Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Captain Jack Sparrow has led a very colorful life pilfering and plundering his way through the high seas and seedy ports around the world. There was a time when the world wanted to know what this practically peculiar privateer would do next after a grand adventure but now, it is evident that that time has washed away with the tides.

dead men tell no tales

Image by Disney

In the fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean saga, titled Dead Men Tell No Tales, Captain Jack has run afoul of some very harsh misfortune. Meaning, he’s broke, he hardly has a crew anymore and he still hasn’t managed to get his beloved Black Pearl out of that bottle from the last movie. To make matters worse, Jack’s reckless actions have awakened an army of ghosts, led by a Spanish pirate-hunter named Salazar, hell-bent on casting every buccaneer, marauder and freebooter to Davy Jones’ locker-or is it Will Turner’s locker since Davy Jones is dead and Will has replaced him? Who knows!

Anyway, Captain Jack’s only hope to save himself? He must ally with Henry Turner, the adult son of Will and Elizabeth, and the beautiful and headstrong woman of science Carina Smith to find the Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact that will endow upon its holder total command of the seas.

When the end credits started rolling on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, someone tried to gauge my thoughts on the film and all I could tell them was: “Listen, I’m just thankful it’s over!” I want to let you know that this is not my official reflection of the film, but the franchise in general since this is supposed to be the final adventure of the series.

Officially, I found this movie drudgingly unnecessary and mildly mediocre. I will admit that it was nice seeing Captain Jack, Gibbs and Barbossa again and I was willing for this franchise to shanghai me aboard for one last adventure on the high seas but while I was watching this, it dawned on me that I just outgrew this franchise; the magic and the appeal had waned; also I found it convenient that this movie had ghost sharks because with this movie this franchise definitely jumped over them!

I thought this movie had continuity errors, had a lack of balance in the subplots between the characters, had twists that strained credulity and what’s more it had me asking why didn’t anyone come up with this “Trident” concept two movies ago? Why couldn’t they just leave the franchise with the ending from the third movie where everything was just full circle and tied everything together nicely rather than force this happy ending from this installment upon audiences? I just couldn’t comprehend why the producers of this movie couldn’t leave well enough alone?!

Johnny Depp is business as usual as Captain Jack Sparrow, Geoffrey Rush as a well-to-do Barbossa was okay, Kevin McNally, Martin Klebba, Stephen Graham were faces I didn’t mind seeing again and it was cool that they brought Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley back. As for the newcomers to the story Javier Bardem steps into the CGI-aided role of Salazar and even though he has a reputation of playing a damn good villain, I feel as though he phones it in due to poor writing courtesy of Jeff Nathanson. Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario and Golshifteh Farahani did alright as well. Even Sir Paul McCartney snuck aboard! That was a hoot for a minute.

Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg’s efforts to try and put wind back into the sails of this franchise were wasted. Paul Cameron’s cinematography, Roger Barton and Leigh Folsom Boyd’s editing, Geoff Zanelli’s score, Nigel Phelps’ production design, Penny Rose’s costumes, the art direction, the visual effects; everything technical is just more of what you’ve seen before.

I for one hope that Dead Men Tell No Tales is the farewell voyage of the Pirates of the Caribbean saga even though it had some post-credits scene I didn’t bother to stick around to see! The era of Captain Jack has come and gone; he has the Pearl back and I pray that Disney will leave him be from this day forward!

Movie of the Week: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The swashbuckling Disney franchise that set sail on the high seas 14 years ago will come to a close (finally)! Captain Jack Sparrow has lived an “exhilarating” life to say the least. One could call it a true Pirates Life but his greatest adventure before him draws back to the past when Captain Salazar leads an army of the dead across the seven seas on the hellbent mission to exterminate every able bodied man or woman who sails under pirate colors. Salazar, like many, bears a grudge against Captain Jack and our heroic and plucky pirate hero’s only salvation is a mythic artifact that could turn the tides of the ocean forever. Sailing into theaters this weekend is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

Directors: Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning

Writer: Jeff Nathanson

Staring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Steven Graham, Kevin McNally, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Golshifteh Farahani, Sir Paul McCartney, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley

What am I expecting to see?: I honestly love the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and the kooky lead character of Captain Sparrow but this franchise needs to end in the worst way and I thank heavens that Dead Men Tell No Tales will end it! I hope this is entertaining, it brings the right amount of closure to this series and it ends on a high note. This is a great cast of actors and I don’t want to see any of their talents go to waste. I’ve been looking forward to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales for a while now and I hope it is everything that I ask for.

