Tag Archives: Johnny Depp

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) Review

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander
Katherine Waterston as Tina Goldstein
Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski
Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein
Zoë Kravitz as Leta Lestrange
Callum Turner as Theseus Scamander
Claudia Kim as Nagini
William Nadylam as Yusuf Kama
Kevin Guthrie as Abernathy
Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore
Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald
Director: David Yates

In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s (Johnny Depp) plans of raising pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided world.

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I was reasonably excited for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I liked the first movie, despite it being reasonably decent and not being quite as great as I thought it would be, and I was interested in how the 5 Fantastic Beasts movies will go. My only concerns was Johnny Depp as the character of Gellert Grindelwald and how Newt Scamander was going to be integrated into the story (which is pretty much going to be a Dumbledore vs Grindelwald story). Having seen the movie I can say that thankfully I didn’t have the two problems that I thought I would have. However, it does present some problems of it own, including feeling a bit too overstuffed with characters and plotlines. With that said, I still really liked the movie.

There is something I wanted to get out of the way, I noticed a lot of people are complaining about how Fantastic Beasts isn’t as magical as Harry Potter. That never really bothered me, Fantastic Beasts is more adult based than the Harry Potter story, so while it does feature quite a bit of magic, I don’t really have a problem with the film not feeling as magical. Whereas the Harry Potter movies have younger characters experiencing the magical world for the first time, these films follow adults who are quite familiar with it. That is the case with The Crimes of Grindelwald, which also goes to darker places than probably the other Harry Potter movies (which is saying a lot). The first scene where Grindelwald escapes establishes the tone of the entire movie. While I was interested in what was happening in the plot from start to finish and on the whole was fine with what happened, there are some problems with the way that The Crimes of Grindelwald tells its story. The odd thing is that while the overall plot is more tied together, with it surrounding both Credence and Grindelwald (unlike Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them where it tried to be a movie focussing on Newt Scamander finding his beasts, an obscurus and Grindelwald, very different things all at once), it is way more complicated. I appreciate the movie going a more complex route, but it is a little too complicated for its own good. It does have some moments where it throws exposition at the audience and it can be really hard to follow what is going on, I think it will really require a second viewing. However, it’s not necessarily in a ‘this movie has a lot going on and there’s a lot to process’ compliment way, because some of the difficulty understanding comes from how the story is told. Part of it is because so many characters’ goals are related to similar things but they have their own subplots. That’s another thing, there are way too many characters here. With the first movie, along with the 4 main characters, there were a few supporting characters and that’s it. In The Crimes of Grindelwald however, along with the 4 main characters, it has like 12 supporting characters. Yes, I know that some of them have like 2/3 scenes at most and don’t all have subplots, but it doesn’t feel any less jarring. To give an idea about how many characters are in the movie, there is a poster for The Crimes of Grindelwald with the caption “Who Will Change The Future?” with a lot of characters on the poster. I suggest looking up that poster, because it pretty much shows how many prominent characters there are in this movie, and aside from a few of them, most of them have their own individual subplots. It’s exhausting to even think about. Overall, it’s like some of the characters they introduces here should’ve been introduced later, or have some of the characters’ subplots done later in the other movies, because having them all here makes it hard to follow.

J.K Rowling is the one writing the stories, so plotwise, all the problems fall on her. I have a feeling I know why the issues are here, Rowling probably structured the 5 movie story arc in the structure of books and so as an individual movie, it feels really jarring. I feel like it probably would’ve been better for her to have written the stories as books first before being adapted to the big screen. Another thing that will be a point of criticism are some really odd decisions that happen with regard to the direction of the plot. The first Fantastic Beasts introduces some new aspects to the Wizarding World such as the Obscurus but nothing really that conflicted with pre-existing Harry Potter history. Without saying too much, some fans are not going to like what is done here. It’s a bit of a difficult situation criticising the decisions of the creator of the series, it’s like arguing with George Lucas about the Star Wars prequels, no one knows the world quite like him (this is pre Disney Star Wars but you get what I’m meaning), and that’s the same with J.K. Rowling with Harry Potter. While initially I wasn’t sure why we needed 5 movies instead of 3 to tell this story, after the way things ended in The Crimes of Grindelwald, we are going to need as much time as possible to explain things. On the whole though, I was actually fine with the twists in the movie… with the exception with the last one. There is a twist at the end which is so insane that I’m actually wondering if I’m actually misinterpreting what it’s meaning and taking it at face value when really it’s different from what I think it is. I myself have problems even processing this decision, I can’t even dislike it because of how strange it is, I’m more confused than anything. It is difficult judging some of the decisions because so many of them are setup for the next movies, and we won’t know how well they are executed until we actually watch the later movies. As for the last twist though, Rowling is going to have to work extra hard to pull it off if it really is how it looks. In terms of things that I will blast Rowling for, there is an appearance of a well known character from the Harry Potter movies/books, this movie takes place in 1927 and this character hasn’t been born yet, yet somehow is making an appearance in 1935. I’m not sure how J.K. Rowling of all people could get one of her characters existing yet or not. Not a major plot issue but its extremely noticeable and stands out.

