Blu-ray Review Dark Shadows Blu-ray Review

Ken_McAlinden

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[SIZE= 19px]Capsule/Summary ***[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 15px]Dark Shadows[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px] adapts the cult vampire soap opera from the late 1960s into a film that straddles the line between gothic family drama, horror, and fish out of water comedy, but trips over its own ambitions. Despite a game-as-usual performance from Johnny Depp and a top notch ensemble cast, Director Tim Burton does not manage to balance and pay-off all of the potentially interesting elements he introduces throughout the film. The end result is a fitfully entertaining, but ultimately unsatisfying viewing experience. [/SIZE][SIZE= 15px]Dark Shadows[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px] is presented on Blu-ray disc with an excellent video rendering of the dark and subtly desaturated cinematography with a solid lossless rendering of its not particularly ambitious surround audio mix. Extras include an informative picture in picture commentary with branching “focus point” featurettes and an above average collection of deleted scenes.[/SIZE]






[SIZE= 24px]Dark Shadows[/SIZE]

[SIZE= 19px]Directed By: Tim Burton[/SIZE]

[SIZE= 19px]Starring: Johnny Depp, Michele Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloë Grace Moretz, Bella Heathcote[/SIZE]








[SIZE= 15px]Studio[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px]: Warner Bros.[/SIZE]

[SIZE= 15px]Year[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px]: 2012[/SIZE]

[SIZE= 15px]Rated[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px]: PG-13[/SIZE]

[SIZE= 15px]Film Length[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px]: 113 Minutes[/SIZE]

[SIZE= 15px]Aspect Ratio[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px]: 16:9[/SIZE]

[SIZE= 15px]Subtitles[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px]: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese[/SIZE]

[SIZE= 15px]Release Date[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px]: October 2, 2012[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px] [/SIZE]






[SIZE= 19px]The Film ***[/SIZE]



[SIZE= 15px]Tim Burton’s [/SIZE][SIZE= 15px] Dark Shadows[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px] presents a comic cinematic take on the late 60s cult gothic television soap opera. Johnny Depp plays Barnabas Collins, the son of an eighteenth century English fishing magnate who are the preeminent family in the American Colonial town of Collinsport, Maine. In the film’s prologue, we learn how Barnabas’ spurning of the affections of a serving girl named Angelique (Green) leads to dire consequences. Angelique, a powerful witch, engineers the death of Barnabas’ parents and fiance, Josette (Heathcote), and curses him to become a vampire. Angelique then turns the townspeople against him, resulting in his being buried (quasi) alive in a chained and padlocked coffin. Nearly 200 years later in 1972, a construction crew unearths Barnabas. When he returns to his ancestral home of Collinwood Manor, he finds a dysfunctional group of Collinses clinging to the last of their family’s wealth. These include matriarch Elizabeth Collins-Stoddard (Pfeiffer), Elizabeth’s moody teenage daughter Carolyn (Moretz) , Elizabeth’s greedy good for nothing brother Roger (Miller), Roger’s distant and depressed young son David (McGrath), David’s live-in Psychiatrist Dr. Julia Hoffman (Carter), alcoholic caretaker Willie Loomis (Haley), and, most intriguingly to Barnabas due to her striking resemblance to the long-deceased Josette, recently hired governess Victoria Winters (Heathcote). Barnabas immediately sets out to restore the Collins family to their former greatness, but his efforts are complicated when he learns that Angelique, now going by the name of Angela Bouchard, is alive and working to counter his every move.[/SIZE]

[SIZE= 15px]Adaptations of anything to which the adjectives “cult” and “camp” both apply are fraught with peril. Director Tim Burton wisely avoids trying to re-create the unintentionally campy elements of the original television series. He instead employs a game cast to create the kind of quirky, creepy, dysfunctional family ensemble that has been his forte since [/SIZE][SIZE= 15px]Beetlejuice. [/SIZE][SIZE= 15px]He also embraces the inherently comedic possibilities of the fish out of water premise of an eighteenth century vampire waking up in 1972. While it may not have all the elements necessary to satisfy a fan of the original series, it does seem to have all of the elements necessary to satisfy fans of both Burton and his go-to star, Johnny Depp.[/SIZE]

