carabele: (Default)
Don't be fooled by the deceptive trailers: The DARK SHADOWS movie isn't a comedy and it isn't an exercise in rampant camp. It's obvious that director Tim Burton was and is a fan of the 1960s soap opera on which the movie is based.

It's a gothic piece that doesn't force the melodrama, thus the few darkly comic scenes that were highlighted in the trailer. But at it's core it is ultimately true to the original, just with a bit of a wry twist here and there. The set and photography is moody and properly atmospheric, full of "dark shadows". (I have to mention in particular the absolutely visually stunning Widows' Hill scenes.) And there is honestly a "knife-edge" quality of emotional tension that runs through the entire piece.

The story centers on a Barnabas Collins whose main devotion is family, much like Elizabeth Collins Stoddard. (When Barnabas was a boy, his father told him: "The only true wealth is family," and he definitely abides by that philosophy.) Thus is why he and Liz form an unlikely alliance when Barnabas plainly reveals himself as a vampire. The Collins family in the film has lost its business, the town's respect, and most of the family money to the woman who now owns the rival cannery, who of course turns out to be the modern form of Angelique the witch who originally cursed Barnabas. Barnabas is determined to get back everything the witch's continuing curse cost his family, a determination applauded and abetted by Liz.

Johnny Depp is very good in the role of Barnabas, even though he has to play the character through too out-there makeup. But the point of that makeup job is clear: Barnabas has come to consider himself a monster (and refers to himself as such quite often in the movie). Thus Burton went with an obvious contrast between the Barnabas before the curse (shown in the very beginning of the film) and what he was forced to become by Angelique's curse. Of course Barnabas, who was alive in the 18th Century, is out-of-touch with many aspects of everyday life in 1972. And that does provide for some satirically off-beat moments. But those really are handled without a heavy hand.

For me the real bravada performance in the film though was Michele Pfeiffer. Her Liz is one strong woman with a helluva love of family. She has the soul of a warrior while maintaining the quiet manners of a "true lady". She is quite obviously the foundation rock of the modern Collins family.

And the actress who did the double role of Josette DuPres/Victoria Winters plays the character of Vicky with a truly ethereal quality. Vicky in this iteration has an unexpected past that I won't reveal as that would be too much of a spoiler. Suffice it to say, however, that she retained her sweet gentleness after living through that past speaks volumes about why Barnabas finds her so mesmerizing. She is truly an angelic soul.

I know the many critics have lauded the performance of the actress playing Angelique and she's a great villain to hiss. Yet for me she just didn't have Lara Parker's kind of hypnotizing allure. She was all brass and bang. I think hers was likely the weakest (and campiest) performance in the movie.

I don't want to give away too much, but I will say the finale rocks! As Liz says so eloquently when asked by David "What do we do now?" -- "We endure."

So don't be put off by the truly ill-considered movie trailers, Dark Shadows' fans! Go and judge for yourself is my advice. Both my brother and I were serious fans of the 1960s series, and we both completely enjoyed this movie version. Are there a couple of things we might have wished handled differently? Sure, but all-in-all this movie captures the essence of the series.
carabele: (Default)
After seeing a preview trailer during last week's TOP CHEF (the chefs had to cook a meal evidencing an "evil" theme for the actress playing the Evil Queen in the film, Charlize Theron), I have to admit to being very intrigued with seeing the movie when it's released this summer.

It really looks like a fine fantasy epic, very much in the style of the THE LORD OF RINGS trilogy of movies.

But you know I have to wonder how much of the original concept for this film was inspired/instigated by the dark fairytale world of the ABC TV series ONCE UPON A TIME (a series I truly adore).
carabele: (Default)
...and thought it a real snoozer. There was no excitement at all in the movie and you never felt anything for the cardboard characters. (As my brother said, you didn't even recall their names, just referenced them by the actors' names. That's certainly not a good thing.) The movie wasn't terrible; it just wasn't really good either. It was one of those movies where you leave the theatre shrugging your shoulders with an unimpressed "Eh" on your lips.

Since this was a collaboration of Scott Z. Burns (writer) and Steven Soderbergh (director), who are also the two men collaborating in the same roles for the proposed MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. movie, let's say I'm a bit wary about that project again. It could well turn out to be one of Soderbergh's didactic type pieces with no verve or spirit, if CONTAGION is any fare by which to judge.

Certainly CONTAGION, which is the only big budget blockbuster the two have collaborated on that I know of (their other movie collaborations were all much smaller films), doesn't offer a lot of assurance about either man's ability to really do such well. I'm just not convinced that blockbuster action/adventure movies are really Soderbergh's forte.
carabele: (Default)
Though I find myself still very ambivalent about the proposed new MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. movie (gotten more optimistic on it lately, but still not sure exactly how I feel), I find myself very much looking forward to the new DARK SHADOWS movie.

This one isn't "possible-pie-in-the-sky" (which the new MFU still seems to be in a lot of respects), but is actually filming even as we speak and is due for release in May 2012.

I loved DS as a teen and I'm hoping this movie really is done right. I think Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins is a great casting coup. (He's certainly quirky enough for the part.) And this kind of movie is something right up director Tim Burton's alley.

We'll see what we get in the end, but I really want to see this one succeed.

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