The performances all around were good, it’s just that some of the way the characters and their subplots were handled wasn’t the best. There were really 5 characters that worked the best compared to the others. Eddie Redmayne is still a fantastic choice for Newt Scamander, he’s awkward and likable and I like that he’s different enough compared to Harry Potter as a protagonist. While I wasn’t sure about him getting involved with the war against Grindelwald (because it just doesn’t seem like him), he is given an arc through the movie which really works for him that makes him relevant to the later movies, and I liked that. Dan Fogler returns as the muggle Jacob Kowalski and is just as likable as in the first movie, they do appropriately lessen his role as the comedic relief. He comes out better compared to the other supporting characters because he’s pretty much along with Newt for most of the movie. A surprise was Zoe Kravitz as Leta Lestrange. She has a dark and mysterious backstory which plays into the main story, it was one of the most interesting parts of the movie. Kravitz is also great in the role. Jude Law as Albus Dumbledore was also a highlight, you can definitely buy Law as a younger Dumbledore. With that said, don’t expect to see a ton of Dumbledore, he’s definitely a part of the movie but isn’t as prominent as you’d think. However, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of him in the next few movies. A lot of people had problems with the casting of Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, both with him as an actor with his most recent performances and career choices, and with him as a person. While I still wish that someone else was in the role (because of Depp as a person), acting wise he surprised me, this is his best performance since Black Mass. Unlike most of his performances where he can be rather over the top, Depp is refreshingly subtle and restrained, yet totally committed to the role. The only thing goofy about Grindelwald is his look, although its distinct, it may have been a little over the top. They really made Grindelwald distinct enough from Voldemort, being a much more public figure, and you can see why so many people would follow him. I wouldn’t say he’s great just yet, cos we haven’t really gotten to know Grindelwald yet as a character or seen his backstory, we’ll just have to see how the next 3 movies go.

The rest of the characters are played well enough but they weren’t handled the best. Katherine Waterston’s Tina Goldstein doesn’t really get much to do, she’s tracking down Credence and that’s really all there is to her, that aren’t really enough scenes with her outside of that. The most we really get is the potential romance between her and Newt, but even that doesn’t really amount to much by the end. There are particularly some things in the third act that don’t really have enough of Tina (hard to explain in a non spoiler review). Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein was the weaker link out of the main 4 characters in the first movie, not because of the acting but there wasn’t a ton of things for her to do. Here she has a bit of an interesting arc which is great on paper, but the way they execute it isn’t the best. She’s like completely separate from the other characters and has her own subplot but you see her like every once every 30 minutes. It’s like there were more scenes of her development that are missing, so her changes are jarring and out of place. Having more scenes would’ve benefited her arc and really fleshed it out. While it is an interesting place she’s been taken by the end of the second movie, I’m sure they could’ve executed it better. There is another plotline following William Nadylam as Yusuf Kama, a wizard tracking down Credence. While he does work within the movie and ties in with the story, it really adds another complicated element into the movie, and the plot is already pretty complicated. Callum Turner as Theseus Scamander, an aurora and Newt’s brother, is decent enough but don’t add a ton. As much as I bag on the way that the characters are used in this movie, I can’t complain much about him here. You do understand though why he is here and he’s used in enough scenes. That’s more than I can say then Claudia Kim as Nagini, Kim does a fine job playing her but plotwise Nagini really didn’t need to be there and doesn’t add much outside of some nice snake transformation scenes. Maybe it’s establishing her for later sequels but it better be something significant, otherwise it just feels like J.K. Rowling is trying to establish and include literally every character that existed before Harry Potter. Thankfully Nagini doesn’t have her own subplot to take up even more time, she is paired with Credence, played by Ezra Miller. Speaking of Credence, despite the movie basically surrounding him, it doesn’t exactly handle him the best. He was actually a standout in the first movie, mostly due to Miller’s performance. The Crimes of Grindelwald really needed more of him and really explore him but however that’s not what happens. Despite his whole ‘arc’ being about him trying to find out who he is, he feels more like a plot device and not a character at all, going through the motions because that’s what the plot requires. Definitely the most disappointing of the characters in this movie.

David Yates directs The Crimes of Grindelwald, and once again he does a good job. There’s nothing really wrong with his direction but it would be nice to have some new person taking over, with a more fresh direction. He’s directed all the Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts movies since Order of the Phoenix and I think Yates may have relaxed a little too much into his direction of these movies. Again though, nothing really wrong direction-wise. The only direction that was out of place was in Newt’s first scene which for some reason used a lot of POV shots for him and I don’t know why, it was a little distracting. It’s not a dealbreaker, just out of place. The production design and costumes are once again fantastic, the scenes at Hogwarts are particularly a highlight and it feels great to revisit it, even if we aren’t there for long or very often. The CGI on the whole was great, slightly improved over the first movie. The magical sequences are really great to watch, the highlights being the opening scene and the third act. Despite the movie being more Grindelwald focussed, we still get to see a lot of magical creatures through Newt and once again they are great. James Newton Howard’s score as in the first movie was fantastic, it really fits in well with this series.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is really unexpected in many ways. It has some really good performances, a plot that keeps you invested throughout (at least it did for me) and some really great sequences. At the same time, it is overstuffed with too many characters, too many subplots and has some very questionable decisions. As it stands at the moment, I think I like The Crimes of Grindelwald a little more than the first movie because of what the story is about and some of the moments of the movie, even though the first is considerably less messy. Honestly, I can’t tell what you’ll think about the movie. I’d say that if you’re not a die hard Harry Potter fan you might not enjoy it as much, but I already can tell that this movie is going to divide the fandom, it’s going to be pretty much the Alien Covenant for the Harry Potter series. If you like Harry Potter, watch it and see for yourself, because I can’t tell whether you’ll like it or not. I’m still on board for the 3 remaining movies but I really do hope that J.K. Rowling pulls it off, because The Crimes of Grindelwald does make me a little concerned about whether she’ll be able to do that.

