Archive for Johnny Depp

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Posted in Action/Adventure, Family, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In this trippy sequel to the 2010 blockbuster “Alice in Wonderland,” young Alice returns from several years at sea and again passes through to the magical landscape, where she ends up journeying into the past to try to save the Mad Hatter.

What people are saying:

“A solid kids’ movie in the old style. One with something to say about something real – family and time- and a willingness to admit consequences, even as it serves up goofy humor, mild thrills, and slippy-slidey accents from slumming stars.” 2 stars

“It deviated from the actual book, but that doesn’t mean it was not entertaining. It had good messages about positive attitudes for women not to be victims of circumstance. A much needed improvement from much of the stuff many kids are watching now. ” 5 stars

“The charm found in the first Alice in Wonderland is definitely missing in the sequel. The story is a mix match of going in the past future time etc. The plot that is way too confusing for most children even some adults. The acting isn’t anything great most of the actors you can tell look like they’re in front of a green screen. Some of the special effects were nice and there’s some creativity to be found in this movie but in the end it just didn’t come together very well.” 2 stars

“I never read the Alice in Wonderland books, but I doubt this is one of them. Yes, it has that zany twisted quality you expect in Wonderland, but there is a theme running through the movie that gives it a scifi depth, “Why can’t I go back in time and change the past?” Most of the characters from the first movie are back and Cohen’s Time fits in Wonderfully. ” 5 stars

“the most offensive kind of film…one that spends an enormous amount of money yet seems to have nothing on its mind but money. You give it, they take it. And you get nothing in return but assurances that you’re seeing magic and wonder. The movie keeps repeating it in your ear, and flashing it onscreen in big block letters: MAGIC AND WONDER. MAGIC AND WONDER. But there is no magic, no wonder, just junk rehashed from a movie that was itself a rehash of Lewis Carroll, tricked out with physically unpersuasive characters and landscapes and ‘action scenes’, with blockbuster ‘journey movie’ tropes affixed to every set-piece as blatantly as Post-It Notes” 1 star

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Blow

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Johnny Depp turns in a quietly powerful performance at the heart of this Ted Demme-directed drama as real-life coke smuggler George Jung, who rises from poverty to become one of the biggest drug dealers in America before his eventual downfall.

What people are saying:

“Johnny Depp shines in this amazing film. Depicting the rise and fall of real life coke smuggler George Jung, this film tells an amazing true life tale with the right amount of humor, drama and ultimately sadness. Not too many films can effectively make you root for the bad guy. The fact remains… Depp gives the right amount of sympathy and charisma to the character of Jung that it’s easy to forget his real life crimes and empathize with his decisions. At times inspirational and ultimately tragic, this movie is a winner on all levels. Look for a hysterical cameo by Bobcat Goldthwait. This film is a gem.” 5 stars

“Comes off like a flamboyant cartoon, another film about the deglamorization of glamorous people living it up in the glamorous world of drugs.” 2 stars

“Yes it’s cliche and yes it does appropriate from other movies, however it works. Depp commands the screen and the subtle plot and theme shift from ambition to o a more sentimental lesson – Blow, is still a thoroughly enjoyable ride.” 3 1/2 stars

“Blow is an excellent absorbing crime drama with a good cast. Depp is good, but his smaller bit players like the actress who plays his Mom or Diego or Paul Reubens are very memorable too. The movie paints the crime smuggler in a sympathetic light, which may ring false to some but ultimately its a well acted drama with a talented cast. Cliff Curtis and Emma Roberts were good too.” 4 stars

“Much better than I expected. Rather than over-glamorizing the life of a drug lord, it shows Jung to be just a regular guy. But a regular guy with an exceptional story. “Blow” reminded me not to judge people soley on their actions, because you never know what pushes people to do what they do. It really makes you feel for a man who, as a high-volume drug dealer with multiple arrests, would often be dehumanized. On a less emotional note, don’t let the R rating scare you. It’s mostly for the drug references & a prevalent use of the “f” word. Only one major sexual scene (which can be skipped without losing any of the plot), and little violence (none that’s graphic), especially for a film about drug dealers.” 5 stars

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on June 8, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

