Whether you like it or not, the vampire craze is still going strong and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. While Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows (which comes out on May 11th) is yet another film in the vampire genre, it was extremely surprising for me to find out that the film itself is a good return to form for the director after checking out the packed press screening on Saturday night. Not only was the film surprisingly well made, it had a great ensemble cast (Eva Green, holy moly I want to marry you, you beautiful out-of-this-world woman), great story, and a nice blend of drama and humor in a dark fashion. Definitely also check the 8Asians giveaway that we are doing for this!
For a more in-depth review on the film as well as the press junket that came the day after, follow me after the jump!
Although I have never seen the original TV series that Dark Shadows was based on (and therefore cannot make a comparison to how Burton’s film holds up to it), I can definitely say that it is refreshing to see Johnny Depp actually have fun with the role and not make it look like it was another paycheck to his career. One thing for certain, the film was beautiful to look at and kudos to the cinematographer, Danny Ruhlmann, for giving the film an eerie yet alluring 1970’s vibe. It is difficult to discuss the film thoroughly without giving away spoilers but if the film has any noticeable flaws, it would be that its wafer thin plot and story structure does not lean itself into allowing any actors beside Johnny Depp to shine. There are some who are able to make the most out of it, especially the obsessed rejected lover played by Eva Green, but for others, plot elements are introduced late into the movie that completely doesn’t connect with how the character was introduced earlier in the film.
Nevertheless, even if a film has barely any cohesion in its plot to make it anything worthwhile, it lives or die based on the cast. Like I said earlier in this article, the film’s biggest strength is in its ensemble cast and everybody delivered given what thin material that they had. But this film is clearly Johnny Depp’s show and his character arc throughout the film is well done with great moments of theatrical humor placed here and there to give it levity. If I had to rate this film out of stars or out of 10 or whatever, I would give it 6.5 out of 10. Entertaining, amusing, rather shallow on character development for anyone besides Johnny Depp, but good to see a decent Tim Burton film after the mess that was Alice in Wonderland.
The day after the Dark Shadows screening, I was invited to attend the press conference for the film with many of the cast members and crew present. From top to bottom, left to right, you have: Jonny Lee Miller, Jackie Earle Haley, Eva Green, Chloe Grace Moretz, Bella Heathcote, producer Graham King, Michelle Pfeiffer, director Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, producer Richard Zanuck, and composer Danny Elfman.
Most of the questions were for Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, which was not a surprise. However, even for questions that weren’t specifically for Johnny, he would take over the answers which wasn’t too bad considering how EXTREMELY charming the man is. I wanted to ask questions for the supporting cast, especially Jackie Earle Haley, Eva Green, and Jonny Lee Miller, but trying to get a question in was an immense hassle. One reporter took the prize in asking the dumbest question in the room: “What was it like to wear long sleeves for the role, Johnny? You usually don’t wear long sleeves in your films.” There was a huge pause as Johnny didn’t quite know how to answer that question and just simply responded with “Yes. I wear sleeves. Long sleeves. Quite comfortable, in fact.”
One other reporter asked a very bold and intellectual question and asked if this film is yet another desperate attempt to bring back forgotten television relics for mainstream pop culture digestion purposes. There was a whole “ohh no he didn’t” vibe that washed over the press folks after the question and after a silence, Tim Burton responded, “I will never forget that question in my life but no, I don’t believe my film is a desperate attempt for that purposes.” But it was definitely interesting to see how flustered Burton got before answering that question. I love it when people can ask daring questions like that without giving a ding dong about how people would perceive them.
The conference only lasted one measly hour so by the time I was able to get the mic in my hand and propose my love to Eva Green, they would take no more questions. Alas.