Transcendence (2014) Review

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Will Caster
Rebecca Hall as Evelyn Caster
Paul Bettany as Max Waters
Kate Mara as Bree
Cillian Murphy as Donald Buchanan
Cole Hauser as Stevens
Morgan Freeman as Joseph Tagger
Director: Wally Pfister

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp), the world’s foremost authority on artificial intelligence, is conducting highly controversial experiments to create a sentient machine. When extremists try to kill the doctor, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed. Will’s wife, Evelyn (Rebecca Hall), and best friend, Max (Paul Bettany), can only watch as his thirst for knowledge evolves to an omnipresent quest for power, and his loved ones soon realize that it may be impossible to stop him.

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I remember looking forward to seeing Transcendence after seeing all the trailers. It had an interesting concept, a very talented cast and was directed by Christopher Nolan’s frequent cinematographer Wally Pfister. It’s just such a shame that all the talent involved never ended up amounting to anything. Transcendence isn’t an awful movie, it has some okay parts to it, it looks good and some of the acting is okay, that’s it. On the whole, it movie is just disappointing and mediocre.

There’s a huge amount of potential with this concept. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really do anything too much with it. It actually takes quite a while to get to the actual transcendence. It doesn’t help that once things get going, there’s a 2 year jump for no reason at all, after that point the movie really took a significant drop in quality. It is worth noting that despite the marketing, Transcendence isn’t a huge sci-fi thriller. That way if you end up watching the movie, you won’t be as disappointed with it. I heard this mentioned before going into it, so I wasn’t expecting the movie that was advertised, I was just going in expecting a movie and even then I was let down. It seems that it was more focused around the lead two characters played by Johnny Depp and Rebecca Hall and their relationship. That’s not a problem, it’s just the relationship and characters aren’t as interesting as it should be, you’re not that invested. There isn’t much character development except for maybe Paul Bettany’s character. The movie really wasn’t as interesting as it should’ve been either. Some aspects of the movie are interesting like the actual transcendence, other aspects just feel like typical sci-fi aspects that were just thrown in. It might have its moments but Transcendence on the whole doesn’t do enough special things to warrant grinding through the whole 2 hour long movie (which feels a lot longer actually watching it).

This cast is pretty large and talented but most of them don’t really get to do anything that great. Johnny Depp is the lead character who goes through the transcendence and he wasn’t really that great, though this time I don’t think it’s on Depp. It’s not that Johnny Depp going full Jack Sparrow or anything like that. It’s that his character really doesn’t do much, even after the transcendence. He should be really interesting, compelling or something like that, but he’s just boring. Rebecca Hall has even less to do here. As I said, a lot of the movie surrounds Depp’s and Hall’s relationship but the chemistry between them wasn’t great and the relationship isn’t that compelling or interesting, so I felt ultimately nothing in their numerous scenes together. Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy are fine enough but their characters aren’t really anything, so they are pretty much just playing themselves. Kate Mara is decent enough but the only actor in this movie who actually leaves a real strong impression was Paul Bettany, he was legitimately good in his role and his performance does actually add to the movie and make it a little better.

One of the highlights of Transcendence is that it is a good looking movie, this movie is shot very well. However, it’s nothing really that different from any other sci-fi movies that we’ve seen. The problem isn’t the direction. If I saw any scene out of context by itself, I would probably find it decent, but the fact that the movie looks good isn’t enough to carry it with it’s rather flawed story, characters and script.

I will say this about Transcendence, it is one of those movies that should be remade, this concept sounds like it could be something great. I’m completely lost as to why this movie didn’t work at all. I didn’t find it to be a terrible movie but it’s also not really good either. It looks good, it has some story aspects which had potential and the acting is fine enough (though only a couple actors are used to their potential), however the end product really didn’t live up to its potential. I guess there’s not harm in checking it out if you’re curious, but don’t expect anything too great.

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) Review

Time: 114 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Adult Themes
Cast
Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot
Tom Bateman as Bouc
Penélope Cruz as Pilar Estravados
Willem Dafoe as Gerhard
Judi Dench as Princess Dragomiroff
Johnny Depp as Samuel Ratchett
Josh Gad as Hector MacQueen
Derek Jacobi as Edward Henry Masterman
Leslie Odom Jr. as Dr. Arbuthnot
Michelle Pfeiffer as Caroline Hubbard
Daisy Ridley as Mary Debenham
Marwan Kenzari as Pierre Michel
Olivia Colman as Hildegarde Schmidt
Director: Kenneth Branagh

A lavish trip through Europe quickly unfolds into a race against time to solve a murder aboard a train. Everyone’s a suspect when Detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) arrives to interrogate all passengers and search for clues before the killer can strike again.