What’s Eating Gibert Grape is a beautifully shot movie of tenderness, caring and self-awareness that is set amongst the fictional working class one street town Endora. Centred around the Grape family Ellen and Amy and their two brothers Arnie and Gilbert, who, along with their morbidly obese widowed mother Bonnie Grape are striving to survive and coexist with the absence of a father figure, low wage work and seventeen-year-old Arnie’s severe mental condition. It is in this awkward and extremely one sided affair that the unfortunate Gilbert has to constantly, while working for the town’s slowly dying convenience store, take care of his younger brother Arnie. Gilbert’s life, his future, is thwarted he knows this, but it is in this guardian angel that his love and bond for Arnie cannot, and will not, be let go. That is until the free spirit of Becky arrives in town, and with her grandmother are stranded for the week while waiting for parts for their vehicle. This realization unties new feelings, new thoughts and new hope for the put upon Gibert, something new is eating Gilbert Grape.

What people are saying:

“This movie left me with a lot of conflicting emotions. Johnny Depp was superb, as always. And a young Leo, was also very incredible in what had to be a difficult role for him. Sometimes, it was so hard to sympathize with the Arnie character, because he was such an incredible handful, that I simply felt so sorry for Gilbert having to be his primary caregiver. He was just a young man himself, and had SO much responsibility! But he handled it with grace, most of the time, which proved his integrity. And I think anyone living in those conditions, with that family dynamic, and a special needs sibling/child, to take care of, might freaking snap one day. I was shocked he didn’t snap sooner! I was both angry at the mother, and felt sorry for her. In fact, I felt that way about almost all the characters, except Gilbert, whom I was never mad at. But the end was fitting, and it gave a glimmer of hope and happiness, that these people deserved. Wonderful movie. I can’t believe I waited ALL this time to actually watch this.” 4 stars

“The performances were brilliant from the leading actors, however, I had to force myself to give it a chance and watch to the end. The lack of plot unfortunately makes the film become quite boring and I struggled to remain interested or invested in the characters; in spite of the stellar acting.” 3 stars

“A well told story; however, not the story I really wanted to see. Acting and directing are fine but there is no plot and it surely doesn’t thicken as the movie progresses. I can’t understand why there is so much love for this movie. There are a lot of other movies out there that are MUCH better.” 2 stars

“Like others, I may have to buy this movie. As someone with a mentally handicapped brother, this rang so true. DiCaprio was dead-on with portraying behavior that was innocent and endearing yet highly annoying. And Depp was wonderful as he struggled with his conflicting emotions of being burdened by and yet deeply caring for his brother, and the pain of having to choose between his responsibility for his brother and his responsibility for himself. And yet, with all this weighty material, this movie provided laughs as well. Highly recommended.” 5 stars

“A beautiful, powerful film which takes you through many different emotions. Johnny Depp is brilliant as Gilbert Grape who demonstrates true devotion and care towards his brother Arnie who is mentally challenged. You can feel the love he has for him and it touches one’s soul. Leonardo DiCaprio gives an excellent portrayal of Arnie Grape. He plays the character convincingly and manages to keep it subtle and realistic. Having a mentally challenged son myself, I felt I could relate, especially in the part where Gilbert looses his patience. You can feel the frustration then followed by the gilt. Overall, the acting is strong and the story feels real. I cried almost the whole way through. This is a film that needs to be experienced by everyone.”

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A montage of news clips of Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War protests is seen while The Lennon Sisters cover of “My Favorite Things” is heard.

Raoul Duke (Depp) and Dr. Gonzo (del Toro) speed across the Nevada desert. Duke, under the influence of mescaline, complains of a swarm of giant bats, before going through the pair’s inventory of psychoactive drugs. Shortly afterward, the duo stop to pick up a young hitchhiker (Maguire), and explain what they are doing. Duke has been assigned by an unnamed magazine to travel to Las Vegas and cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race. However, they have also decided to take advantage of the trip by purchasing a large number of drugs, and rent a red Chevrolet Impala convertible. The young man soon becomes terrified of the antics of the duo, and flees on foot. Trying to reach Vegas before the hitchhiker can go to the police, Gonzo gives Duke part of a sheet of “Sunshine Acid”, then informs him that there is little chance of making it before the drug kicks in. By the time they reach the strip, Duke is in the full throes of his trip, and barely makes it through the check-in, all the while hallucinating that the hotel clerk is a moray eel, and that his fellow bar patrons are lizards in the depths of an orgy.

