Horror-comedy involving various supernatural creatures, this is Tim Burton at his best. Burton does not set to direct perfect films he directs how he sees them, he and Johnny Depp really treated this film like their baby. Having not seen the original yet, so not knowing how faithful it is, this review is judging this as a stand-alone.
The cast and characters are all excellent; they all have their moment to shine. Johnny Depp is excellent as always, not his best performance however he clearly cares about the Barnabas Collins character. Eva Green is like an exaggerated version of Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction, perfect choice as the evil witch. Michelle Pfeiffer is wonderful as the family matriarch Elizabeth, this woman does not seem to age. Chloe Moretz is great as a moody teenager, clearly hiding a secret. Bella Heathcote is lovely as Victoria/Josette, so sweet and likeable it is no question why Barnabas falls in love with her. Helena Bonham Carter is hilarious as an alcoholic doctor, Johnny Lee Miller is great as a selfish low-life, Jackie Earl Haley is well cast in a small but effective role as a scruffy caretaker.
Tim Burton's visual work amazingly as usual, every shot in the film is beautiful and artistic. The film is not as over colourful the advertising makes it out to be, just in certain parts, a lot of the colours are actually washed out, in a good way so you won't get a headache. The songs used in the trailers are present in the film, not in the same context, mainly during short montages and they are not overlong as many people are making them out to be. The Collins mansion is very well design, it almost a character itself in the film. The opening credits are very simple compared to Burton's usual opening credits, which is simply following Heathcote through her journey to the Collins with Nights in White Satin playing.
Any criticisms I can think are nit-picks; looking at it from a critical point-of-view the mixed reception is understandable. As a big fan of shows like Buffy and True Blood, and just like them you can nit-pick this film till you bleed but that is missing the point. It's not meant to be taken seriously, it's over-the-top, it's fun, it's got cliches and some decent metaphors involving family problems.
The climax was awesome and over-the-top action and CGI. It kind of reminded me of Jan De Bont's remake of The Haunting, I know it's a bad comparison because that film is horrible, however it works here because Jan De Bont expected his audience to take it seriously; Burton does not he knew his film was silly and took advantage of it. There are complaints of the climax involving a twist of Chloe Moretz's character, yeah it's very sudden but has a great metaphor behind it, especially when Pfeiffer finds out. The CGI effects fits Burton's tone perfectly and is 10x better than The Haunting.
If I had to nit-pick I would say that because there is so many characters their moments felt kind of forced and rushed but I expected that, the story is very slight but this isn't meant to be Memento, and it does feel like it ends too suddenly but it's kind of bittersweet. And leaves it open for a sequel or let you decide what happens next.
This film is an escape not meant to be picked apart, just to be enjoyed with an extra large popcorn. After all films are made for entertainment, it doe not have to teach lessons, make sense or be analysed. Just play to your certain interests, that's where the film succeeds.