Tag Archives: Johnny Depp

“Murder on the Orient Express”



Stylish and incredibly well acted, Kenneth Branagh‘s retelling of “Murder on the Orient Express,” the famous 1934 novel written by world renowned author Agatha Christie, is a fine piece of solid storytelling. Branagh’s talky whodunit harkens back to the days of old fashioned Hollywood filmmaking when movie stars wore lavish costumes, the production design was rich with detail, and films had a visual richness because they were actually shot on 70mm film (as Branagh did here).

This well-made vanity project makes only slight changes to Christie’s original work, managing to make the familiar seem new. The well-known murder mystery takes place in the confined space of the Orient Express train, where thirteen strangers are stranded due to an avalanche. When one particularly sinister passenger (Johnny Depp) is murdered, mastermind detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) must piece together clues and solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.

The ensemble players are top notch in every respect and are all perfectly cast. There’s the talkative widow Mrs. Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer), aristocrat Princess Dragomiroff (Judi Dench), personal accountant Hector MacQueen (Josh Gad), stern professor Gerhard (Willem Dafoe), proper governess Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley), humble Spanish missionary Pilar (Penélope Cruz), the elegant Countess Andrenyi (Lucy Boynton), and a charming doctor (Leslie Odom Jr.), just for starters.

The role call is large, which means we only briefly get to meet and attempt to dissect the characters and their likely motivations. Branagh makes a point of boosting his own ego by making his Poirot the real star and relegates his top-shelf supporting cast to brief snippets of screen time. This results in a sometimes frustrating exercise because these are complex characters that you’ll want to get to know better, yet you’re constantly pushed away.

Although the audience is kept at a distance, the film is simply gorgeous and it’s hard not to appreciate its handsome cinematography and opulent direction. It’s very orderly and neat, rich in a refined elegance; a stylish and suspenseful thriller and integrity tale of the moral gray zone of seeking justice through revenge. The riddle will keep you engaged and the filmmaking style is grand. If you’re seeking old Hollywood glamour, you’ll find it here.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”



Disney fans and pirate lovers, lend me your ears! There’s not an awful lot of new stuff in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” but what is present is a whole lot of boisterous fun. If you’ve been looking forward to this movie, you won’t be disappointed. (Disney fans in particular will be pleased, as there are a few little Easter eggs and hidden references for diehard fans of the theme parks).

In this fifth installment of the popular swashbuckling series, Johnny Depp reprises his bumbling, stumbling, iconic role as Captain Jack Sparrow, the rum loving, speech slurring, down-on-his-luck scoundrel. It seems everyone is out to get him (again) this time around, from fan favorite baddies Salazar (Javier Bardem) to Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) and his army of ghost men. There’s a slightly hokey plot about finding Poseidon’s trident to break a curse, and there’s the inevitable replacement casting with the “new” Will and Elizabeth in the form of Carina (Kaya Scodelario) and Henry (Brenton Thwaites). The supporting cast is all playing second fiddle to Depp, but they know it — and so do audiences.

The film’s story may be a little bit dull, but there are two things that make this reliable blockbuster work. First, it’s actually quite funny. This is probably the funniest “Pirates” movie of the bunch, and it had me laughing throughout with its cheeky wordplay and Depp’s amusing line delivery. Second, the visual effects are flawless in a way that almost reach outright perfection. The CGI is by far the strong suit of the movie, including a truly great looking sequence with reanimated corpse sharks. I kept hearing the inner voice in my head say “wow” throughout this one.

The movie pushes the boundaries of its PG-13 rating, so parents may want to take caution with little ones. Most of the double entendres will sail over their heads, but there are a few dark and unsettling scenes of stabbings, drownings, and general creepiness that may cause some sensitive kiddos to freak.

It’s also easy for adults to get a little over stimulated from all the onscreen hoopla. The film gets a bit too rambunctious towards the end, with rapid-fire action scenes that start to resemble a cartoon more than a live action movie. But at least it’s a great looking cartoon.


“Yoga Hosers”



I won’t sugar coat it: this movie is the very definition of bad. Just when I thought director Kevin Smith was starting to get his groove back, an utter piece of garbage like “Yoga Hosers” comes along. There are zero reasons for this movie to even exist.