The next day, Duke arrives at the race, and heads out with his photographer, a man by the name of Lacerda (Bierko). During the coverage, Duke becomes irrational and believes that they are in the middle of a battlefield, so he fires Lacerda, and returns to the hotel. After consuming more mescaline, as well as huffing diethyl ether, Duke and Gonzo arrive at the Bazooko Circus casino, but leave shortly afterwards, the chaotic atmosphere frightening Gonzo. Back in the hotel room, Duke leaves Gonzo unattended, and tries his luck at a quick round of Big Six. When Duke returns, he finds that Gonzo, after consuming a full sheet of LSD, has trashed the room, and is sitting fully clothed in the bathtub, attempting to pull the tape player in with him, as he wants to hear the song better. He pleads with Duke to throw the machine into the water when the song “White Rabbit” peaks. Duke agrees, but instead throws a grapefruit at Gonzo’s head before running outside.

The next morning, Duke awakes to a massive room service bill, and no sign of Gonzo (who has returned to Los Angeles while Duke slept), and attempts to leave town. As he nears Baker, California, a highway patrolman (Busey) pulls him over for speeding, and advises him to sleep at a nearby rest stop. Duke instead heads to a payphone and calls Gonzo, learning that he has a suite in his name at the Flamingo Las Vegas so he can cover a District Attorney’s convention on narcotics. Duke checks into his suite, only to be met by an LSD-tripping Gonzo, and a young girl by the name of Lucy (Ricci) he has brought with him. Gonzo explains that Lucy has come to Las Vegas to meet Barbra Streisand, and that he gave her LSD on the plane not realizing she had never taken it before. Sensing the trouble this could get them into, Duke convinces Gonzo to ditch Lucy in another hotel before her trip wears off.

Gonzo accompanies Duke to the D.A.’s convention, and the pair discreetly snort cocaine as the guest speaker delivers a comically out-of-touch speech about “marijuana addicts” before showing a brief film. Unable to take it, Duke and Gonzo flee back to their room, only to discover that Lucy has called. Their trips mostly over, Gonzo deals with Lucy over the phone (pretending that he is being savagely beaten by thugs), as Duke attempts to mellow out by trying some of Gonzo’s stash of adrenochrome. However, the trip spirals out of control, and Duke is reduced to an incoherent mess before he blacks out.

After an unspecified amount of time passes, Duke wakes up to a complete ruin of the once pristine suite. After discovering his tape recorder, he attempts to remember what has happened. As he listens, he has brief memories of the general mayhem that has taken place, including a heated encounter with a waitress at a diner, convincing a distraught cleaning woman that they are police officers investigating a drug ring, and attempting to buy an orangutan.

Duke drops Gonzo off at the airport, after missing the entrance, driving across the tarmac and pulling up right next to the plane, before returning to the hotel one last time to finish his article. Duke speeds back to Los Angeles.

REVIEW:

Certain people in this household are obsessed with Johnny Depp. As such, while I had actually planned to watch something else this evening, we ended up watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The jury is still out on whether this was a better choice than what I had planned.

What is this about?

This cult favorite chronicles the hallucinogenic misadventures of a sportswriter and his lawyer on a three-day romp from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. Motoring across the Mojave Desert to Sin City, the hazy travelers ingest a cornucopia of drugs.

What did I like?

Here’s Johnny. I hear all the time about how Johnny Depp has become a one-note act. Watching his last few films will lend one to think that all he can do is a funny accent in some kind of makeup. Then we see something like this, Public Enemies, or his new film, which I cannot think of the name of right now, and remember that the guy actually is a really good actor. Who else can pull off this mix of madness and paranoia?

Hallucinations. People, there are lots of drugs to be had in this films and, as one can imagine, the combinations of said drugs and the paranoia of our stars creates some interesting hallucinations. Bats flying in the middle of the desert, melting floors, my personal favorite, giant lizard people, among other visions. Terry Gilliam was able to portray these sights to the audience in a way that only he can, leaving us wanting more.

Period piece. Set in the early 70s, I felt at times like I was really back there. Not because of any specific lingo, clothing, or what have you, but because of the music. Yes, the soundtrack transports us back to those days. Mixing the likes of Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, and more, it is hard to ignore the impact that these songs have as one watches the film.

What didn’t I like?

Vomit. People vomit, especially when they are drunk and/or high. I get that, but I have to question the need to show said vomit. In some modern media, when we see someone vomit, the act of spewing isn’t scene and if it is, it is from a distance, not in full color. I like to think I have a strong stomach and all, but watching del Toro blow chunks made me queasy!

