"Dark Shadows" is the latest film pairing director Tim Burton with Johnny Depp starring as an eccentric character in pale white makeup. To my eyes, all eight of their films together fit that description, save the animated "Corpse Bride."
"Dark Shadows" isn't among their best work together, but the campy and quirky sense of humor that prevails in the movie makes it mostly enjoyable.
Based on the cult TV series from the late 60s and early 70s, Depp is Barnabas Collins, a wealthy man cursed by a witch and turned into a vampire. He's imprisoned in a coffin and is awakened 200 years later in 1972.
He finds his ancestors have squandered the family fortune, and the witch who cursed him, played by the delectable Eva Green still has the hots for him.
The fish out of water aspect of the story finds the most laughs.
The Collins family includes some talented actors including Michelle Pfeiffer and Chloe Grace Moretz, but eh film just doesn't know what to do with all the characters. They have great set-ups, but then the movie doesn't do anything with them, focusing mainly on Depp and Green.
That means characters' individual motivations and quirks are muted, especially the so-called love interest for Depp's character.
Dark Shadows is a bit of a mess, but it's mostly an engaging one.
"The Avengers" has a lot of characters and egos to juggle, too, but writer and director Joss Whedon handles them so capably.
In teaming so many Marvel superheroes, each of them is given proper attention, both in downtime and scenes of rambunctious action.
While those battle scenes are impressive, the film is way too long for what's essentially a pretty simplistic plot - Thor's adopted brother Loki wants to destroy the earth and The Avengers have to stop him.
There are some snooze-inducing scenes, but the best moments come in the clever interplay between these characters, none better than Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark.
"The Avengers" is a huge popcorn movie, but the bar's been raised so high on comic book movies that even though there's more here, there's somehow less.
EPPLER'S RATINGS: "Dark Shadows" * * 1/2"The Avengers" * * * Out of five stars