Don’t let anyone tell you this is “the female version of ‘Clerks.’” It’s far, far, far from it. This movie is a complete mess of incoherent, undeveloped gags and ideas. Nothing made me laugh, and most of the jokes that were clearly supposed to be funny weren’t met with so much as a chuckle from anyone in the audience. When the best ‘jokes’ in the film are your actors saying “aboot” in a funny Canadian accent, then your film has no substance.

The campiness simply didn’t work. While I find the idea of two empty-headed teen convenience store clerks battling a crudely animated Nazi bratwurst army with yoga poses as enjoyable as the next guy, I was so bored that I was contemplating taking a nap 20 minutes in. The movie is so poorly directed and poorly executed that I truly hope it’s not the final nail in Smith’s filmmaking coffin.

Let’s talk about the other elephant in the room: the dreadful lead performances. I appreciate Smith wanting to cast his daughter Harley Quinn Smith in the movie and I hate to dash the pie-in-the-sky acting dreams of a 16 year old girl, but she and Lily-Rose Depp were both as stiff as a board as the two Colleens. Wait, they didn’t have any acting experience before this movie? Wow, you could’ve fooled me! CGI mannequins would’ve been better choices as leads. Johnny Depp was dreadful and he looked as though he was trying to keep a watchful eye on his daughter instead of his lines. Cutsey bits with the teenage girls singing were super repetitive and exhausting.

Before you dismiss this review as being written by a cynical old fart, I’ve been a fan of Smith’s for decades (I even LOVE the oft-maligned “Mallrats” and enjoyed the over-the-top bizarre “Tusk“). But “Yoga Hosers” is as bad as movies come.

I’d rather spend eternity eating shards of broken glass than to watch this disastrous piece of mediocrity ever again.


It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I say this: “Yoga Hosers” is terrible. Worse than “Clerks 2.” Yes, worse even than “Cop Out.”

After the bizarre-but-compelling “Tusk,” I looked forward to Kevin Smith’s follow-up movie with gleeful anticipation. After hearing him introduce the film — clearly a passion project of his that stars his daughter (Harley Quinn Smith), her best friend (Lily-Rose Depp), and a bunch of family friends — I had high hopes. To say I was disappointed is an understatement.

Joke after joke fell flat; several of the sight gags, which induced minor chuckles the first time, were trotted out over and over again until the audience was sick of them. The characters (or, more correctly, caricatures) were uninteresting, and the silly plot (which could have played well in a better movie) was annoyingly stupid.

I’ve often said that there is nothing more difficult to sit through than an unfunny comedy. This movie proves my point.

“Alice Through the Looking Glass”



It’s the costumes, stupid. Well, that and the makeup. Everything else about “Alice Through the Looking Glass” is a less-than-enchanted mess. I didn’t want to believe it, but this movie is every bit as bad as everyone says it is.

Johnny Depp is back as the Mad Hatter, Mia Wasikowska returns as Alice and Helena Bonham Carter is once again Iracebeth the Red Queen. The trio of actors are more than capable in their roles and the characters they create on film are fantastic, but none can save this mechanical movie. In fact, Depp is featured as no more than a supporting performer; he doesn’t have much screen time and when he does, it’s not in any meaty scenes.

Sacha Baron Cohen carries the movie as “Time,” but I quickly grew tired of his humorless portrayal (when I see Cohen I want to watch him doing what he does best: comedy). Anne Hathaway (Mirana) must be shooting for the 2016 Razzie award for Worst Actress; she is SO AWFUL in this movie that even my fellow audience members were laughing out loud whenever she delivered her lines or pranced about. It’s bad.

The unoriginal plot is at least simple to follow and semi-interesting; Alice travels through time to prevent disaster but learns that she cannot change the past. Alice through the looking glass? More like Alice in the time machine.

Quickly bored with the story, I found myself scrutinizing the costumes and special effects, and I cannot find any fault with either. Yes, the movie looks like a huge cartoon but it’s clear that the animation was crafted with the utmost care (unlike recent Disney and Pixar films “The Jungle Book” and “Finding Dory,” which both had surprisingly poor animation). Guess Disney misguidedly spent all of their CGI budget on this film. The extravagant costumes and sparkling makeup are colorful and wonderful and simply perfect, capturing the vivid imagination of author Lewis Carroll.

I am comfortable mildly recommending this film to anyone who is a fan of the artistry of animation, makeup and costuming. Everyone else would be advised to skip it.

Matt was unavailable for review.