Read a book. Apparently, this is a book. I have never heard of it, to tell you the truth, but this isn’t exactly the genre I peruse when I’m in the library or bookstore, either. That being said, at times I felt as if this film was shooting a bit above its head. That is to say, the concept was there, but something was lacking in the execution. I can’t tell you exactly what, but it was just a feeling I had watching.

Lost and confused. Have you ever read a book, watched a TV show, or even a movie and, while you paid attention the whole time, you still had no idea what was going on? That is how I felt watching this. I was reading some other reviews and I am not alone in this train of thought, either. For me, there didn’t seem to be a clear plot. We are privy to the knowledge that Depp and del Toro are driving from L.A. to Vegas and are on all kinds of drugs, but why they are on this road trip is never really told, except for in passing, as with most other things in the picture. Important facts and plot points are “blink and you’ll miss it.”

For years now I have been hearing people clamor about how impressive Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is, but unfortunately I wasn’t really that impressed with this picture. Now, before you come tar and feather me, let me say that this is not a bad film. It just is a bit more on the artsy-fartsy side than I would like. Depp and del Toro give standout performances to keep it going, but in the end, I believe this just wasn’t the film for me. Do I recommend it? Yes, it may be your cup of tea. So, give it a shot!

3 out of 5 stars

The Lone Ranger (2013)

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

At a sideshow in a San Francisco fair in 1933, a boy, Will, who idolizes a legend known as the Lone Ranger, encounters Tonto, an elderly Comanche Native American, who proceeds to recount his experiences with that Old West adventurer.

In 1869 Colby, Texas, lawyer John Reid returns home via the uncompleted Transcontinental Railroad, managed by railroad tycoon Latham Cole. Unknown to Reid, the train is also carrying Tonto and outlaw Butch Cavendish, who is being transported for his hanging after being captured by Dan Reid, John’s Texas Ranger brother. Cavendish’s gang rescues Butch and derails the train. Tonto is subsequently jailed. Dan deputizes John as a Texas Ranger, and with six others they go after the Cavendish gang.

Cavendish’s men ambush and kill their pursuers in a canyon and Cavendish cuts out and eats Dan’s heart. Tonto, who has escaped from jail, comes across the dead men and buries them. However, a white spirit horse awakens John as a “spirit walker,” and Tonto explains John cannot be killed in battle. Tonto also tells him Collins, one of the Rangers, betrayed Dan and is working with Cavendish, whom Tonto believes is a “wendigo.” As John is thought to be dead, he wears a mask to protect his identity from enemies. Tonto gives John a silver bullet made from the fallen Rangers’ badges and tells him to use it on Cavendish.

At a brothel Collins recently visited, Red Harrington informs them about Dan and Collins’ fight over a cursed silver rock. Meanwhile, Cavendish’s men, disguised as Comanches, raid frontier settlements. John and Tonto arrive after raiders abduct Dan’s widow and son, Rebecca and Danny. Regretting his earlier actions, Collins attempts to help Rebecca and Danny escape but is shot dead by Cole, who rescues them. Claiming the raiders are hostile Comanches, Cole announces the continued construction of the railroad and dispatches United States Cavalry Captain Jay Fuller to exterminate the Comanche.

A Comanche tribe captures John and Tonto soon after the pair finds railroad tracks in Indian territory. The tribe leader tells John of Tonto’s past: As a boy, Tonto had rescued Cavendish and another man from near-death and showed them the location of a silver mine, in exchange for a pocket watch. The men murdered the tribe to keep the mine a secret, leaving Tonto with great guilt.

Tonto and John escape as the cavalry attack the Comanche. At the silver mine, they capture Cavendish. Tonto demands that John use the silver bullet to kill Cavendish, but John refuses. Tonto attempts to kill Cavendish, but John knocks him unconscious and brings in Cavendish alive. Upon returning Cavendish to Cole and Fuller’s custody, Cole is revealed to be Cavendish’s partner. Fearing that if his actions are publicly revealed he’ll be charged as a war criminal, Fuller sides with Cole. Rebecca is held hostage, and John is taken back to the silver mine to be executed. However, Tonto rescues him and the two flee as the Comanche attack and are massacred by the cavalry. Realizing that Cole is too powerful to be taken down lawfully, John dons the mask again.

