Dark Shadows also finds him doing that apparently now horribly tiresome thing where he continues his working relationship with Johnny Depp; if Internet-based film punditry had existed when De Niro and Scorsese were making movies on the regular, there almost certainly would have been some form of "oh, this again," based on the popular school of criticism that if you can notice any kinds of patterns in filmmaking, from superficial to formal to thematic, they are, after two or three times, unbearable. [So, reverse auteurism? Also, internet-based film punditry exists now that Scorsese is making every movie with Leo DiCaprio, if you're looking for nontheoretical examples... -Ed.]
Like most maligned Burton movies, I expect Dark Shadows will be (a.) enjoyable and (b.) a decent-sized hit, if audiences can get on a half-comic, half-soap tone that even Burton himself seems to find fascinatingly difficult to describe. In terms of pure curiosity, I'd also like to who Burton and Depp's non-snarky fans are that make Alice in Wonderland and such gross a billion dollars and change worldwide. Not because I don't believe they exist—indeed, I used to know tons of people who would go see a Burton and/or Depp feature—but because they have a less easily identifiable demographic than other billion-ish movies that "everyone" (by which is actually meant: a lot of people in the media echo chamber) hates.
I mean, a bunch of bros and kids like the Transformers movies, right? In terms of grosses, Burton has been playing near that field for much of his career, but he often makes fantasies that quite insistently lack hurtling-forward story momentum; it's not so much that he's more interested in sets than story, as the old saw goes, but that he's more interested in sets, characters, mood, and jokes, among others, more than plot (I guarantee you that whatever its storytelling weaknesses or, um, strengths, Battleship will have a plot; probably a surprising amount of it for a movie about shooting different stuff at aliens). I guess we can just say it's goths, but if they had that kind of consumer power, I feel like at very least, the Billboard 200 would look a bit different.
Girl in Progress: I wanted to like this coming-of-age story, until it starts going on about being a coming-of-age story via a main character, the teen-of-undetermined-age Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez), who decides that she wants to create her own coming-of-age story and sets about self-consciously engineering steps in this process (displaying promising academic skill; falling in with a rebellious crowd; losing her virginity... I'm not sure if these are actually universally recognized coming-of-age tropes so much as afterschool special checkpoints, but that vagueness is among the least of this movie's conceptual problems).
This is actually what the movie is about, and I try not to knock movies for not simply deciding to be about something else entirely, but fuck it, this movie should've been about something else, because it is a tremendously stupid idea, at least the way it's realized onscreen with cringe-inducing clumsiness. Ansiedad has a role-reversed relationship with her hard-working but flighty mother Grace (Eva Mendes), and when the movie concentrates on their push-pull over what each lacks in adulthood bona fides, it works better, though it still suffers from a lumbering obviousness. But the actors' nice character work drowns in the watered-down meta-story.