Factual, gritty and grim, Black Mass delves deep into the shadowy lives of formidable Irish-American mobster Whitey Bulger, and hotshot FBI agent, John Connolly. Trouble in the form of an infamous Italian mob leads to the paradoxical collaboration between good and evil, as Bulger and Connolly join forces to take the mob down. Director Scott Cooper has intricately crafted a rare cinematic masterpiece, during a time when most directors tend to work solely on commercially viable movies that cater to the masses. A stellar cast comprising of Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson and Kevin Bacon, makes for one of the most spectacular and compelling movies of the year. Black Mass highlights the dark era of the 70s and 80s seamlessly, perfectly depicting the tangled lives of mobsters, their families and those who oppose them. It is elegant, artistic and bold, consuming the viewer entirely, and firmly immersing them into the journey of its characters. The film further marks the resurgence of Johnny Depp, as he delivers a mind numbing performance portraying crime lord Bulger. One is likely to get a chill up their spine after a single glance at Depp, who is rendered almost unrecognizable, through the addition of flawlessly slicked back blonde hair, a latex patch, and icy blue contacts that you would believe could stare right into your soul. Depp brings out the labyrinthine layers of Whitey Bulger’s personality in an eery fashion, and his diverse and conflicting traits throughout the film make the film unpredictable and gripping to watch. Truly, it is an exceptional crime film with a stunning cast, director, and storyline, that would be deemed Oscar worthy by most.
Director Tim Burton does not stray away from his usual line up of unconventional, highly offbeat films, as he delivers yet another with Dark Shadows. The film tells the gloomy tale of a 200 year old vampire, Barnabas Collins, looking to avenge his family after a series of ill doings by the demented and diabolical witch, Angelique Bouchard. Centering around the Collins family, it is a tale of love, revenge, anger and anguish, and one that hopes to leave its viewers spellbound. Veteran Helena Bonham Carter, Michelle Pfeiffer, Eva Green, and Jackie Earle Haley share screen space with Johnny Depp. Sadly, not even the legendary Johnny Depp could redeem this movie of its flaws. Dark Shadows seldom attempts to take itself seriously; its humor awfully timed and placed, and its plot line as thin as a twig. The storyline is hardly coherent, with little purpose and direction. It is muddled up, rushed, and feels deprived of good content, with cheesy puns and random, nonsensical occurrences taking its place. The only thing working in favor of Dark Shadows is the abundance of visually stunning special effects, the exquisitely designed sets and costumes, and unnervingly gorgeous goth styled visuals. Thus, the film is like a beautiful sports car that is without an engine. It has jaw dropping visuals, but sadly, no real meaning and very little substance. Certainly, a film that falls well short of the impeccable standards previously set by the highly successful duo of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton.