Tag Archives: Johnny Depp

Movie review: ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ is first-class ride

VIDEO: See Tim’s review of “Murder on the Orient Express” with Zachary Lashway on KARE-TV (NBC)

“Murder on the Orient Express” (PG-13)

Don’t hesitate to climb aboard “Murder on the Orient Express,” filmmaker Kenneth Branagh’s lavishly produced and expertly directed adaptation of legendary author Agatha Christie’s classic novel. Loaded with a brilliant ensemble cast, lush set pieces, inventive cinematography and gorgeous settings, “Murder on the Orient Express” is a welcome throwback to the classic whodunnit murder mysteries of yesteryear, told passionately though the Branagh’s lens.

Branagh does double duty by playing famed literary detective Hercule Poirot, one of world’s best investigators who thinks he’s in for a three-day break for on a train trip across 1930s Europe when the locomotive is waylaid on a mountainside by an avalanche. The train is occupied by people of all different backgrounds, including Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp), a notorious mobster whose “occupation” as art dealer has made him a lot of enemies.

On the first night aboard the stranded train, Ratchett is violently murdered, and with no one else in the proximity of the crime scene for miles, Poirot quickly concludes that one of 13 passengers is responsible for Ratchett’s death. Through his meticulous investigation, Poirot tries to whittle down a suspect, leading to a stunning conclusion that people new to the story simply won’t see coming.

While many people are fond of Christie’s original novel or the 1974 adaptation directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Albert Finney as Poirot, perhaps the film fans who will enjoy “Murder on the Express” the most are the people who come into the film cold. Yes, there are slight character changes in the film, but there is virtually no wiggle room for the film’s meticulously-constructed narrative.

That’s a big plus for newbies, yet leaves potential room for disappointment for fans who already know how the story ends . Luckily, the film’s sprawling, fascinating narrative, stunning vistas and first-class performances by the likes of Branagh, Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz, Olivia Colman, Leslie Odom Jr., Josh Gad and Willem Dafoe make the ride well-worthwhile.

Lammometer: 8 (out of 10)

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AUDIO: Hear Tim review “Murder on the Orient Express” with Tom Barnard on “The KQ Morning Show” (segments begins 9 minutes in).

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Movie reviews: ‘Pirates: Dead Men Tell No Tales,’ ‘Baywatch

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” (PG-13)

The ship has definitely sailed on Johnny Depp’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise with “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” the fifth and hopefully last film in series. There’s no question that the first two films in the series — “The Curse of the Black Pearl” and “Dead Man’s Chest” were entertaining, but Depp’s schtick as the drunken, bumbling Capt. Jack Sparrow became old hat after that.

Basically “Dead Men Tell No Tales” feels like all the films that proceed it, a mishmash of high seas action and slapstick comedy of Depp’s Capt. Jack, who you just know will weasel his way out of any situation he encounters no matter how perilous it is. There’s no question the special effects are spectacular — especially with the crafting of the ghostly nemesis, Capt. Salazar (the always great Javier Bardem), who seeks revenge on Capt. Jack, but the story is dull and predictable, and like the previous films, feels overlong.

While the story brings to a conclusion a subplot from a couple of films ago, there’s nothing really new to talk about here, with the exception of a wonderfully inventive scene involving Capt. Jack’s head and neck on a guillotine.

Lammometer: 4.5 (out of 10) 

Hear Tim’s review of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” and “Baywatch” with Tom Barnard on KQRS.

“Baywatch” (R) 

After a string of hits i

ncluding “Moana” and “The Fate of the Furious” star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson sinks big-time with “Baywatch,” a hapless remake of David Hasselhoff’s syndicated TV smash from the 1990s.

The plot is paper-thin: Johnson leads a group of lifeguards who are trying to keep a drug-dealing villain from taking over the beautiful coastline they protect, even though none have any real law enforcement experience. Johnson assumes Hasselhoff’s role of Mitch Buchanon, who along with fellow lifeguards C.J. Parker (Kelly Rohrback) and Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera) take on three new recruits for the summer, including Matt Brody (a very ripped Zac Efron), a Ryan Lochte-like lunkhead whose fallen out of favor with the Olympics because of his wild ways.

Baywatch is a failure on all fronts. The acting is terrible, the dialogue is uninspired (how many times can Johnson rib Efron about looking like a member of a boy band? Apparently not enough), and unlike the big-screen remake of the very self-aware 21 Jump Street, the cast mostly plays it straight like Hasselhoff, Pamela Anderson and company did in the TV series.

In fact, the only time the film is funny is when Hasselhoff appears as himself in moments of self-parody, like he’s the only person in the entire movie that gets the joke that its OK to poke fun at yourself. The problem is, the actor’s two scenes are about a minute apiece. The rest of the movie is an embarrassment.

Lammometer: 2.5 (out of 10)

Watch Tim’s review of  “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” and “Baywatch” with Adrienne Broadus on KARE 11.

Movie reviews: ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass,’ ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’

Disney

By Tim Lammers

“Alice Through the Looking Glass” (PG) 3 stars (out of 4)

Wonderland is as buoyant, beautiful and bright as ever in “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” a satisfying prequel/sequel to the 2010 billion-dollar blockbuster. Despite a thin storyline, the film is once again bolstered by a lovable cast, spectacular visual effects and stunning production design and costumes. Fans will likely favor the original “Alice” to this follow-up, but it’s an entertaining film nonetheless.