 

Review: Everest

I actually Googled “How many people have climbed to the peak of Mount Everest and Survived?” before I started writing this review. According to National Geographic:

Everest has always been a trophy, but now that almost 4,000 people have reached its summit, some more than once, the feat means less than it did a half century ago. Today roughly 90 percent of the climbers on Everest are guided clients, many without basic climbing skills.

Basically that tidbit of information is just as interesting as Baltasar Kormákur’s feature based on the true story of a tragic expedition resulting in the loss of life and limb while attempting to trek down from the 29,029 ft geological nightmare when a massive storm hit Everest hard in May 1996.

Image by Universal Pictures and Working Title

Everest stars Jason Clarke as Rob Hall, leader of Adventure Consultants, who trains and guides a team up Everest to follow in the footsteps of history. His team collaborates with Scott Fischer, played by Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal, and his climbing team, Mountain Madness, from base camp to the four camps en route to the Death Zone to the summit and back.

Among the climbers were carpenter/mailman Doug Hansen, Yasuko Namba, who climbed six of the seven summits prior to taking on Mt. Everest and Beck Weathers, an experienced climber from Texas. Basically, Everest is a rather pedestrian and tedious disaster movie showcasing the what an unrelenting she-devil mother nature can be as the chase for glory swirls into a tempest of terror when brutal weather conditions result in the the worst possible outcome: lives were lost and left on the mountain.

Everest attempts to follow in the footsteps of recent films such as Life of Pi and Gravity, films that use stunning visuals as a backdrop to augment a story about an individual(s) who attempt to survive nearly impossible odds, in environments that are completely dangerous, but in its attempt it goes way over the top.

Listening to the panting, screaming, the frequent and frantic radio transmissions on the way up towards the summit is grueling in of itself but when the storm hits and the climbers’ situations grow more dire by the second, I was completely immersed in the action yet unaffected because part of me knew what was going to happen before it did. There is suspense but it just seems so shallow.

Watching this film in IMAX 3D, you are completely immersed in the sights and sounds of the film but while I was enamored by the technical expertise of Everest, I found the narrative to be rather tame. I wouldn’t say that this movie towers or exudes any type of majesty compared to its namesake, but I will say that watching this movie in IMAX 3D is thrilling.

Does the cast give good performances? Sure but this isn’t a movie worth seeing for the performances. Clarke, Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Naoko Mori, Michael Kelly, Emily Watson, Elizabeth Debicki among others range from decent-to-good actors but I feel that this movie could have had perhaps a better impact if there wasn’t so much star power attached.

Simon Beaufoy and William Nicholson’s screenplay did enough to make for an interesting story but I just felt that more impact could have been necessary to get swept up in the story rather than the visuals. For instance, the jumps between Clarke’s Rob Hall and Knightley’s Jan, Hall’s pregnant wife back home in New Zealand, while Hall was on the mountain with the weather beating on him, exhausting his resources, in particular, his oxygen, it was over-the-top if you ask me. The entire storm-portion of the movie is already dramatic enough, there was no need to go that far to illicit sympathy from the audience.

I will credit the sublime visual effects of Everest as well as the breathtaking cinematography by Salvatore Totino, the sound team, Mick Audsley’s editing was hit-and-miss, Dario Marianelli’s music seemed a touch excessive and overall I thought this production under Baltasar Kormákur was a technically sound picture with a lot of over-the-top elements weighing it down.

I had little background going into the auditorium to watch Everest, in fact I was five when the tragedy occurred. As I witnessed these men and women risk so much, I realized that I was watching these figures chase glory into their graves. Everest showed me that the power of nature is only strengthened by the actions or inactions of the men who make decisions in nature’s path.

People died because decisions were made up-there that were not supposed to happen. That is what I took away from Everest.

This movie will feel familiar to Life of Pi and Gravity is some aspects and maybe it will draw fans of those films in, but I feel that they will come away disappointed because of the tragedy of what happens and what ultimately ends up working against Everest.

Movies of the Week: Everest and Sicario

Tibet and Mexico have been featured in the news over the last few months. This week, they will be the settings of two of my featured films. The first is Everest. It takes grit to climb the highest mountain in the world. A select few have taken the expedition to ascend Mt. Everest and lived to tell the tale, I cannot call myself one of those select few because I know my body cannot handle the strain, but the story of two climbers reveal the perils that come with climbing towards greatness.

