If it's crap ... We'll tell you
In the late 1700s, wealthy businessman Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is turned into a vampire and his family cursed by a witch (Eva Green) until Barnabas learns to love her. He is buried and then unearthed in 1972 and must adjust to life in the new century while rebuilding his family name.
I don't feel like I'm in a minority when I say that I've never seen the original Dark Shadows soap opera upon which this movie is based. Apparently I am in somewhat of a minority in saying that I'd never even heard of it before this film was announced. And it would seem the people marketing this film knew about people like me because they sold it as being somewhat different than what it actually is. They've been selling it as a "Saving the Club" kind of movie when it's really more about Barnabas and his wanting to rid himself and his family of their curse. In this sense it's much better story-wise than the trailers let on, but it's also very unbalanced and a little tiring near the end.
For the most part, the movie rolls along pretty fluidly. The beginning feels a little rushed, just to get backstory out of the way, but then it keeps a steady pace. Around the beginning of the third act it suddenly takes a very dark turn and then another dark turn and rushes into the climax, only to have the climax be very confusing and rushed. From what I can only assume, it seems that they were trying to fit a lot of plot lines from the show into the film all at once. There are a couple moments that are probably more amusing to people who watched the show, and from what I could gather they were kind of amusing to me as well, but it felt like if they wanted to throw these things into the movie they could have been handled better. It feels like the movie had its fun with its own stuff, but then realized it was an adaptation and decided to throw all of that stuff in too without having it mix well with the rest.
The Collins family is made up of Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer), Roger (Jonny Lee Miller), Carolyn (Chloë Grace Moretz), David (Gulliver McGrath), the live-in psychiatrist Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter) and groundskeeper Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley). The movie doesn't spend a whole lot of time with any of them, spending most of its time on the relationship between Barnabas and Angelique (the witch). But we are given enough time with the family to care about them and at least stay interested in them being in the story, which is more than I can say for the main love interest, Victoria Winters (Bella Heathcote). Barnabas has two love interests in film, one who dies in the backstory without giving us any reason to care about her other than the fact that Barnabas cares about her, and Victoria who has pretty much the exact same treatment. I find it funny how, being set in the 70s, the film makes several references to the women's rights movement and yet the love interest has absolutely no personality of her own. She is given her own backstory but it's really not all that interesting. It's also just shoved in as a way to show why she and Barnabas belong together.
The humor is what you would expect from director Tim Burton, and if you're a fan of it as I am then that's a good thing. If you're not then I can't really help you. What it lacks in story structure it makes up for in its entertainment. While there are some very confusing moments in the end, there's also plenty of great visuals going on. One thing I've noticed with Burton lately is that he has mastered the art of subtlety in CGI. It's established through Barnabas' transformation scene that his fingers are elongated and other features on his body are altered slightly as he becomes a vampire. These details are handled very naturally and you completely forget that details such as his fingers have to have been altered in every scene of the film. The film also uses plenty of less subtle CGI and it's a lot better than is usual in a Burton film. It's not exactly "worth the price of admission" amazing but if you're planning on seeing the movie anyway, it's pretty well done. The exact opposite goes for the film itself, in that it's not a great movie by any means but I enjoyed watching it.