Mia Wasikowska returns as Alice, who after three years of adventures at sea and exploring new lands with her late father’s ship returns home and is beckoned to Underland by Absolem (voice of Alan Rickman, in his final film role), the blue caterpillar-turned-butterfly. Turns out that Alice’s old, dear friend the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is dying of a broken heart, since he happened upon a remnant that reminded him of the tragic loss of his family to the Jabberwocky years before.

After pleas from the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) and company to find a way to save Hatter, Mia sets out to snatch from the personification of Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) the Chronosphere – the

power source that runs the Grand Clock. It will enable Alice to travel back in time and right the wrongs of the past – that is if her enemy, the banished Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), doesn’t get the device first in a bid to get her crown back.

While Wasikowska and Depp are as strong as they were in “Alice in Wonderland,” Bonham Carter once again steals the show with her big head, bombastic personality, wild chants and maniacal laughs. Her performance alone makes “Through the Looking Glass” worth peering into, even though the time travel narrative falls far short of the events that sparked “Wonderland.” Baron Cohen (along with some CGI mechanical minions) proves to be a grand addition to the “Alice” film family as Time, a touchy taskmaster whose ticker is weakened by the Red Queen and her wicked wiles.

While “Alice Through the Looking Glass” has its share of flaws, the film’s spectacular visual effects make up for the shortcomings. Director James Bobin smartly crafted several jaw-dropping sequences, including trips across the Oceans of Time (which allows the film to cross over into prequel territory). The film also boasts stunning costumes and breathtakingly beautiful settings, both real and virtual. They’re wondrous visions to behold.

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“X-Men: Apocalypse” (PG-13) 2 stars (out of four)

X misses the spot in “X-Men: Apocalypse,” a lackluster follow-up to 2014’s brilliant “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” With a tedious 2 hour 20 minute runtime, an overload of visual effects and a plot spread far too thin across too many characters, director Bryan Singer’s fourth “X-Men” film is without question his weakest. It’s a shame because the talent is all there, but ultimately, they’re trounced by the overambitious storyline.

Picking up 10 years after the events of the 1970s (and the rewriting of X-Men history) with “Days of Future Past,” “Apocalypse” picks up in 1983 with the unearthing of the titular character, the all-powerful mutant taking the form in an armored, blue-skinned Oscar Isaac. Once entombed in Egypt, Apocalypse’s followers figure out the key to unleash the mutant, who is hell-bent (along with his four horsemen) on imposing his powers on the citizens of Earth because they’ve lost their way.

Having the wherewithal to even tap into the immense mind powers of Professor Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), Apocalypse seems unstoppable, that is until Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Hank McCoy/Beast (Nicholas Hoult) and a new band of mutant recruits (Tye Sheridan as Scott Summers/Cyclops, Sophie Turner as Jean Grey and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler) spring into action to recover their kidnapped mentor and desperately attempt to defeat a seemingly undefeatable enemy.

As passionate as Singer has been about the “X-Men” movie universe since the first film in 2000, you can’t fault him for trying to make the most out of his latest opportunity to tell another tale about the Marvel movie mutants. Yet at the same time, it feels like he’s trying too hard to one-up what transpired in “Days of Future Past” both in terms of the film’s overwhelming special effects and about a dozen mutants, causing the film to lose its focus.

By the time “X-Men Apocalypse” limps to the end, you get the sense that this current iteration of the “X-Men” movie saga is up as its next generation is trained to take on its next foes. It’s too bad, considering the prequel films that came before it started off with such promise, only to end in such an underwhelming fashion. It’s a real disappointment.

Remembering Alan Rickman: The ‘Sweeney Todd’ interview

Alan Rickman in Sweeney Todd

By Tim Lammers

It was very disheartening to learn Thursday about the untimely death of Alan Rickman, who was arguably one of the greatest actors of his generation. An actor who rose to prominence with his slimy portrayal of the love-to-hate bad guy Hans Gruber in 1988’s “Die Hard,” Rickman proved he could do it all over the years, with unforgettable turns in such gems as “Love, Actually,” “Galaxy Quest,” “Dogma,” “Alice in Wonderland” and the “Harry Potter” saga.

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to talk with Mr. Rickman one time, about his role as the villainous Judge Turpin in Tim Burton’s brilliant adaptation of Stephen Sondheims’s horror musical, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” The role required Rickman to sing, something he hadn’t done since his days on the stage, and something he admits he didn’t do very well — at least in his estimation.

Despite his perceived lack of vocal experience, Rickman, then 61, remained undaunted by the prospect of singing in a film musical — even one by a famed composer.

“It’s scary and exhilarating, but the scale swings far more in the favor of exhilarating. Maybe that has something to do with getting older,” Rickman told me. “You look for the adventure more. What else is life about, really? Especially for an actor, it’s a much more interesting life, instead of just trying to repeat yourself all of the time. I couldn’t have been happier, really. What was the worst that could happen? I would get fired.”

Read the entire Rickman “Sweeney Todd” interview here.