Aaaah, now this one isn't half as fun as one would have expected it to be, especially since it pairs Tim Burton and Johnny Depp all over again. The signs were already there though. Right from it's poster to the theatrical promo, 'Dark Shadows' hadn't quite succeeded in making you believe that this was an epic affair in the offering. The film as a whole only consolidated that belief further as 'Dark Shadows' turned out to be a film that was entertaining only in parts while also making you wonder if Depp was indeed sold into the entire scheme of things.
The film is told from Depp's eyes who, after being cursed by a jilted lover (Eva Green) in the 1700s, turned into a vampire and buried alive, returns 300 years down the line. The year is 1972 and while Depp stays on to be the Depp of the era gone by, the world around him has changed. Unfortunately though, the curse remains which means even in his reincarnated avtar, he has to carry on as a vampire while suit himself in the modern era. While Green returns to haunt him all over again, Depp has his other problems to solve, the biggest of them all being to take care of a family business which has now clearly floundered.
The trouble with 'Dark Shadows' is that it tries to pack in too many things in an extended running time of the film. This means that from being a vampire drama to a touch of horror and lots of comedy, there is a family angle thrown in as well with tongue in cheek humour, as is the hallmark of Depp, expected to keep the viewer engaged.
Well, in all fairness, there are quite a few such moments in the film where you are sold on his antics as well. In fact after Jim Carrey if there is an actor who has never failed to amuse on the sheer basis of facial expressions and a unique body language, especially when it comes to comic timings, it is Johnny Depp. He attempts that here as well and though the overall narrative doesn't quite justify the trust that he must have shown in Tim Burton, a favourite with him for many years, he does manage to make quite a few scenes his own.
A major highlight of the enterprise is Depp trying to suit himself in the world of 70s but as it happens, the jokes don't quite continue to maintain their steam due to which after a while, one feels that the narrative has turned a tad lethargic. The family business angle which has been thrown in (Michelle Pfeiffer getting a decent part here) starts seemingly like an unwanted inclusion. However, the points where Green returns to haunt him and demands his attention all over again does result in more than just a chuckle or two, especially the part where things become a little too steamy.
However, in entirety, 'Dark Shadows' doesn't quite turn out to be one of those quintessential Johnny Depp films that one must watch while skipping everything else. Now that's a pity because even the actor would want himself to be remembered for many more fantasy affairs than just 'Pirates of the Caribbean' franchises. With his last couple of films, 'Rum Diary' and 'The Tourist' too not quite finding him universal audience, an average product with Tim Burton isn't really a scenario that would please Depp much.