The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 113 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Johnny Depp, Michele Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva, Green, Jackie Earl Hailey, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jonny Lee Miller, Bella Heathcote
Directed by: Tim Burton
Music by: Danny Elfman
Written by: Seth Grahame-Smith
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 2, 2012
From the wonderfully warped imagination of Tim Burton comes the story of Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp), a dashing aristocrat who is turned into a vampire by a jilted lover and entombed for two centuries. Emerging from his coffin into the world of 1972, he returns to his once-majestic home, only to the few dysfunctional descendants of the Collins family who remain. Determined to return his family name to its former glory, Barnabas is thwarted at every turn by his former lover - the seductive witch Angelique.
In the year 1752, Joshua and Naomi Collins, with young son Barnabas, set sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in America. But even an ocean was not enough to escape the mysterious curse that has plagued their family. Two decades pass and Barnabas (Johnny Depp) has the world at his feet-or at least the town of Collinsport, Maine. The master of Collinwood Manor, Barnabas is rich, powerful and an inveterate playboy...until he makes the grave mistake of breaking the heart of Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green) by falling in love with the beautiful Josette.
A witch, in every sense of the word, Angelique exacts her revenge on Josette, curses the Collins family, and dooms Barnabas him to a fate worse than death: turning him into a vampire, then burying him alive. Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the very changed world of 1972. He returns to Collinwood Manor to find that his once-grand estate has fallen into ruin. The dysfunctional remnants of the Collins family have fared little better, each harboring their own dark secrets.
Family matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer) is the one person Barnabas entrusts with the truth about who and what he is while his somewhat bizarre behavior raises the suspicions of the remaining members of the household which includes live in psychiatrist Dr. Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter). Barnabas quickly begins efforts to restore Collinwood manor as well as the family business but immediately runs into an obstacle: The town’s leading denizen, who goes by the name of “Angie” who just happens to bear a striking resemblance to Angelique…
Struggling against the tide of blood thirst, Angie’s evil tinkering, and a completely dysfunctional household Barnabas finds solace in the eyes of young Victoria Winters, the new nanny, whose beauty and heart speaks to him from a place not felt in two hundred years.
Based on Dark Shadows an American gothic soap opera that originally aired weekdays on the ABC television network, from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971, this film adaptation by Tim Burton has a comedic twist that I imagine may not be appealing to diehard fans of that original series. I really never watched the TV series with any regularity but had friends that were fanatical about it (in reruns of course). After seeing the trailer for the film the cast caught my eye and the concept looked interesting enough but I opted to wait for it to come to home video.
Dark Shadows starts out well enough but quickly loses its way teetering amidst inconsistent themes, tiresome wink and nod satire and beleaguering subtexts. I liked the first act which set things up quite well by introducing the characters, establishing the thematic tone, offering a few well placed chuckles and working in some entertaining time period specific references. By the middle of the second act the focus begins to erode, it gets silly and never really turns around. It’s a shame because there’s lots of potential in the concept as well as the cast. Johnny Depp is, well, Johnny Depp and Eva Green is wonderfully wicked as Angie/Angelique. Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, and Chloe Grace Moretz were underused but I thought Jackie Earl Hailey as the longsuffering Collinwood caretaker was hilarious.
With the tandem of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton I had higher hopes for Dark Shadows. It starts out just fine but quickly fizzles descending into a slightly incoherent and forgettable one note gothic comedy that will leave audiences scratching their heads.
The rating is for comic horror violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Dark Shadows comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.2 mbps.
This film utilizes a stylized visual design that has a limited color scheme that works aesthetically well for the subject matter. The color range is limited to shades of dark blue, gray and black with splashes of crimson, red, and muted sepia tones. Warm golden accents are used to break up the film’s monochromatic essence. Uneven light and shading are prevalent. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. The various wide angle shots of the darkened interiors of Collinwood Manor look stunning. The use of filtering occasionally softened the image but I found the quality of the video to be high. It isn’t always razor sharp but is cleanly rendered with plenty of subtle refinement that increased the perception of fine detail. I was enamored by the film’s deep grays, rich contrast and intriguing use of color. Framed at 1.85:1 images onscreen have excellent depth and stimulating visual aura. I didn’t see any signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise. It looks great on Blu-ray.
The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack has excellent dynamic range, detail rich clarity and makes ample use of the surround platform to drive the film’s elements. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is noteworthy. Discrete rear channel activity isn’t extensive however when applied provides an enriching level of immersion which is punctuated by palpably rich bass. Dialogue is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction. This surround mix capably handles the subtle intricacies thrown at by this excellent soundtrack as it augments the enjoyment of this film.
- (HD) 5 Deleted scenes
- (HD) Focus Points (viewed either with the film or separately)
- Becoming Barnabas – 5 minutes
- Welcome to Collinsport – 4 minutes
- The Collinses: Every family has its demons – 6 minutes
- Reliving a decade – 5 minutes
- Angelique: A witch scorned – 3 minutes
- Alice Cooper rocks Collinsport – 2 minutes
- Dark Shadowy secrets – 4 minutes
- A melee of monstrous proportions – 4 minutes
- Dark Shadows: The legend bites back – 2 minutes
- Becoming Barnabas – 5 minutes
- Bonus DVD
- Ultraviolet Digital Copy
Based on Dark Shadows an American gothic soap opera that originally aired on network television, from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971, this film adaptation by Tim Burton has a comedic twist that I imagine may not be appealing to diehard fans of that original series. Unfortunately the screenplay suffers from inconsistent themes, tiresome wink and nod satire and beleaguering subtexts that result in a middling film experience. On a positive note its high definition audio/video presentation on Blu-ray from Warner Home Video looks and sounds terrific. If you’re already a fan this is a worthwhile addition to your collection otherwise a rental should suffice.
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