Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dark Shadows: What the critics are saying

Dark Shadows held its Hollywood premiere last night, which means we should begin to see reviews of the film appearing online. I'll be keeping track of them on this post, as well as revising the Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic ratings as they change. Check back often!

Rotten Tomatoes: 41%

MetaCritic: 56


The Movies:
 "Uneven but a more enjoyable Burton-Depp combo"

"Here though, he takes the Brady Bunch Movie approach, sweetly skewering the 1960s supernatural soap opera it’s based upon and good-naturedly teasing the era in which it was spawned."

Matt's Movie Reviews
"All fangs and no bite, Dark Shadows is another bland Tim Burton rebranding of a classic product, saved from being a total disaster by the talents of his leading man Johnny Depp."

"Barnabas ‘out of his time’ everything “1972″ (*said in Depp’s Barnabas voice) element – especially the musical guest that had as much screen time as a Disney song – well and truly emptied the well by the end of the film."

James on Screens
"You don’t even have to be familiar with the 60’s afternoon soap opera the film is based on, but you do need to appreciate of the movie’s tongue-in cheek wit. Burton sets the story in the disco 70’s period of the television show, then tweaks the horror genre and bubblegum culture."

The Film Pie
"The film gets too bogged down with lengthy dialogue-driven sequences.  Knowing that Burton is sitting in the director’s chair, you keep thinking they’re going to lead up to something clever but that’s rarely the case."

Kitsap Sun
Burton and Depp vamp 'Dark Shadows' into 'That '70s Show'

Movie Fix
"Far from a kids' film, Dark Shadows is an over-the-top, comic-horror spectacle that's a lot of fun"

Associated Press
'Dark Shadows' favors visuals over story

Time Out New York
"Dark Shadows struts its glam harder than any film since Velvet Goldmine—again, a good thing."

 The Brisbane Times
Gothic and kooky, the genre can feel a bit confused in Dark Shadows, but it's a fun offering from the eccentric minds of Burton and Depp.

 The Hollywood Reporter
"Given that Burton has traded in such off-kilter, oddly populated, humorously horrible material so many times before, there are few surprises in the way Dark Shadows has been handled tonally or visually." 

The Village Voice
"More frequently, this Dark Shadows relies on slow-pitch wasn't-the-past-dumb humor: The 1970s are lampooned for macramé art and inane pothead conversation, Love Story and lava lamps and the Steve Miller Band."

A Mess, Resembling Nothing of the TV Series

Box Office Magazine
"The gothic underpinnings of the story clashing with the early '70s pop culture invasion make for a delicate balance, with exceptional production values and a tongue firmly planted in cheek, Burton pulls it off."

Shock Til You Drop
"It's hard to hate the movie because every single scene looks so damn good due to the efforts of production designer Rick Heinrichs and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel ,,,"

"... the chuckle factor diminishes as itbecomes clear that the fish-out-of-water theme isn’t going to amount to muchmore than easy gags."

"The film feels like they've taken a couple of years worth of storylines from the series and shoehorned them all into a two hour span, and while that may sound frantic, I like the way the film manages to suggest the rhythms and wackadoo invention that is part of the source material."

 "A word of warning: this is not the knockabout comedy the trailer suggests. Instead, it cleaves closer to what you expect from Burton: darkness, quirk and Johnny Depp on great form. A step up, then, from Alice In Wonderland and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, but not tip-top Tim" 

Fangirl Magazine
"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.  Barnabas’s look is also very iconic and a beautiful meshing of designs that came before, Nosferatu being a prime example."

Free Times
"Depp himself preens regally in his cape and plastered spit-curls, yet here he’s little more than a delivery system for jokes."

Badass Digest
"Depp is the only performer doing anything resembling a tribute to the original series. Everyone else does their own thing, and it mostly works."

"It's probably silly to complain about lack of character development in a campy movie based on a soap opera, but other than Barnabas and Angelique, the other characters just sort of come and go, popping up every now and then as needed, nothing more."

"For all the plot that's unfolding, the movie keeps a very deliberate pace. Burton's long-take dialogue exchanges are pretty slow by superhero movie standards. And that's fine with me. The subject matter, the characters and the quirky humor give Burton ample opportunity to steep things in a big-budget version of old-school genre fog."

 News Blaze
"The gleefully macabre humor here derives from the culture shock of an alien thrust into a period defined by a vastly different alienated cultural revolution. And a dysfunctional vampire negotiating an identity crisis of his own in the midst of the rampant mid-20th century personal identity upheaval in progress."

The Huffington Post
"Big, loud, lavish and flat, Dark Shadows was written by Seth Grahame-Smith, who came up with the one-joke idea of mash-ups blending classic literature and history tales blended with horror-movie tropes, like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The witless script here doesn't bode well for Grahame-Smith's screen adaptation of his own Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer."

 Blog of Dark Shadows
"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."

The Playlist
"The movie is just disastrously disorganized – there are so many false starts and burnoff endings that have no bearing on the actual beginning, middle and end of what might even generously be described as a plot ..."

"This is a full-bore train wreck, despite (yes) some fine cinematography, production design, special effects, and musical score. But a film cannot coast on cosmetic features and a jaunty Danny Elfman score alone."

"... it remains to be seen if this mix-and-match of filmic elements can lure longtime fans, for whom the shadows won't be dark enough, and younger viewers, who wouldn't know Collinwood from Dollywood."

Den of Geek
"... the director’s mad, inspired expressionism - his enthusiastic melange of everything from B-movie schlock to Charles Addams - has dissipated."

