Just when I thought that cinema had lost its soul and magic… Over the last few years, I did not come across many movies that still had “the spark” in them that made them what good “dream factory”, entertainment cinema is all about: The magic of dreams that came to life, the magic that draws you into another world, a magical world witnessed through the enthusiastic, believing eyes of a child.
Lots of people would immediately point at the movie “Inception” here. To be honest, I found “Inception” extraordinarily shallow. Lots of eye candy and a nice idea, but unfortunately, the story was predictable and the logic of the movie did not work at all. If it had been about cyberspace, like Matrix, it would have been perfectly fine. But this movie was about human dreams – and I’m sorry, but human dreams do not work like “Inception” depicts them. The whole cardhouse of the movie falls apart in the moment they use the word dream. So, no magic here. Just disappointment.
I didn’t manage to sit through “Hugo”. I think I can join the ranks of what many critics said about it: “Beautiful pictures, but no movie.”
“Pirates of the Caribbean”, on the other hand, was one of the few mainstream productions of the last years where the dream factory Hollywood was at its best. A master director, Gore Verbinski, with a great crew and a great set of actors sailed out to bring us one of the most wonderful, funny and entertaining movie adventures of the last decades.
Maybe I have seen too many movies in my life and maybe I am over-saturated. That would certainly explain the feeling of “I’ve seen that before, and it was better back then” that strikes me so often when I watch a movie these days.
Then I laid in my bed with a glass of old Cognac and watched “Dark Shadows”, Tim Burton’s very own interpretation of the old TV soap opera around the vampire Barnabas Collins, here played by Johnny Depp. The world of the movie looks a lot like the one that Tim Burton had created in “Sleepy Hollow”, and the atmosphere of the two movies is almost identical. And that, in this case, is a very good thing. We even have another guest visit of Christopher Lee, just as we had it in Sleepy Hollow.
You’re immediately drawn into the fiction in the opening sequence of the move when the camera drifts over the water of the harbour in Liverpool. The cinematography of this sequence sets the tone for the entire movie and Burton pulls you right into the slightly melancholic (but not depressing and also not without humour) world of Barnabas Collins, the vampire with a heart and deep love for his family and the mansion they live in and who always apologizes before he kills his victims and feasts on them. After all, he did not chose to be a vampire, but was cursed into this form of being. It’s a role that Johnny Depp was born for and his performance is perfectly on level. I must confess that it’s a bit scary that Johnny Depp, who started his career as just another one of those young and expendable Hollywood beaus, has become such a great actor who makes so many great and in many ways unique movies.
I don’t want to give a summary of the movie’s plot here, IMDB is the better place to look for one if you need one.
Of course, the movie had several weak points, but they are forgiveable. The magic that I spoke about in the first paragraph is there, and you can feel Tim Burton’s wonderfully childish (I mean that in a positive way!) enthusiasm in every single scene and in every single camera shot. This film is flooded with love for movies and for the first time in years, I wanted to watch a movie again from start to end right after I had seen it for the first time. That has become a very rare feeling for me and I am grateful that Tim Burton could re-ignite that old spark.