Humor comes in many forms; light, corny, heavy, and dark. It’s what makes humanity so interesting, the things we find or don’t find funny. Nevertheless, Tim Burton has brought the audience a comedy in his new film Dark Shadows that doesn’t seem to break the laugh-o-meter for this film critic. Johnny Depp, in his seventh or eighth Burton film, (I tend to lose count theses days) is Barnabas Collins, an 18th century aristocrat who is caught in an unwitting love triangle with his bride to be and the evil witch that pines for his love. With his parents’ death via black magic and the witches’ curse that is upon him, Barnabas returns after two centuries to a world and family that he knows nothing of. And so starts an eerily shrug gable adventure of vampirism, family confrontations, teenage rebellion, and good old fashion greed.
Dark Shadows made me giggle. That’s it. There was barely enough story line in its failed attempt to draw in a child let alone a mature audience. Through my sporadic giggles I found myself bored, regretting the fact that I paid hard earned money for another Burton film. I sat in the theater and watched the same lighting, cinematography, and under developed dialogue that I don’t enjoy from this famous director. When Burton goes dark, he tends loses me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of his classic, “Edward Scissorhands.” However, do I still have to witness the same tint of grey, the same rustic black from a film that I saw as a teenager? Sometimes it just seems like there is no growth. With the same actors constantly appearing in so many of his films the character delivery tends to remain the same. True, this film did bring an Addams family touch with Michele Pfeiffer and Johnny Lee Miller but that’s exactly where everything Lurch-like ended.
I understand that every director is going to have a style, that a signature to their art form is essential. But even the human signature isn’t the same 100% of the time. It changes from contracts, to greeting cards, to letters left to your significant other. That is the beauty of the signature; some things will always remain the same while others change with the pressure of our hand or the speed of our flow. Sometimes I really think Burton has forgotten that, forgotten the essence of differences in character delivery. If he remembered he wouldn’t have to return to the same actors so frequently. Dark Shadows should have taken a page from its title. It should have stayed dark and in the shadows.
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