At the site of the union of the Transcontinental Railroad with two trains, Cole reveals his true plan: to take complete control of the railroad company and use the mined silver to gain more power. John and Tonto steal nitroglycerin and use it to destroy a railroad bridge. With Red’s help, Tonto steals the train with the silver and speeds it in reverse, and Cole, Cavendish, and Fuller pursue him in the second train on which Rebecca and Dan Jr. are being held captive. Riding Silver, John pursues both trains. After a furious chase and fights on both trains, both Cavendish and Fuller are killed, Rebecca and Dan Jr. are rescued and Cole dies buried beneath the silver ore after the train plunges off the severed bridge and into the river below.

The town and railroad enterprise recognize John (whose identity is still unknown to them) as a hero and offer him a law-enforcement position. John declines and accepts his new life as the Lone Ranger, and he and Tonto ride off. Back in 1933, Will questions the truth of the tale. Tonto gives him a silver bullet and tells him to decide for himself.

REVIEW:

A few years ago, I reviewed The Lone Rangera film that was a continuation of the TV series. Today, we see how well that character has withstood the test of time with the 2013 version of The Lone Ranger. Let’s not beat around the bush. This film had its fair share of setback before it even made it into production and then it got blasted by fans and critics, but was their vitriol warranted?

What is this about?

In this reboot of the 1950s television series, Native American warrior Tonto rescues wounded lawman John Reid and restores him to health, thus creating an often-contentious but effective partnership as they attempt to rid the Old West of corruption.

What did I like?

Origin. Unlike superhero films where the origin takes forever to be told, this film manages to basically inform us in the span of maybe 5-10 minutes. Granted, if there was a sequel, I’m sure Armie Hammer would be more comfortable in his role as the masked man, but for what its worth, he does a really good job with filling his predecessors shoes. Being only vaguely familiar with the classic TV series, I can’t tell you if any liberties were taken, but I can say that the spirit walker angle they took was a nice touch.

Villains. The villains are not only believable, but the one played by William Fichtner is almost scary, especially with the whole heart eating angle. On the one hand we have the corporate face of the railroad, who we don’t find out it a villain until a little bit later in the film. You know the type, he has everyone fooled until the truth is brought to light. Then, we have Fichtner’s character who is the most dirty, vile and evil being in the film. He has the look of an old west villain and his mannerisms fit perfectly into the setting. As far as his actions go, well, he eats hearts. Need I say more?

Catch that train! The train sequence that serves as this film’s climax is the best scene in the film. With the nonstop action, gunplay, explosion, and stunts, this scene manages to bring together. I was taken back to those old train robbery westerns watching this scene and wondered why most of the film wasn’t more of this instead of trying to tell some dramatic story.

What didn’t I like?

Length. It is well documented for disdain for lengthy films, especially when they make you feel like they are long. This is one of those that was pretty long and I’m not really sure why. The middle section really could have been taken out, if you ask me. The reason they decided to bring in a rather lengthy section that tore down Tonto and, as is commonplace in today’s films, left our hero doubting himself. Outside of the Tonto origin, there was really no reason for this and probably about another 30-45 minutes.

Depp. I have two complaints about Johnny Depp. First, the guy is very talented. We all can agree on that, but 1/16 Cherokee or whatever percentage of Native American he is doesn’t make up for the fact that Tonto should have been played by a Native American actor.  Also, what was up with the white face paint? Realizing that Depp is the name is fine, but come on, they could have cast him as another character and used an actual Native American to play Tonto. Speaking of him playing other roles, perhaps he should have been cast as the Lone Ranger because he was more the star than Armie Hammer was. It was so much that it made you wonder why this wasn’t just called Tonto.

Tone. This film has issues with the tone it wants to keep. In one scene there is a shootout that results in a guy eating a heart and then a little later we have a horse in a tree. It leaves the audience confused as to what they’re watching. Personally, I think the lighter tone works as the Lone Ranger is not a dark character, but the violent stuff works for the western aspect of this character. I just with the filmmakers would have taken the time to find a better balance with the tone, rather than making random shifts.

When you hear Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”, then you pretty much can be assured that there is a masked man coming to save the day, you’re watching “The Band Concert” with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, or you’re attending a band/orchestra concert. Thankfully, they left that theme in here, even it did go on a bit long at the end. That is what plagues The Lone Ranger more than anything. It takes one step forward and two steps back. I’m still trying to figure out what I think about old Tonto at the sideshow talking to this random kid. Final verdict on this film though is that it tries valiantly, but it just isn’t good enough. Having said that, it is nowhere near as bad as everyone would have you believe. With all its issues, this film is still a fun ride, and you should at least give it a shot.

