Rapid-Fire Reviews | Dark Shadows

Info:

Genre: Horror-comedy, fantasy

Director/s: Tim Burton

Running Time: 113 mins

Budget: $150 million

Released: 11 May 2012

Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows is an adaptation of the gothic-horror soap opera (1966 – 1971) of the same name.  Burton’s rendition is in fact the second adaptation of the classic series as there was a remake series back in 1991 – Dark Shadows a.k.a The New Dark Shadows and Dark Shadows: The Revival Series, which ran for 12 episodes.  I’m a huge Tim Burton fan, so needless to say I was immediately interested in Dark Shadows the moment I heard about it.  As expected, Burton collaborates with the usual players – Johnny Depp, who plays the protagonist Barnabas Collins – an imprisoned vampire from the 1700’s who is awakened 200 years later in 1972 America to return to the dysfunctional Collin’s family in an effort to revitalize the once prominent Collin’s Fishery.  Helena Bonham Carter – plays Julia Hoffman, a psychiatrist to the ten-year old Collin’s boy David, and Danny Elfman returns once more with a wonderfully gothic film score that compliments the subject matter wonderfully.  I found the premise of the film to be quite fun and interesting, and enjoyed the usual amount of weirdness that comes with a Burton film.  It’s also worth noting that Dark Shadows is a visually stunning film, with plenty of marvelous set pieces (such as the Collins Manor) and equally stunning are the characters and the acting, specifically Depp, who belts out clever quips and all manner of wordplay made funnier due to the character’s culture shock.  What has confused me though, is the negative criticism that Dark Shadows has received, stating that the film was inconsistent or that it lacked focus, I find this to be untrue, as it uses the perfect Burton formula of spookiness and humour in what proves to be a highly entertaining film.  However, perhaps it’s Burton’s formula that people tire of as opposed to the subject matter itself, but as always, it’s a given that his films won’t appeal to everyone given the creepy/comedy mash-up inherent with Burton’s style.

Conclusion

Tim Burton succeeds once more with Dark Shadows as the film is highly entertaining and filled with enough oddness to keep Burton fans happy.  Though this re-imaging of a classic series doesn’t offer too many twists and turns or much in the way of mystery, the linear approach of the film is overlooked by the visuals and the brilliant performances of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and all those involved.  As in most cases with Burton films, this is one for the fans.

Grade: B+

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Alice in Wonderland

Info:

Genre: Fantasy, adventure

Director/s: Tim Burton

Writer/s: Linda Woolverton

Running Time: 108 mins

Budget: $200 million

Released: 5 March 2010 (USA)

Plot:

19-year-old Alice returns to the magical world from her childhood adventure, where she reunites with her old friends and learns of her true destiny: to end the Red Queen’s reign of terror – imdb

Review:

Initially I was very happy to hear that director Tim Burton would be doing an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland but then I discovered that Disney were behind it too which kind of flattened my hopes that this film would be enjoyable, (invariably Disney tend to screw up most things) the final nail in the coffin being a friend’s opinion that this new take on Alice in Wonderland wasn’t too great.  So after waiting for it on DVD (no, I did not watch it in 3D shit-o-vision) I was pleasantly surprised by this version of the classic tale.

For starters, this film introduces Mia Wasikowska – somewhat of a newcomer to the acting game (round about 5 – 6 years), in the role of Alice.  The choice to use a new face for the protagonist was quite refreshing and I think that she did a wonderful job of portraying Alice.  Like most Burton films, the human characters have somewhat gaunt features (pale skin, blackness around the eyes) much like the characters in Sweeney Todd or Edward Scissorhands.  Burton’s Alice in Wonderland isn’t an exact remake of the classic tale as the adventure takes place when Alice is in her teens (as opposed to the little girl from the original) as she revisits Wonderland with the supposed intention of having to redo all the things she initially did as a kid.  However, this time around, Alice decides to deviate from the path much to the denizen’s dismay.

…Thankfully no one in this film suddenly broke out into song and dance in tradition Dis’may’ style…

Johnny Depp stars as The Mad Hatter and by far steals the show as his involvement in this film extends way beyond the character’s original segment at the tea party.  Together with Alice, The Mad Hatter must confront the evil (and utterly insane) Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and put a stop to her rule.  Other characters include the eerily animated twins Tweedledee/Tweedledum, Cheshire Cat and Blue Caterpillar (voiced by Alan Rickman).

So of course with a budget of around $200 million one would expect to see some decent visuals and indeed there are, Wonderland has never looked better with its vibrant colours and creepy/weird landscapes.  To compliment the scenery are plenty of weirdly distorted creatures, such as the Red Queen herself (she has one hell of a huge head) and anthropomorphic animals.  Thankfully no one in this film suddenly broke out into song and dance (though Depp’s, thankfully short, break-dance sequence was painful to watch) in tradition Dis’may’ style and if anything, the story, world and characters are surprisingly dark (for a family film at any rate).

To conclude, Alice in Wonderland is an enjoyable film and not nearly as bad as people have been saying it is.  Good visuals, entertaining characters and brisk pacing mean that you probably won’t be bored at any point though mature audiences may find the plot a bit mundane or predictable (hell, I could see what was coming but managed to enjoy it nonetheless) but if you’re a fan of fantasy films or have kids, you can’t really go wrong with this one.