Saturday, May 12, 2012
A reprieve for Depp and Burton?
If I were to choose the two biggest whipping boys throughout the history of The Audient, it would have to be Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.
Or more specifically, Tim Burton in all contexts, and Johnny Depp as his work relates to Burton's.
(And I have yet to even see Alice in Wonderland. It has more value to me as something unseen that I can assume is terrible, than something that I might end up liking if I actually saw it.)
None of my previous references to the collaborations between Depp and Burton (and Helena Bonham Carter) have prepared me for the fact that I'm really, really excited to see Dark Shadows.
That's two "really"s, people.
In fact, after Dark Shadows, there isn't a movie I'm this excited to see until Prometheus, which comes out nearly a month from now.
How did this happen?
I'd say the biggest factor in my excitement for Dark Shadows is that it's not a property I'm already very familiar with. It's been nearly ten years since the last Tim Burton movie I really liked, which was Big Fish -- also the last movie of his I would describe as "original." In the interim, he's "put his stamp" on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland. The first two were enough to convince me I didn't want to see the third.
But this? This seems delightful. A vampire comedy set in the 1970s. And so what if it started out as a TV show. I'd never even heard of the show, let alone been familiar with it, so as NBC used to say about Thursday night reruns you hadn't seen, "it's new to you." (Or in this case, me.)
Then I think points have to go to the character design, specifically as it relates to Depp. One of the things I have found most off-putting about Burton's recent films is what they've done to poor Johnny Depp. The worst offender was of course his Willy Wonka, a misguided conception of that character if there ever was one. I didn't have a problem with the character design of Sweeney Todd per se, but it was a step backwards again with the Mad Hatter. (And I don't have to have seen the movie to pass judgment on the character design.)
There's something wonderfully mod about his character in Dark Shadows, especially as demonstrated in the poster above. (And how about the Warhol-esque, pop art nature of that poster? Even if it's a collection of the single-head one sheets they are using to promote the movie, rather than an actual poster they are using, it's still very aesthetically pleasing.) The alabaster skin, the spiky hair styled just so, the rectangular shades. Okay, everyone in that poster has alabaster skin. But that speaks to the production design in general. Each of the characters seems to be a fascinating, eye-popping creation who fits perfectly into the stylized environment. The environment has Burton's stamp, for sure, but it's different enough that he doesn't just seem to be resting on his laurels.
And speaking of those other characters, the actors playing them certainly have something to do with my excitement level. There's of course Chloe Grace Moretz, who is just about the best thing going for actors under 18 (either gender). But I'm also really excited about what they've done with Eva Green, who you may remember as Bond's love interest in Casino Royale. She's looking all big-eyed and angular, approaching the kind of thing Burton had going on with his ex-girlfriend Lisa Marie. You may remember her as the Martian girl in Mars Attacks! The similarity is no coincidence.
Mars Attacks! is no masterpiece, but it's a really fun movie that represents Burton in his waning glory days.
If Dark Shadows gives me a little bit of Mars Attacks!, I'll be plenty happy.
And then maybe I'll put away the whip for awhile as far as Burton (or Depp or Bonham Carter) is concerned.