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It's 'Dark Shadows' light

Published May 24. 2012 05:01PM

Director Tim Burton reteams for the eighth time with Johnny Depp in the reimagining of "Dark Shadows," a television show cult favorite from 1966 - '71.

Depp plays Barnabas Collins, a vampire who likes to vamp, as in make quips.

The story begins In 1752 when Barnabas Collins was turned into a vampire by a curse from Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), the chambermaid whose love he spurned.

Two centuries later, it's 1972 and Barnabas is unearthed and returns to Collinwood Manor, Collinsport, Me., where his dysfunctional descendants are trying to maintain the ancestral home.

Angelique, also apparently ageless, has gained control of the town's fishing and cannery business that had been the basis for the Collins' fortune.

Tim Burton directs from a screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith and a story by John August and Grahame-Smith, based on the TV series created by Dan Curtis.

Burton never quite decided what kind of movie he wanted "Dark Shadows" to be. Is it a horror film? Is it a comedy? Is it a horror film spoof?

"Dark Shadows" is all of that, and that's not usually all good.

Fortunately, the actors in "Dark Shadows" are good.

Michelle Pfeiffer plays Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, matron of Collinwood Manor, with regal coolness.

Eva Green is deliciously diabolical as Angelique Bouchard.

Helena Bonham Carter plays a despicably over-the-top Dr. Julia Hoffman.

Jackie Earle Haley is funny, creeping around as Willie Loomis.

Jonny Lee Miller plays a blank-faced Roger Collins.

Chloe Grace Moretz is a spunky Carolyn Stoddard.

Bella Heathcote is pristine as Victoria-Josette, the real object of Barnabas Collins' affection.

Johnny Depp is the star of the show, of course. As Barnabas Collins, all he needs to do is raise an eyebrow, cock his head, tilt back his body and he's got us.

"Dark Shadows" has elements of "The Addams Family" (the mansion setting and family), "Beetlejuice" (dinner scenes) and one of Burton's and Depp's previous collaborations, "Edward Scissorhands" (Barnabas Collins' sympathetic diffidence).

Part of the fun, in addition to Danny Elfman's score in "Dark Shadows" is the ironic use of 1970's era culture, fashion and music cues, including The Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin," The Carpenters' "Top of the World," and Alice Cooper's "No More Mr. Nice Guy." The latter song is the basis for an entire scene, with an appearance by Mr. Cooper or is it Ms. Cooper?

"Dark Shadows" devolves into an Armageddon-style finale, so predictable in recent releases ("The Avengers," "The Hunger Games").

"Dark Shadows": MPAA PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13) for comic horror violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking; Genre: Comedy, Fantasy; Run time: 1 hr, 53 min.; Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: The romantic scene in "Dark Shadows" outdoes that in "Twilight," thanks in part to Barry White's "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" on the soundtrack.

Box Office, May 18: "The Avengers" did it again, No. 1 for three straight weeks with $55.6 million, a tally that would do many opening movies proud, and $457.6 million after, three weeks. "The Avengers" reached $450 million in a record 17 days. In comparison, the previous record holder, "The Dark Knight," achieved that benchmark in 27 days.

"The Avengers" defeated "Battleship," opening at No. 1, with $25.5 million, and "The Dictator," opening at No. 3 with $17.4 million, and $24.4 million since its May 16 opening.

4. "Dark Shadows," $12.5 million, $50.7 million, two weeks; 5. "What to Expect When You're Expecting," $10.5 million, opening; 6. "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," $3.2 million, $8.2 million, three weeks; 7. "The Hunger Games," $2.9 million, $391.5 million, nine weeks; 8. "Think Like a Man," $2.6 million, $85.8 million, five weeks; 9. "The Lucky One," $1.7 million, $56.9 million, five weeks; 10. "Pirates! Band of Misfits," $1.5 million, $25.4 million, four weeks

Unreel, May 25:

"Men in Black III": PG-13: The time travel plot returns the sci-fi comedy to the 1960s. Barry Sonnenfeld directs Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin.

"Moonrise Kingdom": PG-13: Wes Anderson directs a star-studded cast: Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel, Frances McDormand and Jason Schwartzman in a romantic comedy about two runaways in a New England town, also in the 1960s.

"Chernobyl Diaries": R: The horror film is about six tourists who hire a tour guide to take them to the abandoned city Pripyat, former home of Chernobyl nuclear reactor workers.

Read previous movie reviews by Paul Willistein at the Times-News web site, Email Paul Willistein and on Facebook.

Two Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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