Tim Burton is one of the classic brands in Hollywood, even if his off-kilter blend of kooky morbidity and fey fun can be inconsistent. Every Dr. Frankenstein needs his “monster” and Burton is once again united with Johnny Depp, who can effortlessly play outsiders as diverse as Edward Scissorhands or the Mad Hatter. Unfortunately the two have hit a bit of a low point with Dark Shadows, an adaptation of the cult TV soap opera from the 1970s that featured a perverse family with a vampire patriarch.
Depp stars as Barnabas Collins, an 18th century English gentleman who was turned into a vampire by a witch whose love he spurned. Suddenly freed from the coffin in which he’s been immured for two centuries, Barnabas returns to the family castle to find his modern descendants reduced to poverty. A fine cast, including Michelle Pfeifer, Helena Bonham Carter and Jonny Lee Miller, is mostly wasted wandering through a slack plot where Barnabas confronts the evil witch who has become the financial power driving the town that the Collins family once ruled.
For the first third of Dark, Burton has lots of fun spoofing the tackiness of the ’70s as seen through the fish-out-of-water eyes of Barnabas. But gothic goofiness soon gives way to special effects-driven battles and CGI grandiosity that is surprisingly dull. Way before the movie shrieks to an end, Burton’s dark shadows are drab indeed. M
Dark Shadows ★★
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer
PG – 13, 113 minutes
Continues at the Capitol & SilverCity
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Movie Listings: Full listings not available due to long weekend.
MEN IN BLACK III -() Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their roles as alien-bashing crime fighters in a third outing for this wacky sci-fi comedy series. And thanks to a time travel aspect, Josh Brolin has fun playing the younger version of Jones’ character. Starts Fri.
MOONRISE KINGDOM -() The ever-quirky Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Fantastic Mr. Fox) tells a tale about two young lovers who run away from a repressive New England town, thus sparking an unusual search. The great cast includes Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, and Frances McDormand. Starts Fri.
★★ AMERICAN REUNION -(Caprice) The original American Pie was a raunchy but sweet-natured comedy classic. The sequel is like week-old pastry: crude, crumbly, and tasteless.
★★★ THE AVENGERS -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore/Uni 4) A mob of Marvel-ous superheroes comes together to help prevent a global apocalypse, in a decent but uninspired orgy of one-liners and special effects. The galaxy of greatness includes Iron Man (Robert Downey), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Captain America (Chris Evans).
BATTLESHIP -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) The classic Hasbro board game sails into the cineplex, transformed into a sci-fi epic as a naval armada does battle with a terrifying extraterrestrial force.
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL -(Odeon/Uni 4) A diverse group of British seniors seek out an affordable retirement hotel in India, only to find it in shabby disarray. But despite the initial disappointment, India’s exotic charms win them over. This comedy’s great cast includes Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Judi Dench.
★★★½ THE CABIN IN THE WOODS -(Capitol) Noted screenwriter Joss Wedon (Buffy) has a great deal of fun deconstructing the horror genre in this demented tale about five kids who go to party at a remote cabin and get way more than they bargained for.
★★ DARK SHADOWS -(Capitol/SilverCity/Uni 4/Westshore) Tim Burton directs Johnny Depp in a tepid adaptation of the campy 1970s soap opera that featured a family of dysfunctional vampires. Fangs, but no fangs. See review.
★★★ THE DEEP BLUE SEA -(Odeon) The great Rachel Weisz (Whistleblower) plays a judge’s wife who is caught in a self-destructive love affair with an air force pilot. Based on a play by Terence Rattigan.
THE DICTATOR -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen will likely be at his politically incorrect best in this crazy comedy about a North African dictator who gets into surprising trouble in New York City.
★★ DR. SEUSS’ THE LORAX- (Caprice) This is an over-stuffed, garishly coloured eco-parable that is preachy and only fitfully engaging. Featuring the voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron and Taylor Swift.
★★½ THE FIVE–YEAR ENGAGEMENT -(Odeon/Caprice) Emily Blunt and Jason Siegel star in a sweet but meandering rom-com about a couple who endure an unusually long engagement that causes stress for various family members.
★★½ THE HUNGER GAMES -(Capitol/SilverCity/Caprice) With Twilight fading fast, the latest teen sensation is this fantasy account of a future world where every year 24 young people are selected to fight to the death on live TV. Everyone else seems to love this movie, but other than for the great lead performance by JenniferLawrence I found this derivative and a bit cheesy.
★★½ MIRROR MIRROR -(Caprice) Here’s an over-the-top but still entertaining retelling of the Snow White fairy tale starring Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane, and Armie Hammer. Directed by noted visual stylist Tarsem Singh (The Cell).
