*½/**** Image B+ Sound A- Extras B-
starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green
screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith, based on the television series "Dark Shadows" by Dan Curtis
directed by Tim Burton
by Angelo Muredda Like so many of his recent dioramas, Tim Burton's Dark Shadows starts off looking suspiciously like a real movie. The director's tendency to Burtonize cherished texts into gauche self-portraits is suppressed in an economical opening that tells with a straight face the dolorous tale of Barnabas Collins, once-imprisoned and newly-freed vampire star of Dan Curtis's late-afternoon soap. The mood is sombre--a nice hat-tip to Curtis's morose series, which, if you'll pardon the wonky chronology, played out like a Smiths song drained of irony. Alas, before long Barnabas awakens in 1972 to meet his distant relatives and dissipated hangers-on, and the mere presence of pasty-white, pink-shaded, ginger-wigged Helena Bonham Carter as family psychiatrist Julia Hoffman is enough to break the spell. Carter's mannered and carefully-sculpted weirdness alerts us that this is yet another wax museum standing in for a film no one had the heart to finish.