Pirates 5: A Bloated Mess

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Pirates of the Caribbean 5 it a film that is unashamed of what it is. It is a bloated mess from beginning to end. It also waves the middle finger by giving a corpulent wave of unrealised stories that was rushed into the movie before being swallowed up by the gigantic machine of a big Hollywood blockbuster.

I say that Pirates of the Caribbean is unashamed of it grandeur because, near the beginning, Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his crew rob a bank in front of the public. I mean “rob a bank” literally as in they stole the building and dragged it throughout town via a stream of horses pulling it around like a caravan on a joyride. The movie shows it’s bloated production from the get go.

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That is a bank being pulled by horses with an intoxicated Jack Sparrow on the roof.

In the very beginning of Dead Man Tell No Tales, we do get the main plot (thank God) in which Henry Turner (Brendon Thwaites) is trying to locate the Trident of Poseidon to undo the curse of his father Will Turner (Orlando Bloom). If you do want to see this film, just remember that premise to keep in check as the movie gets swallowed up by subplot after subplot and CGI “extravaganza” after CGI “extravaganza”. After an inundation of overstuffed special effects and convoluted storytelling, I was bored and exhausted after watching “stuff” on the screen.

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A CGI shark. If only it would say “Hello, my name is Bruce”

At least the last two movies of the Pirates franchise has gone noticeably shorter in length, however, with bad pacing it made Dead Man Tell No Tales feels just as long as At World’s End even though Dead Man Tell No Tales is nearly 40 minutes shorter.

Another reason Dead Men Tell No Tales feels so long is that the movie has got nothing interesting to say and only one 45 second guillotine sequence to boot. At least Batman vs. Superman had a couple of well-choreographed action set pieces.

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I admit, the guillotine sequence was unexpected and quite clever.

The faintest praise I am going to give this movie is that it does not sink to the levels or the previous movie On Stranger Tides but not by much. I hate to say this but Dead Man Tells No Tales is an improvement on its predecessor simply because I didn’t descend to apathy as quickly. It’s like Dead Men Tell Not Tales refined On Stranger Tides which is slightly less bad.

They literally had the jumping of a super fake CGI shark which might have been self-referential to the franchise. It would be poetic had it not been so sad that one of the most original (and particular) franchise has slowly turned into a generically dull franchise in the last fourteen years. ⭐1/2

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Moana Review: Disney Have Made Yet Another Good Movie

 

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If a marketing agency comes up with the line “From the creators of Zootopia and Frozen” to promote Moana, you know you are in for something good. I would not say that Moana was as good as those two movies, but it is great for what it sets out to do.

2016 has been a really good year for Disney. It isn’t as good as Pixar were in their heyday, but they are better than Pixar have been in recent years. Moana is only a shade behind of Pete’s Dragon, The Jungle Book, Zootopia, and Queen of Katwe which were other movies Disney have released in 2016.

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The Disney 2016 catelogue. I would be happy with that list even though it’s not perfect and some of tne movies don’t show Disney’s finest hour he he he. 

Moana is an adventure story about the titular character who is a young Samoan woman who is next in line to be the chief of her people. There is a problem with her community’s food supply as it is wasting away. She decides to sail across oceans to find the solution to the problem in which Mau, a demi-god (Dwayne Johnson) is involved in.

While I don’t think Moana is quite as good as Disney’s recent efforts, the filmmakers still put so much effort into making it fun and succeeding in the process. The songs are fun and people remember them, the animation is gorgeous and there is good character development in Moana the female protagonist. At least she is confident character going into the story. I wish more Disney movies go beyond “The Princess” as a stock character in the future.

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These supporting characters had good moments. The grandmother had a great one.

There are also many scenes that are distinctive and it builds up to the climax really well. As much as that sounds like the standard thing to do, you would be surprised how many films don’t do that. There are scenes that are memorable in their own right. There is a scene involving a dumb chicken and another that had coconut pirates that looked epic, but I could tell it was well restrained. Which is a good thing because I am not a fan of films where their most memorable sequence is in the first third of the story.

