Currently browsing the "Johnny Depp" tag.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Argh. The fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is, like many of the characters featured in the flimsy plot, simply dead on arrival. It’s a boring retread that fails to engage or entertain – even in IMAX 3D. Some folks around me actually nodded off behind those 3D glasses, only to be jarred awake by the occasional boom of a cannon or the loud, sword-swinging, ship-to-shore combat involving pirates both dead and alive, including the drunken, buffoonish, eye-liner-wearing Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Depp’s portrayal of the quirky Captain Sparrow used to be fun to watch, even when the films’ plots made very little sense. But now, the shtick is stale. He’s become a caricature of his caricature of a character. Fourteen years after Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl turned a Disney theme-park ride into a cinematic juggernaut, it’s time for Depp to retire the Captain and get back to the types of roles that showcase his versatility.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: Alice Through the Looking Glass; Maggie’s Plan; A Monster with a Thousand Heads

Alice Through the Looking Glass – I didn’t see Tim Burton’s 2010 re-imagining of Alice in Wonderland, but did read up on it a bit before heading into this sequel from director James Bobin (Muppets Most Wanted) featuring the colorful characters created by British author Lewis Carroll. I might otherwise have been quite confused. As with its cinematic predecessor, Alice Through the Looking Glass is not an instant classic by any stretch, but it’s a fine family film that is visually quite stunning and features a strong female lead in Alice, played by the extremely versatile Mia Wasikowska. Mia has a knack for making mediocre movies better than they might otherwise be. In this case, she plays a sassy and headstrong ship’s captain (in 1874 London) struggling to make it in a man’s world. With the fate of her personal and professional life in flux, Alice stumbles across a magical mirror (as opposed to a rabbit hole) that takes her back to the fantastical realm of Underland, where she discovers that her friend the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is literally dying of sadness because he thinks his long-lost family may still be alive, but nobody believes him. Alice is skeptical, but in an effort to save her friend, she steals a device from ‘Time’ (embodied by Sasha Baron Cohen) and heads to the past to see what became of Hatter’s clan. It’s an ill-conceived plot, a bit heavy-handed with the morals (It’s about time—making every second count; you can’t change the past, but you can learn from it; the only thing worth doing is what we do for others; the only way to achieve the impossible is to believe it’s possible…), but in the end, it’s kind of sweet and sappy in a weird, eccentric, whimsical sort of way.

Black Mass

There’s really only one reason to see Black Mass – and that is the performance of Johnny Depp as south Boston’s notorious Irish mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger. Depp has been hit or miss (okay, maybe just miss) in recent years, so it’s nice to see him in something that doesn’t suck, in a role that could very well get him an Oscar nomination. Black Mass isn’t a great movie – in fact, as a crime drama based on a rather fascinating true story, it’s not very dramatic or entertaining. But it does have some killer moments (pun intended) and solid performances by a supporting cast that includes: Joel Edgerton as FBI agent John Connolly, a childhood friend who protects Bulger by claiming him as an informant against the bigger, badder Italian Mafia; Benedict Cumberbatch as Whitey’s brother Billy, a powerful Massachusetts state senator who seems to be in constant denial of Whitey’s dark side; and Dakota Johnson (50 Shades) as Whitey’s girlfriend and mother of his child. Her role is small but she definitely makes the most of it.

The Lone Ranger

Too long. Too boring. Too convoluted. There you have it. The Lone Ranger in a nutshell. I really tried to like this movie, at least a little bit. After all, I don’t have anything against westerns, I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to Johnny Depp shtick, and I think Armie Hammer can be quite endearing. And yet, I just could not get into this big-budget, big-screen take on the legendary masked lawman (Hammer) and his Native American sidekick, Tonto (Depp). The Lone Ranger is “Pirates of the Caribbean in the Wild West” – sans the ‘fun factor’ that made the Disney/Depp Pirates franchise such a huge success.

Dark Shadows

I remember all too well running home from school to catch Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins in the original vampire soap Dark Shadows. All my girl friends and I had a thing for him, the Edward or Jacob (or Lestat or Angel or Bill…) of our era. That he was not really handsome in any sense is beside the point. There was something very attractive, dare I say sexy, about that immortal blood sucker. So having Johnny Depp (who I’d pay to watch reading a phone book) play Barnabas in this new Tim Burton version should make it even better, right?

The Rum Diary

Johnny Depp has a special connection with Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. First he played him in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and now he’s brought Thompson’s “long-lost” novel The Rum Diary to the screen, playing the fictional Paul Kemp, a failed novelist looking for some inspiration in Puerto Rico. Kemp is basically the proto-Gonzo Thompson.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (a.k.a. Pirates 4)

Pirates 4 is what it is what it is: Two-plus hours of swashbuckling hijinks on the high seas with Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) – and a bunch of other people – including franchise newbie Penelope Cruz as Angelica, a mysterious woman from Jack’s past.

The Tourist

‘Tis the season for dramatic, intense, riveting, must-see Oscar-worthy films. The Tourist isn’t one of them. Sure, it’s kind of fun. And you get to tool around Venice with Johnny Depp. But the movie has a major identity problem. Is it a spy thriller? A drama? A romantic comedy? Sometimes. Sometimes. Sometimes. Is it any good? It’s okay. It’s entertaining enough to kill time, but it’s not a must see. It’s a fine date movie or a viable solution for a diverse group of folks who want to see a movie together but can’t reach consensus on a film/genre.

Alice in Wonderland

With his Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton is back with a film that may look in some ways like one of his others but in a lot of ways is a different animal. Mia Wasikowska (In Treatment, Amelia) plays 19 year old Alice, a young woman who has always had vivid dreams and is being shoved into marrying to a total prig. She falls down the infamous rabbit hole while running away from her “engagement party” to think about her options. And once down in this strange world, she encounters all the usual suspects, the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp with a strange lisp), Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare, etc.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Terry Gilliam does not make mainstream movies. They are always quirky and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is no exception. Part of the strangeness this time is that (as anyone who has not been living in an underground lair is aware) Heath Ledger died while they were shooting and they had to come up with a way to finish it without him. So for three fantasy sequences in the movie (that somehow make perfect sense anyway), the character Tony meant to be portrayed by HL is played instead by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell — not too shabby as stand-ins, if you ask me.