Saturday, July 28, 2012

Burton's Shadows: Pros & Cons

From the old cast to the new: "Why so serious?"

I finally saw Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" last week, two months after it's original release date and one month after it opened here in Istanbul. Last year around this time, when I first started watching the series I couldn't get enough of the news from the film's production but somewhere along the line I lost interest for a variety of reasons (from the fan backlash after the trailer surfaced and revealed the film would have a comedic tone rather than a serious one -which btw I had no problem with then..or now- to some cast members *coughHelena&Evacough* bitching about the show in interviews). So, I waited until I really felt like seeing the film and I have to admit it was way better than I'd expected. So, instead of doing a regular review (I am already too late and many people have beat me to it anyway) here's what I liked and disliked about the film in a nutshell:

-First of all, I LIKED the fact that the film wasn't a comedy afterall. The humour was spread along the story evenly and not so obviously that reminded me of old Tim Burton films. That being said, I DIDN'T LIKE the humour. The jokes were executed in a poor fashion that end up being neither funny nor black comedy-like.

-I LIKED that they kept the soap aspect of the show. It was apparent in the dramatic way some of the dialogues were delivered without falling into parody.

-I LIKED Bella Heathcote. Period! Ok, not period. She delivers a very believable performance as Maggie/Vicki/Josette with such strength; it is clearly one of the better choices of departing from the original concept. But I feel the character's potential wasn't really used. I also LIKED how they integrated Maggie Evans into the story. Would I have liked to see her as a different character? Sure, but this way she is acknowledged as a big part of DS History.

2 seconds of screentime and
still a thunder stealer!
-Speaking of DS History, I LIKED the way they winked at the original series: Barnabas' almost exact line about Vicki's name, Carolyn's mention of her father disguised under Alice Cooper's "Ballad of Dwight Fry", the whole "Laura" thing -which I would have liked better if she was burned instead drowned, or the mention of Windcliff. And of course the cameos by Jonathan Frid, Kathryn Leigh Scott, Lara Parker and David Selby (whom I yet to meet in the show)!

-I LIKED that we got to see Collinwood thoroughly; a big breathing room after the depthless sets of the series. I don't know how I feel about the useage of sea mythology as gothic decorative items. Probably indifferent.

*I LIKED "Nights in White Satin" and the opening title sequence. It suggested a serious tone that sadly  didn't really follow afterwards.

*Aaaand the actors & their characters. I neither LIKED nor DISLIKED Johnny Depp's Barnabas. I thought he was the most uninteresting of the bunch but then again that's how I feel about Frid's Barnabas as well. 
Surprisingly, I LIKED Helena Bohnam Carter's "Julia" and Jackie Earle Haley's "Willie" the most; surprising because I thought JEH was a rather weird choice for the character (although I really like the actor) and HBC was simply.. well let's just say she didn't leave a good impression during the film's publicity talking shit about Grayson Hall. Well, that didn't stop her from giving a good performance nonetheless. I thought both of their renditions of those characters were the most faithful to the original; they obviously did their homework. 
When the actors were announced, I'd thought Michelle Pfeiffer was an excellent choice for "Liz". While I still LIKED her in the film, I thought she was unbelivable at times. One would argue that the film itself is tongue-in-cheek in tone but one of the best things about the show is that the actors took their jobs very seriously regardless of how silly the story would be. Nevertheless, I give her a gold star for being a devoted fan of the show. 
I can't say I DIDN'T LIKE Chloe Grace Moretz as "Carolyn" but hers was a very different approach to the character. I think she did her best as the troubled teenager but isn't she becoming the poster child for tough talking or odd teen roles, like Dakota Fanning was the girl who could cry? (Though, Grace will always be the girl in Kick-Ass that goes "He has a special signal he shines in the sky. It's in the shape of a giant cock"). The werewolf twist was played well until the moment of revelation. After that, it was just irrelevant to the overall story. 
Eva Green's "Angelique" was less hysterical and more overt. The only thing I LIKED about her was the part when she cracked like an eggshell in the end. The actor who played Roger was alright but his character was the most pointless of them all. No wonder he eventually got the boot: Barnabas' boot of family values! Same goes for David; he was there just for the sake of at least keeping the show's original premise intact. And I DIDN'T LIKE that underuseage. Mrs Johnson was a peach and a half.

*I DISLIKED the montage sequences. Too many of those water up the mood.

-I LIKED the way they twisted Julia's original story around but once again it felt like they did those radical changes to keep it interesting because they didn't know what to do with the vast choice of characters since they didn't fit in the main plot.

*I DIDN'T LIKE Barnabas-Angelique sex scenes. Sorta.

*I DISLIKED that they made up a new character for Christopher Lee when Bill Malloy would have been perfectly suitable as he had been rumoured to play.

At least one Julia got happy
-Finally I was WTF'd by Julia giving Barnabas head. Makes me wonder what Grayson Hall's Julia would have to say about that.


All in all, I thought it was a nice adaptation. I had fun watching it although I don't know if it was because of trying to grab all the references and nods to the original. Although I understand the strong, negative fan response it'd be good to look at it that way. Burton didn't ruin the original; it'll always be there. Which I should return to anyway.

See you in the original Collinwood. Ciao!

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