Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

Pirates of the Caribbean DMTNT

Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar is out for Depp’s Sparrow in the 5th Caribbean flick.

There are fewer movie characters of the 21st century more notable, original, entertaining, or recognizable than Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. It is sometimes hard to remember how impacting he was in the original film fourteen years ago (the role earned him an Oscar nomination and SAG award). Now, in the fifth film, I feel sad to say that this character has been stretched to his limit.

At some point, all film franchises are to have an end point: It is a matter of whether to end it on a solid note (as the original Star Wars Trilogy did) or on a whimper (if only The Terminator franchise did not go past the second film, and The Transformers franchise was….well, never mind). Undoubtably, it is all about making money, so sequels are going to happen one way or another.

Enter the newest film in the universe (or seas?) of the Pirates of the Caribbean films (I still have yet to see the fourth one in its entirety, but the third at least gave us a solid ending to it all). Depp is back as Sparrow (if he wasn’t, there would be no audience), and he is basically the same, nothing more or less. After a bank robbery (which I could not believe at all was plausible) goes wrong, his crew abandons him (many of the same actors since the first film). Eventually, Jack comes across Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), a scientist (though accused by others for being a witch) on the search for Poseidon’s Trident. Also on the search is Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), son of Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley). Whoever gains the trident can reverse any curse (in Henry’s case, he wants to free his father from the curse he has had since the third movie). The trouble is that hot on their trail is Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), out to kill Sparrow for cursing him (curse the curses!) to be a half ghost creature along with his crew. He has asked for the help of Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).

As I think of it, one of the nice things of the film is that the story is not that hard to follow (which can happen a lot in summer blockbusters). Each character has his/her reason for reaching Poseidon’s Macguffin (oops, I mean Trident), and none are totally completely complicated reasons.

The special effects are nice, but, again, nothing we have not actually seen before in the other movies. There are a few exceptions, and the one I wish to talk about is one of the more unrealistic action sequences I have seen in some time. A certain character is in a guillotine, about to have their head sliced off. In the chaos of being rescued, this character is having the blade inch toward his/her neck back and forth. I sat there, wondering how any of that could happen in real life.

Some of the CGI is neat, mainly of Salazar’s crew. The bodies are not skeletal remains (as was the case in the first film), but just sections of skin we might see. This does give a bit more menace to Bardem’s performance as the villain, but I kept thinking that he came into the series too late for me to take him completely seriously enough.

Parents, if your kids have seen the original film, then they should be fine. However, there are some suggestive comments made with the humor, which, for the record, I hardly smiled at all during.

Sadly, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is doing what The Hobbit trilogy did to the original Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It seems to be staying way past its welcome (and I mean WAY past, so much so that I made it in caps and everything.) In my mind, I kept thinking the title should have read “Dead movie franchises should stop telling tales”.

Throughout most of the movie, only one word came to mind.

Lame

Overall: One and a Half Stars * 1/2

Love Actually (2003)

Love Actually

Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson in “Love Actually”.

No matter how big the movie buff you may be, there is always at least one movie that escapes you and you have to catch up to see it (Roger Ebert said at one point he had never seen The Sound of Music). Well, over a decade late, I have finally caught up with seeing Love Actually, and I am glad I did.

That is not to say it is a perfect film. The movie centers around multiple couples in their love lives, and, for the most part, it works. The main reason why is that the director (Richard Curtis) used some of the best thespians at the time. Not movie stars, but thespians. They include (but are totally not limited to) Hugh Grant (playing the prime minister), (the late) Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney,  Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, and Keira Knightley. The film also has appearances by young soon to be stars such as Chiwetel Ejiofor (a decade before he made 12 Years a Slave), Martin Freeman (before he was Bilbo Baggins or Sherlock‘s Watson) and Andrew Lincoln (in the days before playing Rick on The Walking Dead).

It would take too much time for me to write down what each character is going through, and would ruin the surprise to those who may not yet have seen it. My personal favorite is of Colin Firth’s Jamie, a writer going through a breakup and meets a new house keeper named Aurelia (Lucia Moniz). The movie also gives us a look at “puppy love”, which I have always been a sap for.

If I had to cut a story, I would cut two of them. The first is with Martin Freeman’s John and Joanna Page’s “Just” Judy. I cared for these characters, and liked the acting. What I did not care for was the fact that they had to be porn stars. The other involves the character of Colin Frissell (Kris Marshall). Again, the acting is good, but, unlike most of the other stories, he is not looking for love, but sex. It does not add to the movie I feel.

Parents, the movie is not for kids, although (mature) High Schoolers and above would be ok. Just be wary, there is a lot of nudity that does not need to be in the film.

In the end, the film does wrap a big enough blanket around me that gave me a nice, fuzzy, cozy feeling. It ends with one of my personal favorite songs (“God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys), making you look at airports in a different way.

There is a scene in the film where a girl is singing “All I want for Christmas is you” by Mariah Carey. For the longest time, this song was on the Christmas radio station in my car so much I have grown to despise the song. Love Actually made me love the song. That alone is quiet the accomplishment.

Overall: Four Stars ****