Tag Archives: Johnny Depp

Black Mass (2015)

30 Sep

Once the target of every teen girl’s dream in the late 80’s and early 90’s, Johnny Depp has seemingly fallen off the radar lately. One too many childish blockbuster roles with the likes of Tim Burton and Disney have suggested Depp’s artistic prime and affinity for serious adult fare might have faded.

That was, until director Scott Cooper (Into The Furnace, Crazy Heart) decided to make a feature film off legendary Boston gangster Whitey Bulger, and cast Depp as the lead.

Black Mass tells the real life story of Bulger during the later years of his criminal career. Known for his ruthless ferocity and known ties to FBI informants, Bulger was, historically, one of the most infamous leaders of organized crime in Boston.  With a phenomenal supporting cast (one of the year’s best, no doubt) including Jesse Plemons, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, David Harbour, Adam Scott, Juno Temple, Julianne Nicholson, Bill Camp, Rory Cochrane, and Corey Stoll, Black Mass builds an effective narrative with a wide array of housewifes, criminals, prostitutes, FBI officers, junkies, CEOs, and everyone inbetween. The story weaves in and out of these various characters, but mostly focuses on how Bulger is staying off law enforcement’s radar by forging a tight-knit friendship with a certain Officer John Connolly (Joel Edgerton).

It’s a compelling watch as we see how exactly these characters are interacting (often in the form of lying, threatening, or murdering) with each other. Editing is fast and speedy, giving just enough time to let the audience digest each new piece of information before moving on to the next. The screenplay, adapted from the true crime novel by Dick Lehr and Gerard K. O’Neill, sizzles with gangster noir tendencies.

Somehow though, once you see past the starry ensemble of characters, Black Mass feels like it can’t escape the shadow of previous and far more prestigious crime flicks like The Departed, (Jack Nicholson allegedly based his character off of Whitey) The Godfather, and Goodfellas.  Though it does offer some interesting ideas within the genre, you can’t help but wonder if this film could have existed without road being paved already by Martin Scorsese.  Black Mass is all stuff we have seen before, but it’s still engaging thanks to some skillful direction and stellar chemistry between a vast array of actors.

Bottom Line: While not quite as innovative or thematically rich as it’s predecessors, Black Mass is a satisfying addition to the gangster film genre and boasts an overdue (and for once, serious) performance from actor Johnny Depp. 


Rating: 7/10 

Film Recipe: The Departed – cell phones + Johnny Depp in prosthetic makeup 

Dark Shadows (2012)

27 Sep

Dark Shadows is a bit of an embarrassment. In the film, Johnny Depp takes on another role where he is cursed with the gift of immortal life.  I have always wondered what it would be like to never die, and about halfway into this film, I knew what that feeling must be.

I was staring at the screen thinking to myself “oh please just kill me now”, but nope – I was forced to live on and see one embarrassing scene after the next.

What was Tim Burton thinking when he did this film? He knows how to put a story together, but lately it is as if Tim Burton has become the new M. Night Shyamalan – a director who favors style and visuals over story content.

With Dark Shadows, all you really get is a collection of stale jokes that are not very funny.

It’s not funny, it’s not dramatic, It’s not thought provoking, it’s not scary, it’s not really anything worth watching; Dark Shadows is just 2 hours of blah. Sure, there are a few entertaining parts, but they become overshadowed by the preposterous story events that don’t make any sense at all.  The film tries to make some sort of story about a family in financial trouble who need a bit of a hand from (cue vampire) “an old family friend.”  But even this  excuse for a story becomes tainted by tasteless jokes and a nostalgia for the 70’s.

The story is so very badly written; there are too many random events that happen with no overall theme to connect them. During the last twenty minutes you find out the young girl was really a werewolf for example, but it has nothing to do with anything. It was as if halfway through through filming someone pitched the idea to put a werewolf into a film about a vampires as a joke and Tim Burton said “eh why not!!?? it’s just a movie to please the kids anyway right?? lets make one of the main characters a werewolf -who cares if it will make sense?! people are going to pay money to see this anyway because of the Deppster right???”


Next time I will have allot more empathy when I see that a character has been cursed to live forever – especially if they are working on a future Tim Burton movie.

Rating 3/10