Black Mass

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I really enjoy Johnny Depps performances on the big screen, well almost all the time. He has come under some criticism lately for choosing films that he enjoys acting rather than finding a script that will win awards. He often goes for the quirky eccentric parts and some believe this has tainted his career. I think this is nonsense and he has earnt the right to act in whatever film he wants. The only exception I would say was Transcendence which was truly dull.

Depp is a great actor and Black Mass proves once again that he very talented. Donny Brasco is one of my favourite films and Black Mass finds Depp acting on a gangster film, but this time as the evil James “Whitney” Bulger. It is the true story of how James becomes the king Pin of the Boston criminal world. This with the help of an old friend who protects him whilst working in the FBI.

There is violence, murder, drugs and this isn’t for the faint hearted. Depp thins his hair to match the look of this evil man. A man that can do whatever he wants and has no scruples and no loyalty to anyone. He doesn’t live by a code and will sink anyone to try and save his own back. He has no loyalty which makes it easier for those around him to tell all when it comes to it.

Depp is seriously nasty in this role he is ugly in appearance as well his actions. He looks comfortable with a shot gun and in the torture chamber. A person’s performance should be based on whether you see the actor or the character. You lose Depp in this film and only see Bulger which is testament to the performance.

His friend is played by Joel Edgerton who has made quite a career for himself. The first time I saw him was in star wars and playing a few bit parts, but now he is a star in his own right. He plays the slippery FBI agent who has a misguided loyalty to Bulger often through fear. His friendship allows him to move up the ranks and through information helps him take down the mafia boses. The friendship is one sided and Bulger is not as loyal to his friend. There comes a point when the Turning a blind eye just won’t work as Bulger is involved in almost every crime in the city. You see the agent start to break down and become vulnerable. The good life for this rags to riches man is about to fall apart. This is another great performance and one I enjoyed. You could really feel the tension build as the agent starts to panic and the realisation that he is on his own is apparent.

Benedict Cumberbatch is Bulgers brother who is high up in the political realm. This makes life difficult as he  feels like he should protect his brother as an example of blood being thicker than water. This is a small part for Cumberbatch although very important in showing how Bulgers relationships work. You do not see the affects of Bulgers crimes on his brother until the end as most of the focus is on Bulger and the agent.

I loved this film and its a great story although terrifying at the same time. It is scary to think that one man got away with such horrific crimes for so long. The performances of all involved are exceptional and this makes for a great film. Definitely one to watch.

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8/10

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A monster without a Spark.

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I saw Victor Frankenstein at Wembley Cineworld before seeing The Prodigy live at Wembley Arena. I have to say there was far more spark at the concert than in this film.

It is the story of a crazy doctor creating a monster. The doctor is extremely eccentric as you would imagine. He is trying to create life from bits and pieces he has collected from different animals. The animals are dead well before the doctor has got his crazed hands on them. The use of human parts is well beyond the law and so the doctor needs to convince the university that he is not mad but can play the part of God.

A nameless hunchback mocked by the public and his circus comrades is the docs partner. The doctor rescues him from the cruelty that the circus brings. In doing so a circus member dies, which starts a murder investigation. He cures him of his ailment and sees a genius beyond the clown makeup and scraggly look. The hunchback devours knowledge from medical books and becomes well educated although unable to escape the circus. His knowledge saves the love of his life Lorelie.

Doctor Frankenstein brings the hunchback on board and names him Igor. Between them they create a monkey monster and bring it to life. This monster only has a short life as there is not enough electricity to keep it alive. A rich aristocrat puts the money on the table so that the doctors dream can be brought true and human life created. This brings about the question from Jurassic park just because you can, does it mean you should? Has the doctor thought about the consequences of this creation. The story is no different from all the other Frankenstein films and disaster is never far away.

James McAvoy stands out from the rest despite the performance being just a little bit Hammy. His character is tense. Insane, eccentric, kind, determined and full of faults. The performance is energetic and he is perfectly cast. Unfortunately the story and the rest of the cast do not live up to this famous story.

Daniel Radcliffe plays Igor the hunchback who is saved from the circus to become the genius’ apprentice. Radcliffe can’t quite pull off the London accent and looks extremely uncomfortable in this role. The love story between Igor and Lorelie has no spark at all and doesn’t fit in with the story. I have not watched the Harry Potter series, but I have seen Kill Your Darlings and Radcliffe is a far better actor than his performance here. It is a shame as the pairing should create such a great film, but it doesn’t work.

The murder investigation is headed by a detective who believes in a creator. The doctors actions are against everything the detective believes. This leads to an investigation clouded by belief rather than fact. The Doctor and the detective are antagonists, one an atheist who believes only the weak willed believe in God, the other who thinks life should not be meddled with and only God can and should create life. I think this is an interesting idea and one that could work better. The performance from Andrew Scott is good and the contrasting views add another element to the story.

The film is worth a watch if you are a McAvoy fan and if you like ham. It is definitely not a classic and having been made into film so many times it really needed to be outstanding.

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6/10

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