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Dark Shadows 

Pretty visuals, weak-hearted

How many tricks does Burton have up his sleeve?
  • How many tricks does Burton have up his sleeve?

Dark Shadows sure seems like a Tim Burton movie. There’s magnificent gothic production design, a story that includes both comedy and bloody carnage, notes of musical whimsy from Danny Elfman and a heavily made-up Johnny Depp in the lead role. Yet in adapting the 1960s soap opera, Burton can’t conjure up the heart and twisted energy that makes his best films work. Depp plays Barnabas Collins, a vampire who escapes a 200-year imprisonment to find his descendants financially destroyed by the witch (Eva Green) who cursed him, not to mention a 1970s culture that perplexes him. Depp works hard to make the repetitive man-out-of-time gags work, succeeding intermittently. But Burton doesn’t match his star’s effort, seemingly content with his pretty visuals, half-developed characters and a dramatically inert script.

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