Critics Consensus

Black Mass Is Certified Fresh

Plus, The Scorch Trials lacks stong characters, and You're the Worst is Certified Fresh.

by | September 16, 2015 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a notorious mobster (Black Mass, starring Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch), teenage adventurers (Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, starring Dylan O’Brien and Kaya Scodelario), and a desperate criminal (Captive, starring David Oyelowo and Kate Mara). What do the critics have to say?

Black Mass (2015) 73%

Black Mass isn’t the first feature film about brutal gangster-turned-slippery fugitive Whitey Bulger — he’s the subject of a critically-acclaimed documentary and the loose inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed. Critics say Black Mass explores well-trodden crime movie territory as well, but the film is elevated by Johnny Depp’s mesmerizing lead performance — and excellent work from a solid supporting cast. The movie follows Bulger’s rise from petty hood to violent mob boss; Whitey’s rise in Boston’s demimonde is assisted by FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), who enlists him as a confidential informant, and his politician brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch), who uses his office  to protect him. The pundits say Black Mass often feels familiar, but it’s still a well-crafted film that finds Depp giving his best performance in years.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015) 46%

As dystopian sci-fi adventure films based on young adult novels go, The Maze Runner was pretty solid, if decidedly a cut below The Hunger Games series. Unfortunately, critics say its sequel, The Scorch Trials, is mostly a run-of-the-mill action yarn with a few decent set pieces and little-to-no character development. This time out, our heroes, led by Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), have left the maze behind; instead, they must navigate harsh landscapes and avoid not just the evil WCKD but also hoards of zombies. The pundits say Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is briskly paced and occasionally exciting, but its overabundance of  plotting makes for limited emotional involvement.

Captive (2015) 27%

Based on an astonishing true story, Captive recounts the tale of an escaped criminal (David Oyelowo) who takes a hostage (Kate Mara) and eventually surrenders after she encourages him to read the Christian self-help book The Purpose-Driven Life. Critics say Captive is enlivened by its excellent leads, but it never quite generates a necessary sense of tension.

What’s Hot on TV

You're the Worst: Season 2 (2015) 97%

Expertly balancing character growth against edgy humorYou’re the Worst elevates the show’s excellent writing and talented cast to a new level.

Project Greenlight: Season 4 (2015) 92%

Project Greenlight makes a welcome return, retaining many of the qualities that helped make it a reality TV favorite.

The Bastard Executioner: Season 1 (2015) 47%

Kurt Sutter’s The Bastard Executioner doesn’t want for dark thrills, but it unfortunately has more enthusiasm for brutality and gore than necessary narrative focus.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Peace Officer (2015) , a documentary about the increase in military weapons and tactics among police officers, is at 100 percent.
  • Sicario (2015) , starring Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro in a thriller about a straight-arrow FBI agent whose mission to bring down a drug cartel kingpin is compromised by her allies’ opaque motives, is at 91 percent.
  • The New Girlfriend (2015) , a psychological dramedy about a man whose gender fluidity comes to light after the death of his wife, is at 82 percent.
  • Prophet's Prey (2015) , a documentary about the abuses of power by the leader of a breakaway Mormon sect, is at 80 percent.
  • () , starring Chow Yun-Fat in a musical satire of the modern workplace, is at 80 percent.
  • Pawn Sacrifice (2015) , starring Tobey Maguire and Peter Sarsgaard in a fictional retelling of the famous showdown between chess masters Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky, is at 76 percent.
  • Everest (2015) , starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jason Clarke in an adventure film based on the true story of a group of climbers who were trapped in a blizzard while ascending the world’s tallest mountain, is at 71 percent.
  • Being Canadian (2015) , a documentary about the quirks and characteristics that define our neighbors to the North, is at 60 percent.
  • The Man Who Saved the World (2015) , a documentary about the Soviet Army colonel whose calm under pressure likely averted a nuclear war, is at 60 percent.
  • Some Kind of Hate (2015) , a horror film about a bullied teen who is protected by a vengeful ghost, is at 50 percent.
  • The Cut (2015) , a drama about a man who goes searching for his missing daughters after fighting in World War I, is at 40 percent.
  • Cooties (2015) , starring Elijah Wood and Rainn Wilson in a horror comedy about a group of teachers who fight to survive a plague of grade-school zombies, is at 37 percent.
  • Hellions (2015) , a horror film about a pregnant teenager bedeviled by malevolent trick-or-treaters, is at 31 percent.
  • Tenshi Ippikiookami

    Lots of options, even if some of them are only in limited. Autumn is here :D! I’m quite curious about Sicario and Pawn Sacrifice. Too bad the Maze Runner sequel seems to be a little bit of a letdown.

  • Gary the Dairy Fairy

    Black Mass is worth seeing for Depp’s performance alone. The movie as a whole is good, but not quite the masterpiece I was hoping it would be.

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