Dark Shadows (2012)


Reveal Yourself, Tiny Songstress!

Today’s movie was requested by my roommate Richurd. When he requested it, I suggested that he may have to wait until November for me to review it since it didn’t really feel like a horror movie. “It has vampires, witches, and werewolves in it!” he exclaimed, and then proceeded to beat me savagely. Once I awoke, I relented and agreed to review the movie as part of the October Horrorthon. The movie itself was one I knew about when it came to theaters, but had exactly zero desire to watch it. I didn’t know the source material and every commercial for the movie I saw fell flat on its face by way of comedy as far as I was concerned. But it’s a request and so I bring to you my review of Dark Shadows, written by Seth Grahame-Smith, directed by Tim Burton, and starring Johnny Depp, Eva Green, Bella Heathcote, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chloë Grace Moretz, Helena Bonham Carter, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Gulliver McGrath, Christopher Lee, and Alice Cooper.

In 1760, the Collins family moves from Liverpool to Maine to set up a fishing industry, naming the town Collinsport. They make lots of money and all is going well … until their son Barnabas (Johnny Depp) seduces the maid Angelique (Eva Green). She confesses that she loves him, but he does not feel the same. Also, she’s a witch. She takes it out on his family, getting them killed by a falling statue. Barnabas eventually falls in love with Josette du Pres (Bella Heathcote), but the jealous Angelique bewitches her and makes her leap from a cliff. Barnabas tries to follow her, but finds that Angelique has turned him into a vampire. She then gets a mob to lock him in a coffin for 212 years. That’s when a group of construction workers inadvertently frees Barnabas, allowing him to return to his family – matriarch Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer), her brother Roger (Jonny Lee Miller), her 15-year-old daughter Carolyn (Chloë Grace Moretz), Roger’s 10-year-old son David (Gulliver McGrath), David’s psychiatrist Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), and the manor’s caretaker Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley) – just in time to greet David’s newly-hired caretaker Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote), who is Josette’s reincarnation. But Barnabas will soon find that Angelique is still very much alive, and still very much scorned.

The best thing I could say about this movie is that it lived up to my expectations. The worst thing I could do is define those expectations. But I’ll do it anyway. I can’t say that Dark Shadows was a bad movie, but it’s very far from a good one. If its intentions were to be a horror movie, it was too goofy. If it wanted to be an action movie, it was too boring. If it was to be a mystery & suspense movie as Rotten Tomatoes claims it to be, then I probably shouldn’t have been able to go into the movie knowing exactly how it would turn out. Sadly, I think it wanted to be a comedy, but it also wasn’t funny. It tries to go for a lot of wordplay and dry wit that I’m sure made the British version of this stuff popular (assuming that it ever was, which I have not looked into), but the jokes used in this movie were too dry and lacked wit … or were just stupid. A lot of the movie after Barnabas returns to the 70’s just feels like the pitch for the movie was, “What if Austin Powers … wait for it … were a vampire!” Oh look at him as he doesn’t understand things because he’s been away for a long time! He thinks Alice Cooper is a lady! HILARIOUS! And on top of all that, the movie just wasn’t interesting. The family wasn’t likeable until the very end when they finally became more interesting, but I was long lost by then. All that being said, this is a Tim Burton movie, so the look of the movie is generally worth notation. It has a cool, creepy, dark look to the whole movie, but at a certain point I’m going to require more out of Tim than that. Also, I don’t know if it was intentional because they wanted to pay homage to the British version, but Johnny Depp looked goofy the entire movie. I was not buying that look.

The cast in this movie was filled with amazing names … who didn’t seem to want to try that hard. This is not a surprising performance for Johnny Depp. It’s a little bit like Captain Jack Sparrow without a drinking problem. Michelle Pfeiffer did not seem altogether invested in the movie. Eva Green was a little over the top, but so was her hotness. Chloë Grace Moretz was never interesting to me until the very end where she turned into something interesting … and then did nothing with it. Jackie Earle Haley came close to being funny a few times. I also didn’t like Gulliver McGrath, but more for the way he was written. How the hell is a kid going to see ghosts for his entire life, but freak out when he finds out the guy that’s been living with his family for a few months while being perfectly nice to him is a vampire?

