Over the last 100 years of cinema there have been some legendary team-ups. People that love working, and often work, together. In modern cinema there's probably no more prevalent team-up then that between director Tim Burton, and actor Johnny Depp with Dark Shadows being their eighth movie together (others include Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Corpse Bride, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Sweeny Todd and Alice in Wonderland). So is this latest film, Dark Shadows, also magic? Well, we're not so sure about that, but here's what the film, which is based on a 1960/70s TV series is about...
After being turned into a vampire by a jilted lover, Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is entombed for two centuries until he emerges into the very changed world of 1972. Returning to his once-majestic home, he finds the few dysfunctional descendants of the Collins family who remain. Determined to return his family name to its former glory, Barnabas is thwarted at every turn by his former lover- the seductive witch Angelique (Eva Green).
There's no denying however that Tim Burton still creates magical, unique looking worlds and scenarios for his films and that holds true for this film too. Collinsport really is a living, breathing city that looks wonderful - as does the mansion with the greatest attention to the finest details. Oh, and who ever knew that vampire sex could be so rough and tumble (actually, it's still somewhat tame compared to that in HBO's True Blood TV series!).
Performances in the film are decent enough; Johnny Depp is a master of transforming himself into other characters, and he does it superbly in this film although, as previously mentioned about the humour, Barnabas Collins is not the most interesting or exciting of characters, he's actually quite tame with an offbeat and dry sense of humour. A couple of other actors stood out in the film though - Eva Green is absolutely alluring as Angelique Bouchard, ChloŽ Grace Moretz is superb as the rather disturbed Carolyn in a role that reminded me of her superb turn as Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass while Jonny Lee Miller puts in a very different performance as Roger Collins while Helena Bonham Carter (Tim Burton's wife we might add for those unaware) has a pretty decent role too.
Ultimately, Dark Shadows is probably one of Burton/Depp's least inspired movies but it must be pointed out that even at their worst, or close to it, they are still better then most other "good" films from other directors and actors. Sure, this film is based on an ancient (read: 1960s), but very popular, TV series (in fact it's one of the longest running shows in history with 1225 episodes) that most Futuregamez readers would have never seen, but that doesn't make it was an inspired choice to turn into a feature film. Still, Depp/Burton fans will want to check this out, just don't expect a classic.
Dark Shadows comes to Blu-Ray in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio which is slightly modified from the filmís original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio. We're unsure if the image has been opened up, or the sides cropped ever so slightly, but ultimately it's a very minor change. The video has been encoded in the AVC MPEG-4 codec and it's a fantastic looking film with plenty of fine detail evident even in the darker scenes, and there are certainly plenty of them. The transfer too exhibits next to no black crush. In fact, much of the film is almost black and white, with only moments of brilliant colour which pop when given the opportunity to do so.
Focus Points:By turning this on at the start of the film all the extra content below is displayed in a PIP window (except the deleted scenes) as well as plenty of additional information primarily through interviews with cast and crew. Many of these are viewable separately as listed below.
Becoming Barnabus (5:23/HD): This first featurette looks at turning Johnny Depp into the title character for the film including the extensive make-up and costume work.
The Collinses: Every Family Has Its Demons (6:49/HD): The Collins Family is rather, well, unique and this featurette looks at the characters, and the casting.
Reliving a Decade (4:54/HD): Set in 1972 this looks at recreating the look of that decade including wardrobe, music and visual styles.
Angelique: A Witch Scorned (2:58/HD): Eva Green plays the role of Angelique and this featurette focuses on the character in the film, and her history with Barnabus. Quite promotional and with little interesting information.
Alice Cooper Rocks Collinsport (2:25/HD): The legendary Alice Cooper has a starring role in the film and this clip focuses on his performance in the film.
Dark Shadowy Secrets (3:53/HD): This featurette looks at the visual effects used throughout the film.
Dark Shadows: The Legend Bites Back (2:05/HD): Another very promotional piece which aims to sell the film more than real behind-the-scenes info.
Deleted Scenes (5:39/HD): Five deleted scenes are included on the disc and while the video quality is decent, the audio is pretty average with only a 2 channel mix. The scenes themselves are interesting, but would have added little to the film.
Review By: Dave Warner