Dark Shadows (Blu-ray)

October 2, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

When it comes to notable director/actor combos, I can think of only a few that really work.  Sure we all know of DeNiro and Scorcese, perhaps Tony Scott and Denzel Washington, but I don’t think anyone will ever top Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.  These two have collaborated on (as of this writing) on eight films, for your reference here they are: Edward ScissorhandsEd WoodSleepy HollowCharlie and the Chocolate FactoryCorpse BrideSweeney Todd, and Alice In Wonderland. Obviously there’s some chemistry there and, as we all know, a lot of dollars between these two.  Anyone knows that Depp loves to play darker characters and the more obscure, the better.  Or maybe he just likes wearing white makeup?  Depp’s roles have become memorable and, in some cases, iconic.  Can we picture anyone else in the role of Edward Scissorhands or as Capt. Jack Sparrow?  I can’t.  With his latest turn as Barnabas Collins, Depp and Burton have resurrected (pardon the pun) the 60’s television show Dark Shadows into a feature film.  Is it worth it and will it be lost on younger audiences?

Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is a vampire who has been imprisoned in a coffin underground for over 200 years.  He’s unearthed and is then let loose on his hometown of Collinsport.  Barnabas soon discovers that he’s not in his own time, rather the early 1970’s.  His once lover, Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green) has now taken over his family’s fishing business.  Barnabas eventually finds his way back home and tries his best to get the family back on track.  But he’s in with a strange group, even if they’re “family.”  Led by Elizabeth Collins (Michelle Pfeiffer), her brother Roger (Johnny Lee Miller), their teenage daughter, Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz) and son David (Gulliver McGrath).  Let us not forget this is a Tim Burton film and his lovely wife (Helena Bonham Carter) will always make an appearance.  In this case she’s Dr. Julia Hoffman, a pill-popping Psychiatrist.  It’s up to Barnabas and family to stop Angelique from ruining the family name and business and stay alive in the process.

Let’s face it, no matter which way you slice it Dark Shadows is just a fun, campy movie that’s led by the talents of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.  Yes, there are better collaborations between the two, but there are also worse.  I’ve never personally seen an episode of the Dark Shadows television series, so I have no basis for comparison though I realize that it’s hard to think of anyone other than Johnny Depp in the title role.  It’s good to see Michelle Pfeiffer in roles again and it’s always good to see Eva Green in any capacity!  The film wasn’t exactly a box-office dud, as it raked in nearly $300 million dollars but in the wake of larger films like The Avengers, it kind of got lost in the shuffle.  Odds are that fans of Burton and Depp will snatch this up and not think twice about it and though I doubt we’ll see a sequel, this one installment should suffice just fine.

Video: How does it look?

Anyone popping this disc into their player will undoubtedly know that if the name alone doesn’t signify a dark movie, that the appearance of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton might clue you in.  No?  Ok, I’ll come out and say it – it’s dark!  The 1.78:1 AVC HD transfer is absolutely stunning in every aspect.  Blacks and contrast are rock solid, Depp’s white skin looks nearly as smooth as porcelain and thankfully Eva Green is playing a sultry vixen, so we’ve plenty of her to take in.  The color palette is a bit muted and a majority of the scenes take place at night or indoors (in the dank mansion, no less) so we don’t get the entire color palette to play with.  Still, I really can’t find anything to complain about with this transfer and Warner has done a fine job with this Blu-ray.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is nothing to balk at, either.  Nearly from the opening credits to the closing we’re bombarded with sounds galore.  What struck me wasn’t to much the brashness of the mix, but the more subtle nuances that managed to creep their way into my speakers.  I’m talking about little things like doors creaking, the wind blowing and the crash of the waves against the rocks.  Depp’s very natural low voice sounds as natural as a 200 year old vampire should.  There’s not a whole lot else to say in regard to this soundtrack – it sounds simply stunning and adds depth to the film.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This isn’t exactly one of Warner’s marquee titles for the year, but it’s got a fair-share of supplements.  Warner has included their “Maximum Movie Mode” on this disc and though some of the films that this appears on make great use of it, Dark Shadows seems to suffer a bit.  As with the other films that have this feauture, it’s essentially a picture-in-picture commentary track of sorts that have access to the “Focus Points” found on the disc as well.  These “Focus Points” total up to about 40 minutes of time and, as mentioned, can be played individually.  We’ve also got six minutes of deleted scenes which, in my opinion, should have been included in the movie.  The second disc is a DVD of the film and we also get an Ultraviolet copy of the movie to boot.

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