Tag Archives: Johnny Depp

The Lone Ranger

7 Jul

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Cast

Johnny Depp-Tonto

Armie Hammer-John Reid, a k a the Lone Ranger

Tom Wilkinson-Latham Cole

William Fichtner-Butch Cavendish

Barry Pepper-Capt. Fuller

James Badge Dale-Dan Reid

Ruth Wilson-Rebecca Reid

Helena Bonham Carter-Red Harrington

Saginaw Grant-Chief Big Bear

Review: Being a confirmed baby boomer I remember the legend of The Lone Ranger and Tonto, with a mighty hi-ho silver away and the William Tell overture bringing nostalgic memories of television shows past. Before the The Lone Ranger was part of the television landscape his stories came on the heels of the great depression, and at the time was a popular adventure radio broadcast. The series in both cases were rife with cowboy and Indian stereotypes, despicable villains and reflected a time that many people today would consider politically incorrect. The question then remains how do you bring the archaic to modern audiences in a way that can be appreciated by today’s young demographic and please those of us who grew up with the legend? Perhaps the answer comes in the form of one Johnny Depp, in his role of Tonto, an aging Indian, with a dead crow on his head, telling a child at a western carnival side show the true origin of The Lone Ranger. The carnival is in San Francisco in the year 1933, not coincidently I presume, the year the radio show was first broadcast.

As the boy wonders into the tent to see western history come alive, he wanders passed the stuffed bears and animals and comes to a statue of a native American, the plaque on the front of the window reads The Noble Savage in his native habitat. Underneath the wrinkly prosthetics is Johnny Depp as Tonto, not unlike Dustin Hoffman’s old man in the film, Little Big Man. The boy hangs on Tonto’s every word as the story begins in flashback.

The story centers around the building of the Trans-Continental railway through the old west. There are corrupt officials, Tom Wilkinson as Latham Cole, bad guys such as the Butch Cavendish gang, warring Indian tribes, Cavalry officers, explosions, love interest, Ruth Wilson as Rebecca Reid, golden hearted prostitutes on the side of good, Helen Bohnham Carter as Red Harrington, Tonto as a crazy Indian excommunicated from his tribe who becomes a crazy mentor to John Reid a.k.a. he Lone Ranger.

Gore Verbinski directed from a script by, Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. The film mixes witty verbiage, cliché’ bashing, the William Tell Overture beautifully interpolated into the score at appropriate times, spot gags and plenty of eye candy. The film pays homage to such directors as John Ford in its use of Monument Valley for location shooting, Buster Keaton’s the General and of course to the mythos behind The Ranger’s physics defying horse Silver.

The film comes across as extremely entertaining but is in truth a mixed bag. With all the attempt to give the past versions of the myth a modern twist neither is really served. There were times that the film’s homage worked so well you can’t help but smile and say yes, but alas those moments are brief and the amount of well edited bloodshed mixed with witty banter distracts rather than invites.

In the end the film is a worthy attempt, and with all the Pirates Of the Caribbean movie sequels it is nice to watch Depp having the time of his life playing yet another eccentric outcast. So if the old question was “Who was that masked man?” the new question as written into the script is, “What’s with the mask?”

FYI: There is a scene of a child being hit across the face, it is well edited but still may be intense for younger children, be warned

Recommended:  camera-film-icon11camera-film-icon11camera-film-icon11

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Dark Shadows

17 May

Synopsis:  Tim Burton directs Johnny Depp who plays Barnabus Collins  in this quasi-spoof/reboot of the 60’s Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows. In Collinsport, Maine, in the 1760’s,  Barnabus Collins is imprisoned by Angelique a spurned but beautiful witch, who wants his love. In revenge she turns him into a Vampire and locks him in a coffin until he is accidentally released in 1972 and returns to his home, and dysfunctional family descendants. He comes to terms with having to save his family name and the family business from Angelique who has spent the last 200 years trying to destroy the Collins family name and fortune.

Cast:

Johnny Depp portrays Barnabus Collins

Eva Green portrays vengeful witch Angelique Bouchard

Michelle Pfeiffer portrays Elizabeth Collins Stoddard

Helena Bonham Carter portrays Dr. Julia Hoffman

Jackie Earle Haley plays Willie Loomis, the manor’s caretaker.

Jonny Lee Miller as Roger Collins, Elizabeth’s “ne’er-do-well” brother.

Gulliver McGrath as David Collins, Roger’s “precocious” 10-year-old son

Bella Heathcote as Victoria Winters/Maggie Evans, David’s governess and Barnabas’ love interest, she also plays the role of Josette Du Pres. Victoria and Maggie Evans’ roles, separate in the series, were combined in the film.

Chloe Grace Moretz as Carolyn, Elizabeth’s rebellious teenage daughter.

Ray Shirley as Mrs. Johnson, the manor’s elderly maid.

Christopher Lee as Silas Clarney, a “king of the fishermen who spends a lot of time in the local pub, The Blue Whale.”

Alice Cooper as himself.

Ivan Kaye as Joshua Collins, the father of Barnabas Collins.

Susanna Cappellero as Naomi Collins, the mother of Barnabas Collins.

