Thursday, October 24, 2013

Halloween 2013: The Undefined Gamer: "Dark Shadows (2012)"

Let do Halloween right.
Halloween Week begins!



      When Barnabus Collins falls for Victoria back in the 1700s, his
crazy ex-girlfriend, Angelique, hurls them off a cliff, deciding at
that very moment to make Barnabus immortal (what a troll). Later,
Angelique puts Barnabus in time out for oh, 196 years, for getting
upset about the death of his girlfriend. 196 years later, in 1972, the
immortal vampire is dug up by construction workers hoping to build a
McDonalds. Barnabus, having not drunk for 196 years, kills the
workers,  (don't worry, we'll just toss in the bodies with the
hamburger meat!) and decides to have a long-awaited family reunion.
      4 Collins survive, living in a manor too large for them. Meet Mom, a
suspicious half-developed character whom Tim Burton decides to ignore
after the 1st act. Meet Dad, a greedy asshole who's an asshole for no
other reason than being an asshole is fun. The only surviving Collins
children is a set of siblings; David, and his sister (I honestly don't
remember her name. Seriously, minutes ago, I was watching this movie,
and she wasn't interesting enough for me to remember it. That's sad,
she's not even wikipedia-lookup-worthy). David's birth mom apparently
got "lost at sea," so he's currently living with family. Not that
you'll care. His sister, well lets just say she's going through some
teenage problems (or is she!).
      Then you have Dr. Hopkins, the red-haired, foul-mouthed Doctor of the
estate. Last but least is the... um.... servant/Drunk and Unnamed Old
Maid?
      So, back to the plot. Let's just say Barnabus had a little rocky
reintroduction with the family (including the mother insisting that he
put on an act that he's really a normal guy from Liverpool). Barnabus
struggles to get to know his new family and understand the era. Too
bad that he never does. There really is little meaningful interaction
between Barnabus and the Collins, leading to very little character
development. To make matters worse, nobody makes a viable effort to
educate Barnabus in all that has happened since the 1700s. This will
eventually lead to his downfall.
      Angelique, meanwhile, has been building up a rival fishing business to
the Collins's. Under the alias Angel Bay, "Angie" has bought out all
fisherman previously contracted to the Collins's. Over the centuries,
it seems that Angie has attempted to find a male partner. Based off of
the sex scene between her and Johhny Depp (because Vampire sex is best
done in zero g), I think its pretty obvious that she killed anyone she
tried to do it with. Her reasoning for wanting Barnabus is that he's
the only guy that she won't kill and outage. Which is fine, except ANY
PARTNER SHE HAD PREVIOUSLY SHE COULD JUST TURN INTO A VAMPIRE ALSO.
      Oh, and guess what? It seems that Victoria has been reincarnated as
the governess, Vickie. Barnabus, despite the fact that he barely
spends any time with her, is madly in love with her. Yeah, Vickie
barely gets any screentime, and is half-developed, so I really don't
care.
      Now, lets talk about blowing a vampire. Dr. Hopkins, meanwhile, tries
to give Barnabus a blood transfusion to make him mortal (because the
whole rip-your-lover-to-shreds thing while you do it is a major
imoediment on a relationship. What can I say, Barnabus didn't have 50
Shades of Grey to use as referance. During one of these sessions, Dr.
Hopkins blows Barnabus for no apparent reason whatsoever.
      But here's a twist! Turns out that Dr. Hopkins never was giving
Barnabus a transfusion! She was just storing away his blood to turn
herself into a vampire! Barnabus gets enraged, and decides to
supposedly murder her, which is actually pretty tragic. The whole
thing could've easily been avoided had the Collins family educated
Barnabus in the modern world. Remember, Barnabus is still going around
using old world ideals, which where a little bit more brutal than 70s
ideals. We don't kill people for lying or stealing.
      And we're going to get to Barnabus's policy about killing soon. But
first, its that magical time of the day once again when I get to point
out why a movie's plot is bullshit. One of the major problems with
Barnabus being around is that he has to consume large amounts of blood
to stay alive. This means he has to kill people (because animals
