Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.
It's 1752 and wealthy playboy and dark magic enthusiast Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) of Collinsport, Maine, breaks the heart of Angelique (Eva Green) when he chooses Josette (Bella Heathcote), his true love, over her. But too bad for Barnabas, the devastated Angelique happens to be a witch, and Barnabas receives the full effect of her wrath of unrequited love: not only with a family curse, but with eternal suffering—turning Barnabas into a vampire and then burying him alive. Almost two centuries later, in 1972, Barnabas is accidentally released from his coffin. Time-warped and culture-shocked, Barnabas returns to the Collinwood Manor, stays with the cursed and dysfunctional Collins family, his descendants, and becomes determined to redeem the Collins family name.
But Barnabas is in for a surprise when the past returns to haunt him.
Based on the 1966-1970 television series of the same name, Tim Burton's Dark Shadows is a gothic fantasy comedy that can very well elicit a lot of laughs. Johnny Depp playing the British-accented, old-fashioned Barnabas is a huge delight to watch, delivering the humorous, poetic, and lyrical lines of his character perfectly, his performance intensifying the comical character of Barnabas. With the combination of his innocent and deadpan look and the flowery Old English that comes out of his mouth, it's most of the time a riot.
The first half of the movie is clearly inspired and playful, engaging you in the charming 1970's pop culture, frequently making you laugh with the presence of a hilariously clueless and eloquent vampire, mesmerizing you in Tim Burton's trademark of a dreamy and magical gothic world, complete with Oscar-winner Colleen Atwood's breathtakingly gorgeous costumes. However, the narrative is a bit loose, with characters forgotten from time to time and some significant aspects of the story left out or unexplained. Still the film moves along just fine—absorbing, funny, and very much entertaining—but! when the climax arrives, the movie surprisingly makes a 360-degree turn and becomes messy, forced, and boring...leaving you with a disappointing and unsatisfying feeling in the end.
Overall, Dark Shadows shines because of Depp's Barnabas and his witty, poetic dialogue, Burton's dreamy world, and Atwood's painfully beautiful and inspired costume-designing that seriously deserves another Oscar. The entire cast, including the elegant and graceful Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins and Eva Green as Angelique the Witch, gives justice to their unique characters. The story, though, feels just like its original source: a light soap opera that is fun to watch in lazy weekday afternoons, yet with an amazing production design. Too bad, the movie would have been a wholly delightful experience if not for the weak and messy climax. Yes, the beginning of a movie is the most critical, but it's the ending that will give you a lasting impression.
Dark Shadows is still worth the watch, though—not only for the visually pleasing experience, but most of all, Johnny Depp as Barnabas is just too funny to miss.
3 out of 5 stars
Showing in Philippine theaters, including IMAX, on May 10, 2012