William Hope as Sheriff Bill of Collinsport

Review: You would think that the one – two punch of a Burton/Depp collaboration would whet anyone’s appetite to spend their hard earned cash on seeing this film.  Tim Burton is arguably one of the finest directors of Gothic pieces, set design and storytelling, unfortunately this is one of his lesser efforts. Depp’s take on Barnabus Collins is as an eccentric a performance as we have come to expect from Depp, that said, this fish out of water story really loses steam quickly. Angelique is one bad witch and Eva Green does an admirable job up against the eccentricities of Depp’s Barnabus.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard portrays the family matriarch and really has little to do in this role. You can see her dysfunction as the Collins Estate is falling apart and she keeps a hired live-in psychiatrist Dr. Julia Hoffman. The rest of her family includes a rebellious, provocative daughter Carolyn, Elizabeth’s brother Rodger an indifferent father to his son David,who has delusions that he can speak to his dead mother, Doctor Hoffman an alcoholic psychiatrist who is payed unsuccessfully to help David overcome his delusion and also several eccentric servants that work at the Collinswood mansion.

Rocker Alice Cooper has a cameo, Depp as Barnabus Collins refers to Cooper as the “ugliest woman he has ever seen”. Also Christopher Lee appears in the film along with Helena Bonham Carter and an assortment of character actors doing their best to make this campy reboot better than it actual turns out to be.

There are a few joys in this film mostly by Depp who has the best lines in the film and his portrayal is worth a look see. On the whole I would wait to rent this on DVD after all even a bad Burton film isn’t all that bad.

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21 Jump Street

27 Apr

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Synopsis: 21 Jump Street is a reboot of the 80’s television show that starred Johnny Depp, Peter DeLuise and Holly Robinson Peete. The premise of the TV show, which was created by Stephen J. Cannell, centered around a squad of youthful-looking undercover police officers investigating crimes in high schools, colleges, and other teenage venues. The reboot starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum is loosely based on the original.

Review: This uneven comedy/action film was written by Jonah Hill and Michael Bacall and is both an affectionate take on the original and a fun fest for stoners and geeks. The original series was as serious as this reboot is humorous. The films weakness is the constant barrage of dick jokes, the movie poster tag-line should give you an idea of where this is going, “The Only Thing Getting Blown Tonight Is Their Cover” bdump bump.

The plot revolves around two high school classmates one a chubby, geeky smart guy named Morton Schmidt, played to the hilt by Jonah Hill and a dumb jock named Greg Jenko played so realistically it rings true by Channing Tatum. In high school Tatum laughs and makes remarks as Schmidt chokes up trying to ask a pretty and cool girl to the prom.

Jump to several years later and the two meet-up and become friends at the police academy and help each other get through classes together. Schmidt helps Jenko pass the written tests while Jenko helps Schmidt pass all the boot camp training. They are teamed together on Park Duty and ride police bicycles around the park. They finally have an opportunity to prove themselves by arresting a drug dealer, however the department had to release the guy because Jenko didn’t read him his Miranda rights. When the department chief asks Jenko and Schmidt to recite to him the 52 words that encompass the Miranda rights Jenko screws it up. They are so immature,childish and young looking that they are assigned to join a special undercover division at 21 Jump Street, run by Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) in order to infiltrate a drug ring at the local high school. Dickson is no nonsense, foul mouth, I don’t give a crap about you, son of a bitch. Ice Cube plays it over the top for a few laughs.

Things have changed since they went to high school, everything has become politically correct and the type of geeks Jenko used to make fun of are now the cool guys,needless to say Schmidt fits right in. They are undercover as teenage brothers Brad and Doug, Brad being the brains and Doug being the athlete. They are like the stoner Laurel and Hardy, there are especially hilarious moments when their file gets mixed up and Schmidt is mistaken for Doug not Brad and Jenko for Brad not Doug. Their objective to find out who the school drug dealer is and then shut down the supplier before the drugs move to other schools. Needless to say they both take the drug and the effect on the two of them is one of the bigger laughs in the movie.

The strength of the movie is lies in the relationship between Schmidt and Jenko and how they bond while trying to get in with the cool kids and geeks.  They learn the lead dealer of the drug is the popular Eric (Dave Franco), but he is not the supplier.

They go to the dealing room where Eric forces them to take the drug right there and not wait. They attempt to throw it up but are unsuccessful, and they undergo the phases of the drug while talking to their P.E. teacher, Mr. Walters (Rob Riggle), and also while running track and during band practice. The mistakes that happen at the track meet causes Eric to take a liking to Schmidt.

Schmidt also falls for Molly (Brie Larson) and even tho he is in his 20’s now he emotionally relives his geeky past and works hard to make her like him, a little to hard as she already understands how sensitive and compassionate he is and thinks he is so cool.

The film also deconstructs action films because during the obligatory chase scene no matter how many flammable gas trucks get hit or fired upon non of them blow-up, Schmidt is dismayed that nothing blows up in real life like it does on TV and the movies.

There are cameo appearances by Johnny Depp, Peter DeLuise and Holly Robinson Peete for fans of the original series.

Understand that when Hollywood runs out of ideas they tend to reboot old TV shows with a 50/50 chance of success for example: Bewitched which was a disaster and a Star Trek Reboot that was brilliant. 21 Jump Street was somewhere in the middle, not bad but not a total disaster either.

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