The Dark Shadows

   Director: Tim Burton, Warner Bros Pictures, Rated M, 113 mins

Renowned filmmaker Tim Burton has once again chosen a gothic setting and a supernatural storyline (similar to that of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) for his dark but light-hearted production of a vampire seeking revenge against a witch.
   In a further collaboration with Burton, Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean) plays Barnabus Collins, the wealthy son of an 18th century nobleman in love with the lovely Josette (Aussie actress Bella Heathcote – Beneath Hill 60), with Heathcote also taking on the role of Victoria, the Collins’ governess.
The Dark Shadows
   Simultaneously, Barnabus has incurred the wrath of a maid (a witch) named Angelique (Eva Green – Perfect Sense) whose spell has Josette jumping off a cliff, turning Barnabus into a vampire and then having him buried alive by the townspeople.
   Some 200 years later with his coffin uncovered by an excavation team, Barnabus heads to the family estate where he meets Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer- New Year’s Eve), the matriarch of the Collins clan, her rebellious daughter Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz – Kick-Ass), brother-in-law Roger (Johnny Miller – Endgame), his son David (young Aussie actor Gulliver McGrath – Hugo), David’s psychiatrist Dr Julia Hoffman (Helen Bonham Carter who starred with Depp in Burton’s Alice in Wonderland) and servant Willie Loomis (Jackie Haley).
   With Elizabeth’s support, Barnabus vows to restore the Collins name to its prestigious place in the community and dispose of Angelique, now called Angie, having established herself in 1972 as Collins’ main competitor in the town of Collinsport.
   Based on a gothic soap opera of the same name that aired on American TV from 1966-71, Burton’s Dark Shadows shows Depp in his element, delivering a delightful performance as Barnabus, with the characters of Carter, Green and Loomis providing the additional comic relief.
   Except for the silly plot and storyline, Burton has still managed to make an entertaining movie by capturing the mood of the ‘70’s through his settings and wonderful soundtrack, not to mention the added pleasure of watching Depp’s humorous performance.
VIC'S VERDICT:         3 Rubber Stamps


   Director: Boaz Yakin, Lionsgate, Rated MA, 94 mins

Following his success with Remember the Titans, writer/director Boaz Yakin returns with an explosive, action packed movie that has one of Hollywood’s major action stars, Jason Statham (The Mechanic) taking on a similar role to Bruce Willis in Die Hard, with the opening scenes showing cage-fighter Luke (Statham) being warned by a boxing promoter for not “throwing the fight” and of the consequences for losing a considerable amount of the Russian mafia’s money.
   After the Russian thugs have killed his wife, Luke is about to throw himself in front of a speeding train when he sees the same thugs chasing a young Chinese girl by the name of Mei (Catherine Chan in her debut role) which jolts him into action as her protector.
   He finds out that Mei is a mathematical genius with a photographic memory and is being held captive by the Chinese Triads controlled by Han Jiao (James Hong – The Day the Earth Stood Still, besides being pursued by the Russian mafia and some corrupt cops under the command of Captain Wolf (Robert John Burke – Limitless) – all wanting the encoded list of numbers in Mei’s head which can open three safes containing $30 million and a disc that can cause considerable political chaos.
   Yakin wastes little time in his slick but fast paced action thriller with Statham sparing neither the bullets nor the bodies in protecting Mei from her relentless pursuers.
   Unfortunately Yakin is unable to develop the same kind of chemistry between Luke and Mei as achieved by Willis in The Sixth Sense.
   Despite this there is still much to enjoy in this exciting action movie, especially in seeing Statham shine in his action role.

VIC'S VERDICT:         3 ½ Rubber Stamps

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