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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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Recent Depp, Burton collaboration falls short of expectations

A new Tim Burton film starring Johnny Depp? I’m there. I was immediately excited to see Burton and Depp’s newest collaboration, Dark Shadows, which opened in theaters this May. As the film unfolded, my excitement ebbed and boredom crept in. Ultimately, I would end up sorely disappointed.

Let me begin by saying that Tim Burton is undoubtedly, at least in my book, one of the best directors in the movie-making business. His films prior to Dark Shadows include Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks!, Big Fish, Corpse Bride, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, just to name a few of my favorites.

In several of his films, Burton has utilized the talents of the well-known and celebrated actor Johnny Depp. So, naturally, their collaborations lend themselves to being top-notch movies.

This wasn’t really the case with Dark Shadows. Instead, it completely missed the mark.

Here is the premise: Depp starts out in 1760 as the son in a wealthy colonial family whom the entire fishing port is named after. He has a relationship with one of their servants, Angelique, and winds up breaking her heart. She is a witch, and as a result, she kills Depp’s parents and curses his family.

Depp then begins to fall in love with a different girl named Josette. Angelique, driven mad with jealousy, puts a curse on Josette, dooming her to jump off of a cliff. She also turns Depp into a vampire and the townsmen bury him alive in a coffin, where he stays for two centuries.

Depp emerges in the 1970s and finds that the remnants of his family lineage are still residing in his original family’s disintegrating mansion. Here, we are introduced to the head of the house played by Michelle Pfiefer, and the family psychiatrist played by Helena Bonham Carter (Burton’s wife, who frequents many of these collaborations as well).

From there, it would be difficult to recount exactly what happened in the film because as it turns out, not a whole lot  happened. The film provides a lot of false promises considering that the concept seems extremely intriguing.

One strong point of the film that should be acknowledged is its high quality acting. It’s difficult to go wrong with the talents of Pfiefer, Carter and Depp.

More generally speaking, Depp is a superb actor. He is both quirky and slightly unorthodox, as is Burton, which makes their collaborations extremely compelling.

Even Depp’s darker characters, like the one in this film, never take themselves too seriously. There is always a noticeable aspect of humor and lunacy to his strange, somewhat tortured roles like Edward Scissorhands. This is specifically what I love about Depp and Burton’s films together.

In addition to the acting, the writing was also commendable. It was witty and humorous and complimented the acting and directing of those involved.

For example, Depp’s confrontation with modern society was extremely well-done. In one such scene, Depp says to his fifteen year descendant, “Fifteen, and no husband? You must put those child-bearing hips to good use, lest your womb shrivel up and die.”

When it came to the actual story line and plot development, however, the film floundered. Plainly stated, the film was extremely boring. As in, I was fighting to stay awake and tuned in.

The scenes were never especially interesting or exciting. Even the action scenes were lacking, much to my dismay. Overall, the film lacked a significant climax, and consequently wound up seeming pointless.

The interesting, complex and layered story lines usually presented in Burton films did not make an appearance in the case of Dark Shadows.

The film also lacked a sound audience. It was meant to be an American Horror comedy but was too mature for younger crowds and too boring and juvenile for teens or adults. It was doomed to fail.

I would give the film 3 out of 5 stars, but that might even be too generous, simply because I am borderline obsessed with Depp and really enjoy Burton films in general.


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