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By: Jeff Ford
By: Jeff Ford

A look towards the summer and a preview of Dark Shadows

It may be early in the summer slate but the best movie of the season may have already arrived.  The Avengers is everything one would want in a slam bang summer action film.  Its characters are easily definable.  The action moments are plenty and easy to follow.  The comedic points are more humorous than most comedies that have come before (I think of it as a plus that the audience misses lines because they are laughing so hard at what happened just moments before).  It’s efficient and despite its long running time (about 2 and a half hours), the time flies by.  The dialogue is quotable in all the right ways.  It is the epitome of what I look for in a summer movie.  While I’m sure it won’t be nominated for any of the major awards, it should be what future filmmakers should look to for guidance.

Of course, I may be getting ahead of myself.  The summer movie season is but a week old.  There are a few other films that I am looking forward to.  Ridley Scott’s return to the universe he helped create in Prometheus is one on my must watch list.  The trailers leave an air of mystery that I very much want to see unfold. 

The Dark Knight Rises is high on my list if only to see how Christopher Nolan will end his Batman trilogy.  I must say that the trailers are leaving me in a worried state.  Not that there is much wrong with them, it’s more that I’m not really liking what I’m seeing.  However, Christopher Nolan has yet to release a bad film so he has my faith.

The Amazing Spider-Man is the reboot of my favorite comic book character from when I was a kid.  While the reboot may have come about in a rather dubious manner (more on that in a later column), it’s still on my must watch list.  Once again, I have not been impressed by the trailers but am hoping that it is just bad marketing.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is the sequel to a film that I hated, but with the casting of Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis, plus the trailers not looking like crud, I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe, just maybe, the new director has learned from the mistakes of the previous adventure and has delivered a top notch production.

And now we come to Battleship.  It’s a movie based on a board game that appears to be trying its hardest to ride on the Transformers bandwagon.  Director Peter Berg is a decent director, being the man responsible for Friday Night Lights and The Kingdom.  He is far from what I would call a Michael Bay clone, but everything I’ve seen of this screams BAY!  I’m hoping for a movie in the so bad, it’s good variety.  Either way, large amounts of alcohol may need to be consumed to get through this horrible looking monstrosity.

There are many more films being released in the next few months, but these are the ones that have really stood out to me, for good and for bad.  Maybe The Avengers quality will trickle down to this batch of films.  Then again, I made that hope after watching The Dark Knight and we ended up with Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

I’ve rambled on long enough.  It’s time to look forward to this weekend.  One major release dots the horizon.  While We Need to Talk about Kevin is finally making its way to the Kentucky Theater, I would rather delve into the mind of the men who brought us Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and was Raoul Duke in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.



An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection. *


Imagine my surprise when I saw Kentucky native Johnny Depp finally teaming up with director Tim Burton.  These two need to collaborate more often.  Add Helena Bonham Carter into the mix and this movie is a once in a lifetime event that benefits its May release date.

In case you were wondering, I was being slightly sarcastic.  It’s a rare film nowadays when these three are not associated with one another.  Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have collaborated a previous 7 times (Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Alice in Wonderland).  It would be exhausting but the two appear to have a great working relationship.  They have a similar quirky style and sensibility that it would be hard to deny.

Unfortunately, Tim Burton has not made a good movie since 2003’s Big Fish (coincidentally enough, the last film he did without Mr. Depp).  His dark and imaginative visions do not mesh well with the children’s material he has done recently and he has a tendency to rely on Depp too much.  Johnny Depp, meanwhile, appears to be trying to outdo his Captain Jack Sparrow act with every new film.  He and his directors don’t seem to recognize that a more reigned in performance would work best.  People tend to remember his outrageous antics from The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, yet neglect to recall that he was not the main character.  Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner was.  Captain Jack was merely the comic relief.  The later films in that series and most of his recent work with Tim Burton have too much Depp’s quirkiness that it detracts from the quality of the film.  Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood showcase both Burton and Depp at their best and how subtlety is far and away a more effective tool then in-your-face grander.   I’m hoping that someday, they will remember.

As for this film, Dark Shadows appears to be falling into the same traps as previous Burton and Depp films.  This previews of the remake of the classic 1960’s television show is showcasing Johnny Depp being quirky and, quite frankly, unfunny.  Maybe they need a brief separation to realize what works and what doesn’t.  In the meantime, I’m revealing my fangs and turning 2 Virgin Brides out of 5.  Dark Shadows is rated PG-13 for comic horror violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking.


That will do for this week.  Stay tuned for next week when Liam Neeson plays a board game.  Until then, please tell Mr. P. W. Herman he has a courtesy call at the front desk.

*All movie summaries taken from

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