3  1/4 out of 5 stars

Cry-Baby

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1954 Baltimore, Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker is the leader of a gang of “Drapes”, which includes his sister Pepper, a teenage mother, Mona “Hatchet Face” Malnorowski, who is facially disfigured, Wanda Woodward, a wild and free-spirit, and Milton Hackett, the nervous son of overzealous religious activists. His ability to shed a single tear drives all the girls wild. One day after school, he is approached by Allison Vernon-Williams, a pretty girl tired of being a “square”, and the two fall in love. That same day, Cry-Baby approaches the “square” part of town to a talent show (“Sh-Boom”, “A Teenage Prayer”) at the recreation center where Allison’s grandmother hosts events, and introduces himself to her, who is skeptical of his motives. Cry-Baby invites Allison to a party at Turkey Point, a local hangout spot for the drapes.

Despite her grandmother’s skepticism, Allison accompanies Cry-Baby to Turkey Point and sings with the drapes (“King Cry-Baby”). As Cry-Baby and Allison tell each other about their orphan lives (Cry-Baby’s father was sent to the electric chair after being the “Alphabet Bomber” – a killer who bombed places in alphabetical order airport, barber shop etc; Allison’s parents always took separate flights to avoid orphaning her if they crashed, but one day both their planes went down), Allison’s jealous square boyfriend, Baldwin, starts a riot. Cry-Baby is blamed for the fight and sent to a penitentiary, outraging all his friends and even Allison’s grandmother, who is impressed by Cry-Baby’s posture, manners, and musical talent.

As Lenora Frigid, a girl with a crush on Cry-Baby but constantly rejected by him, claims to be pregnant with his child, Allison feels betrayed and returns to Baldwin and the squares, though her grandmother advises her against rushing into a decision. Meanwhile, in the penitentiary, Cry-Baby gets a teardrop tattoo. He tells the tattoo artist, fellow drape Dupree (Robert Tyree): “I’ve been hurt all my life, but real tears wash away. This one’s for Allison, and I want it to last forever!”.

Eventually, Allison is persuaded by the newly-established alliance between the Drapes and her grandmother to stand by Cry-Baby and join the campaign for his release (“Please, Mr. Jailer”). Cry-Baby is released but immediately insulted by Baldwin who, after revealing that his grandfather is the one who electrocuted Cry-Baby’s father, challenges him to a chicken race. Cry-Baby wins, as Baldwin chickens out, and is reunited with Allison.

The film ends with all watching the chicken race crying a single tear, all except for Allison and Cry-Baby, who has finally let go of the past, enabling him to cry from both eyes.

REVIEW:

Earlier this year, someone asked me what I thought of Cry-Baby being turned into a Broadway show. Since I hadn’t seen either at the time, I couldn’t really comment. Now, I can at least comment on the film part.

What is this about?

Helmed by director John Waters, this kitschy comedy set in 1950s Baltimore stars Johnny Depp as Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker, a street hood who falls for a goody-two-shoes girl. The unlikely romance sparks a battle between rival factions.

What did I like?

Humor. This is a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. John Watters may be known as some kind of creepy weirdo nowadays, bu they guy known how to make an entertaining film. Johnny Depp is the only one who seems to be playing it straight, and that has more to do with the way his character was written. The jokes and humorous situations all poke fun at 50s teen movies. It seems that there is a heavy swing towards the Elvis films, just in terms of music and style, but having never seen any of his films, I can’t really tell you.

Bottom to the top. When it comes to acting, a gig you don’t really want to get into, at least if you have aspirations of having a real career is porn. The number of porn stars to have made it to the big time can be counted on one’s fingers. Hollywood just doesn’t seem to care for them. The roles they tend to earn don’t really give them much credibility. Traci Lords is one of those that looked to break the pattern. While this role isn’t necessarily huge, it was an actual acting gig and showed filmmakers that porn stars can do more than lay on their backs and do various sexual acts.

You gotta do it. Arguably the biggest 50s era film is Grease. Watching the film, you can see nods to it here and there, but the parts that stuck out were the change in the good girl to a “bad girl” near the end and the design og Cry-Baby’s car. It is an almost exact duplication of the Scorpions’ car, but I think they had a convertible.

What didn’t I like?