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I was curious about Murder on the Orient Express, I had never read the original book or watched any adaptations. It was the cast and crew involved that had me interested, especially with Kenneth Branagh directing and starring. As someone who hasn’t seen any version of the story beforehand, I ended up thoroughly enjoyed Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express. The performances (particularly from Kenneth Branagh) and the direction really make this movie. It does have some issues (particularly with its characters) but its good elements far outweigh the weaker elements overall.

I can’t comment on any similarities and differences between this and the original book or other adaptations, so I’ll just treat it as its own thing. It’s not a flashy typical Hollywood whodunit, it is slower paced and feels restrained. I can see a lot of people getting bored of this movie so if you’re going to see it just know that it is very slow paced. The pacing didn’t bother me personally, it felt just right. I was quite intrigued throughout the whole movie, my attention didn’t waver once. This movie has a surprisingly amount of effective humour, especially from Branagh’s Poirot. One issue that I had is that there is so much going on that at times it is hard to follow. At the end, even though I understood most of what happened, I had to look up the plot to clarify certain things. You have to be paying close attention or you could miss details, I know because I was paying attention and I didn’t pick up all of it. The second problem and probably the biggest problem is the handling of the supporting characters. The supporting characters aren’t developed or fleshed out that well. You might be able to remember some aspect about them (like in terms of the actor or the character’s job) but that’s about it. So when names are being thrown all about by Poirot as he theorises what happened, it’s a little jarring and at times hard to follow what’s going on. Its hard to remember these supporting characters, I can barely remember any of the supporting characters’ names, save for a couple.

This movie has a lot of A list actors but the true star of this movie is Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot. He is a little over the top but it works, Hercule is a quirky and likable character and its basically worth watching the movie for this performance alone. Also he manages to sell that over the top handlebar moustache. We have a large and talented supporting cast with Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, Leslie Odom Jr., Johnny Depp and others. For many of those who have had long careers like Judi Dench and Willem Dafoe, their performances here aren’t going to rank up as one of their best but they play their part well, in fact everyone plays their parts rather well. A stand out to me was Josh Gad, who surprised me, he’s usually known for comedic roles in movies like Frozen and Beauty and the Beast. But here he proves that he is really good in a dramatic role. Even Johnny Depp was good, granted his performance was one of the weaker performances and he doesn’t have a massive amount of screentime. As I said, the actors played their roles well, it’s just that the characters really weren’t that fleshed out that well aside from Hercule. I have no issues about the acting however.

Kenneth Branagh directs the film very well. The cinematography is truly great, it’s beautiful looking. The long takes also help show just how big of scale everything is. It makes use of its locations very well. The editing also was top notch and worked well, especially in the scenes where Poirot is piecing together what happened.

I’m not sure how much you’ll like 2017 Murder on the Orient Express. I think you will at the very least appreciate and enjoy Kenneth Branagh’s performance and his direction. Personally, I really liked it, with the acting (especially from Kenneth Branagh) and the direction and the plot which is mostly done well. There are some aspects that didn’t quite work in terms of some of the characters but for the most part this movie does everything right. Branagh has mentioned that he was interested in doing more films with the character of Poirot and I am completely on board for that. I’d love to see him make a return.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) Review

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains supernatural themes & violence
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow
Javier Bardem as Captain Armando Salazar
Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner
Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth
Kevin McNally as Joshamee Gibbs
Golshifteh Farahani as Shansa
David Wenham as Scarfield
Stephen Graham as Scrum
Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa
Director: Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg

Thrust into an all-new adventure, a down-on-his-luck Capt. Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) feels the winds of ill-fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost sailors led by his old nemesis, the evil Capt. Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle. Jack’s only hope of survival lies in seeking out the legendary Trident of Poseidon, but to find it, he must forge an uneasy alliance with a brilliant and beautiful astronomer (Kaya Scodelario) and a headstrong young man in the British navy (Brenton Thwaites).

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I really didn’t know what to expect going into this movie. I don’t have strong memories of the previous Pirates of the Caribbean movies but I do remember liking the first three and finding the fourth to be mediocre. I wasn’t really looking forward to the fifth instalment, it’s been 6 years since the last film and it seemed tired, forced and it felt like an unnecessary cash grab. Also the marketing wasn’t that spectacular. The only thing that looked somewhat interesting was Javier Bardem as a villain. But out of morbid curiosity I decided to check out the fifth instalment, and to my surprise this movie ended up being better than I expected. I was for the most part entertained throughout, with all the elements of an above average action movie. It’s still got its fair share of flaws however.

