Tag Archives: Johnny Depp


Johnny Depp lends his voice to the portrayal of the title character, an adventurous family pet who leaves home to learn more about himself, in this family-friendly animated adventure directed by Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean). The star-studded cast of vocal talent also includes Abigail Breslin, Isla Fisher, Alfred Molina, Ray Winstone, Harry Dean Stanton, Ned Beatty, Stephen Root and Bill Nighy.

Rating: 8 out of 10

This is a storyline we’ve seen before. It’s classic mythology. Weak protagonist is thrust into being a hero, meets girl, loses girl, faces tough times only to rise again as the hero and get the girl in the process. But it works.

Rango thinks he’s an actor. Right from the beginning, while living in his safe aquarium, Rango lays out the exact story arch that’s about to happen while creating a play. He thinks he’s an actor. When he’s thrust into the desert after the car he’s riding in has an accident, he pretends to be a gunslinging bad-ass in a Western town he finds called Dirt.

The aforementioned storyline unfolds, but it works because we get lost in the characters and the world that drips with detail we seldom see in animation. It’s an old west town inhabited by desert animals. But they aren’t just cuddly bunnies wearing ten gallon hats. Their teeth are yellow and chipped, their boots worn to the soles, the buildings are made with splinter-filled wood, and the animals feel real from each scale and feather. It’s a tough life in the desert, and lack of water and death are central themes. It’s rare in animation targeted at children where characters and creatures regularly die throughout the film, but without it, we wouldn’t get the depth and breadth given to this world.

The film also has an excellent cast, led by Depp, who keep the film fun, fast, with some emotion when needed. This film will bore very young children or maybe scare them. But 10 and older should be just fine.

The Tourist

Watery Venice, Italy, provides the setting as Johnny Depp, playing an American tourist seeking solace for his shattered heart, instead finds it in danger again after encountering a beautiful Interpol agent (Angelina Jolie). Little does the Yank know that the artful lady has gone to great lengths to arrange their “chance” meeting and is using him to trap a thief who happens to be her ex-lover. The film earned Golden Globe nods for Depp and Jolie.

Rating: 3 out of 10

“The Tourist” should have been a good movie, maybe even great. Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie in a caper through the romantic canals of Venice is a great set up. But something was missing. Chemistry, I guess.

The storyline was good enough. It starts in Paris where she is being watched by Interpol. She gets a letter from a mysterious man, hops on a train, and per his instructions picks up a look-a-like – Johnny. Depp plays a bumbling American math teacher, set against Angie’s cool, very together Brit. But from here it drags. The action never really takes off (and neither do those molasses-style boat chases) and the intrigue isn’t really that intriguing.

Johnny is better than Angie. He’s a bit charming and a little funny. She doesn’t have a moment of levity, though. It’s also odd to see her looking old and too thin.

Movies we completely disagree on

Brian and Matt have very similar taste in film, but every once in a while we completely disagree on a movie. Each of the Movie Brothers will list three three movies we disagree on and rip on each other in the process. Enjoy!


Hulk (Ang Lee version from 2003)

This film is an abhorrent failure on every conceivable level.   The special effects make the Hulk look like a fake plastic doll, Eric Bana is lifeless in the lead, Nick Nolte seems like they grabbed him from a  totally different movie and Ang Lee’s direction is rudderless, flat, and uninteresting.  This was even more apparent when the movie studio pretended they got a do-over and released the much better “Incredible Hulk” in 2008.  Matt always told me he liked the more cerebral aspects of the film.  To this I say:  “Yeah, I enjoyed the really ‘cerebral’ moments as well, like when Hulk smashed some cars and fought mutated dogs.  Wow, so deep……”

Matt’s rating: 7 out of 10
My rating: 2 out of 10

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This one isn’t as awful as Hulk but it’s damn near close.  I remember sitting in the theater after this chunk of mule shit started and thought: “This is what all the hype is about?  Are you fucking kidding me?”  All those readers who enjoyed the book (including my brother) told me it was awesome and I’d love it.  What is there to love?  A stupid robot with Alan Rickman’s voice?  A plot that meanders around with little or no explanation?  Characters that pop in and out of the story with no dramatic arc or sense of purpose?  Matt loves the books and is just kidding himself that the film isn’t bad.

Matt’s rating: 8 out of 10
My rating: 3 out of 10

Kids in Hall: Brain Candy

I was never a huge fan of Kids in the Hall but I did catch their show once in a while and though it could be pretty funny.  But, this movie is one of the biggest pieces of garbage I’ve ever seen.  It makes no sense, looks and feels exceptionally low budget and cheap, and is just plain unfunny.  The actors go in and out of characters that belonged in bad five minute sketches and not 90 minute films.  If any of the original creators ever happen to run into this blog, I just want you to know that your film single-handedly turned me off to the Kids in the Hall forever.  Yes, it’s that bad.

Matt’s Rating: 7 out of 10
My Rating: 1 out of 10



Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

I’m sorry, but Hunter S. Thompson is a hack. He used his whole career to shape “gonzo journalism,” and what bothers me more than his fake journalism is that people believed him. Would you really rely on the work of a journalist who loads up on cocaine before heading into the office? And that’s precisely why this script fails. It is moronic. Terry Gilliam‘s visual style works for this movie, but what’s so great about seeing alligators playing poker? I have friends who’ve tripped on acid and they say they’ve never seen anything like that. It’s hard to say Johnny Depp over acted, since that was a requirement for the role, but it was just annoying. The whole movie was a flop.