★★★ THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS -(Odeon/Westshore) The Aardman Studios crew (of Wallace and Gromit fame) set sail with this rollicking — and extremely silly — spoof of all things piratical. Featuring the vocal talents of Hugh Grant, Salma Hayak, and Jeremy Piven.
★★★ SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN -(Odeon) Lasse Hallström (Chocolat) directs Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt in a whimsical tale, part satire and part romantic comedy, about a fisheries expert who becomes a consultant to a sheik who wants to bring the sport of fly fishing to the desert.
★★½ THINK LIKE A MAN -(Capitol) Four buddies decide to turn the tables on their women after they discover that the ladies have been using a “male psychology” book to get the better of their men. This is a moderately funny and fresh take on the romcom formula.
★★★ 21 JUMP STREET -(Caprice) The TV show about undercover cops in high school jumps to the silver screen, getting a spoofy and raunchy makeover in the process. As guilty pleasures go, this one is pretty darned funny. Starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING -(Capitol/SilverCity/Uni 4/Westshore) This non-traditional chick flick looks at five couples confronting the joys and challenges of becoming parents. Starring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez.
AFRICAN ADVENTURE: SAFARI IN THE OKAVANGO -(noon, 4 pm, 7 pm)
DINOSAURS: GIANTS OF PATAGONIA -[11 am (except for May 27), 2 pm, 5 pm] Those “terrible lizards” come back to life in a feature that complements the fascinating dinosaur exhibit currently on at the RBCM.
★★★½ ROCKY MOUNTAIN EXPRESS -[10 am (Sat and Tues only), 3 pm, 6 pm] Here’s a patriotic account of the many daunting challenges behind building the CPR railway: part history lesson, part glorious travelogue.
TORNADO ALLEY -(1 pm, 8 pm) Take an incredible trip into the violent heart of tornadoes via never-before-seen footage collected by a fearless (crazy?) storm chaser.
Ride Around the World – (10am Fri. May 25 only)
Born To Be Wild – (10am Mon. May 28 only)
Mysteries of Egypt – (10am Wed. May 30 only).
MOVIE MONDAY – Screening One Big Happa Family. In honour of B.C.’s Asian Heritage Month, there is a screening of a documentary exploring the tendency of Japanese-Canadians to marry inter-racially. This is screened with Tailor Made, a documentary profiling two 80-something brothers, both Chinese tailors, who realize that keeping their shop alive is going to be a challenge. 6:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595FLIC. moviemonday.ca.
VIC FILM FEST-is showing China Heavyweight. From the makers of Up the Yangtze comes this highly praised documentary about a brilliant coach in western China who recruits poor rural teenagers and turns them in Western-style boxing champs. THURSDAY, 7 pm; FRIDAY, 7 pm; and SATURDAY, 4 & 7 pm, at the Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas. Cash only! THURSDAY, 7 pm; FRIDAY, 7 pm; and SATURDAY, 4 & 7 pm, at the Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas. Cash only!
CRAIGDARROCH DOC -Victoria’s extraordinary Craigdarroch Castle is the subject of a documentary (that also includes a lot of Victoria history as well). See the movie then prowl the castle with fresh eyes. FRIDAY, 7 pm, 1050 Joan Crescent.
Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Tickets are available 40 minutes prior to showtime. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.
NORWEGIAN WOOD -(Wed.-Thurs., May 23-24: 7:00, 9:30) Lovely and languid, this evocative love story set in the 1960s and focusing on 20-something students is adapted from the best-selling novel by Haruki Murakami. From the director of The Scent of Green Papaya.
★★★ WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN -(Fri.-Sat., May 25-26: 7:00, 9:15) Tilda Swinton is superb in an overly arty drama about a woman who realizes that her young boy is growing into a strange and violent teenager. With John C. Reilly.
FOOTNOTE -(Sun.-Mon., May 27-28: 7:10, 9:15) This witty and engaging drama from Israel features the conflict between father and son — both of whom are Talmudic scholars, with very different attitudes to life.
WILLIAM KURELEK’S THE MAZE -(Tues., May 29: 7:15 only) †he life and art of the celebrated prairie painter are explored in this biopic, with the director in attendance for a post-screening Q&A with AGGV curator Mary Jo Hughes, whose huge show on Kurelek has just opened..
★★★½ JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI -(Wed.-Thurs., May 30-31: 7:15, 9:00) Sushi fans should swoon thanks to this delightful portrait of Japan’s 85-year-old master of sushi, the Yoda of raw fish.