Ghoul­ish tale a hearty romp

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT -

Dark Shad­ows Star­ring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeif­fer, He­lena Bon­ham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earl Ha­ley, Jonny Lee Miller, Bella Heath­cote, Chloe Grace Moretz, Gul­liver Mcgrath. 113 min­utes, rated M (hor­ror, vi­o­lence, of­fen­sive lan­guage, drug use). Show­ing at Read­ing Cine­mas Porirua. I like my movie vam­pires how I like my rock stars: fash­ion­able and crest­fallen.

Weepy teens with teething prob­lems, tongue- in- cheek pre­tenders and un­dead ac­tion he­roes – stick a stake in all of them.

Just leave me with Gary Old­man as Drac­ula and the orig­i­nal The Lost Boys.

My blood-suck­ing sen­si­bil­i­ties should dic­tate a mild loathing for Barn­abas Collins, a pompous, the­atri­cal nos­fer­atu with a pen­chant for capes and hats only Michael Jack­son could have con­sid­ered stylish.

How­ever, I found both he and this weird mash-up of mon­sters, fam­ily melo­drama and 1970s nostal­gia cu­ri­ously ir­re­sistible.

Based on a cult US tele­vi­sion se­ries most Ki­wis have prob­a­bly never seen or heard of, Dark Shad­ows con­cerns the sec­ond com­ing of Barn­abas ( Johnny Depp), an 18th cen­tury vampire who is freed from his cof­fin cell in 1972.

Times have changed. He finds his fam­ily es­tate and rep­u­ta­tion in ru­ins, his de­scen­dants dys­func­tional, and the town un­der the con­trol of the very witch (Eva Green) who had killed both his par­ents and beau, and turned him into a vampire.

Re­fresh­ingly, Barn­abas makes no apol­ogy for need­ing to suck the life out of in­no­cent towns­folk. He’s a mon­ster, deal with it.

Per­versely, his prin­ci­ples are in­tact when it comes to pro­tect­ing his fam­ily and their rep­u­ta­tion – and there’s some work to be done.

Fam­ily ma­tri­arch El­iz­a­beth (Michelle Pfeif­fer) is strug­gling un­der the weight of debt and un­ruly teenage daugh­ter Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz). Roger Collins (Jonny Lee Miller) is a lazy wretch, who has lit­tle time or af­fec­tion for son David (Gul­liver Mcgrath), who in turn is see­ing a shrink (He­lena Bon­ham Carter) be­cause he sees dead peo­ple.

Mean­while, Vic­to­ria – the new gov­erness – has her own dark se­crets, and bears an un­canny re­sem­blance to Barn­abas’ true love from two cen­turies be­fore.

Dark Shad­ows is a wel­come re­turn to the gothic sub­ur­bia Bur­ton con­ceived in Beetle­juice and per­fected in Ed­ward Scis­sorhands. In story and in tone it is the di­rec­tor’s most sur­real picture in many a moon.

Bur­ton’s grad­ual ease into the mul­ti­plex main­stream over the past 15 years has main­tained an af­fec­tion for out­sider char­ac­ters and dark, dra­matic set de­sign, but the movies, from Sleepy Hol­low to Char­lie and the Choco­late Fac­tory and Alice in Won­der­land, have be­come per­func­tory.

All have been en­ter­tain­ing ex­am­ples of style and sto­ry­telling, but none – bar The Corpse Bride – ever threat­ened to move me like Scis­sorhands or Ed Wood.

Dark Shad­ows is far from per­fect.

It tries to in­volve way too many story threads when it should have kept its fo­cus on Barn­abas, Vic­to­ria, and An­gelique, the witch. And the dark, of­ten dorky hu­mour – in­clud­ing the un­likely use of The Car­pen­ters and other soft 70s pop on the sound­track – won’t be for ev­ery­one.

But at its best and strangest, Dark Shad­ows is a sweet, de­mented love let­ter to Bur­ton’s early years and most suc­cess­ful col­lab­o­ra­tions with his favourite lead­ing man – who does a fine job chan­nelling Bela Lu­gosi and the mon­ster from Nos­fer­atu (1922).

Crammed in: Barn­abas Collins (Johnny Depp) seeks a quiet mo­ment in Tim Bur­ton’s Dark Shad­ows. The movie is guilty of try­ing to jug­gle too many char­ac­ters and plot threads, but it is the most fun and sur­pris­ing movie the vi­sion­ary di­rec­tor has made since the mid-1990s.

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