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Movie Review: Tattered and Old Sails in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie has all the disappointment of hopping back on your favorite amusement park ride after decades. The paint is chipped, the metal is rusty and there’s a faint noise in the gears struggling to keep the ride going. It’s just not fun anymore. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has seen better days as the repetitive nature is starting to show wrinkles in both the writing and its characters.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Jack is back! Again, and again, and again, and again…

The writing was never a high point of the series, but Dead Men Tell No Tales still offers up the silliest of McGuffins to date. The treasure on this quest is the Trident of Poseidon, an artifact that can grant one the power to control the seas. Oh, and as a bonus, it can apparently cure every curse of the sea. Yep, all of them. It’s the only way to explain how this trident can save Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) from the curse of the Dutchman at such a long distance.

Remember Will Turner and his unfortunate fate from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End from ten years ago? You better dust off that old blockbuster to familiarize yourself with the characters. Otherwise you won’t have a clue what significance Will Turner or his wife Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) hold to the plot as bookended segments.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Brenton Thwaites looks convincing as Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom’s son in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.’

Trying to save Will is his son Henry (Brenton Thwaites), now grown enough to venture across the seas and rescue his dear old dad from being a cursed mutant pirate. Henry’s entire character is that of being a believer of the supernatural, having served on ships where ghosts have slaughtered the entire crew. Nobody believes him, of course, and even less so the lovely Carina (Kaya Scodelario) who is all about science. Infatuated with astronomy, she is such a nerd for the stars she will stop a chase to peer through a telescope. Henry and Carina are supposed to be our new Will and Elizabeth, bound by the Pirates template script to be paired up as romantic leads. They hardly have a fraction of what little charisma that Bloom and Knightley once had, never really clashing all that frequently with their debate of superstition versus science.

This couple is so boring and useless that the movie thankfully makes more time for better actors. Johnny Depp is becoming a little long in the gold tooth to be playing the drunken Captain Jack Sparrow, almost appearing as a parody of himself at times, but he has a few drops of charm left in his dusty old rags. He still has the knack for slapstick sequences where he narrowly avoids death with a few stumbles and plenty of luck, even when facing the guillotine for his crimes. Geoffrey Rush is always a likably sinister force as the conflicted Captain Hector Barbossa, now a more decadent pirate as the ship captain of the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Rush is able to play up the role with such gleeful camp and spirit that he should become the template for all movie pirates to follow.

Related: Movie Review: ‘Baywatch’ Can’t Stay Afloat

The villain is not too shabby either as Javier Bardem brings a powerful and fun performance to the cursed Captain Armando Salazar. Bound by a family hatred of pirates, he has sworn revenge on Jack (who doesn’t?) as the only captain that has ever outsmarted him and sent him to his undead fate. Bardem is a pleasure to watch for both the visual effects of his ghostly appearance and the cackling nature of his perfect villain performance. He commands a ship of his undead crew that seem to have it worse than he does, missing huge chunks of their bodies to the point where they are practically floating torsos. Even Salazar’s ship is undead in that it can shoot upward and open up its bow like an insect ready to feast on enemy vessels.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Close up of Javier Bardem’s villainous Salazar.

As much as I don’t want to question this logic, the whole undead angle does make the gears of scrutiny turn for being so repetitive. Sparrow and Barbossa have not only been fighting off cursed pirates for ages, but are aware of what it feels like to be undead as well. So why would they continue to fight in sword battles with these ghosts when it’s firmly established in multiple scenes that swords would go right through them? Blame the rum, I suppose.

Read more for the rest of the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales movie review:

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.


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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.


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Review: “Captain Marvel” is a Solidly Sensational Sci-Fi Adventure

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Captain Marvel joins the ranks of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a much different way. She slides into the MCU via a twisty sci-fi adventure of the 1990s, before the Avengers were formed. And though the film does serve as a strong bridge picture that answers a few more questions about the Marvel universe, the film quickly becomes its own thing and gives its hero a real identity as the powerful addition to the superhero ensemble.

Brie Larson plays Carol Danvers, a woman not sure if she’s a human pilot of Earth or a soldier of the Kree empire’s Starforce. There’s little time to explore these conflicting visions she’s having when there’s special energy powers to control and a war being waged against the shape-shifting Skrull alien creatures. A detour to 1990s Earth gives her a bit of time to find out more while also hunting down some more Skrulls, leading to some interesting scenarios when combatting aliens that could look like old ladies.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) ..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

Carol’s landing on Earth leads to treading down familiar Marvel timeline territory as well as evoking plenty of dated 1990s bits. What started drawing me into the picture was how the film holds itself back from the obvious. The 1990s setting is used for some gags of video stores and Windows 95, sure, but never goes the extra mile of becoming an aggravating reference fest, keeping a certain vibe the way Guardians of the Galaxy embraced the 1970s and 1980s. And just like that film, there’s a nostalgic soundtrack to boot, with choice tracks for just the right cue.

Samuel L. Jackson pops up in the film as a younger Nick Fury with his two eyes still intact. He teams up with Carol in her intergalactic spy adventure and thankfully never goes to the booming lengths he was known for that decade. And the filmmakers could have easily made this younger Fury go full Die Hard 3 or Pulp Fiction but he never does, always keeping that cool persona he has been known for in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Marvel Studios’ CAPTAIN MARVEL..L to R: Att-Lass (Algenis Perez Soto), Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and Minn-Erva (Gemma Chan)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2019

But the one aspect that is never shunned and built up grandly is the aspect of female empowerment. Danvers is established as a woman who doesn’t have a clear identity or mindful nature of galactic politics and has to build herself up when she realizes she may be a very powerful pawn in a big game of intergalactic chess. Her memories are that of always being told to back off from non-traditional activities for girls and, sure enough, she rises up to become the smirking and energy-shooting hero when the final piece of her character puzzle is pieced together. It’s just unfortunate that the film spends so much time doing the building amid a twisty sci-fi spy story that Brie never gets a moment to shine as brightly as she could, despite a very enthusiastic third-act closer.

If we’re being blunt, no, Captain Marvel doesn’t quite have the same gravity to be a cultural milestone of a comic book movie. Where others have pointed to Black Panther as not the first the most insightful and cultural of black-led superhero movies, I doubt many will look towards Captain Marvel as the grandest of female-led comic book movies, making its motives known with the power and subtlety of a supernova. But, in terms of what the film is aiming towards, it doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone and that’s perhaps the point. I just wish that Captain Marvel’s astounding powers to destroy starships and aliens had a much bigger punch for a picture that wants to obliterate the glass ceiling and merely cuts a narrow hole within the MCU. It’s a nice hole, mind you, and still weaves a capable and compelling sci-fi adventure with a surprisingly more engaging finale than most Marvel solos.


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