movie felt long, which is odd considering that this movie is around 2 hours 10 minutes long, making it the shortest Pirates of the Caribbean movie to date. After a couple of great opening scenes, the first act is quite slow. The segment where the main three characters (played by Depp, Thwaites and Scodelario) are stuck on land early in the movie really drags. It was also at the first action scene with Jack Sparrow that I noticed an immediate problem (and not just Jack Sparrow/Johnny Depp himself), the comedy was rather weak. In fact all things considering, this might actually be the least funniest Pirates movie, it tries so hard to be funny but it just ends up feeling kind of awkward. However the underlining and the main problem with the movie is that it is a little hard to care about what is going on. The only character I had sort of any interest in was Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), he was the best character in the entire movie. Salazar (Javier Bardem) was an effective, entertaining and creepy villain but has simplistic and typical motivations, Henry and Carina (Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario) are okay but their motivations and characteristics are rather bland and uninteresting. And Jack Sparrow is handled the worst out of the main characters, he’s only involved with the story because Salazar is after him and he’s sort of forced into pairing up with Henry and Carina but aside from that, it feels like he doesn’t belong in the movie. Jack doesn’t have any sort of arc or story in this movie, it feels like he was written as a supporting character but put in the role as the main character. So why do I like this movie despite all it’s problems? Maybe its because its been many years since I’ve seen the previous Pirates movies so I just saw this instalment as an simple action adventure movie, the story is minimal and simplistic, same with the character motivations, but it’s enough to keep the movie rolling and it was enough for me to be reasonably entertained by it. This movie does seem to tie up everything with many of the characters in the franchise (no spoilers), almost as if it’s the last film in the series, and while it should’ve been a better conclusion, I’d be fine if this really is the last Pirates movie. With that said, it does have an questionable end credits scene…

I have mixed feelings on Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in this movie, this is the worst I’ve ever seen Jack Sparrow in a Pirates movie. In the first act he was just completely drunk, completely unfunny and unlikable and that’s it. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnny Depp was just being drunk during these scenes. Over time he did get better, occasionally displaying hints of the Jack Sparrow we all know and love. But he still feels like a caricature of what Jack Sparrow really is, though I’m not even sure that it’s Depp’s fault. Brenton Thwaites plays Will Turner’s son and Kaya Scodelario plays a character named Carina, those two are the Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann replacements in this movie. The problem with them wasn’t their acting, they certainly tried as hard as they could to be great and they definitely have a lot of talent, but their characters weren’t that interesting. They do have motivations which are passable but that’s sort of it, these characters are written quite blandly. Javier Bardem was one of my favourite parts of the movie. He’s creepy, entertaining and completely chewing the scenery and he does really go over the top especially with his character being dead but I felt that it worked for the movie. However there’s not much to his character, just another villain wanting revenge against the main character, I like his backstory but aside from that there’s not much to him. Another one of my favourite parts was Geoffrey Rush who reprises his role as Barbossa. Unlike all the other characters, Barbossa had some sort of a story arc and it’s done quite well. I didn’t really have any problems with him. David Wenham is here as a British Royal Naval officer who comes into conflict with the main characters but is ultimately wasted, it’s almost laughable how useless and pointless his character is. There were also cameos from Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, which were nice to see. Oh, and Paul McCartney shows up in this movie for a brief moment, for some reason. It was a rather random cameo.

The action scenes were nice to watch, with them being quite over the top and were very entertaining. However there really wasn’t much tension in these sequences because we don’t care about the characters or their motivations. The climax itself is fine but was oddly enough brief and a little underwhelming. The CGI for the most part worked well, even the CGI on the dead people were done well. However at times it did have some occasional moments when there was CGI overload and some aspects looked a little fake. The soundtrack by Geoff Zanelli was really good, it really added to the film, especially with Salazar’s theme.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was better than I thought it would be. Maybe it’s because I just saw the movie as a simple dumb action flick, so I could look past many of the issues: it has simple characters, a revenge driven, scene chewing villain, over the top action, it was just an over the top action movie. On top of that, there are no other blockbusters about Pirates, so it is rather refreshing to see one in cinemas. There are many flaws, obviously, but this movie has just enough good parts about it to be entertaining.

Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016) Review

Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to the whimsical world of Underland and travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) in Disney's ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, an all-new adventure featuring the unforgettable characters from Lewis Carroll's beloved stories.

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Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Some scenes may scare very young children
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Tarrant Hightopp, the Mad Hatter
Anne Hathaway as Mirana of Marmoreal, the White Queen
Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsleigh
Helena Bonham Carter as Iracebeth of Crims
Sacha Baron Cohen as Time
Rhys Ifans as Zanik Hightopp
Matt Lucas as Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Alan Rickman as Absolem, the Butterfly (voice)
Stephen Fry as Cheshire, the Cheshire Cat (voice)
Michael Sheen as Nivens McTwisp, the White Rabbit (voice)
Timothy Spall as Bayard, the Bloodhound (voice)
Director: James Bobin


Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Underland and finds the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) in an illness. The White Queen (Anne Hathaway) told Alice that in order to help the Hatter, she must travel to the past, only to find out that the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and Time (Sacha Baron Cohen), a walking clock-like man, have a plan to take over Underland.

