14/05/2012

Dark Shadows

I was all of six years old when I saw Edward Scissorhands at the cinema and that experience coupled with frequent VHS viewings of Batman and Beetlejuice along with the release of Batman Returns just a year later, made Tim Burton was a bit of a hero in my household. His gothic sensibility, dark wit and flair for being creatively bonkers was just what I needed when Disney's feeble princesses and annoying songs grew tiresome; everything Burton touched was destined for multiple viewings and his filmography from 1988 to 1994 is untouchable. Unfortunately it's 2012, and the sad fact is Burton hasn't made a very good film in years.

Take Dark Shadows for example: he clearly has a lot of affection for the 60s/70s gothic soap opera on which it is based, but his adulation of the show obviously clouded his judgement when it came to the plot. At 113 minutes long it drags for almost all of the first act before completely losing it in the third and by trying to juggle so many relationships and storylines none of them are given an appropriate amount of time to develop. After the prologue we're introduced to Victoria Winters; a mysterious and doe-eyed creature who happens to look exactly like Barnabas Collins' dead love. Her entire point of being there is to take care of 10-year old David Collins and guess what? They don't even share a scene. Similarly the tone is all over the place; one minute we're being treated to broad comedy which involves the 200-year old vampire trying to use cutlery and find somewhere comfy to sleep in 1972, and the next he getting blowguns and staring at Eva Green's (admittedly impressive) rack. Is this a kids film? I honestly can't tell.
Annoyingly everything else (Collen Atwood's costume design, Danny Elfman's score, the acting in general) is quite good and this should have been a return to form, but while he's still aces at doing the quirky, Burton seems to have forgotten how to tell a story and make it magic. Sigh. Still up for Frankenweenie, though.