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Dark Shadows: Movie Review

There are two things that simply makes "Dark Shadows" a palatable watch - it's the unusual, in-your-face humor and the macabre and bizarre character of Barnabas and the actor behind him, Johnny Depp. Without those two, the convoluted mess of a story and the rather uninspired plot development and production would be definitely unforgivable and brutally unwatchable. Honestly speaking, Johnny Depp carries all the weight and the problems of "Dark Shadows" on his back and makes this film much better than it should be.

The year is 1752 and Joshua and Naomi Collins with their son Barnabas set sail from Liverpool, England to America to start a new life. Two decades after, the young Barnabas (Johnny Depp) is now a handsome bachelor with the town of Collinsport at his feet. He is a brash playboy who have swooned over and has hurt a lot of women's heart. Not until he meets his match with a witch named Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). The witch, jealous that Barnabas has found true love with Josette du Pres (Bella Heathcote), curses Barnabas to a fate worse than death by turning him into a vampire and burying him alive. Almost two centuries later, Barnabas is freed from his tomb and emerges to the very different world of 1972. He finds out that the once opulent Collins family are now in deep trouble. He vows to fix the lost glory of the Collins family and to try and find a way to break his curse not until someone from his past tries to stop him.

There are a lot of problems in "Dark Shadows" that really baffled us simply because they showed a lack of commitment. Most of them are actually minor details that ticked off our obsessive-compulsive side like the ability of Barnabas to withstand direct sunlight half the movie or the amateurish make-up of the same character. But some are also major problems like the uninspired plot development - a slow one at that and a convoluted mess to say the least. It seems Tim Burton had a hard time determining which scenes were crucial and which scenes were not as there are a lot of filler scenes versus one that actually move the story. Another thing is that "Dark Shadows" had a knack to completely forget some characters. Characters occasionally disappear for long bouts without any explanation whatsoever.

What saves "Dark Shadows" is Johnny Depp with his performance as the quirky, out-of-sync Barnabas and his script. This is one film that was literally saved by one man and one character. All the flaws will be pushed aside as you find yourself laughing endlessly with Barnabas' antics on the big screen. In our opinion, "Dark Shadows" is good enough a watch because of the humor alone but how we wished it had more inspiration and vision on the other important aspects found in a movie.

Rating: 3 and a half reels





Why you should watch it:
- even with its dark and gloomy feel, the hidden gem is the humor. The punchlines comes swift from anywhere and everywhere.
- Johnny Depp still amazes us on how versatile an actor he is.

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- the film feels inconsistent and at times a convoluted mess
- the ending leads to a sequel but we preferred a better one that could have capped off Barnabas' struggles


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