Dark Shadows Has Charm, No Substance

Johnny Depp stars in Tim Burton film
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 11, 2012 9:33 AM CDT

Critics aren't thrilled with Tim Burton's latest offering, inspired by the late-1960s cult TV show of the same name and starring Johnny Depp as an 18th-century vampire who is buried alive, only to be accidentally dug up in 1972. The film isn't sure what it wants to be:

  • Dark Shadows "tries to serve too many masters," writes Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News. "Initially it’s an epic valentine to the show. Then it’s a vamp-out-of-water story. Soon it’s a gung-ho comedy. Finally it's a monster flick." Still, it "unearths enough fun."

  • Sure, it's "amusing, in fits and spurts," notes Joe Morgenstern at the Wall Street Journal. But it's "terribly familiar and fatigued"—"a postgothic pastiche of undercooked camp and overproduced effects." As for Depp's performance, he just mushes together "bits and bytes of former roles."
  • The movie is "all dressed up with nowhere to go, an elegant production without a central drive," agrees Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times.
  • Yet at the New York Times, it's a Critics' Pick. AO Scott calls it "Burton’s most pleasurable film in years"; the director's "exquisite detail work, his playfulness and macabre wit are justification enough for such an ephemeral enterprise."
(More movie review stories.)

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