[SIZE= 15px]While the film has an enjoyable premise, a number of memorable characters, some impressive set-pieces, and plenty of amusing bits of business, it does not add up to a satisfying whole. It frequently feels like Burton is trying to pour a gallon of content into a pint-sized container. This is not helped by an erratic narrative structure that, after the film’s prologue, establishes Victoria, as the audience’s identifiable point of entry into the bizarre world of the Collins family and then all but forgets about her once Barnabas arrives on the scene. This is merely one symptom of a larger problem as the rest of the Collins family is given similarly short shrift. The film’s frantically paced third act is filled with a number of revelations and intended payoffs to character arcs that feel dramatically un-earned. [/SIZE]

[SIZE= 15px]While the blend of gothic drama and wry macabre humor seem comfortably within the wheelhouse of Tim Burton, what he is trying to accomplish in this film would have been better suited to either a much longer movie or possibly a television series.[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 19px]The Video ****[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 15px]This 1080p AVC-encoding approximates the film’s original theatrical aspect ratio by filling the full 16:9 frame. The AVC-encoding renders the film’s dark and subtly de-saturated tones accurately and with acceptable detail aside from certain scenes shot with filters to look intentionally soft. Video artifacts are minimal with impressive gradients from the rare bright whites to the, well, … dark shadows. Fair or not, I docked it a star for occasional artifacts that could very well be related to processing of the original film in digital post production. The overall impression is of an accurate and cinematic home video rendering of a stylized and heavily manipulated modern theatrical film.[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 19px]The Audio ****[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 15px]The film's sound mix is provided courtesy of a DTS-HD MA lossless 16 bit 5.1 multi-channel encoding. The sound mix is normally skewed to the front hemisphere, with effects panned aggressively to the left and right extremes when appropriate. Dialog is primarily dead center. The surround channels are used primarily for light atmospheric effects, although discrete effects are heard from time to time. The mix is conveyed faithfully and with excellent fidelity by the encoding on the disc. Alternate language Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are available in French, Spanish, and Portuguese.[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 19px]The Extras ****[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 15px]All extras are presented in 1080p AVC-encoded video with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio unless otherwise noted below.[/SIZE]

[SIZE= 15px]When the disc is first played, the viewer is greeted with the following promos:[/SIZE]


  • Warner Blu-ray 3D Promo (1:49 - Dolby Digital 5.1 Sound)

  • Thunderstruck DTV Trailer (2:33)



[SIZE= 15px]Proper Extras are broken into three categories by the disc’s [/SIZE][SIZE= 15px]Special Features[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px] menu:[/SIZE]

[SIZE= 15px]Play Movie with Focus Points[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px] (113 minutes) is a picture in picture commentary feature that is identified by the usual Warner Home Video appellation of “Maximum Movie Mode” on the disc’s packaging, but not on the menu itself. Nevertheless, it features the usual context sensitive pop-up video segments that appear periodically in a window inset over the film. At nine points throughout the film, the viewer is given the opportunity to press “enter” on their Blu-ray remote to branch to a “Focus Point” featurette on a specific topic. These “Focus Points” are also available outside of the picture in picture mode from the disc’s special features menu and are described in detail in the discussion of that feature below. [/SIZE]

[SIZE= 15px]Within the pop-up video segments, topics covered include the origins of the project, background on the original TV series, clips from and reflections on the original TV series, cast members reflections on their characters and the filmmaking experience, technical details about scenes, props, special effects, editing technique, stunts, the period setting of the film, the film's sets, influence of the TV series on the film's production design, costumes, props, the score including a handful of isolated music cues with footage of scoring sessions, the film's tone, the working relationship between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, locations, hair, makeup, and the fondness of both Tim Burton and Johnny Depp for Alice Cooper.[/SIZE]

[SIZE= 15px]As the film progresses, the frequency of the pop-up segments decreases, and the emphasis tilts more towards on-set footage and away from talking head interview segments.[/SIZE]