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I didn’t have any expectations going into Alice Through the Looking Glass. I really disliked the first film, it’s been 6 years since the original and it seems that the only reason this film exists is because it made lots of money. And the sequel was pretty much what I expected it to be. The story is messy, the acting (for the most part) is over the top and sometimes bad, and the visuals are fake looking (even more so than the original). It’s a frustrating because the film had some potential.

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This movie is all over the place. There’s so many elements crammed into this movie and they aren’t fully formed or developed. This movie has so much going on, the Red Queen and White Queen’s backstory, the Mad Hatter’s backstory, Alice in the real world, and so many more and I didn’t care about any of these plotlines. It’s almost as if it was a tv series with all the plots of the episodes plots stuffed and cut down to fit one movie. I will say that this movie had more potential than the first film as it dealt with time, and there are some ideas in the film which seemed okay, at least to me. But as I said, the ideas aren’t fully realised or developed well enough. I also never really cared about what was going on or was concerned about how things would end, I just straight up didn’t care about anything that was going on in the movie.

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In the first movie, I didn’t like Mia Wasikowska’s performance, I thought that it was bland, boring and flat (though it really wasn’t her fault). I actually liked her in this movie however, she doesn’t have a lot of great material to work with but she was quite good here and was a likable protagonist. I also really liked Sacha Baron Cohen as Time. However if you think that Time is the main antagonist of the movie, that’s unfortunately not the case, it’s the Red Queen again, which… kinda sucks because she’s extremely over the top and doesn’t work at all. Everyone else is pretty much their characters from the first film, but worse. Johnny Depp is doing Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter is doing Helena Bonham Carter and Anne Hathaway… really didn’t give a good performance here either. Particularly those three were annoying in their roles.

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The first movie had an overload of CGI and green screen, leading to some sequences feeling quite fake, however it was still a good looking movie overall. Somehow this movie manages to add even more CGI and green screen, nothing feels natural, everything feels artificial and fake. The designs for a lot of the locations and the characters (like in the first film) were creative and sometimes great, but they aren’t portrated on screen that well.

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Alice through the Looking Glass is what I expected this movie to be. It’s about as bad as the original, there are some elements which are better and there are some elements which are worse. I did like Mia Wasikowska and Sacha Baron Cohen in their roles, and there are some ideas and potential in the story. But at the same time the script is crammed with so many unformed ideas, the acting is mostly over the top and occasionally bad (particularly from Depp, Bonham Carter and Hathaway) and the CGI and green screen was horrible. I have no idea what you’ll think of this movie, but I’ll say if you didn’t like the first film, I think it’s highly unlikely that you’ll like the sequel.

Alice in Wonderland (2010) Review

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Alice in Wonderland

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Frightening fantasy scenes and violence
Cast:
Johnny Depp as The Mad Hatter
Anne Hathaway as The White Queen
Helena Bonham Carter as The Red Queen
Crispin Glover as Stayne – Knave of Hearts
Matt Lucas as Tweedledee/Tweedledum
Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsleigh
Alan Rickman as Blue Caterpillar (voice)
Stephen Fry as Cheshire Cat (voice)
Michael Sheen as White Rabbit (voice)
Timothy Spall as Bayard (voice)
Director: Tim Burton

A young girl when she first visited magical Wonderland, Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) is now a teenager with no memory of the place — except in her dreams. Her life takes a turn for the unexpected when, at a garden party for her fiancé and herself, she spots a certain white rabbit and tumbles down a hole after him. Reunited with her friends the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the Cheshire Cat and others, Alice learns it is her destiny to end the Red Queen’s (Helena Bonham Carter) reign of terror.

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Tim Burton nowadays can be hit or miss with hits with Sweeney Todd and misses with Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. When it comes to his take on Alice in Wonderland, people are divided but the movie did make a lot of money so obviously a lot of people liked it. However in my opinion, Alice in Wonderland is a miss and it might be his worst work yet. I haven’t read the book or seen any of the previous interpretations but yet I found this movie a bad adaptation. It tries to be this big grand war movie when it didn’t need to be. It’s so strange how this movie turned out, considering the fact that Tim Burton is a perfect choice to direct an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. But whatever the case, I felt that this movie was a huge let down and a terrible version of the classic story.

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It should be noted that this movie isn’t even an adaptation of the original Alice in Wonderland story because this isn’t the first time Alice has been to Wonderland. Later you find out that this place isn’t even called Wonderland, it’s called Underland. So the movie is more Grown Up Alice Returns to Underland than Alice in Wonderland. This movie also seemed to miss the point of Alice in Wonderland. There is some made up prophecy story forced into this movie and it also tries to make a war movie out of Alice in Wonderland. Because of this there are so many plot holes, like there’s a scene where Alice uses the enlarging cake to grow bigger, couldn’t they just make more of that cake and use it to win the war? Also despite this movie being PG, there are some pretty dark things that happen in the movie, so this film also doesn’t know what age they are working towards.

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Mia Wasikowska plays Alice and she is extremely bland and boring in this movie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure she’s a great actress, I just think it was the direction and writing that let her down. She barely looks interested or distressed by all the events happening all around her. Johnny Depp is playing typical Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter is playing typical Helena Bonham Carter. They aren’t bad but they aren’t anything special either, same can be said for the other characters.

