With so much grading and so little movie watching this time of year, it was partly the fact that my sister (who almost never wants to go to the movies) wanted to see Dark Shadows that got me out (nearly) opening weekend to see the film.

Not that I would miss a Tim Burton Film, of course, because his work is indelible and seems more like installments in on way or another than individual films.  Perhaps I feel that way because his oeuvre is more compelling than most of the individual films.

Dark Shadows is no exception.  I have a passion for the story, which is usually the weakest element in Burton’s films, which tend to emphasize style and spectacle.

Even so, Dark Shadows is a pleasant entertainment.  Based on a 60s-70s soap opera that I vaguely remember seeing an episode or two of as my grandmother would say, “Maybe you should turn that off,” the film plays up period kitsch and camp while showcasing Johnny Depp’s considerable strengths as a vampire, Barnabas Collins, entombed for nearly 200 years who returns in 1972 to try to restore his family’s good name and fortune.

The cast is good.  I always enjoy Michelle Pfeiffer and Helena Bonham Carter, and newer faces rise to the occasion, too.  The production design is predictably noteworthy (love the macramé allusions—so 70s—and especially some earrings that continue the theme), but one surprise for me was the fun use of the soundtrack to play up the silliness of it all.

Fun.  I don’t want to see it again.  It’s no Ed Wood or Edward Scissorhands or whatever, but it’s a nice couple of hours at the movies.


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