Confederate flag. This is set in Baltimore, MD, but for some reason at a party, or whatever it was, there is a big Confederate flag. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how divisive this flag is. For me, if it is used for historical purposed, that is fine ,but to just have one up as a random decoration can be a bit offensive, especially in a place that is considered the north. It made no sense to have it in display like that.

Overacting. I know that no one is really taking this film seriously, but there are times throughout this picture, it seems that they aren’t even trying to do anything but exaggerate their lines, Depp being the biggest offender. A John Watters film is not known for subtlety, but good grief! They really could have scaled it back a little bit.

Cry-Baby is a really entertaining musical parody of those teen rockin’ rebel films from the 50s. I think many will actually enjoy it from start to finish, just as I did. While this isn’t a film that everyone should see, it is something that is worth checking out on a weekend when you’re stumped as to what to watch. Give it a shot, sometime!

4 out of 5 stars

Dark Shadows

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1760, the Collins family migrates to America from Liverpool and sets up a fishing port in Maine, naming it Collinsport. Some years later, the son, Barnabas (Johnny Depp), seduces his family’s maid, Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), who is a witch. When he tells her he doesn’t love or want her, Angelique kills Barnabas’ parents. Barnabas then falls in love with Josette du Pres (Bella Heathcote). In a fit of jealousy, Angelique bewitches Josette into leaping from a cliff to her death. Barnabas leaps after her in grief, but he survives because Angelique turns him into an immortal vampire. She rouses a mob to capture and bury Barnabas alive in a chained coffin in the woods and curses his family.

One hundred ninety-six years later, in the year 1972, construction workers accidentally free Barnabas from his coffin, who slakes his two-century hunger by feeding on and killing his rescuers. He makes his way back to his manor to find it inhabited by his dysfunctional descendants and their servants—the family matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer); her brother Roger (Jonny Lee Miller); her 15-year-old daughter Carolyn (Chloë Grace Moretz); Roger’s 10-year-old son David (Gulliver McGrath); Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), David’s psychiatrist; Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley), the manor’s caretaker; and Victoria Winters (Heathcote), David’s newly-hired governess and Josette’s reincarnation. Upon convincing Elizabeth of his identity by revealing a secret treasure room behind the fireplace, Barnabas is allowed to stay under the condition that he never reveal either the room or the fact that he is a vampire to the rest of the family. He must also pretend to be a distant relative from England who has come to restore the family’s business and reputation in town. He soon becomes very deeply attracted to Victoria, whom he briefly mistakes for his lost Josette, and immediately begins to pursue her.

As Barnabas helps revitalize the Collins’ fishery and manor, he is approached by Angelique, who has used her powers to establish a successful rival fishery called Angel Bay. She tries to win him back, later convincing him to make wild, passionate love with her, but he still rejects her, telling her that he loves Victoria instead. He restores his family’s name by inviting the entire town to a party at the manor featuring Alice Cooper, where Victoria reveals to Barnabas that her parents committed her to an insane asylum as a child because she could see and talk to Josette’s ghost. They kiss and confess their feelings to each other, unknowingly enraging Angelique who has witnessed the scene. Meanwhile, Dr. Hoffman has discovered Barnabas’ true nature after hypnotizing him. She convinces him to try to turn himself back to a regular human via blood transfusions, but her real intent is to use his blood to turn herself into a vampire to avoid aging. Upon discovering this betrayal, Barnabas drains her to death and dumps her body into the ocean. Barnabas catches Roger trying to find the secret room and exposes Roger’s lack of interest in his son. Barnabas then gives him a choice of either staying and being a good father to David or leaving the family. Roger chooses to leave, deeply wounding his son’s feelings. Soon afterward, Barnabas rescues David from a falling disco ball and stumbles into a beam of sunlight, burning his skin and exposing his secret to the horrified children and Victoria.

