Movie Review: Black Mass (2015) – Depp Returns To His Element of Playing Complex Characters.

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If you’re as sick of watching Johnny Depp play eccentric, weirdly dressed characters, or dudes in guyliner as I am, then Black Mass will be a welcome respite for you. This movie sees Depp go back to his roots, as one of the best method actors around.

The premise is based on the real life drama that saw one of the biggest criminals in history, Whitey Bulger, become an FBI informant. It focuses on FBI Special Agent (Joel Edgerton), a man who actually knew and admired Bulger when he was growing up in South Boston. Of course, Connelly went the other way with his career and eventually tried to turn Bulger (Johnny Depp) into a FBI informant. Of course, this informant deal is a bit well…unethical. In this case, Bulger won’t inform on any of his Irish mob buddies. Instead, he’ll be ratting on the Patriarca crime family. It isn’t long before Bulger uses the opportunity to get the FBI to take out the competition for him, with bloody and catastrophic results.

The acting in this was extremely well done. Depp is barely recognizable as the balding, paunchy Bulger and Edgerton stand out as an agent whose own moral compass becomes increasingly skewed. Ironically, Edgerton actually reminded me a bit of when Depp played Donnie Brasco.

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I liked that they stuck to accuracy in the Whitey Bulger story. Much of what was presented is widely believed to actually have happened, though there are a few disputes from some of the key players, for obvious reasons. They had to mess with the timeline a bit to make it work, but in reality, I liked that they tried to go with the story and not embellish a story that was pretty good on its face.

On the flip, I think they tried a bit too hard to make Bulger likeable. In one scene, that I highly doubt ever happen, Bulger stops to help some old lady with her groceries, because deep down, he’s just a gentlemanly south Boston boy. Oh, please…I think enough court records and information exists to make it pretty darn believable that if Bulger did ever help a woman with her groceries, it was for the purpose of stealing them. Why does every gangster movie need to focus on the goal of turning said gangster into Robin Hood?

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The sad fact is, sometimes, people are just sociopathic monsters. Bulger falls far more on that side than he does of a saintly robin hood. I can accept the fact that he wasn’t a saint. I don’t need to sympathize with him to understand him. In fact, I don’t want to. I have no desire to join any kind of criminal fraternity. If I need moral ambiguity, I’ll get it from Connolly, the truly sympathetic character in this film.

But that slim complaint aside, I will say this is an enjoyable, well written piece that returned Depp to his element of playing complex characters. I had my doubts about him playing Whitey, but he pulled it off. That alone makes this movie worth the watch.


four and a half stars

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Movie Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill for (2014) – They Didn’t Mess with a Winning Formula

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A lot of my friends don’t understand my fascination with this movie franchise. Whenever I talk Sin City, they think I’m talking about that stupid sitcom with Michael J. Fox. But I’m not. I’m talking the dark, multiple plotlines seamlessly interwoven, star studded quirky, crazy masterpiece that is Sin City. So on hearing that a sequel was coming out, I was one of the first in line to check it out.

There are far too many storylines to summarize here, but expect to see a few favorites from the first film, like Marv (Mickey Rourke) Jessica Alba (as a significantly more edgy Nancy) and Rosiario Dawson as Gail. Also added is a fantastic Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny…pre-face change.

Fans of the original will not be disappointed. The noir is heavy, with black and white, and non-linear storytelling. Multiple intersecting plot points leave you twisting and turning. Watching this movie is a lot like watching someone weave a really complicated (and also incredibly bloody) tapestry. You’ll be surprised where things connect.

The women take charge of their own vendettas this time around, making the movie a bit more fun for female viewers (all 12 of them). Of course, some do well (Eva Green) some do poorly (Nancy) but they all have their own agendas.

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Bruce Willis plays a dead person for a second time, and occasionally shows up to wail mournfully at Nancy. I’ll be honest; I teared up a little…just like I did in the first one. Damn you, Bruce Willis.

I will say this movie is nudity heavy, which usually annoys me, but this time it didn’t. The direction is so artistic all the nude parts seemed to fit. The direction might not have changed much since the first, but that’s ok when it’s this well done.

I didn’t think 3D was necessary and seemed like it was just a reason to charge an additional four bucks.

Also, I think that the sole reason for Mickey Rourke getting all that botched surgery was so he could play Marv. I just love that character and Rourke is ideal in the role, probably because he is used to walking around looking like a plastic faced monster. As Marv, he’s charming, bumbling and scary as hell.

