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'Dark Shadows' Is Fun & Campy Despite A One-Note Performance From Johnny Depp

Two Jews On Film Two Jews On Film
May 10th, 2012 7:01pm EDT

Dark Shadows

For those of you, like myself, who aren't familiar with the television series 'Dark Shadows' which ran from 1966-1971, here are the film's cliff notes:

The year is 1750 (give or take) and a wealthy young man named Barnabus Collins (Johnny Depp) gets it on with his maid Angelique (Eva Green), who just happens to be a witch. She feels the love... Him… not so much. The witch gets pissed, turns Barnabus into a vampire, locks him in a coffin and then buries him deep in the ground.

Still not satisfied, Angelique kills Barnabus's one true love as well as his parents and then she spends the next two centuries destroying the rest of his family. This is one witch with major anger issues.

Now, let's fast forward to 1972. For those of you too lazy to do the math, about two hundred years have passed. Thanks to a group of construction workers, Barnabas is released from his coffin. He thanks the workers by eating them.

After quenching his appetite, Barnabus makes his way back home. But his super sized mansion known as Collingswood is not exactly as he remembers.

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The once grandly estate is now dilapidated, filled with old furniture in need of a good dusting, a dirty chandelier and the Collins descendents; who are, in no particular order, Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer), her rebellious teenage daughter, Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz), Roger (Jonny Lee Miller), Lizzie's bum of a brother, his precocious 10 year old son, David (Gully McGrath) who has conversations with his dead mother. 

This unhappy little group also shares their home with Victoria, the nanny (Bella Heathcote) who happens to look exactly like Barnabas's dead soul mate, a caretaker, Willie (Jackie Earle Haley) and a live-in psychiatrist, Dr. Julie Hoffman (the fantastic Helena Bonham Carter).

Barnabus arrives home, meets the clan, shares his secret identity with Elizabeth and gets to work restoring the family to its former glory. Of course, along the way, he must deal with televisions, lava lamps, women doctors, miniskirts, pot smoking hippies, and everything else that was part of the 70's culture.

Oh, there's one other small thing...Angelica, the love sick witch, is not only alive and well and running the town of Collinsport, but she still has the hots for Barnabus and will do everything and anything to make him hers.  

'Dark Shadows', directed by Tim Burton and written by Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer), is a fun, campy and visually beautiful film.

Does it have some problems? Yes, I felt Johnny Depp's performance was one-note and at times, the film felt stuck between two or three different genres.  But having said that, I still enjoyed it and gave it 3 1/2 bagels out of 5.

John, on the other hand did not share my opinion.  Check out our video to see his thoughts.

'Dark Shadows' opens in theatres Friday, May 11, 2012.

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Photo Credits: Warner Bros