What am I expecting to see?: Watching the trailer for Everest reminded me of the experience of watching Gravity and the plot of both films are so similar that I hope I come away with the same experience. I don’t expect Everest to be as good as Gravity but I think Baltasar Kormákur will put on a hell of a show, I think Simon Beaufoy and William Nicholson can craft a good screenplay about this terrifying storm and the climbing teams trying to endure the storm, conditions and the descent from Everest. I don’t expect much from the cast even though the cast includes Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Hawkes, Jason Clarke, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightley, Elizabeth Debicki and Robin Wright. I will be seeing this in 3D and I expect Everest to potentially dethrone Mad Max: Fury Road as the film with the Best Visual Effects so far this year.

For an idealistic FBI agent, a business trip to Mexico spirals into a descent into darkness. Denis Villeneuve’s new feature Sicario stars Emily Blunt whose character is assigned to collaborate with a specialized task force whose mission is to halt the escalation in the war on drugs along the Mexican-American border. This task force includes an unpredictable operative with a sketchy agenda, presumably this man is a professional hitman, or if you use the language of those South of the Border, a Sicario.

What am I expecting to see?: I was thoroughly impressed with Denis Villeneuve’s previous feature Prisoners and Sicario looks to be another highlight in Villeneuve’s rising career. Sicario looks thrilling, Emily Blunt looks as if she’s in total control in this film, Benecio Del Toro looks outstanding, Josh Brolin looks steady and I hope Taylor Sheridan’s screenplay is sharp, brave and as gritty as it can get. I’ve been looking forward to Sicario for some time now and I hope my expectations are met.

And the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role Goes To:

Winner: Patricia Arquette-Boyhood

By The Heart Truth [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Congratulations to Patricia Arquette

Nominees:

  • Patricia Arquette-Boyhood
  • Laura Dern-Wild
  • Keira Knightley-The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone-Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Meryl Streep-Into the Woods

2015 Oscar Predictions Part III

The 87th Oscars are on the horizon and the time has come for predictions

And now the predictions come to a close. The six most prestigious categories in the Oscars will round out Part III of my 2015 Oscar Predictions and here they are.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:

  • Patricia Arquette-Boyhood
  • Laura Dern-Wild
  • Keira Knightley-The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone-Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Meryl Streep-Into the Woods

I predict that the Oscar will go to: Patricia Arquette-Boyhood

Photo by The Heart Truth

Her performance as Mom (Olivia) was a genuine 12 year spectacle

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:

  • Robert Duvall-The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke-Boyhood
  • Edward Norton-Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Mark Ruffalo-Foxcatcher
  • J.K. Simmons-Whiplash

I predict that the Oscar will go to: J.K. Simmons-Whiplash

Photo by gdcgraphics

Fletcher was a tour-de-force character brought to life by a tour-de-force performance

Best Actress in a Leading Role:

  • Marion Cotillard-Two Days, One Night
  • Felicity Jones-The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore-Still Alice
  • Rosamund Pike-Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon-Wild

I predict that the Oscar will go to: Julianne Moore-Still Alice

Photo by Nicolas Genin

Alice slowly lost her memory in a performance that will be remembered for years

Best Actor in a Leading Role:

  • Steve Carell-Foxcatcher
  • Bradley Cooper-American Sniper
  • Benedict Cumberbatch-The Imitation Game
  • Michael Keaton-Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Eddie Redmayne-The Theory of Everything

I predict that the Oscar will go to: Michael Keaton-Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Photo by Jean-Paul Aussenard

The role of Riggins Thompson came naturally to Keaton and it wasn’t difficult to figure out why

Best Director:

  • Wes Anderson-The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu-Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Richard Linklater-Boyhood
  • Bennett Miller-Foxcatcher
  • Morten Tyldum-The Imitation Game

I predict that the Oscar will go to: Richard Linklater-Boyhood

Photo by George Pimentel

Author of one of the most pure piece of cinema ever to be released

Best Picture:

I predict that the Oscar will go to:

Richard Linklater’s groundbreaking and experimental independent achievement

For Part I and Part II of my predictions, click the links provided. For the full list of Oscar nominees, click the link provided. Please check back with this blog and my Twitter page for full coverage of the 87th Annual Academy Awards this Sunday evening starting at 7 PM. The Oscars will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and will be televised on ABC. Can’t wait!

The Critics Choice for Best Song is:

The 20th Critics Choice Awards are underway

The nominees:

  • “Big Eyes,” by Lana Del Rey-Big Eyes
  • “Everything is Awesome,” by Jo Li and the Lonely Island-The LEGO Movie
  • “Glory,” by Common and John Legend-Selma
  • “Lost Stars,” by Keira Knightley-Begin Again
  • “Yellow Flicker Beat,” by Lorde-The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt I

Winner: “Glory,” by Common and John Legend-Selma

Selma