Intersecting plots are done well in this screenplay and help us get closure on a couple of other story lines. It’s fast paced, with a lot going on, but it’s clear. The movie has a lot of style and a lot of action, which can be hard to pull off. There’s plenty of violent and gore, and I’m pretty sure this movie only just escaped an NC-17 rating

I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed this one as much as I enjoyed the first, because the producers did one major thing. They didn’t mess with a winning formula. Even though this sequel is coming a bit late, at almost a decade, it’s still worth the watch. Hopefully, they won’t take another 10 years to make a third.

WE GAVE IT: 4 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

4 stars


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Watch Teaser Trailer and See Movie Poster release for Daniel Radcliffe’s ‘Horns’.


While I’m not totally in love with the name of this film, the teaser trailer does a good job of pulling you in and making you forget the lack of creativity in the title. To be fair, it’s the same title as the book by Joe Hill the movie is based on.

The film has been completed for a while, debuting last fall in Toronto and to be played again at Comic Con in San Diego this week.

Radcliffe is playing the role of Ig, who wakes up from a drinking binge to find out he not only has horns growing out of the top of his head, but that his girlfriend has been raped and killed and he’s the leading suspect. The good news is, his new set of horns comes with the power of making people confess their fins.

This role is a risk for the Harry Potter actor as the horns themselves, if not on the right actor with the right acting chops can come across silly. From the teaser trailer, Radcliffe seems to be able to pull this off although doing so with a Canadian accent.

Co-starring Juno Temple, Max Minghella, Heather Graham and David Morse, the film is scheduled to be released in the UK fittingly this year on Halloween.

The Teaser Trailer and Teaser poster are shown below!

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Movie Review: Maleficent (2014)

maleficent 1A script not as good as the Special Effects


Angelina Jolie has always frightened me a bit. Her history of edgy, hard hitting characters has always intimidated me. Maleficent, while good, is no real exception.

Maleficent tells the story of one of the most iconic fairy tale villains, the evil Maleficent from sleeping beauty. Only this time, it gives a more sympatric look at the motivations behind the villain. Think of Wicked, only with a less-good story line.

The screenplay is a bit of a problem. The story is confusing and convoluted and starts off with a young Maleficent becoming embroiled in a fairy versus human war. A fairy gets betrayed, gets her wings ripped off, issues a curse on the infant Aurora…

And the movie turns into a silly slapstick mess/weird creepy stalking flick. I don’t know; I was pretty lost.

The actors in the film didn’t give it much juice. Elle Fanning is utterly forgettable and one dimensional as Aurora. It’s easy to see why she was picked to play sleeping beauty. She barely seemed awake. Also, I’m pretty sure this film was supposed to portray Maleficent in a sympathetic light, but the problem is Angelina Jolie isn’t likeable.


She doesn’t bring enough humanity to the role to make her character seem sympatric. In fact, she just kind of comes off as weird and creepy, kind of like she was in the 90s when she made out with her brother and carried a vial of Billy Bob Thornton’s blood around her neck.

Visually, the movie is absolute stunning. The special effects are perfectly done; the makeup gave Jolie an otherworldly feel. The action scenes are tense and emotional. Robert Stromberg is making his directorial debut in this one, and you can kind of tell that he mainly worked scenery and special effects before. He was the Art Director for Avatar and worked on Alice in Wonderland as well. The problem is that the script wasn’t as good as the effects.

Maleficent is complicated, but not unredeemable. It’s hard to understand her motivation and I wonder what would have happened if they’d put a more sympathetic actress in the roll. If anything, Jolie comes off as yet another special effect in a movie heavy on special effects.

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Also, if you can’t do an accent, don’t do an accent. One minute, Jolie sounded like a Cockney Newspaper Boy, the next she sounded like a Buckingham palace guard. Nothing would have been lost if she’d done no accent at all and it was incredibly distracting.

Maleficent isn’t for kids. It’s a bit hard to tell who this movie is targeting. It was an interesting concept, but poor scripts and poorly chosen leads really made it fall flat. It’s not entirely unwatchable though. It is visually stunning and exciting. There are quite a few good action scenes, and as a villain, even on with a dodgy accent, Jolie shines.

I’d say this movie comes in at an absolute average. It’s not particularly great, but it’s still watchable, even if for just admiring Jolie’s amazing cheekbones.  Watch the official trailer below.

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