Movie Reviews: Black Mass, Everest, Scorch Trials | Buzz Blog
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Movie Reviews: Black Mass, Everest, Scorch Trials

Also: Grandma, The Second Mother, Cooties


Real-life dramas compete with post-apocalyptic teen action at Utah movie theaters in a full weekend of new releases.

Johnny Depp provides a reminder that he's more than gimmicky makeup jobs, playing James "Whitey" Bulger in Black Mass (pictured), but his menacing performance can't quite overcome a limp story of Boston gangsters. The second installment in the Maze Runner trilogy, The Scorch Trials, continues to turn the source material into solidly effective action filmmaking. Lily Tomlin gets juicy dialogue and an irascible character in the family road-trip dramedy Grandma, but the episodic doesn't build an emotional response stronger than warm fuzzies. Brazilian Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submission The Second Mother offers an interesting tale of social tensions, while picking the wrong mother to focus on.

MaryAnn Johanson thrills to the visceral, intense true-life action story of Everest, especially on a big screen (opens IMAX only this week, expands to standard screens Sept. 25).

Eric D. Snider laments the missed opportunity to fully exploit Cooties' great premise of elementary school teachers trying to survive kids-turned-zombies.

Also opening this week, but not screened for press: the fact-(and faith-)based drama Captive, about a woman taken hostage by an escaped convict.

This week's feature essay ponders whether a "director's cut" of a movie is the only cut that should be considered the last word.