Brian’s rating: 8 out of 10
My rating:
3 out of 10


I remember when my brother came up to me, beyond excited, exclaiming that “Titanic” was the greatest movie ever made and that he’s never seen anything like it. He insisted on going again and taking me. He explained that it was of vital importance that I see this movie. It was one of those movies that would change my life. Instead, I was forced to endure more than three hours of the corniest dialogue and acting I had seen in a long time. Look, the third act is powerful, but there’s a reason for it. It’s all action. The actors can’t trip over the terrible dialogue and each others’ wooden performances. Director James Cameron knows special effects and little else. There are some truly laughable moments, like when Leonardo DiCaprio’s character is handcuffed to a pipe and Kate Winslet goes to look for something to cut him free, and he says, “I’ll be right here!” Where the hell else was he going?

Brian’s rating: 10 out of 10
My rating: 4 out of 10

The Devil’s Rejects

This movie should have been called “The Devil’s Retards.” This is another one of those movies where Brian approached me with bounding enthusiasm. He literally said: “Rob Zombie is the future of Hollywood. He will represent the next great generation of directors.” That’s a huge endorsement. And no, I’m not joking when I quote him.  He really said that. So I ran to rent “The Devil’s Rejects” expecting to see the next Kubrick or Kirosawa. Instead, I sat through 109 minutes of pure crap. Wretched acting (he needs to stop putting his wife in all his movies because she can’t act), laughable dialogue, and special effects that look like a high school audio-visual club pieced it together. On top of that, this movie is a sequel! Lions Gate dished out $7 million on this piece of crap — which is nothing, I know. But Rob Zombie is the last guy I’d give $7 million. This is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

Brian’s rating: 8 out of 10
My rating: 1 out of 10

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Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

An adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel of the same name, this film details a drug-induced search for the “American Dream,” by Thompson, played by Johnny Depp, and his crazed, Samoan lawyer (Benicio Del Toro). Fueled by the massive amount of drugs they purchased with an advance from a magazine to cover a sporting event in Vegas; they set out in the Red Shark. Encountering police, reporters, gamblers, racers, and hitchhikers, they search for some undefinable thing know only as the “American Dream” and find fear, loathing and odd adventures into the dementia of the modern American West. Directed by Terry Gilliam (The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnasis, Brazil).

Rating: 8 out of 10

Is there a more talented actor working today than Johnny Depp?   If there is, I can’t think of one.  He doesn’t just play a character, he completely inhabits the role.  Here he plays Raoul Duke, a writer who goes to Las Vegas with an unlimited expense account and a penchant for experimenting with every drug imaginable including ether, acid, marijuana and cocaine all packed neatly in a suitcase that he carries around as if it were his child.

It’s important to note that this film is not linear.  You could throw it in at almost any point and you’re going to capture part of the experience.  This is completely done on purpose by director Terry Gilliam who is known to be infatuated by the surrealistic works of Fellini and Antoniono.  In other words, it breaks the standard linear way we’re used to absobing stories and breaks it down into individual moments of a larger experience without a true Macguffin or story arc.  And, it is done to great effect here.  We are put in the shoes of an eccentric drug addict and his partner in crime (played brilliantly by Oscar-winning actor Benicio DelToro) as to what the world would look like through his eyes.  Everything we see is an exaggerated haze of emotions and visuals.  While some may find this to be a bit overwhelming, I found that it was an interesting way to experience a film that is unlike any other.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice, an unpretentious and individual 19-year-old, is betrothed to a dunce of an English nobleman. At her engagement party, she escapes the crowd to consider whether to go through with the marriage and falls down a hole in the garden after spotting an unusual rabbit. Arriving in a strange and surreal place called “Underland,” she finds herself in a world that resembles the nightmares she had as a child, filled with talking animals, villainous queens and knights, and frumious bandersnatches. Alice realizes that she is there for a reason–to conquer the horrific Jabberwocky and restore the rightful queen to her throne. Directed by Tim Burton (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Big Fish).

Rating: 6 out of 10

This summer I visited New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, where Burton’s illustrations and films were part of a featured exhibit. I had no idea walking in what a talented illustrator and artist Burton is. I’ve always enjoyed his films — “Edward Scissor Hands” “Batman Returns” and “Big Fish,” which is one of my all-time favorites. But Burton’s talent as an illustrator is in plain site when watching some of his pictures — and “Alice in Wonderland” is a perfect example of that.

This is a smart picture in many ways. There is great love in the recreation of an iconic world with equally iconic characters. But this is Burton’s vision, a much darker place where we see the heads of the Queen of Hearts’ victims floating in the moat around her castle.  The world Burton takes us through is both beautiful and scary, just as they were in Lewis Carrol’s novels and it works very well.

The acting is fantastic. Johnny Depp never disappoints and Mia Wasikowska was perfect as Alice, bringing beauty while having a feisty sense of innocence that teeters on adulthood. The only problem I have with the movie is the script moves awkwardly toward Frabjous Day, but we’re never really told what it is. We just know that Alice has to fight the Jabberwocky, a massive dragon who is part of the Queen of Heart’s army. Alice, a frail looking English school girl, suits up in armor and brandishes a sword, but it’s a little hard to buy into her being a heroic warrior taking on a dragon, complete with cheesy, action-movie line, “Off with your head” as she flies through the air, swinging a sword down on a dragon that is several stories tall. The film unfolds in an anti-climactic battle and ties up every loose end in far too tidy a fashion for Burton. That’s what you get with a Disney film. This is a visual feast with much left desired from the script.