One of the things that Moana could have done better was developing Maui the demi-god. While he had good entertaining moments and was funny, he came off as a bit arrogant. Which is fine, as long as the film addresses it.

When the tattoos you are wearing have better character development that the person who is wearing them, you are going to have a bad time. 

There is a what I thought would be a pivotal scene in which Maui would come to realize his vulnerability and his rashness when he leaves Moana behind on her quest. Such a scene does not exist in Moana. Therefore it came off to me as Maui growing a conscience for no reason when he makes his return.

To be honest, that was my biggest criticism and that was only mildly offputting. It only stuck out because a lot of the story was done so well. It was like finding a stain on white clothing instead of a stain on a unhygienic person.

For the overly formulaic path of so many Disney movies about physical journeys being a metaphorical journey of self-discovery, Moana hits a lot of right notes. It is almost as good as you can get under the limitations of such a familiar path the filmmakers took to making the movie ***3/4

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Written by Nelson Cumming

This review will have a lot of spoilers as my sources of praise and criticism involves the final act. I say this because I am a nice, swell guy.

Rogue One: A Star War Story is one of the most epic-looking spin-offs that I have ever seen. I stress the term “epic-looking” here. That is because it has enough visual effects and good moments combined to make Rogue One a good film. However, there were things that bugged me while watching it.

Rogue One is set between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star wars Episode IV: A new Hope. It is a spin-off story that focuses on the destruction of the Deathstar (a weapon that can destroy planets) and the subsequent plans that Erso attempts to steal from the Galatic Empire to give to the Rebel Alliance.

Let’s Start Positive

 

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Me after seeing the special effects on Rogue One.

 

The two best things about Rogue One are the special effects and the final third of the movie. The special effects in Rogue One are as good as any movie I have seen this year. Rogue One went for huge set pieces and made a blockbuster look epic. There was one shot in a birds-eye view of two massive rebel ships that collide in mid-air which was the best shot in the movie. It is a vivid picture in my head. For a movie to have a moment like that is a huge positive.

 

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The penultimate battle on the beach, in my opinion, was the best scene in the film.

 

The final act in which the Rebel Alliance set off to destroy the Deathstar from the Galatic Empire is by far the best section of the movie. From the espionage of Jyn’s father to the Deathstar’s destruction was nearly all well choreographed and shot. The battle sequences from the supporting characters had a smooth pace and the final battle between Jyn and Orson Krennic was thrilling.

The origin story of Jyn Erso was fine but not great. It would have been noticeably better had I been able to decipher what Forest Whitaker was saying (he spoke very hoarsely and gives the weakest performace of the cast). They developed that origin story into a major plot development. It also helped give Jyn Erso a third dimension to her character when it was needed later on.

Now onto some negatives.

Rogue One really suffers from underdeveloped supporting characters. In one scene, they really bite off more than they can chew. I believe that in Rogue One, the ultimate goal was for us to like all the characters because they have a quirky personality trait or a single moment of depth. This can only get a movie so far and where they wanted to take them was so much further than what was given to them.

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Donnie Yen plays a character equivalent of a fun friend who is not a close friend. So it does not help when the film expects you to be his close friend.

A prime example is Donnie Yen’s character, a blind Asian warrior. He has the personality quirk of being able to fight while blind and he has repeats the one line “I am one with the Force. The Force is with me” From that I am supposed to feel a sense of sadness when him and all the other supporting characters (who are just as underdeveloped) when they all die in quick succession.

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Instead, I went to my friend and said “Jesus! are there any more people who want to die. This isn’t Game of Thrones you know” That statement was not premeditated. That was my first reaction. After that was when I realized how little I care for the huge stakes the movie was going after. The characters themselves were not terrible but they were not worth the huge threat that was thrust upon them.

Rogue One really suffers from the dragging second act and taking itself too seriously when they didn’t have the characters that could sustain that level of drama. There were lots of little moments throughout Rogue One that worked such as the Darth Vader scenes and the lines the new quirky droid K-2SO says. Since those little things permeated throughout the movie, added with a really good third act, it was enough for me to like Rogue One. ***1/2.