Dark Shadows (2012) – Movie Review

Dark Shadows is a comedy fantasy film based on the popular 1966–1971 gothic soap opera of the same name.

SPOILER WARNING: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Johnny Depp in "Dark Shadows"
Johnny Depp in "Dark Shadows"

Joshua Collins (Ivan Kaye) and Naomi Collins (Susanna Cappellaro) sail from Liverpool, England to North America in 1972 to start a fishing business in Collinsport, Maine. Their son, Barnabas (Johnny Depp) is a playboy and the master of Collinwood Manor.

When Barnabas breaks the heart of a witch, Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), the witch then uses witchery to kill his parents and curses his family including his lovers. Josette (Bella Heathcote) is Barnabas’ last lover and she leaps to her death from a nearby cliff. Angelique then curses Barnabas to turn into a vampire before burying him alive in a chained-coffin.

200 year later, Barnabas is freed from his coffin by a group of construction workers, who then sucks their blood and killing them. Barnabas makes his way back to Collinwood Manor only to find the mansion in total ruin. The manor is occupied by Barnabas’ dysfunctional descendants led by the Collins family matriarch, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer). Elizabeth has a rebellious daughter Carolyn Stoddard (Chloë Moretz) who likes to touch herself. David Collins (Gulliver McGrath) is Elizabeth’s 10-year-old nephew who claims he sees the ghost of Josette occasionally though no one believes him. That’s when Elizabeth hires Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), a psychiatrist to treat David.

Barnabas tries to rebuild the family fishing business when he learns the town is no longer under their control.

When Angelique discovers Barnabas’ escape, she plots to continue her avenging whilst tries to win him back. In the process, Angelique seduces Barnabas and they end up wrecking Angelique’s entire office in a tryst. After Barnabas tells Angelique he never loves her, Angelique once again locks up Barnabas in a coffin. She then creates a little accident in Collins factory to cause a fire which eventually burns down their fishing business.

In a fight between the witch Angelique and the Collins, we discovers Angelique has summoned a werewolf to turn Carolyn into a werewolf. But, the fight eventually ends when Josette’s ghost unleashes a powerful shriek which gives a huge blow to Angelique as she cracks like how a glass cracks.

Overall, Dark Shadows is gothic, entertaining and fun but that’s about it. Tim Burton’s idea to turn the classic soap opera into a comedy has its limit. Although the main cast excel in their acting, the storyline is somehow too weak and at times, characters like Helena Bonham Carter’s Dr. Julia Hoffman doesn’t fit into the film nor is necessary. Perhaps, this is one of the remakes that should be left in the dark shadows.

  • 6 out of 10
  • No doubt it’s fun and entertaining but even if you’re a fan of Tim Burton, you’ll still be disappointed at this flick
  • Not exactly mid-credits scene, but before the ending, Dr. Julia Hoffman is shown awaken as a vampire.

Dark Shadows (2012) Trailer

Dark Shadows is a gothic comedy by Tim Burton about an imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, who is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection. Directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dark Shadows opens on May 11, 2012.

The Rum Diary (2011) Trailer

The Rum Diary is an adventure film about American journalist Paul Kemp who takes on a freelance job in Puerto Rico for a local newspaper during the 1950s and struggles to find a balance between island culture and the ex-patriots who live there. Directed by Bruce Robinson and starring Johnny Depp, Giovanni Ribisi and Aaron Eckhart, The Rum Diary opens on October 28, 2011.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) – Movie Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is the fourth installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean series with Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush and Kevin McNally reprising their roles with new casts Penelope Cruz as Jack Sparrow’s former love and Blackbeard’s daughter and Ian McShane as Blackbeard.

SPOILER WARNING: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz and Ian McShane in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"
Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz and Ian McShane in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"

The fourth film, inspired by the novel On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, focuses on a fearsome pirate named Blackbeard and the Fountain of Youth although the film is largely not a direct adaption of the novel.

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) does his usual round of escaping and running away from the British authority as well as other captors and keeps the film entertaining with his sly humors. While his loyal first mate and best friend, Joshamee Gibbs (Kevin McNally) aiding him when it is needed.

Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) returns as a privateer serving King George II and captain of the HMS Providence with a mission to claim the Fountain of Youth before the Spaniards. However, Barbossa has his own agenda of plotting a revenge against Blackbeard (Ian McShane) who has earlier defeated him and took away "Black Pearl" and in the process lost his right leg.

Even with vampire-like mermaids, led by their queen, Tamara (Gemma Ward), the film fails to provide the excitement the first three films managed to.

Unlike the earlier films, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is directed by Rob Marshall instead Gore Verbinski. Also, unlike the title, the film’s main actions happen on land instead of sea.

Overall, the film is messy, predictable and less adventurous than its predecessors.

  • 7 out of 10
  • Watch it for the vampire mermaids! Otherwise, watch it only if you like the idea of "Pirates of the Land".
  • Yes

Rango (2011) – Movie Review

Rango is an animated western film featuring Johnny Depp who provided the voice of the character Rango. Actors Isla Fisher, Bill Nighy, Abigail Breslin, Alfred Molina, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Winstone, Ned Beatty, and Timothy Olyphant provided the voice for the remaining characters.

SPOILER WARNING: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Rango and Beans in "Rango"
Rango and Beans in "Rango"”

A lonely house pet chameleon (voiced by Johnny Depp) whose only friends are some toys and a dead cricket accidentally stranded in the Nevada desert when his terrarium falls and shatters on the road. He bumps into an armadillo (voiced by Alfred Molina) who is seeking the mystical Spirit of the West (Timothy Olyphant). After avoiding being eaten by a hawk, he meets a traveling lizard named Beans (voiced by Isla Fisher) who takes him to Dirt, a small Old West town.

The chameleon with a bright red Hawaiian T-shirt (identical to Depp’s character in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas") tries to fit into the town and with great acting skills, he establishes himself as Rango, a tough lizard who has killed seven criminals using just one bullet. When he pisses an outlaw named Bad Bill (Ray Winstone), a shootout is setup but Rango is lucky when the hawk returns, scaring Bill and his accomplices. Rango manages to kill the hawk by accident and is immediately appointed as the new sheriff by Mayor Tortoise John (Ned Beatty).

With water being the highest commodity in Dirt town, Rango is sought to help sort out the town’s mysterious disappearance of the town’s water and along the way, he has to battle moles, a rattlesnake and bats in order to solve the town’s problem. From being a hero to a fraud and back to a hero, Rango is a character who started off as a cowardly lizard with self-doubt and apparently has no idea of who he is, but becomes bold and courageous as he finally finds his true self.

Overall, Rango is a clever animation with witty lines and great cinematography with a desert that is almost real, like a real Paris backdrop in Ratatouille. And despite the ugly desert animals including the scrawny chameleon Rango, the film excels at its best with its creative humor, beautiful slapsticks and amazing action sequences. Still, it is not entirely made for kids.

My ratings: 8 out of 10.