I kind of feel like I wasted a bit of my time by watching Dark Shadows, but hopefully you don’t feel that you wasted time reading my review. This movie was not funny and not interesting, the actors didn’t seem into it, and I wasn’t either. I had/have no interest in the source material, so I have no idea if it holds up, but I do know that there’s not a lot of reason to watch this movie. It’s not an awful movie, but there are better ways to spend your time. Dark Shadows gets “It is with sincere regret that I must now kill all of you” out of “They tried stoning me, my dear. It did not work.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people. Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense. Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated. You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter. Don’t forget to leave me some comments. Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Watchmen (2009)


Never Compromise.  Not Even in the Face of Armageddon.

I have finally reached my goal of one review per day for an entire year.  I will be taking a week off to rest before I decide what I’m going to be doing next, but you can rest assured that I will still be writing reviews for as long as I’m able to keep myself motivated.  During the course of my first year, I’ve reviewed many movies of all different types of genres, but I think my nerdiness has come out in many of my reviews and let you all know that one of my favorite types of movie is the comic book movie.  When I did my favorite movies from each genre, I intentionally skipped the comic book movie because there are three movies that I have decided are my top three favorite, but I have not yet been able to confidently say I prefer one to another.  I reviewed Avengers while it was in theaters, which is the same time it joined the list.  Later, I reviewed the Dark Knight as its sequel was coming out, and it held its ground.  But no one asked me to do the third, and an opportune time would not be presenting itself in the near future as there’s no sequel or prequel coming to this movie anytime soon.  And so I decided that I would review the third movie as my anniversary present to myself.  This movie is Watchmen, based on a comic book by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, written by David Hayter and Alex Tse, directed by Zack Snyder, and starring Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Malin Akerman, Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Carla Gugino, Stephen McHattie, Matt Frewer, Laura Mennell, Robert Wisden, and Danny Woodburn.

October 12th, 1985.  A comedian died in New York.  Well, more specifically the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a retired masked crime fighter is thrown out of a window by an unknown assailant.  Another costumed crime fighter operating outside of the law named Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) goes to investigate and jumps to the conclusion that someone is trying to kill his comrades, so he sets about warning them.  He goes first to his former partner, Daniel Dreiberg, formerly the second Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), and then goes to the nearly omnipotent Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) and his lover, Laurie Jupiter, the second Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman).  All of them think Rorschach is just being paranoid, but Dan decides to relay the message to Adrian Veidt, formerly Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), who shares the skepticism of the others.  Rorschach is unconvinced and continues his investigation while Dr. Manhattan and Veidt focus on trying to stave off nuclear war with their free energy solution.

Oh man do I love this movie.  And I was also extremely shocked to find out that this is not an entirely popular opinion.  Both the critic and the audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are sitting around the 65% range.  I don’t get that.  Watchmen is not really your ordinary comic book movie.  It’s got less action that you’d typically expect to find, but I feel that it’s a lot smarter and has a much better story.  That is mostly thanks to Alan Moore since the movie seems to be pretty much a shot for shot adaptation of his original story.  From what I gathered, his original comic book was a much more powerful political statement when he originally made it, but I hadn’t read that by the time I saw this movie.  I just knew that it was a greatly lauded comic book that they were turning into a movie, and the movie blew me away.  I feel that I may have benefited from not having read the comic book when I saw the movie because the great reveals at the end of the movie were not spoiled for me.  The huge reveal involving Adrian Veidt was great, and even the smaller, more personal one involving Laurie was extremely powerful.  There were a couple of other things to say about the movie, but I feel they deserve a ::SPOILER ALERT:: so that the reveals won’t be ruined for you, and will allow you to enjoy it the same way I did.  I thought it was a fantastic twist that Veidt gives a speech like a Bond villain to Rorschach and Nite Owl that makes you think they’ll still have time to stop it, and the twist comes when Veidt was smart enough to know that this was a possibility, so he had set his plan into motion 35 minutes prior.  I would say that there was a part to his plan that I never really got behind.  I don’t know why it was necessary that Dr. Manhattan take the heat for what Veidt did for the plan to work.  I actually kind of understood (without condoning) why they killed so many people to bring peace to the world, but I feel like the same thing would happen whether it was Veidt taking the heat or Dr. Manhattan, which would make it unnecessary for my favorite character, Rorschach, to die.  But it was a minor issue I took with the movie and didn’t really disturb my enjoyment.  ::END SPOILERS::