[SIZE= 15px]Within these pop-up segments, on-camera comments are provided by Johnny Depp ("Barnabas Collins"), Director Tim Burton, Tracy Curtis (Daughter of original Dark Shadows TV series creator Dan Curtis), Michelle Pfeiffer ("Elizabeth Collins Stoddard"), Producer Richard D. Zanuck, Original Dark Shadows TV cast member Kathryn Leigh Scott, Editor Chris Lebenzon, Stunt Coordinator Eunice Huthart, Eva Green ("Angelique/Angie Bouchard"), Writer Seth Grahame-Smith, Bella Heathcote ("Victoria Winters/Josette DuPres"), Producer David Kennedy, Production Designer Rich Heinrichs, Costume Designer Colleen Atwood, Jackie Earle Haley ("Willie Loomis"), Helena Bonham Carter ("Dr. Julia Hoffman"), Chloë Grace Moretz ("Carolyn Stoddard"), Gully McGrath ("David Collins"), Jonny Lee Miller ("Roger Collins"), Visual Effects Supervisor Angus Bickerton, Special Effects Supervisor Joss Williams, Producer Graham King, Makeup Department Head/Prosthetics Makeup Designer Joel Harlow, Property Master David Balfour, Cathy Curtis (Daughter of original TV series creator Dan Curtis), Original Dark Shadows TV show cast member Lara Parker, Set Decorator John Bush, Assistant Set Decorator Michael Standish, Composer Danny Elfman, Christopher Lee ("Captain Clarney"), Hair Designer Paul Gooch, Key Location Manager Emma Pill, Alice Cooper, and Original Dark Shadows TV cast member David Selby. [/SIZE]

[SIZE= 15px]Focus Points[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px] are a collection of nine featurettes on specific aspects of the film’s production. They are viewable either individually through the disc’s menu or as branching features while viewing the film in the aforementioned [/SIZE][SIZE= 15px]Play Movie with Focus Points[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px] feature:[/SIZE]



  • Becoming Barnabas (5:23) focuses on Depp and his approach to his character, inclusive of acting, wardrobe, and make-up choices. On-camera comments are provided by Depp, Burton, Lee, Cooper, Carter, Harlow, Green, Haley, and Atwood.

  • Welcome to Collinsport (4:26) covers the locations,sets, and digital augmentation used to make the town of Collinsport and Collinwood Manor come to cinematic life. On-camera comments are provided by Depp, Heinrichs, Carter, Burton, Visual Effects Supervisor Argus Bickerton, Haley, Associate Producer Derek Frey, Marine Coordinator Jar Creed, Bush, Miller, Moretz, Pfeiffer, and Heathcote.

  • The Collinses: Every Family Has its Demons (6:49) focuses on the dysfunctional family at the film's center. Each character is given a brief profile with comments from and on the actors who play them. On-camera comments are provided by Depp, Pfeiffer, Burton, Carter, Miller, Moretz, Heathcote, McGrath, and Haley.

  • Reliving a Decade (4:54) discusses the specific 1972 period chosen for the film and the design elements and music used to establish it. On-camera comments are provided by Depp, Pfeiffer, Haley, Carter, Burton, Heinrichs, Green, Bush, Atwood, Moretz, and Miller.

  • Angelique: A Witch Scorned (2:58) covers the film's chief antagonist played by Eva Green. On-screen comments, most of which amount to character descriptions and praise for Green, are provided by Green, Depp, and Burton.

  • Alice Cooper Rocks Collinsport! (2:35) focuses on the rock star who plays his much younger self in the film. On camera comments are provided by Depp, Cooper, Burton, Heathcote, and Haley.

  • Dark Shadowy Secrets (3:53) looks at the props and special effects work for some of the movie's key set-pieces. On camera comments are provided by Burton, Frey, Depp, Bickerton, Williams, Zanuck, and Visual Effects Producer Barrie Hemsley,

  • A Melee of Monstrous Proportions (3:59) focuses on the film's climactic showdown called "The Battle Royale" by the cast and crew. The primary emphasis is on the stunt work. On camera comments are provided by Green, Williams, Depp, Huthart, Bickerton, and Moretz.

  • Dark Shadows: The Legend Bites Back (2:05) Looks at how the film hearkens back to and tweaks classic horror movie creatures. Comments are provided by Depp, Burton, Grahame-Smith, and Lee.



[SIZE= 15px]Deleted Scenes (5:39 w/"Play All)[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px] is a collection of scenes excised from the finished film that are presented in quality comparable to the film on disc:[/SIZE]


  • Scene 59 - Dr. Hoffman and Elizabeth discuss Barnabas (:59) establishes Dr. Hoffman's curiosity about Barnabas

  • Scene 61 - David and Barnabas discuss dinosaurs (1:30) contributes towards bonding between David and Barnabas. It is a bit lengthy, but might have helped the finished film in which David gets short shrift. It also ends with a pretty good punch line.

