more important that the box office take, IMHO, because a film's financial success is irrelevant when it comes to evaluating its artistic merits.

I'd advise caution when wading through the reviews of professional critics, as well, because mob mentality is  dangerous, not to mention lazy. I encourage everyone interested in seeing Dark Shadows to do so with an open mind. Most of the readers as The Collinsport Historical Society's Facebook page have enjoyed the movie.

I made my feelings known about Dark Shadows early Friday morning. While I didn't care for the movie, I think it was a noble effort. Had the ball soared over the fences instead of careening wildly into the dugout, the movie's scattershot nature would have been seen as a virtue. But Burton and company weren't able to connect these divergent threads in a way that will satisfy many people.

Thanks to Brook Mantia for this photo!

I posted a metric ton of Dark Shadows movie reviews this week (seriously, I weighed them) but thought I'd share a few highlights. There are some opinions I respect more than others, and think it's worth the time to read a handful of reviews from writers who know their Dark Shadows. I think the fan-critics did an incredible job of separating their feelings of the television show from the new movie. While these aren't opinions that I necessarily agree with, they are opinions I value. What follows should not be misconstrued as an effort to smear the movie. Note: I'd include a film review from the Dark Shadows podcast, The Drawing Room, but it was not yet posted as I wrote this. Look for it at their website sometime on May 13.


"... it’s boring. The original Dark Shadows was a lot of things, but boring was not one of them."


"Depp’s performance was exactly what I wanted it to be.  He paid homage to a great actor and a great character.  He kept the touches that Frid made and added his own bit of spin."


"As a fan, it was fun to see Burton & Co. try to give viewers a more "complete" version of Dark Shadows than was hinted at in the trailers. But at the same time, they screw around with an overlong second act, running out the clock until it's time to end the movie, and then go for a kitchen sink climax that feels mostly unearned."


"The idea of playing that humor is fine – one element never really explored in any depth in the past was Barnabas’ fish out of water situation, but, unfortunately, many of his observations here simply aren’t that funny."

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