Darke Reviews – The Intern (2015)

Apparently this is the time for movies I wouldn’t normally see or review. Let’s face it the rom com isn’t typically me. Granted a lot of that is  I find them depressing at this point in my life. Though let me be clear this is not a Romantic Comedy. It’s a drama-dy? I really don’t know what this classifies as?

Let’s get to it shall we?

Written, Produced, and Directed by Nancy Meyers, the woman who gave us The Holiday, Baby Boom, and….Private Benjamin? She has some interesting history. The triple threat of being the money, the script, and the one telling people what to do can be dangerous indeed and many people don’t handle it well. Meyers appears to be an exception to the rule bringing a movie that is actually full of heart and charm to the screen. She had a script which attracted raw star power as well.

Any film starring both Anne Hathaway and Robert DeNiro should lean to the strong. but neither guarantees alone. This time is a home run for both actors. Hathaway does not go into Devil Wears Prada territory and I cannot get enough of this woman’s smile. She also gets to display her range of acting here that is just so damn genuine that you forget she is acting; kinda the point I suppose. De Niro is in good form as well, giving while not his greatest dramatic performance, perhaps one of his more nuanced of late. There’s a lot of subtlety in what he brings here and that’s part of what makes the movie work. A supporting cast including with the amazing Rene Russo doesn’t hurt your film either.

The movie as far as technical details go is very middle of the road. It doesn’t do a lot in any dramatic or narrative sense of filmmaking, but what it does do it does remarkably well. There are so many films these days in which I, and other critics, claim are hollow, emotionless, and otherwise forgettable. I want to remember this movie for all that it did right and avoided doing wrong – which is a talent in itself.

TL;DR?

Hard to believe, but it needs to be a short review on this one. I actually want people to see it. I think it’s a good date movie. I got to see it with my best friend, which also worked out along the themes of the film.

If you like the style of movie the trailer presents, see it. You won’t be dissappointed. The movie made me smile, made me cry, made me laugh. It let me enjoy and if something can make me enjoy for even 90 minutes…I’ll take it.

 

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Darke Reviews – Black Mass (2015)

This one was a request from a coworker and is  a few days later than I wanted, but I promised a review. The other reason it’s late is I had a bad experience at the movies and didn’t want to let my bias from the experience affect the review. This gave me time to really think on how I feel about the film and make recommendations with some time away from it.

So should you attend the Mass?

As we start this, you understand from my history this is not my preferred genre. I like good drama’s and the occasional “based on real events” films. I firmly believe there is a gap in time that should occur to let a film begin to fade from collective memory a bit and help us remember bits of our history we may not know as well. Films like Captain Phillips, The 33, and the upcoming film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi are too new, too recent for my tastes. This hits the right bridge of time away, but with individuals who are in recent(-ish) headlines.

The movie here focuses on that of James “Whitey” Bulger, leader of a small criminal empire, and his relationship with FBI agent John Connolly. Much of the film focuses on the relationships between Bulgers inner circle of the Winter Hill Gang and the interactions Connolly had with them and his own with the FBI itself.

It’s worth mentioning here that acting is amazing in this. Depp is back in form again and I want more of this man in movies. While Jack Sparrow probably allowed him to buy another island, it’s not why we learned to love him. The fact that he can become most anyone is. I lost Depp in this performance and saw the man he was playing and want more of this. Joel Edgerton has had a lot of high profile work and this probably for me is one of his strongest performances. Gatsby, Zero Dark Thirty, Exodus, show a growing penchant for him as a heavy, despite earlier performances in such movies as The Thing and King Arthur. He is a solid actor who actually showed an interesting range in the film. The other stars, such as Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Rory Cochran, Adam Scott, all do really well and craft whole people; which is good since they are portraying real people. That isn’t always the case in a performance, but thankfully was here. Benedict Cumberbatch does a passable job at a New England accent but not quite, but that could be argued as someone trying to fake a New England accent over a Southie accent, and in this case over his natural accent.

The screenplay for the movie comes from two men, Jez Butterworth and Mark Mallouk. Butterworth is one who was responsible for the beauty of Edge of Tomorrow and will be on the hook for Spectre later this year. This is Mallouks first writing gig. As the film is based on a book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, I am not sure where to place some of the blame in dialogue. There are just some parts that are too ridiculous to believe anyone would buy, too tropish to be real and that took me out. Also, I am pretty sure the F-bomb is not actually punctuation, the movie disagrees with me to a level that would leave The Boondock Saints in awe.