aren't good enough?). Hold up. You have a Doctor at your disposal. On
top of that, you have a pretty goddam wealthy family. Why kill people
when you can survive off of pills? Seriously, all they need to do is
buy pills of the same minerals found in blood. This is nit rocket
science, and is totally obtainable in the 70s, given if you had cash.
Which they do. (I don't think that's how that works- CW).
      But screw logic! Lets kill everybody! Hey, as long as they aren't
family, well why not?
      But what happens if they are family?
      Well, then you just send them packing! Seriously, soon afterward,
Barnibus and his old world logic gave Dad a choice of devoting his
life to being a father to David or living on his own without working.
Yeah, he walked out on his family. You just ended a marriage by the way, 
but whatever. We need to make room for more plot.
     Basically the rest of the movie is Angie's mad quest to get Barnabus
back. She even goes as far as burning down the neely established
Collins Canning Co. and reporting Barnabus to the police before making
way for the third act. Angie cinfrints Barnabus at Collins Manor, and
sets it on fire, intent on murdering his family in a not so epic witch
battle. In the third act, Burton seems nit to give a fuck any longer,
having Bland Sister #1 suddenly be revealed as being a werewolf, and
having David's dead mother drive back Angie. In their fight, Collins
Manor is destroyed. Angie literally rips out her own heart (did you
know that you can still talk while your heart is gone!). Angie's last
dying spell was to have Vicky once again jump off a cliff. Barnabus
saves her this time, turning her into a vampire.
      And apparently when he sucked Dr. Hopkind dry, he did the same thing to her.
      The ending, to say the least, is terrible. The Collins family is minus
one mansion, one fishing company, and has two more vampires (and one
werewolf!) than is comfortable. Barnabus is set up like a hero, yet he
does more damage than good to the Collins family. He seems to have
morals, yet he rarely follows them, slaughtering scores of people
without a second thought, blaming his killings on Angie.
      It's not a bad movie. If you're willing to look past the plot, its
certaintly an enjoyable movie with adequate productions values and
directing. Its major flaw, though, us the plot is structured like a TV
show. Indeed, much of the plot would seems to work had this been a TV
show season rather than a film. In a show, Dark Shadows's many
characters could've been fleshed out, and the many, many different
story arcs within this movie could've been better developed (this
movie seems like 4 stories in one). But that's part of the
enjoyability. Because Dark Shadows is indeed many different stories in
one, you don't quite know what'll happen next. It doesn't exactly
follow any model I know of (other than the 3 act structure obviously).
This makes the film unpredicable, which is nice to have these days.
      Barnabus, despite his flaws, is likeable. Part of this is because of
exemplatory acting by Johnny Depp, but part of it is his general
character. Barnabus is a tortured soul, who has attempted suicide many
times (like the Hulk), though he cannot die. He tries to do good, but
follows flawed. old logic. This leads to him actually doing the
opposite of what he wants to do. By trying to reintegrate himself into
and make the Collins family great once again, he cripples it. Sure, he
gets rid of Angelique in the end and hooks up with Victoria, but one
has to wonder: was it worth it? This brings up another question: Is
Barnabus indeed a good man?
      Dark Shadows is certaintly an enjoyable movie. However, it could'be
been a great show. The plot seems hopelessly rushed, and really
could've used those extra hours found in a show. Though its
unpredability adds to its enjoyment, it also serves as the movie's
achilles heal. There are a lot of scenes totally out of left field
that have nothing to do with anything. Yet I do not regret wasting
those last two hours of my life. Dark Shadows may undeed be shit
structurally, but its enjoyable shit. In an age where videos of cats
falling down ladders passes as entertainment, thats all you can ask
for.

Dark Shadows gets 2.5 stars out of 6

1 comment:

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