Showing posts with label Johnny Depp. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Johnny Depp. Show all posts

Sunday, 11 August 2013

The Lone Ranger

Something is happening in Hollywood. Something which isn’t new but is becoming more apparent with each passing year. Studios are throwing vast sums of money at films in the hope that the sheer amount of razzmatazz on screen, couple with stars and overblown effects will prize people from their sofas and towards the cinema. The problem with this is that the films are becoming ever more formulaic and uninspiring as studios attempt to attract the maximum number of people to their films. It’s the same with most art forms that the more broad you make your product, the less exciting and unique it will be. Mumford and Sons might outsell Goat but only one of those bands sound like a Saturday night pub band that got too big for their cowboy boots. When I think of the studios that are producing the type of big budget, low risk films I’m discussing here, the one that springs to mind first is Disney.

Disney obviously have a tradition of making family movies and as such you aren’t expecting gore or thrilling twists but they’ve managed to entertain generations of people simultaneously for decades while maintaining their wholesome image. They also have a strong tradition of borrowing stories from other sources but appear to be on a run at the moment of producing the blandest of films which are amongst the most expensive in history. Alice in Wonderland, Oz the Great and Powerful, John Carter and now The Lone Ranger are all films which make use of established, much loved characters in films which Disney have sucked all the life and fun out of. The problem they’re really facing though is that they’re no longer guaranteed $600 million if they plough $250 million into a movie and not only that, the films themselves are dull and don’t even warrant a second viewing.

Saturday, 6 October 2012


Platoon takes us through a tour of the Vietnam War through the eyes of the fresh and idealistic young volunteer Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen). We follow Taylor from his first day in Nam to his final battle accompanied by voice-over which expresses his thoughts, worries and ideas. The film appears to accurately portray the day-to-day life of a soldier in the jungle and promotes the views of the monotonous nature of infantry warfare which is punctuated by moments of extreme violence. Platoon creates an environment for its cast whereby the characters fear not only the Vietcong and jungle but also each other as tensions and rivalries run high and suspicion spreads like wildfire. Personally I think it is one of the finest war movies ever made and it went on to win four Oscars including Best Director and Best Picture at the 59th Academy Awards.  

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Dark Shadows

"Tell me, future dweller, what is the year?"

Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) is the son of a wealthy English family who move to Maine, USA in the late 18th Century. After spurning the affections of servant/secret with, Angelique (Eva Green) he falls in love with local girl Josette (Bella Heathcote). Angelique, unable to bear seeing someone else with Barnabas, kills his parents and Josette and turns Barnabas into a vampire. 200 years later it’s 1972 and Barnabas is unearthed from a coffin which the townsfolk placed him in and attempts to reconnect with his living family and rebuild the great Collins name.    

Tim Burton appears to be on a bad run at the moment. His last two films 9 and Alice in Wonderland were critical failures though Alice proved to be extremely popular at the box office. It is my feeling that Burton is currently favouring style over substance and that is evident in his latest offering. Tim Burton has no trouble creating beautifully odd looking sets, characters and films but it is one thing to make a film that ‘looks Tim Burton’ and another to make a film that is any good. The film has all the gothic grace of Tim Burton’s finest and he manages to meld this with a 70s look which works quite well. Details of both periods look great and work well together. The set dressing, clothes and music are all spot on. Where the film falls down is in the plot.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street is an action comedy based on the late 80s TV show of the same name. It stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as recently graduated cops who are sent undercover at a High School with a drug problem. The two were never friendly at school but have become best friends as cops. While Jonah Hill’s Schmit finds that he fits in much better at his second chance at High School, previously popular Jenko (Tatum) find that things are drastically different from his days as the popular jock and struggles to find his place.

21 Jump Street was new to me having been too young for the original series and I don’t think it was even shown in the UK anyway. I found it very funny and enjoyed it immensely. It is a laugh a minute comedy with great characters and an attention-grabbing idea. The film is aware of itself but doesn’t take itself too seriously. One policeman even says of the Jump Street unit, “We are cobbling together something from the past and hoping no one will notice” in reference to the original show. As I said, the film is very funny and unusually for most comedies, the funniest parts aren’t in the already hilarious trailer. One scene where the central characters are on drugs had me in stitches. Ultimately the laughs to trail off towards the end in favour of resolving the plot but there are little details such as an uncomfortable looking paramedic which keep the humour going when in lesser films it might not be there.

The odd couple relationship between Tatum and Hill works really well. They seem like total opposites and you can imagine how they wouldn’t have got on in High School, but at the same time their later friendship feels real. Jonah Hill plays his familiar chubby loser character which has worked to varying degrees in the likes of Superbad and The Sitter but here is thoroughly successful. He also brings added depth to the character to make him smarter and more caring than in previous incarnations. I have never seen a Channing Tatum film before having been put off by his annoying name and face as well as the type of romantic films he’s appeared in, but in this I thought he was excellent. He has a great double act partner in Hill and plays the dumb meathead well. His comedic moments are also first-rate. I think he was funnier than Jonah Hill. Maybe this is where his career could end up when he’s finished walking on beaches at sunset?

The supporting cast were all great too. Ice Cube was outstanding as the ‘angry black police sergeant’ although I do wonder what 1992 Ice Cube would think about 2012 Ice Cube playing a cop in a mainstream Hollywood comedy. Dave Franco, who is looking more and more like his brother each time I see him was well cast as the arrogant, cock-sure popular kid and The Office’s Ellie Kemper was very flirtatious and funny as a teacher with a crush on Tatum. Rob Riggle plays a strange character but pulls it off well. There isn’t really a weak link anywhere in the cast.

I didn’t work out who the bad guy was before the reveal but the film had me laughing so much that I didn’t even think about whom it was and when we found out I didn’t really care. On the downside, some of the jokes feel a bit stretched and the love story between Hill and the school girl felt forced. Also, it was obvious as soon as she said “I’m 18” for no reason that it was going to happen. That’s the green light to tell the audience that although she’s in school its all legal and above board. There is a great cameo towards the end which both shocked and delighted my girlfriend and despite the formulaic Hollywood ending this is a successful comedy. I look forward to the sequel which was heavily implied at the end.