Saturday, September 26, 2015

Black Mass

Johnny Depp is back! After basically playing the same character for the last several years, he's taken on a serious role and proven what I already know- he is an amazing actor. His performance as well as the movie in general just blew me away.

Black Mass tells the true story of James "Whitey" Bulger- the head of the Irish Mob in Boston in the late 70's. He was also the older brother of Senator Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch who does a Boston accent convincingly enough, it was just weird for me to hear him talk like that). He ends up making an "alliance" with a guy he grew up with- FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) to take down the Italian Mob.

Johnny Depp gives a performance that is at least worthy of an Academy Award nomination. He completely transformed himself for the role. For two hours he stares at you with these haunting eyes and you totally forget that he's Johnny Depp. It's so scary and tense whenever he's on screen. One minute he's very calm and the next he's putting a bullet is someone's head. All it takes is one little word or action and you'll quickly realize you don't fuck with this guy. It had me cringing in my seat the whole time. 

I thought Joel Edgerton did just as good a job. This is as much his movie as it is Depp's. He's having and incredible year and I couldn't be happier for him. 

There are so many great actors in here that I just don't have time to talk about all of them. I will say that I don't think anyone in here gave a bad performance. 

This could've easily been a three hour movie. I honestly think they should have made it that long. There's no way you can fit the whole story of Whitey Bulger into two hours, although director Scott Cooper does his best attempt. There are certain points in the movie where it feels like something is missing. Not that it's  edited poorly. You can just tell there had been an explanation but maybe pressure from the studio forced him to cut the run time down. I really hope they release an extended cut on DVD/Blu-Ray. 

If you're interested in knowing more about this, I highly recommend a documentary called Whitey: United States of America vs. James J. Bulger. It's goes into a lot more details especially once Whitey is caught and his trial begins. I had the chance to see this last year and it's very well made and fascinating to watch. It's on Netflix right now. 

If you're a fan of gangster movies or any of the actors in here, I think you'll love Black Mass. It's well worth the money to see it in theaters. 

My Rating: 9.5/10

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Scorch Trials

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the first movie. It had some really cool ideas. So I was pretty excited to see this one. I'm happy to report that despite a few flaws, The Scorch Trials was really good. 

The Scorch Trials takes place just minutes after the events of The Maze Runner. Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) and the other Gladers have escaped the Maze only to face a world that's been nearly wiped out by a disease called the Flare. At the same time they are trying to discover more about WCKD, the mysterious that put them in The Maze in the first place. 

If you haven't already seen The Maze Runner, I strongly suggest you do before seeing this. Not that you'll be completely lost or anything but it helps you understand the characters and their motivations. 

I thought most of the actors performed well, especially the supporting cast. I swear there were times I felt more interested in what was going on with them than I did the main characters. Aidan Gillen (aka Littlefinger) plays Janson, a shady character who "rescues" Thomas and his friends but has other motives. He's a great actor who always seems to get roles like this. If I were a character in a movie and I saw him coming I would run in the other direction. 

I also really liked Rosa Salazar as Brenda. She kicked ass and had a lot of heart. And I felt like she had more chemistry with Dylan O'Brien than the actress playing Teresa did. The special effects overall were done well, with the exception of a few moments where it was obvious green screen. 

I liked there take on zombies, although in this universe I believe they're called Cranks. I can't really say that I cared for the look of them (I've seen it done WAY better) but I still found the whole thing fascinating. 

My only real complaint would be the pacing. At the beginning the movie felt a little rushed. But in the middle it really seemed to drag. Luckily the last 30 minutes or so more than made up for it. Very tense and lots of action. It sets things up nicely for the final movie. 

If you loved The Maze Runner then I think you'll really like The Scorch Trials. Yes, in a way it does resemble other franchises. But that doesn't mean it's not enjoyable. I'm looking forward to the final movie. 

My Rating: 8/10

Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Visit

The Visit is the latest movie from director/writer/producer M. Night Shyamalan. I know what you must all be thinking- Fuck this guy! He hasn't made a decent movie since Signs. I was thinking the exact same thing. I had no intention of ever seeing this. But then I saw that it was actually getting decent reviews and since nothing else better is out that I haven't already seen, I decided to give it a chance. To my surprise, the movie actually ended up being really good!

The movie is about two kids named Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) who go on a week long trip to a farm in Pennsylvania to visit their grandparents (Deanna Dungan and Peter McRobbie) whom they have never met due to a falling out with their Mom (Kathryn Hahn). Things seem a little strange, but at first they attribute it to typical old people problems. But they quickly discover that it goes beyond that and that something is seriously wrong with Nana and Pop Pop.

M. Night Shyamalan has created a movie that's both comedy and horror. You'll laugh and you'll scream. I know I jumped out of my seat several times. I love how he doesn't take things so seriously this time around. The movie seems very self aware. Maybe that's the key for him from now on. That and not giving him a huge budget to work with. 

The movie really plays off the fear that most people have of getting older and also seeing our loved ones go through the effects of old age. 

The cast is made up of mostly unknowns. I really liked the performances, with the exception of the kid playing Tyler. Not even five minutes in and he was already getting on my nerves. This lasted for most of the movie and for that I had to take a few points off my rating. 

Of course, it wouldn't be a M. Night Shyamalan movie without a twist. I wouldn't call it huge (I kind of had a feeling this was where he was going with it) but it was still good.

Could this mean that M. Night Shyamalan is back to being a decent director? I don't know about that but I think The Visit is a step in the right direction. He's certainly earned another chance from me. 

My Rating: 8/10