New Empress Magazine
"The whole affair feels like an in-joke you’re unable to appreciate and although the actors do well with what they have none of them, Depp aside, get the time or attention they need to establish themselves in their roles."

"It’s fluff but overall “Dark Shadows” is a really fun movie."

Entertainment Weekly
"Depp's performance is more than just funny — it's ghoulishly endearing. He caresses each line with great care, as if it were a piece of candy he's unwrapping, and he gives Barnabas, in his very ''demonic'' intensity, a quality of almost elfin innocence that recalls the characters Depp has most memorably played for Burton."

The A.V. Club
"Burton goes through the motions, but as much as he feels at home among this family of misfits and beasts, Dark Shadows doesn’t have the conviction to give the romantic intrigue any life" 

 Roger Ebert
"... Depp seems to inhabit a world of his own, perhaps in self-defense. The others seem to be performing parodies of their characters. "Dark Shadows" begins with great promise, but then the energy drains out." 

 The Hollywood Reporter
"Depp drolly underplays the refined vampire's reactions to all this and more, although the soundtrack's frequent japes in this direction ... ultimately tips the balance toward easy points rather than genuine inventiveness."

The Austin Chronicle
"... In the end, Dark Shadows seems more like a mash-up of leftover ideas."

Asia One
"In the end, one gets the feeling that the story premise (and even Depp's make-up) holds more potential than the screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith."

Chicago Tribune
"I long for the energy and invention of a performance such as Depp's Ed Wood in Burton's"Ed Wood." But then, that wasn't a $125 million international export."

The Sudbury Star
"The result is more old-school fish-out-of-water than blazingly original. But it retains that soap opera acting style that has always been fun to watch."

The Miami Herald
"... The wheels come off and the film falls to pieces. Depp and Burton are two gifted, like-minded artists whose affinity for oddball characters and off-center humor makes them natural creative partners. But they also enable each other's laziest, most indulgent habits."

D Magazine
"Despite the presence of ghosts and witchcraft and other supernatural elements, the movie is strangely unimaginative."

The 330
"It’s all done in the name of good, slightly off-color fun. Burton relishes the time-period pop so much that he plays entire songs on the soundtrack ..."

"It's hard to suppress my preference for talking about the original over Tim Burton's film, which isn't a remake so much as a mostly unfunny camp sendup. The script by Seth Grahame-Smith is witless and meandering — and I wouldn't mind the witless so much if it moved, or the meandering if it were droll."

Dork Shelf
"The character work turned in here by Depp is shockingly good considering he was very close to becoming a caricature of himself after the Pirates of the Caribbean films and his most recent collaborations with Burton. The buttoned up and occasionally vicious Barnabas, also manages to have a lot of heart and disarming politeness."

 The Boston Phoenix
"That theme of family values will return with gratuitous regularity, but it doesn't drown out Burton's macabre wit, his fizzy mix of camp, nihilism, and unexpected beauty."

Journal Standard
"OK, the jokes are silly, if not downright juvenile, but darned if most of them aren’t amusing, even laugh-out-loud funny." 

Bangkok Post
"We laughed along, yet all the while in the dark coffin of the cinema I longed to rewatch Burton's sad and sardonic Corpse Bride for the kind of macabre romance that fails pretty flat here."

 CliqueClack Flicks
 "Dark Shadows – It really doesn’t suck."

"It's stately with a smirk, crossing Bram Stoker with The Addams Family to arrive at what sometimes feels like a wildly overproduced Saturday Night Live sketch."

Eagle Tribune
"And much of the freshness lies in the movie's riotous hilarity. It's a movie where whole lines are regrettably missed because I can't hear the dialogue over the sounds of my own howling."

"That important mixture of comedy and chills starts giving off an uneven taste, while the plot does its best to somersault over itself and goes into highest possible gear to get bigger, better, more."

"This is all to say that the movie is as paint-by-numbers as anything Burton and Depp have ever done, and boy, does it ever show."

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

San Diego Reader
"The character of Barnabas, as played by Depp, is so utterly humorless that such grimace-inducing guffaws are rendered even more out-of-step with the rest of the movie than the centuries-old vampire is with the unfamiliar era in which he finds himself."

“Dark Shadows can’t decide whether it’s a parody, a horror comedy, an atmospheric melodrama, or a tedious bucket of crap. Eventually it chooses the last one.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/10/2792730/dark-shadows-a-waste-of-gifted.html#storylink=cpy


Jason said...

Oh no...sounds middle of the road right now...funny Brady Bunch reference though...

Anonymous said...

Nothing can be as bad as he BRADY BUNCH movies!

George Caltsoudas said...

That one review really nailed the problem with their approach on this. It seems as though Burton, Depp, and the executive producers somehow felt the need to push it away from feeling like an embarrassing look back on their youth in the 70's.

So as a result they went with this whole Brady Bunch Movie / 90's remake angle hoping "that's what the kids are into these days, right?" instead of trying to capture the strangely entrancing, ethereal drug trip vibe of the show.

Especially during a period where the eighties are moving on their way out again and late sixties/early seventies hippie aesthetics have coincidentally come back in style. It's everywhere from fashion to alternative bands to music videos, to design, etc. Maybe Warner Bros need to get new blood in their marketing divisions?

And just to be clear, none of what I said means that it doesn't need to be funny. I love bits like the TV scene and David finding panties on Barnabas' face. I think it's more to do with the plot and narrative structure which is what all the reviews seem to be focused on criticising. There's just something about it that just screams 90's -- you know, that cocky "we can make everything better now" false notion of that era. The only problem is, this isn't 1996. It's 2012.

Erica said...

What a piece of work, consolidating all of these for us! Thank you. :-)

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