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I will say the one good thing about this movie is that at times the style does show Wonderland off quite well. The designs for all the characters are perfect, take the Cheshire cat for instance. Tim Burton and Alice in Wonderland were a perfect pair for each other and although the rest of the movie isn’t good, at least everything looks great, even though there is quite a lot of CGI used.

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Alice in Wonderland was so popular that this year we’ll be getting a sequel. Do I think it’s possible for it to be good? Anything is possible but it’s unlikely. This film did have some good designs and some potential with Burton’s involvement, however the writing completely lets the story down by being bigger and more serious than it should. I think this is my least favourite Tim Burton movie so far. I know that Burton isn’t directing the sequel but I’m still not looking forward to it. Then again Alice in Wonderland is not a very tough act to follow, so it might at least be better.

Mortdecai (2015) Review

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Mortdecai

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence, Sexual References and Offensive Language
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Charlie Mortdecai
Ewan McGregor as Inspector Alistair Martland
Gwyneth Paltrow as Johanna Mortdecai
Paul Bettany as Jock Strapp
Jonny Pasvolsky as Emil Strago
Olivia Munn as Georgina Krampf
Jeff Goldblum as Milton Krampf
Director: David Koepp

Juggling some angry Russians, the British Mi5, his impossibly leggy wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) and an international terrorist, debonair art dealer and part time rogue Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) must traverse the globe armed only with his good looks and special charm in a race to recover a stolen painting rumoured to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold.

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Mortdecai stars Johnny Depp as an eccentric character that looks nothing like Johnny Depp. Sound familiar? That’s because that’s what he’s been doing for the past decade, and as you probably predicted, this film is another failure and another nail into the coffin of Johnny Depp’s career. Mortdecai tries to be a funny and witty crime comedy but fails at it big time. This film does have a few funny moments and it is well directed but for the most part it fails as a comedy, it fails as a mystery and it overall fails as a movie.

The plot is a bit of a mystery and the problem is that it is so hard to follow. By the time I got to the halfway point, I honestly stopped caring about what was going on. After seeing the movie I honestly have a hard time remembering a lot of this movie, it was so forgettable. Also despite this movie being a comedy, it’s not very funny. The movie has many running jokes and most of them aren’t funny in the slightest (the most prominent one being about Mortdecai’s moustache for some reason). This movie does have a few funny moments, but the problem is that for one, there aren’t many of them and two, it reuses the jokes over and over again and aren’t funny the second time around. It fails to be smart, it fails to be funny and it fails to be riveting in the slightest. This movie pretty much fails at everything it sets out to do, except with a few good jokes.

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Johnny Depp was pretty much playing the British Jack Sparrow, only less likable and less funny. I think it’s a mixture between the acting and the character but at a point I actually started to feel annoyed at Mortdecai, there’s nothing likable about him, he’s not funny, he’s not smart, his voice was annoying and it’s we’ve seen this from Depp before so many times. Other stars like Ewan McGregor and Gwyenth Paltrow are wasted in this movie, but they are overall fine in their roles. Paul Bettany was probably the best part of the movie, he has the best lines and the funniest moments.

This movie is well directed, I can give the movie that. It does look good but unfortunately the movie isn’t really focussed on visuals, more on the writing and ‘comedy’ and since the movie fails at both it almost feels irrelevant to mention. No one going into Mortdecai is going to remember the look of the movie, I’m just trying to find as many positive things as possible, there is so few of them.

This movie is another low point in Johnny Depp’s career. While the film is directed well and there are some funny moments, for the most part it is an unfunny, uninteresting mess. I heard that Black Mass is Johnny Depp’s comeback, I want to see it and I hope it’s good because Johnny Depp has been playing slight variations of the same character for years. However Johnny Depp isn’t the main issue with Mortdecai, even without him the movie is still very flawed. It’s not like Jupiter Ascending where there are some enjoyably bad moments, Mortdecai is just boring and worst of all forgettable and I really don’t recommend that you watch it. It will be 110 Minutes of your life that you’ll never get back.

Into the Woods (2014) Review

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Into the Woods

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence and Coarse Language
Cast:
Meryl Streep as The Witch
Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife
James Corden as The Baker
Anna Kendrick as Cinderella
Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince
Tracey Ullman as Jack’s mother
Christine Baranski as Cinderella’s Stepmother
Lilla Crawford as Red Riding Hood
Daniel Huttlestone as Jack
Johnny Depp as The Wolf
Director: Rob Marshall

Into the Woods is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales in a musical format that follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy)-all tied together by an original story involving a baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them.

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Musical movies can go either way for me. Even when I haven’t watched the live action versions, I liked Sweeney Todd and even Les Miserables, so I was optimistic upon starting to watch Into the Woods. Unfortunately, Into the Woods wasn’t really what I hoped the film to be and has some problems. I think that this movie is really not for me, particularly with its style, however even with some good things that helped the film from being mediocre, there are some pacing and plot parts in the story that really didn’t work for me.