Later that night, Angelique calls Barnabas into her office, coaxes him into confessing Dr. Hoffman’s murder, and traps him in another coffin that she leaves in his family’s crypt. She then burns down the Collins’ canning factory and plays a recording of the murder confession to the police and gathered townsfolk, once more turning them against the family. Angelique leads the mob to Collinwood manor to arrest the family, but Barnabas is rescued from the coffin by David and he shows up at the manor and attacks Angelique in front of the mob, thereby exposing both his and her true natures. As the townspeople disperse, Angelique sets fire to the manor and admits her role in the family’s curse, including turning Carolyn into a werewolf and killing David’s mother at sea. Barnabas and the Collins family fight Angelique until David summons his mother’s vengeful ghost. The ghost gives a single scream which knocks Angelique into a chandelier. Before she dies she pulls out her heart and offers it to Barnabas; he refuses the heart and it shatters as Angelique dies. Barnabas then discovers that Angelique has bewitched Victoria into jumping off the same cliff Josette did. Barnabas arrives moments before Victoria is about to jump and breaks her hypnosis, but she reveals she wanted to fall. She pleads with him to make her a vampire so that they can remain together forever, but he refuses. She then casts herself off, forcing him to follow and bite her to save her life, and Victoria wakes up as a vampire. As the two kiss on the rocks in the waves, the film ends with an underwater scene showing a school of fish swimming away from Hoffman, who suddenly revives because she’s a vampire .

REVIEW:

In the 60s, Dark Shadows was a cult soap opera with supernatural themes, similar to one we had not that long ago called Passions. I don’t believe the soap was terribly popular, but it did last a few seasons and has gone on to become a cult favorite. If you are a fan of the series, you have my deepest sympathies for what Tim Burton has done.

What is this about?

Tim Burton’s take on the cult gothic soap follows a centuries-old vampire as he returns to his now-crumbling estate to meet his modern descendants. But what he finds is a house full of secrets and shadows.

What did I like?

Vision. I don’t think that there is a Tim Burton flick that I don’t instantly fall in love with the contrast of light and dark. Well, maybe Alice in Wonderland, but the rest are a nice mix of bright-colored backgrounds with dark stories and characters. This contrast even goes as far as the makeup. The ruby-red lips that Dr. Hoffman and Angelique are sporting, as well as Hoffman’s red hair really stand out in this macabre, dreary town.

Depp. I have to give it up to Johnny Depp, he really creates a vampire that could be frightening, and yet likable. He’s an unapologetic, bloodthirsty, vengeful, lecherous member of the undead and makes no apologies for it. This is a stark contrast to the vampires that have been polluting the screens the past few years. Depp also knocks it out of the park with his acting. I was expecting another character with that same British accent he uses eveyrtime he plays someone from across the pond, such as Jack Sparrow or Sweeny Todd.

70s and new blood. The 70s setting makes for quite some interesting experiences for someone who lived in the 19th century. It is quite the culture shock, especially when you see someone names Alice Cooper, who turns out to be “one ugly woman”. The infusion of two new, extremely attractive actresses, as opposed to the same ones we’ve seen over and over again, Eva Green (Angelique) and Bella Heathcote (Maggie/Victoria/Josette), not to mention the growing star of Chloe Grace Moertz.

What didn’t I like?

Change. I’m torn as to what I think of the change in tone from the original series. On one hand, I enjoyed it, as a film by itself. However, I did watch some episodes of the series this summer, and there were very few things that resembled this film, or vice versa. As I said before, if you’re a fan of the series, I feel your pain for what Burton did to something you truly love. At least they kept the supernatural aspect intact, and the comedy bits add a little spice to it.

Angelique. As much as I was drooling over Eva Green, I wasn’t too fond of the character, Angelique. She is one of those that does nothing but use her feminine wiles and witchcraft to manipulate the town into loving her and doing her bidding, but when Barnabas returns from the grave, she knows it could all very well end, ironically by one of her “creations”. The cracking porcelain face was a nice touch, though.

Pick a genre. One critic said that this film couldn’t decide what genre it wanted to be, horror, comedy, drama, etc. I have to agree, though it wasn’t as much of a distraction for me. I would have liked for it to go full on comedy since that is the direction they chose to go, with a few horror and dram a elements. This is based on a soap opera and deals with vampires, after all.

Ending. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that it sets up very nicely for a sequel. The problem is, they kind of tip their hat a little early by showing something they shouldn’t have while this particular character is getting killed. I guess that is more of a goof than a complaint…for now.

Dark Shadows provides some nice entertainment and will probably go on to be a cult favorite in years to come. The film was labeled as a flop this summer, but it came out the week after The Avengers, which went on to be #1 for like close to two months. I think this would have done better being released around Halloween. Do I recommend it? Yeah, this is one of those film you can start off your scary movie parties with as a warm-up, or if you’re into the horror comedy thing, couple this with something like Fido, This definitely worth checking out and is better than people give it credit for. Admittedly, I think I liked it more than I should have!

4 out of 5 stars