  • Scene 94 - Carolyn and Victoria - Girl Talk (1:04) Carolyn and Victoria share a smoke and discuss Carolyn's relationship with her family. It mildly foreshadows a later revelation about Carolyn and dramatizes the point where Victoria learns of Barnabas' affections towards her (which is covered by a line of dialog later in the finished film)

  • Scene 95 - Police warn Willie and Barnabas (1:02) Willie and Barnabas are stopped by police who talk about the grisly deaths of some teenagers, not knowing in what way Barnabas contributed to the crime scene.

  • Scene 108 - Dr. Hoffman offers Victoria help (1:03) After one of Victoria's ghostly visions, Dr. Hoffman suggests she may benefit from her services.





[SIZE= 15px]SD DVD[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px] A copy of the film on SD DVD is also included in this multi-disc set. The DVD includes DD 5.1 audio tracks and subtitles in English, French, and Spanish. It includes the same [/SIZE][SIZE= 15px]The Collinses: Every Family Has Its Demons[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px] Focus Point featurette as the Blu-ray and no other extras. When the SD DVD is first played, it includes following promos presented in 4:3 letterboxed video with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound:[/SIZE]



  • Warner Blu-ray promo (1:53)

  • The Great Gatsby Theatrical Trailer (2:30)

  • Anti smoking PSA parodying energy drink commercials (1:03)

  • Rock of Ages - Blu-ray/DVD trailer (2:22)

  • Thunderstruck DTV trailer (2:33)

  • The Dark Knight Rises Blu-ray/DVD Trailer (2:19)



[SIZE= 15px]Ultraviolet Digital Copy[/SIZE][SIZE= 15px] The disc also comes packaged with an access code for an Ultraviolet Digital Copy of the film. This allows users with a Flixster account to access a streaming version of the film on computers and certain tablets and mobile devices. It also allows viewers with Flixster Collections software to download a copy to their computer's hard drive. [/SIZE]


[SIZE= 19px]Packaging[/SIZE]


[SIZE= 15px]The Blu-ray and SD-DVD discs are enclosed in a standard-sized Blu-ray case with hubs on both inside covers to secure them in place. The only insert is a single-sided sheet with information on how to redeem the Ultraviolet digital copy. The hard case is enclosed in a slipcover that reproduces the same cover art with the addition of a lenticular 3D effect and some promotional graphics concerning the inclusion of the SD DVD and Ultraviolet Digital Copy. [/SIZE]
 

Ejanss

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With this cover, we see just Johnny Depp--
And not the original theatrical poster with the entire family striking their Chas. Addams portrait pose, and giving the more Burton-weary that sense of "Ah-haaahh, o-kay, THINK we now know whatever happened to that stop-motion Addams Family he was going to make... :rolleyes: "
 

Ken_McAlinden

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The cover shown is just for the combo pack with the SD DVD and digital copy. The blu-ray only cover has the ensemble picture with Depp in a chair in front.
I personally prefer the poster art with the larger ensemble where Depp is standing.
 

Ejanss

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Still, point was, it's pretty shameless... :rolleyes:
The entire Collins fam-i-ly in the TV show weren't supposed to be altogether ooky, kooky raving lunatics.
 

Bryan^H

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Thanks for the review Ken. Very informative.
I plan on picking this up Tuesday.
 

TonyD

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I watched it earlier today and thought it was rather dull and forgettable.
As usual with most Burton movies it was dark and shadowy almost b&w.
Had a few chuckles but nothing special or even interesting about the movie.
Eva Green was the best thing about the movie as she was drop dead beautiful.
 

sleepydumbdude

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Movie was all right. My UV redeemed as a SD copy which I am not thrilled about. Anyone else have a similar problem?
i contacted their support and they fixed it so its HD now.
 

John Skoda

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There's also a non-combo, blu-ray only version, but I was looking at it last night in the store and the blu-only package has no mention of the extras listed above. So, to get the extras you need to pay the extra $5 to get the combo pack and throw away the disc you don't need? It annoyed me so much I passed on the whole thing.
 

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