Johnny Depp

"Black Mass (film) poster" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia -

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.

Maryl Streep as The Witch in Disney's "Into the Woods."

Into the Woods it’s time to go!

Into the Woods holds a fond place in my heart. In grade school I played the The Wolf in our production of Part 1. So all though I am probably not the target audience, I was very excited for the motion picture adaption of the Broadway play. I remembered my entire solo, and was very pleased with Johnny Depp’s portrayal of The Wolf made famous by me.

Into the Woods stars an ensemble cast of Meryl Street, Emily Blunt, James Cordon, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski, Johnny Depp, Lilla Crawford, Daniel Huttlestone, and Mackenzie Mauzy. It tells the tale of multiple classic Grimm Fairy Tales with a twist that brings them all together. When a Baker (Cordon) and his wife (Blunt) are told by a witch (Streep) that to lift the curse on their family they must travel into the woods to retrieve the items she needs. While on their journey they come across Little Red Riding Hood (Crawford) Jack (Huttlestone) and his cow, and Cinderella (Kendrick) who is on the run from her Prince (Pine).

I really enjoyed the film. While I’m not one for musicals, I think my small historic connection to the film drew me to it. The cast is phenomenal. There are a few I don’t know, like Cordon, Crawford, and Huttlestone, but they are wonderful. Especially Crawford who plays Little Red. She was so fun to watch on screen and such delight. Chris Pine was a surprise, I wasn’t aware he could sing. All though not the best by any means, he was still really good. Depp plays a small part as The Wolf, but he does it well, and very creepy. Meryl Streep, well she’s Meryl Streep. She is always incredible. However, with the talk of Oscar buzz for her I have to say, this was not an Oscar performance. Just a very good performance.

The story is fun, and it’s cool to see these characters of my childhood intertwine and mix together. The music is as catchy as I remember and draws you into the story. The problem of the film lies in the second act. I always wondered why my school only did the first act, and now I know. The film seems to wrap up perfectly around the 90 minute mark and you think happily ever after has arrived, then all of a sudden it takes a left turn into act II and goes a little off the deep end for another 45 minutes. The characters seem to lose something that made them all special, and even one storyline involving Rapunzel and her Prince is left leaving the audience confused. It is as if they expected us to not really care about them.

The score and sound is of the charts. This is a film you probably want to see in the theater for the sound quality alone. There’s a thunderous effect they add anytime the Witch appears or disappears from screen and it is booming. And the cinematography is beautiful. It is not the top of the game as far as effects go, but it just beautiful to see on screen.

So all in all Into the Woods is a very fun film, and worth your money to see in theaters. I gave it a 4.2 with of .3 for having Johnny Depp play a role made famous by myself, giving Into the Woods a Jeebus score of 4.5, a Good time at the theater.

Terminator, year 1. Wait, that’s not right. TRANSCENDENCE

From the cinematographer who brought us The Dark Knight Trilogy, and has not directed anything, at all. And starring Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, Kate Mara, Cillian Murphy, Cole Houser, and JARVIS, er Paul Bettany. Comes the film that could be considered the alternate reality of Skynet, Transcendence. So this is Wally Pfister’s first outing as a director, and I won’t say it was terrible. Maybe a little rough around the edges but if your first outing is helming a Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman film, good job bro.

Transcendence follows Dr. Will Caster (Depp) working on an A.I. system with his wife (Hall). When a radical anti-technology group lead by The Invisible Woman, who I don’t think you ever get her name in the film, orchestrates a terrorist attack on multiple technology companies and figures, one of which being Caster who is left fatally wounded. His wife, and best friend Max (Bettany) decide they can upload his consciousness into a super computer so that Castor can live forever. From there Castor grows in power and intelligence becoming connected to the internet and everything. Max realizes the dangers and joins up with the government and the same terrorist organization responsible for Casters death to put a stop to all-knowing A.I. that Caster has become. But are they too late?

Is this Johnny Depp’s return to super stardom? Absolutely not, but is it the abysmal fail that Dark Shadows, The Lone Ranger, and The Rum Diaries were? No. It’s quite entertaining to start with. It is definitely more of a drama throughout the first act, dealing with letting go of a loved one. But then it begins to get a bit technical and hard to follow. Transcendence is full of plot holes as well. Once Castor is uploaded to the web he sends his wife to a tiny town in the middle of know where and they proceed to build an entire unground laboratory, in what seems to be the span of 2 years. Now I’ve seen construction on the highways here in Dallas Texas and go on for well over two years and they have yet to do what these people seemed to do. The film also makes the assumption that you are just going to figure out the random sci-fi like acts that go on, and again makes it hard to follow. You leave the theater thinking about the film, but end up picking it apart.

It’s not all bad like I said though. With Pfister being a cinematographer the visuals are stunning in Transcendence. Plus the casting is incredible. Everyone in the movie is believable in their roles. And for the most part it is very entertaining. It goes from a drama to the thriller, all though not the most thrilling of a thriller. Depp is great, it is always nice to see him outside of the eye liner wearing crazy characters that he has been doing lately.

All in all I gave Transcendence a pretty good Jeebus score, probably higher then I should of, but I couldn’t dispute the math. 3.8, Check Out The Matinee.