Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cinema plans and a spoiler-free review of "Dark Shadows"

Well, today was one of those rare days when I just felt like going to the cinema. And not much was showing. I've already seen "The Avengers".  For some reason I was under the impression that today was Friday and "Men In Black III" would be out, which I wasn't terribly fussed about, but it appealed to me the most out of what was showing. Me being me, I didn't want to just go home when I found out that film wasn't out yet. So I went for "Dark Shadows" with some vain hope of enjoying a dumb and cheesy horror comedy.

But before I start the review I'll mention some of the films I'd like to see in the near future:
1. Prometheus - a sci-fi movie from Ridley Scott set in the "Alien" universe, but not directly related to the film. If nothing else, it promises to be very interesting visually.
2. The Dark Knight Rises - Well, did you expect me to miss out on a Batman picture? I've enjoyed the other two Dark Knight films, so I'm expecting to like this one as well.
3. Brave - It's a Pixar production. Naturally, the trailer for it looks beautiful. And the story seems good as well. I like the time and place they've chosen. And even if I don't enjoy the tale itself as much as I expect, I think I'll learn something from this movie in terms of art and visual storytelling.  
4. Frankenweenie - I think the trailer looks really good and the movie should be fun. I've seen Burton's live action "Frankenweenie" from 1984 and thought it was alright, if only a bit too short. The claymation movie has every chance of being better. For once I have honest faith in Tim!

Films I might watch:
1. Chernobyl Diaries - Okay, just the phrase "a new film from the creator of 'Paranormal Activity'"  alone is enough to persuade me to stay away from a movie. but... This one's about Chernobyl! And as a proud post-soviet I see no reason not to check it out. I've heard some of the Cernobyl ghost stories and if any of them are used here, I'd like to see that. Am I honestly bothered enough to go watch it in the cinema? Well, depends on my mood and the ticket price. Let's be honest - it won't be the worst movie I've ever paid to see.
2. The Amazing Spider-Man - I've never been too bothered about Spider-Man or the related movies, but I've never really disliked the character either. Having seen how good the recent Marvel films are I'd probably be tempted to give this one a shot as well. I couldn't tell from the trailer if it's worth seeing, so I'm in no rush here.
3. Top Cat: The Movie - Well, I'm not going to the cinema to watch it, that's for sure. Unless I'm roped into an outing of some kind, which is unlikely. The trailer looks terrible. The VA chosen for TC seems absolutely awful at the role. The whole thing falls apart stylistically - the 2D and 3D just don't go together at all. A Top Cat film should have been hand-drawn. Or it should have been given to Pixar (unlikely that they would take the job, but still).
Still, "Top Cat" was one of the few Hanna-Barbera animated series I used to watch often and honestly enjoy, so I feel somewhat obliged to see what they've done with it.

And now, the "Dark Shadows" review:

Overall rating:
Expectations exceeded? Not at all
Disappointed? Well, it had some redeeming moments and past a certain point I felt that I was rather enjoying the film.
Writing: Clearly, it's a throw-away script that just seemed to consist of a few funny ideas thrown together and the rest of the story written to tie them into one thing.
Acting: Very reasonable
Action/Drama/Humour:  Well, I was hoping for the whole thing to be a bit more slapstick and openly silly. We got a typical "Disney live-action movie" cast for the most part, but they were allowed to have dirty humour. Put those together and you get plenty of cringe-worty moments. Not much at all was shown, but plenty was implied. But there was some genuinely funny stuff there, too.
Worth watching: Well, knew what I was in for, but let's just say that I was glad of the student discount I got on the ticket. I wouldn't say it's particularly amazing in any way, but it's not a complete waste either. Definitely not the worst Burton's done. But I wouldn't buy the DVD unless it was in a bargain bin.

The film started in a typical Burton way - plenty of stylized gloomy scenes and a story of the protagonist's tragic past. But it wasn't long until he emerged in the 70s and tried to re-unite with his family. His inability to adapt was funny at times, but not as hilarious as it could have been. Then again, there were two very redeeming moments in this movie. One of them involved Alice Cooper. After that scene I no longer felt bad about going to see a film that was bound to be a disaster. The other redeeming moment? Well, that would be a spoiler!  I suppose there is a third as well, for those who are sick of seeing Helena Bonham Carter in Burton's films (I have nothing against her personally. She can be very good when given a decent enough role).
I didn't understand some of the cast choices. The family matriarch didn't really feel needed. It felt like they just wanted to stick Michelle Pfeiffer somewhere in the film for no apparent reason the way Disney keep putting Julie Andrews in their movies. She just looked weird and didn't seem to do anything for the story at all.

All in all, it was more of a trashy romantic comedy than a funny, cheesy horror. Some moments are good. In fact, I would have very much liked it if it was cut down to a third of its length, getting rid of all the prolonged emotional scenes and the absolutely painful "adult humour".

A sequel?
As I've said, it's a throw-away script, but considering what happens towards the end, we've got plenty of characters with problems to solve. If it was Disney, they'd definitely try to milk that storyline for all its' supposed worth. I don't think Warner Bros. are that bad, but if "the sequel nobody cares about" does appear, I won't be too surprised.

Because lava lamps are awesome. Art by wrathofbrandon

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