Joel Edgerton

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Black Mass the Return of Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp hasn’t had the biggest success ratings lately. With failures like Dark Shadows, Transcendent, and Mortdecai, he has left audiences wondering if we would ever see the real Johnny Depp again. Though the Pirates franchise continues to be box office hits, they have even fallen to the scrutiny of critics. His newest outing, Black Mass however has been silently working its way to the theaters, with a decent marking campaign that has made it look like a return to form for the major talent that is Depp. The question on everyone’s mind was, is Black Mass as good as it looks?

Black Mass is a crime drama released on September 18, 2015. It stars Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Corey Stoll, Peter Sarsguard, and Dakota Johnson. Written by Jez Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow, Spectre) and directed by Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace) Black Mass tells the true story of the infamous mobster Whitey Bulger (Depp) and his alliance with the FBI that kept him out of prison, and at the top of organized crime in the late 70s and early 80s. It is based on the book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr.

What works best in this film are the performances? Johnny Depp must have heard people talking down about his acting and said “Oh yea? Watch this!” Because this is the star that we knew Depp was. He still has his makeup on, but that helps him disappear into this creepy, disgusting creature that is Whitey Bulger. He is phenomenal. One of his absolute best performances.

Another star performance is the one and only Joel Edgerton. Edgerton is putting together quite a resume. From Warrior, to The Gift, and now Black Mass, Edgerton is showing us he is a talent to be reckoned with. It won’t be long until the big leagues try to snatch him up, the Star Wars’ the Marvel’s, the DC’s. This guy is good.

To go along with Edgerton and Depp the rest of the cast is stellar. Cumberbatch is a star as always and nails the Boston accent. Bacon is a stand out and fun to see. Corey Stoll’s role is small but had the potential to be really impactful. The scenes he is in are intense and deep.

Another plus for this film is its tone. It is dark, and gritty and real. There are scenes that are legitimately hard to watch. And not because of gore or anything like that, they are just well written scenes. You feel the tension. There is a scene that was in the original trailer at a dinner table, and it just chills you to the bone. And it is not just that scene from the trailer; it is expanded, and heavy. The deaths are intense, and real, and you hurt with them, it almost feels like a serial killer film rather than a mobster film.

What hurts the film is I think the run time. It could’ve used another half hour to 45 minutes. The story seems to jump a lot, and when it does it almost leaves you lost at what has happened and what was missing in the years they jumped. Thy use some exposition to show you what all Bulger was doing, but they never really get into it. They never really show you his workings. They also didn’t show much of the war between the Italian Mafia and Irish Mob. I would have liked to see them delve into that a little more. Show us the battles, and turf war they were in.

Another issue I had was a lack of protagonist. Everyone is kind of the villain. You don’t really root for anyone until Corey Stoll arrives. And when he finally gets there you think ok, here comes the deep investigation into Bulger. And they give you one intense scene between Stoll and Edgerton’s characters, but then it is kind of left alone. And you are left to assume he had an investigation.

Over all Black Mass is a pretty good film, with incredible performances. Casting was out of this world, and every actor knocks it out of the park. While it suffers from a rather hollow story, it is still worth seeing. This might not be one that you re watch over and over, but it is still must see, especially for any Johnny Depp fan looking for his resurgence. I’m giving Black Mass a score of 3.8, with a .2 bonus for every actors, most importantly Depp’s, transformation into these roles. That leaves us with a Jeebus Score of 4.

The Jeebus Score explained

The Jeebus score is out of a possible 6 points. Films are giving a max of 1 point each for Acting, Entertainment, and Casting, and a max of .5 for Dialog, Cinematography, and Direction. There is also a possible bonus up to .5. Any film between 2.5 and 4 is considered a good film. 4-5 is a great film. Anything over 5 is an incredibly amazing film. To get a perfect score of 6 a film will pretty much have to be The Empire Strikes Back or The Godfather.

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The Gift

This one has seemed so creepy to me. I was excited to see it because I am fan of Joel Edgerton, and he is not only a star of this film, but he wrote it and directed it. The Gift also stars Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall. It tells the story of what seems to be an obsessed old school mate forcing a friendship upon this unsuspecting couple. However as the film continues, it begins to take many twist and maybe the people you think you know, are not who you think they are.

Look I was excited for this film to watch Warrior stalk and harass Jason Bateman. The premise seemed so cool, so creepy, made me think about all the people I was a Jackass too back in School. Please don’t come for me people. But what I got was so much more than that. Honestly, this is neither of their stories. It really centers on Rebecca Halls character as she deals with her new life, and this situation that has arose. Whether or not her husband is who she really thinks he is.

This was the directorial debut of one Joel Edgerton, and man does he hit his mark. The tone is incredibly creepy. And it keeps you suspense nearly the entire run. He scares you, with only minor uses of jump scares, which really made me happy. I think there is maybe two. Other than that, it is such the suspense, and the score, and the way he shoots this to keep you on edge. It makes me really excited to see where his career as a director can go.

