“The Green Inferno”

Green Inferno

Star Lorena Izzo next to director Eli Roth.

“The Green Inferno” is “Hostel” (2005) in a jungle. Half way through the movie, I couldn’t tell if director/writer Eli Roth was playing it safe with his formulaic writing, or if he let his ego get the best of him. You know what you’re in for when there’s a character held captive who rubs one out so he can “think straight.”

“The Green Inferno” is Roth’s first film in eight years (last one was “Hotel: Part II” (2007)) and it stars Lorena Izzo (Roth’s off-screen wife) as Justine. Justine’s a horror archetypal innocent college student who joins a horror archetypal douchebag’s activist group to fly to the Amazon and protest against a mining company that’s destroying an ancient tribe’s village. They soon find themselves as the entree for the villagers they’re trying to help after their plane crashes.

Roth said in an interview that he imagined “The Green Inferno” as if “Cannibal Holocaust” (1979) was made by Terrence Malick (“The Thin Red Line” (1998)) and Werner Herzog (“Rescue Dawn” (2007)). Difference between Roth and his influences are that his influences have clear vision and taste. I like tasteless movies, but Roth is on par with Michael Bay in terms of  being unbearably tasteless.

SPOILER ALERT FROM HERE ON!!!

Here’s some of the scenarios we’re forced to watch in “The Green Inferno” – the archetyal stoner almost gets his penis bitten by a tarantula whilst peeing in bushes. In a later scene, we watch him get eaten by cannibals who have the munchies while he yells, “They got the munchies!”

I also wonder if Izzo sees anything perverse in her husband’s choice in filming her run in bra and panties covered in tribal makeup, avoiding the danger of genital mutilation. That happens at least twice in this movie!

Oh, and let’s not forget the film’s atrocious final act! Deus ex-machina, an anti-climactic resolution, a false jump scare nightmare sequence, a half-assed mid-credits sequence, and the main character saying the gunman who saved her were the bad guys and the tribe was nice to her? What a mess!

I’ll probably watch “The Green Inferno” again when it comes to Netflix, but that’s only with a group of friends and a case of beer to power through this juvenile disaster.

Grade: D

“Black Mass”

Well, I guess all I can say about “Black Mass” is it’s good to see Johnny Depp actually acting again… Nah, I have more to say than that!

“Black Mass” is director Scott Cooper’s (“Crazy Heart” (2009), “Out of the Furnace” (2013)) third film, and it’s a standard true crime tale of James “Whitey” Bulger. Bulger was the most notorious gangster in South Boston who used his status as an informant to not only take down a rival faction, but to get away with his myriad of crimes.

Depp plays Bulger in his hundredth makeup-fueled role, but unlike the last six movies he’s been in, Depp is acting here! Depp disappears into his role as Bulger and is terrifying, funny, and charismatic. He also leads an all-star supporting cast of solid performances.

Joel Edgerton continues to prove his talent as Bulger’s corrupt FBI agent friend, John Connolly. Connolly is currently serving a 40-year sentence for being Bulger’s accomplice and in this movie, Edgerton portrays Connolly as a man full of regret for his actions. We also get some solid work from Kevin Bacon, Corey Stoll (“House of Cards”), and Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”) as suspicious Connolly’s FBI colleagues, Benedict Cumberbatch as Bulger’s politician brother, and the underrated Peter Sarsgaard as an unhinged business associate of Bulger’s.

Sadly, a reviving performance from Depp and this cast isn’t enough to make up for a flawed script. The problem with a lot of true crime stories such as “Black Mass” or last year’s “Foxcatcher” (sorry, I found it boring) is that they focus on a fascinating criminal, but show us the least interesting part of the story. I didn’t want to know about Connolly’s struggles covering his own ass; I wanted to know more about Bulger’s struggles covering his!

The first half of the film is strong and we see Bulger as a dangerous and respected criminal who’s levelheaded about his own crimes. By the end of the first hour, we see what drove him overboard. At the second hour, “Black Mass” transitions into a standard police drama. We could have learned more about Bulger’s estranged relationship with his brother, but instead were stuck watching Connolly protect his job and marriage.

We’ll likely see Depp walk into the upcoming award season, but he’s ultimately the most redeemable quality of an otherwise generic and uneven film.

Grade: C+

Top 5 Summer Movies of 2015

I’ll keep this very brief, but here are my picks for the top 5 summer movies of this year.

5) Jurassic World – I know a lot of people disagree with me here, but it’s two hours of nostalgia at its finest. Funny and suspenseful, Jurassic World keeps me invested as a fan of the Jurassic Park franchise.

4) Trainwreck – I’ll ask this – why hadn’t I heard of Amy Schumer before seeing Trainwreck?! She’s fucking brilliant!

3) Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – Tom Cruise hangs on the side of a plane, nearly drowns, crashes a car, and chases bad guys in a high speed motorcycle chase in the best installment of the franchise.

2) Inside Out – You know you found a special animated film that depicts the highs and lows of growing up while paying tribute to abstract art and disaster movies.

1) Mad Max: Fury Road – It’s the action movie no one expected to like then went back to see it three more times! Why? Because it’s a groundbreaking, beautiful, and thrilling spectacle.

Where’s my worst? Well, it’s no competition with “Fant4stic”, ladies and gents!