I think the direction of the movie won me over before the story did.  The quality of the story sunk in towards the end, but the quality of the direction was able to win me over very early on.  It’s really a visual delight, and the music is also a big win.  I was on board to a great degree from the opening fight between the Comedian and the unknown assailant, which was a great fight scene with music that worked well with the scene while being in contrast to what was happening.  The opening credit sequence was also fantastic.  It tells the story of the decline of the superhero and places them into real, historic situations, and they back that up with strong visuals and a great Bob Dylan song.  They include the sailor kiss from the famous photograph, the Comedian shoots JFK, the hippie chick putting the flower in the gun barrel, the moon landing, and even that famous Rage Against the Machine album cover.  …I’m being told that this was actually a real occurrence and not just an album cover…  But the look and the soundtrack of the move kept my attention all the way through.  Even if the story of the movie was no good, I would’ve been on board with the movie from these things alone.  The movie didn’t have that many fights, but the ones they had were fantastic.  The highlights include Dan and Laurie beating down some gang members, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre beating down some prisoners, and Rorschach fighting his way out of Moloch’s apartment.  All of them were really brutal and awesome.  The fight with Hollis Mason and the gang members towards the end of the movie was also fantastic and emotional.  I would say it was a little corny and tasteless for the Nite Owl’s hovercraft to blow its fiery load just as the Nite Owl himself did.  I also thought it was funny to try to see all of the things that were on Veidt’s various TV screens towards the end of the movie.  I was able to catch a glimpse of what appeared to be porn, a scene from Rambo, and that wacky Fed Ex commercial.  I don’t know if there was significance to any of that, but I found it interesting to try to pick them out.

The performances in the movie were all wins for me.  Jackie Earle Haley was the best one for me.  I thought Rorschach was friggin’ awesome.  His narration in the movie made me imagine what it would sound like for Christian Bale’s Batman to narrate a Max Payne game.  Generally morose, and always raspy.  But Rorschach was a total badass throughout the movie.  The story of what made Rorschach was great, the story of what made him more brutal was even better, and I particularly loved all of his interactions with Big Figure in jail.  And, on top of his badassdom, he also had a great scene at the end that got me a little choked up for him.  Also, do you know what I’ve always felt was sadly missing from other comic book movies like Avengers and the Dark Knight?  Tits!  And the only thing that would make that better is if they belonged to Malin Akerman.  SCORE!  She is so hot.  …And that’s all I have to say about her.  She did a good job and everything, but I have a one track mind.  Matthew Goode did a great job as well, but the only thing that amused me enough to take note of about him was how heroic he was when the guy was trying to kill him and he first ducked behind the businessmen before taking the guy down.

I love Watchmen.  The story is brilliant and the adaptation of it is fantastic, powered along by amazing visuals and a great soundtrack.  The performances are also pretty fantastic, with Jackie Earle Haley leading the bunch in my opinion, but everyone doing their thing very well.  And at least one of those performances brought a great set of boobs, and that’s alright by me.  I think this is a fantastic movie and I don’t understand the concept of anyone not liking it, but apparently it happens so watch this movie skeptically.  But do watch this movie.  Watchmen gets “A pretty butterfly” out of “I’m not locked in here with you.  You’re locked in here with ME!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.