The first Pirates of the Caribbean was the perfect mix of story, casting and fun. The newest edition, Dead Men Tell No Tales, can’t replicate that perfect blend, but does almost as good a job as could have been done with the lesser ingredients provided. Captain Jack Sparrow is probably my all time favorite movie character, but he works so much better in a supporting role; swinging in, laying down a funny line or a silly walk, then swinging back out. If he has to do all the heavy lifting on the plot then he loses some of his electricity. Combine that with the average cast, and the ceiling for PC:DMTNT is lower than the Pirate movies you remember from back in the day. But that is all the bad things I have to say about it. The story is fun; the action is good and evenly spaced; the length, pace, and direction are all good. PC:DMTNT is a good movie, way better than the critics are giving it credit for. If you’re a fan you need to see it. If you want to go to the movie and have already seen Guardians then you need to see this one. It’s a fun movie, a good way to start off the summer. If your kids saw the others they can see this one.
The less enjoyable movie I saw yesterday was Alien: Covenant. The first two movies in the Alien franchise, from nearly 30 years ago, had a really unique and compelling vibe. Those movies were suspenseful, spooky, and attention grabbing even as a minimal amount was taking place on screen. A:C desperately wants to rekindle that old magic, but is far too safe and replaces spook with shock, attention grabbing with boring, and suspense with practically nothing at all. A:C has no creativity and no risk. The first hour and a half is a slog. The last half hour is better, but only b/c it just shifts into action movie mode and becomes just an average movie. So that is my synopsis, A:C is 3/4 below average and 1/4 average. Not a great recipe. The acting is probably the best part, but the actors have no story, no direction and nothing interesting to work with (except Michael Fassbender, who is brilliant as usual). There is blood, some parts that try to be scary and a sex scene, but in realty those don’t matter, b/c there is no reason to go to this movie, kids or otherwise.
Beauty and the Beast is great. Take the kids, take the spouse, take the neighbor’s kids, it’s really good. It is 99% of the best they could possibly have done with the live action remake. It’s an instant classic and has to be seen. Theater or top of the rent list (since you may not make it in time to the theater).
Ghost in the Shell was a lot better than I thought it would be, but I went in with really low expectations. I don’t think older people will like it, but there is a possibility that the younger crowd might (don’t go to the theater, use this to decide if you rent). If you like the anime source material than you’ve already seen it and don’t need this review.
The Great Wall is probably out of a theater near you already, but as far as a rental goes you could do worse. The Great Wall was also better than I thought it would be, but, again, I had low expectations. It has a bit of a vibe like the good Chinese movies that pop up every now and then, meaning it is more of a Chinese movie with a couple of Western actors, than a Western movie with a lot of Chinese extras. Not a must see, but I’m very pleased that I did see it.
Fate of the Furious is in the running for most ridiculous of the Fast and Furious franchise. The acting is probably the worst in the franchise, and, if memory serves, F8 also has the worst writing. The writing is bad enough to where even The Rock loses some of his luster. Jason Statham is awesome, but he doesn’t have enough scenes to carry the movie. The action is what you’d expect, if you had big expectations, and knew that unbelievable and physically impossible stuff was going to happen. I don’t feel like I’m breaking any new ground here, so let me skip to the end.
F8 is a movie for Fast and Furious fans, everyone else should avoid it. In most of the FF movies great action overcomes bad acting and middling writing; in F8 the writing and acting drop so low that they are too much to overcome. Credit where credit is due, the franchise keeps upping the action, keeps it fresh, but all their creative talents flow to the action and leave the movie part of the movie sorely lacking.
The time has arrived! Once again, it’s blockbuster season, and I will be attending movies most every Friday with a bunch of other single guys that don’t have dates. Don’t judge. To kickoff the second best season of the year (football being first, of course) Marvel gives us Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2. Lets make this easy by just comparing it to where it stands among the other Marvel movies. If the first Avengers is the best, then GGv2 sits in the second group alongside the original Guardians, and the second two Captain America’s: Winter Solider and Civil War. The story is well done, bringing it lots of small pieces without making it feel cluttered or leaving any necessary characters underdeveloped. The action scenes are good and fairly well spaced. The best part is that you really fall for the individual characters and the team as a whole. They tell a lot of jokes, and they hit far more often than they miss. The only real problem is that GGv2 is a sequel, it lacks that fresh out of the box feel of the original. But if that is the biggest issue then GGv2 should rank among the best sequels ever.
Taking your kids is going to be slightly complicated. They cuss a handful of times, very much on purpose. And there are a few sexually themed jokes. They might fly right over your kid’s heads, but I’m letting you know they’re there. I don’t remember any blood, and all the fighting is sci-fi, unrealistic stuff.