Director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnance) loves himself the close up. While not as bad as Maggie for having the camera in his actors face there are a lot of scenes where the actor uses well over 75% of the screen space with their noggin. It’s a technique that can work, but doesn’t always.  Also, the timing of cuts, beats, and overall pacing of the film drags a bit to the long side. I wasn’t expecting the Departed when it comes to action, but I wanted the pacing just a bit tighter. Also I would be left to believe things only happened every 10 years if the movie was my only guide.

TL;DR?

Black Mass is a solidly acted film that I can highly recommend to anyone who enjoys the era of the Modern Mafia. If you love stories in, about, or related to Boston this is a must see. The city doesn’t live and breathe here as it’s own character despite their attempts, but you know where you are. The movie can be compared to one of my more favorite films of this type of genre Citizen X.

If you aren’t a fan of this type of film, you won’t miss anything. Even the curious could give this a pass. Save it for the genre lovers.

 

 

Darke Reviews – Hotel Transylvania 2

Hey folks, just putting this out there, I will not be seeing this movie. As much as it pains me to not see a Vampire movie of any kind on the silver screen; I am a woman of my word and am maintaining my boycott of all Adam Sandler films.

If he makes money from this, which he will, then he will continue to be allowed to make the other projects that are of far less quality. I cannot be a part of that in good conscience. I will review the original during the month of October, but this one falls under my perpetual boycott.

Sorry everyone.

Please see my review of Pixels for details on the boycott.

Darke Reviews – Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

I am curious and honestly thinking very hard here on how often the middle movie of a franchise with the concept of a trilogy being fully known is a solid film in it’s own right. I don’t think that Godfather was planned to be a trilogy, but if it was then you have Godfather II clearly. You of course have Empire Strikes back, which by the time it was made the trilogy was guaranteed. The Two Towers, naturally and I am sure there are a few others, but how many really? Granted I am talking there of some of the most iconic movies and books ever made, true greats. The Maze Runner doesn’t come to close to it, so I suppose it is not a fair comparison. Several of the last reviews of books to film adaptations have discussed the middle child before the final movie is split into two. By the way I have not heard an announcement of The Death Cure (the next book) being broken into two films.

So let’s get to the point – does The Scorch Trial survive itself?

The movie picks up literally right after the last one ends with the characters having escaped the Maze and being flown on helicopter to a base run by a man named Janson. Still on high alert Thomas and his friends leave the compound into the Scorch where even more risks and possibly salvation await them.

From a purely acting perspective, everyone gives it their all, when they are given the chance. Dylan O’Brien continues to shine and prove he is greater than Teen Wolf lets him be, though his fans know this already. He largely has to carry the film with way too many close ups, but covers a decent range of emotions and is at least interesting to watch. The rest of the survivors don’t get as much screen time as more characters must be introduced, though Ki Hong Lee as Minho continues to be the one we want to see more of. Giancarlo Esposito joins the cast as Jorge, who I just want more of as he lights up the screen. No one else really left me caring much, except a curious appearance by Alan Tudyk who I think was trying to impersonate Peter Stormare.

The weaknesses in the film can be pointed at a few sources, Wes Ball the director and T.S Nowlin the writer. Nowlin adapting the book to screen seemed to have  missed a mark in making you care about the characters. They introduce people, but you don’t care and point in fact you want to throat punch most of them. Granted some of the inherent stupidity of the characters may be in the source material, but to have half conversations and the pronoun game should be avoided as it really just tends to annoy – especially when you have a lot of down time to deal with it. It’s dumb and the script is dumb for doing it. Yes it annoys me.

Wes Ball, who also directed the last, seems to not know what to do with the actors, or the story, or the editing. The actors do ok. The shots and cinematography are great. The art is solid. Production design really good. Yet with all of the background elements working for him, the movie just kinda drones on. I mean I know it’s called the Maze Runner, but how many times can you run from a threat? There is an entire beautiful sequence that serves no real point other than to make the cast run again. The film could have dealt with about fifteen or twenty minutes of time being cut.

Now, I have been bashing the movie pretty solidly. It’s an ok sequel. Again the shots are beautiful. The tension ramps nicely and let’s you down relatively well. You don’t know who is going to die or if someone is going to die. They did better with this one than many zombie movies do.

TL;DR

The Scorch Trials are over. I am thankful. I wanted to check my watch at the end. It has at least 3 false endings, just when you think it’s about to roll credits it goes on.

If you are a fan of the Maze Runner books or the last movie I can tell you to see this; otherwise give it a pass.

 

 

SPOILER CORNER – ROLL OVER TO READ

Seriously, I think I just watched a live action version of The Last of Us. The movie has zombie like creatures that move fast, have no eyes, and eventually die and have the plant inside them grow into vine like substances. I know Last of Us came out after the book, but the parallels in shots from the game and this movie are kinda ridiculous.

 

END SPOILER CORNER