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Movie Review: ‘Dark Shadows’ Found Wanting

The Johnny Depp and Tim Burton collaboration, based on a 1960s gothic soap opera, has left critics unimpressed.

"Dark Shadows" opens this weekend at the Bellevue Cinema in Upper Montclair. Click here for showtimes.

For those who remember the gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows,” word of the movie version starring Johnny Depp was likely welcome. Unfortunately for fans of the television series, the transition to the big screen has been judged and found wanting.

In "Dark Shadows," vampire Barnabas Collins, played by Depp, awakens from a centuries-long sleep in 1972 to find his estate and empire in near ruins. Collins predictably sets out to restore the family fortune and finds himself at odds with the witch who transformed him into a vampire in the mid-1700s.

Scott Weinberg of FearNet.com described the movie as a “true stinker, in Hollywood terms.”

“ ‘Dark Shadows’ suffers from a miserable pace, a confused editorial approach, and a tone that wavers between ostensibly playful and smugly vulgar,” Weinberg wrote.

Marshall Fine of HollywoodandFine.com wrote the movie is “as dreary a big-budget extravaganza as you’re likely to see this year (unless Michael Bay springs a movie on us unexpectedly).”

Fine criticized the plot, the writing, the jokes, the characters and more.

“ ‘Dark Shadows’ isn’t the worst movie ever made,” he wrote. “It probably won’t even be the worst movie of the year. And that’s the best I can say about it. Watching it is like being told a weak joke that you already know.”

Here’s what other critics had to say about the film:

"The trailer, suggesting that DARK SHADOWS was being played as a spoof, caused consternation among many who viewed it, but the real issue is that as it goes on, the movie can’t seem to decide if it wants to stay true to the Gothic sensibility or send it up." — Michael Gingold, Fangoria
"The movie plays as if Hollywood executives said, hey, a 'Dark Shadows' movie would be a fun project — and never looked in on it again. Nowhere is the lack of discipline and structure more apparent than in the ending, which is a mess — and, unlike most of the rest of the film, not even an interesting one. From anyone, this version of 'Dark Shadows' would be a disappointment; from Burton, it’s an even bigger one." — Bill Goodykoontz, FloridaToday.com
" … the humor slithers between the clever and the sophomoric and the film too often seems willing to settle for mild humor at the expense of hippie-era mores instead of pursuing the palpable temptation to become genuinely twisted." — Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

“Dark Shadows” is rated PG-13 for comic horror violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking.

Montclair Patch wants your movie reviews! Come back and tell us in comments what you thought about this film and how many stars out of five you would give the film.

avery tiano May 12, 2012 at 12:04 PM
i just saw dark shadows last night i thought the movie was great
Liz lindsey May 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM
I saw it and thought it was very entertaining. As usual johnny depp was great and It was another great collaboration between he and tim burton. I really liked it! Screw the critics!
Shelley Emling (Editor) May 12, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Yep, think this is a case where the public loves it.. the critics.. not so much.
yvette simpson May 12, 2012 at 05:56 PM
I seen dark shadows yesterday. I thought it was an excellent movie. As usual Johnny depp did a good job like always. I loved the movie I want to see it again. Critics don't know what there talking about go see the movie.
yvette simpson May 12, 2012 at 05:58 PM
I give dark shadows five stars

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