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The first part of the movie was fine; a lot of things were happening at the same time but I was going along with the plot. The style wasn’t for me and wasn’t one that I particularly like, a lot of the movie did feel very cheesy. Also, some of the comedy worked, other times it really failed, at least to me. I do admit that I did find it entertaining seeing a party mix of multiple fairy tales. The movie wasn’t boring, there were times that the story didn’t interest me but it at least had enough for me to keep watching. The film near the end of the second third or the first half actually felt like it’s finished; however the movie just went on longer. I know that this is part of the musical but if that was the case, they should’ve shortened the first part, or at least made it entertaining enough that we are willing to watch the next part. It felt quite long already; I lost count of how many times I checked my watch. However the actual ending did resolve everything nicely, so I’ll give some credit for that.

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Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick and most of the main cast were pretty good. My favourite performance was from Emily Blunt, who gave one of the more grounded performances of the movie. Johnny Depp was good in the couple of scenes he’s in but honestly, anyone could’ve played his part. At time there were some over the top characters like Cinderella’s step family with really take me out of the movie. Occasionally Chris Pine as the Prince fitted in this category as well; he did well, but he did have some over the top moments. Some characters are meant to be cheesy but at the same time there are some grounded performances, so it felt a little out of place when those characters appeared.

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On the technical side, Into the Woods does really well. One of the strengths of Into the Woods is the special effects, especially whenever magic was being shown. It’s also a great looking movie, and an overall greatly shot movie. The makeup was also done very well, especially with Meryl Streep. The actors did sing well but I just wasn’t really a fan of the tunes, they sounded the same but it may be different for others who watch this movie.

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If you are a big musical fan (or fans of the Into the Woods musical) then chances are that you are going to like Into the Woods more than I did. I was disappointed with Into the Woods but I have a feeling that it’s just not my sort of movie. I know of a lot of people who really enjoyed the film. So if the film still looks appealing to you, I say check it out and see for yourself. If you don’t like musicals, Into the Woods won’t change your minds.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) Review

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Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Time: 116 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence
Cast:
Johnny Depp as Benjamin Barker/Sweeney Todd
Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett
Alan Rickman as Judge Turpin
Timothy Spall as Beadle Bamford
Jayne Wisener as Johanna Barker
Sacha Baron Cohen as Adolfo Pirelli
Laura Michelle Kelly as Lucy Barker/Beggar Woman
Jamie Campbell Bower as Anthony Hope
Ed Sanders as Tobias Ragg
Director: Tim Burton

After years in exile for a crime he didn’t commit, Benjamin Barker, now Sweeney Todd (Johnny Depp) returns to London to find his wife dead and his daughter Johanna (Jaine Wisener) in the hands of the evil Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman). Sweeney relocates his barber business to the top of Mrs. Lovett’s (Helena Bonham Carter) pie shop. Todd wants revenge and works with Mrs Lovett by killing the unsuspecting public while giving them a shave; the bodies are turned into Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies. With the plan being successful, all Todd needs to do is convince the Judge to sit in his chair.

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Tim Burton can do some good adaptations (Batman) but recently some of his recent adaptations haven’t impressed me (Willy Wonka). However that is not the case with Sweeney Todd. It is the right type of material that’s suited to him; it’s dark and bloody and Burton successfully adapted it for the big screen, respecting and representing the source material perfectly. This is added to the acting and direction which is great and furthers the movie even more.

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If you don‘t know already, this film is adapted from Sweeney Todd, a musical about Sweeney Todd, this is the first time I ever seen any version of Sweeney Todd in any form of media. One thing that is notable is that unlike most musicals in which nearly all of the dialogue is singing, Sweeney Todd has 75% of the dialogue involving singing. Fortunately the dialogue is well written for these characters and doesn’t feel inconsistent when the actors switch to just talking. I think my favourite song in the movie is between ‘Pretty Women’ and ‘Epiphany’. Both of these songs are done perfectly, with the acting, singing and the directing. This film also has a consistent dark comedic tone throughout, especially with the gallons of blood spilt.

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Johnny Depp is great as Sweeney Todd and embodies his character completely, never slipping out of character once. Also great was Helena Bonham Carter; the chemistry between Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter was great, it wasn’t just how they were in other Burton movies, here it feels genuine and fresh. Also good was the supporting cast. Alan Rickman was deliciously evil and was really good in his role, as is the case with Timothy Spall. Sacha Baron Cohen also steals the few scenes that he’s in. All the actors do a great job, particularly with the singing.

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The production design of this movie is really good; it really shows the town being really dark. Tim Burton has a great sense of colours and uses the right colours for the right moments, most of the time they are dark. One thing should be noted is the blood, when a character is killed there is so much blood I wonder if Quentin Tarantino was involved in those scenes, it was almost darkly comedic; I’m pretty sure it was meant for it to be like this. The score was also really well made, accompanied by the voices of actors who could sing. All of the songs are sung and directed perfectly, with none of them being weak.

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Tim Burton’s take on Sweeney Todd shows once again that he can do adaptations, just as long as he’s given the right source material. His direction along with the acting and singing makes for one of the best movie musicals I’ve seen (even though I haven’t seen many). If you love the musical, chances are you will be satisfied with how it turned out. As a person who doesn’t usually watch musicals I was pleasantly surprised.