I mentioned the score, and that is because it is a major plus in this film. Horror movies can live or die by their score, and this one sets the tone and gives you the chills all movie long. There are very subtle but ominous tones and beats that help the movie hit its mark and move quietly along in the back of your mind. Very thrilling.

Rebecca Hall is very good in it as well. You really sense that she has been through a lot, and she brings a lot of pain through her eyes, and expressions. She’s not someone that I run out to the theater to see, but her performance has put her on my radar for sure. Edgerton is by all means, insanely creepy and awkward. There are times where he leads you to not knowing what or who to believe. Is he just socially awkward, or is he out of his mind? And Bateman was a huge surprise. I like him, but I like him because he is Jason Bateman in every role. Not here. He disappears into this character, and gives a performance that I didn’t know he had in him. I hope to see a lot more of his dramatic chops in the future.

So there it is Jackass Nation. A great Horror Thriller film that you need to go see. Skip Fantastic Four and catch The Gift. Its fun, it’s creepy, and pretty intense. I’m giving it a Jeebus score of 3.7! How about you? Are you excited for it? Do you plan on seeing The Gift? Sound off in the comments below, and as always, keep on Nerding!

The Jeebus Score explained

The Jeebus score is out of a possible 6 points. Films are giving a max of 1 point each for Acting, Entertainment, and Casting, and a max of .5 for Dialog, Cinematography, and Direction. There is also a possible bonus up to .5. Any film between 2.5 and 4 is considered a good film. 4-5 is a great film. Anything over 5 is an incredibly amazing film. To get a perfect score of 6 a film will pretty much have to be The Empire Strikes Back or The Godfather.

Exodus: Gods and Kings

Ridley Scott has been very hit or miss for me lately. Mostly miss with his last 3, but I have been looking forward to this one, Exodus: Gods and Kings. Despite the rather oddly pale looking Egyptians, the talent is staked. Joel Edgerton, Christian Bale, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Sigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley. It is written by a compilation of Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, and Steven Zaillian. And I have got to say, this probably Ridley Scott’s best film since American Gangster.

The story follows the biblical epic of Moses (Bale). It chronicles his relationship with Ramesses II (Edgerton) as it deteriorates and leads to the discovery of his past. Ramesses wanting to spare Moses’ life, exiles him from Egypt. While on his journeys Moses finds God and must return to Egypt to free his people.

The film is really good. Early on I had my reservations with the cast. Not so much with Christian Bale, but Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver being cast as Egyptians. They were the whitest looking Egyptians I had ever seen. Not to mention the make up in the early trailers looked off. I assume the effects and editing hadn’t been done, because as more trailers came out, they looked better. And the actors can kind of take you out of the film, but when you get past it, they give incredible performances. Edgerton, who I am a huge fan of thanks to Warrior, plays a great Ramesses. Bale as always is incredible, and plays Mosses with such heart, and really give one of best performances.

The effects in the film are amazing. When it comes time for God to send his Ten Plagues. The CGI is seamless, and beautifully shot. It almost makes me wish I had seen it in X D or even 3D. There was a moment during a scene toward the end that I could tell the green screen was behind them, but only a moment, other than that it is incredible. Scott does a phenomenal job telling this age old story, and really delivers on the feel of an Epic type of film. There is a training montage there in the middle that kind of even feels like Scott is trying to say “Sorry about Robin Hood, I swear I could have done it better”. The film is 150 minutes, and you feel the weight, but it does not drag. Honestly could of stood for, and wanted another half hour of this epic story.

A lot of people have been worried about how many liberties would be taken with the story of Exodus. Now I am no expert on the Bible, but I think Scott and his writing team did a very good job of bringing this story to life without straying too far from its source material. Unlike Noah there are no Rock Monsters, or a creator, it is God, and he is speaking to Moses. And they do a great job not making the relationship between Moses and God cheesy. Or giving you a weak God. God is pissed, God is Old Testament God. He is ready for his people to be free.

My list of negatives is rather nitpicky I think. When I said I could have stood for another half hour, it’s because I would’ve liked a little more character development in certain places. The jump from Moses of Egypt, to Moses of the Hebrews comes rather quickly. 15 or 20 more minutes showing us the relationship between Moses and Ramesses would have made me care more about the Ramesses turn. When the film starts they are already grown, and close to one another. More time with the two would have been golden. Something else missing is the development of Ramesses. He goes from a fair and just General, to a tyrant of a Pharaoh at the snap of a finger. And while they take time to develop Moses on his own, Ramesses is left with no development, and just a subtle scene that shows you “hey, he’s a big dick now”. Toward the end there is an opportunity for a fight between Moses and Ramesses, and they build up through the film really warranted a showdown between the two and you don’t really get that. As well there is very little story of Moses retrieving the 10 Commandments. The film kind of hits a point and goes “ok let’s wrap up”. A few more minutes could have helped with this.

All in all, Exodus: Gods and Kings is a great film. A film that really only suffers from needed a little more character development. I’m giving it a 4.7, with a .3 bonus for the incredibly awesome water into blood plague, giving us a Jeebus Score of 5.0, Multiple Viewings Required.