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Movie: Dark Shadows (2012)

Every Family Has Its Demons

Dark Shadows (2012), directed by Tim Burton is a fantasy movie based on the gothic soap opera of the same name.

Synopsis adapted from IMDb:  In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family.

Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy...until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green). A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique dooms him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, and then burying him alive.

Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better...

Let's take a look at those who stay in Collinwood Manor:

1. Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp): 18th-century vampire who awakens in 1972
2. Elizabeth Collins (Michelle Pfeiffer): the current Collins family matriarch
3. Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller): Elizabeth's younger brother
4. Carolyn (Chloë Moretz): Elizabeth's rebellious 15-year-old daughter
5. David Collins (Gulliver McGrath): Roger's 10-year-old son who claims to be able to communicate with his dead mother
6. Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter): Elizabeth's hired live-in psychiatrist
7. Willie (Jackie Earle Haley): Collinwood Manor's caretaker
8. Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote): David's newly-hired governess

Impressive much? If I need to use three words to summarize this movie, I'd choose gothic, dysfunctional, Tim Burton. If you've watched Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) and Alice in Wonderland (2010), you will be thrilled to watch Dark Shadows. Come on, it's Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Tim Burton again!

Well, I'm supposed to be thrilled. The gothic and gloomy atmosphere of the 18th century and cheerful 1970s are stunningly re-captured; Depp, Green, Pfeiffer, Carter et al. give good performances; and the soundtrack is groovy and fun. But... as the movie comes to an end, you just feel unsatisfied, as if you're expecting more than just good performances and occasional humor from the cast. The plot is based on nothing much apart from Angelique's blind hatred and ugly curse and Barnabas' silly eccentricity.

Anyway, Depp and Burton's fans should not miss this movie. A word of advice: Don't expect too much, just relax, and enjoy the freaking show! :)

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