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Dark Shadows (2012)

I feel like people have sort of forgotten how to make movies.  Dark Shadows (which I saw tonight) is slightly fun, but nothing in it means anything and it is almost completely forgettable.  The film (based on the soap opera from the 60s and 70s) is about the Collins family.  Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) was cursed in the 18th century by a witch he rejected romantically--she killed his parents, forced his lady love to commit suicide, and then she turned him into a vampire.  Now, it's 196 years later and the same witch is still making life hell for the Collins family.  They have no money, many of them seem to die or leave in mysterious ways, and they're all bitter and unhappy. 

The movie sets up a nice, classic premise.  A downtrodden family--who have in their misery forgotten how to be a family--meets someone who helps them reclaim their fortune and remember why they need each other.  But that doesn't really happen.  There's just a bunch of scenes strung together and no one is established sufficiently with their current problems to make us care if they triumph over them.  Also, the triumph-ing over problems doesn't even happen satisfactorily, either.  This kind of movie doesn't need to be the best, most original thing in the world it just needs to follow the old classic Hollywood formulas and it can't even do that!  Why can't anyone do that anymore?  Just watch some old movies and copy them!  Cliches work for a reason, people.

Not to mention there's the most poorly established, un-rootable love story imaginable in this film.  All they had to do was throw in a few scenes of actual talking between Johnny Depp and his "true" love and I might have cared but there's exactly ONE scene between the two of them. 

Thank god for Michelle Pfeiffer who takes the thinly scripted character of Elizabeth Collins (the family matriarch) and turns her into a real person--someone who's been through the ringer and can take anything the world throws at her (she barely bats an eye when she learns about vampires, witches, etc.).  Also, I will admit that there's a lot of cute little moments in the first 2/3 of the film.  It's not the worst thing in the world, but it could've (very easily) been a lot better.