Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg
Here’s the thing about the Pirates movies. Other than MAYBE the DCCU, it’s probably the most frustratingly simple conceit imaginable that they keep managing to screw up over and over again, so while some people may have a seething hatred for them (I wouldn’t blame you if you did), I find myself disappointed more than anything. Now credit to where it’s due. The first movie is still good, I like a lot of what they were doing with the second film, and I even think the fourth film was a marked improvement over the nadir that was At World’s End. In fact, the fourth film is the closest since the first film of what this franchise SHOULD be which is the cinematic equivalent of pulp adventure books like the Conan stories or John Carter of Mars; a universe comprised of interesting and diverse characters but with stories that can be enjoyed individually. Where Pirates started to screw up (and then self-imploded with the third one) was in trying to focus too much on continuity, MacGuffins, and character motivations that spanned MULTIPLE films; all of which made it almost impossible to enjoy the second and third ones on their own and why the fourth one felt like an okay start to a new direction for this franchise. Will they continue that trend with this new one? Well… probably not considering that Will and Elizabeth are returning to the series which presumably means a whole lot baggage is coming along with them, but let’s find out!!
The movie picks up several years after the events of On Stranger Tides, though more importantly for the purposes of this story, after the events of At World’s End as we have the son of Will and Elizabeth Turner (Orland Bloom and Keira Knightley) named Henry (Brenton Thwaites) trying desperately to break the curse on his father that has imprisoned him as the Captain of the Flying Dutchman. While working for the British Navy, the ship he’s training on crashes face first into THE DEVIL’S TRIANGLE (wouldn’t you want to AVOID something named that?) and he’s left as the sole survivor of an attack by the ghostly crew of Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem). Now Henry has been looking for Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) for some time to see if he has some insight into saving his father and Captain Salazar manages to suss this out, so on top of leaving him as the sole survivor in order to spread his legend, he ALSO want him to give Jack a lesson when he finds him; mainly that he plans on killing that guy the first chance he gets. Now after that prologue, we jump to the Island of Massive Coincidences where Jack just so happens to be wasting his days away drinking rum and there also JUST SO HAPPENS to be a woman named Cariana Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) who may have the answer to finding the GREATEST TREASURE OF THEM ALL and exactly what Henry needs to break his father’s curse. Oh, and Henry JUST SO HAPPENS to be sent to this island after he’s found by the British Navy because why not. I won’t spoil much more at this point (mostly to keep this mercifully short) but by the start of the second act, Jack, Henry, Carina, and a few salty sea dogs (including Joshamee Gibbs played by Kevin McNally who’s been a staple of this series since the beginning), are sailing towards this mysterious treasure known as The Trident of Poseidon which can possibly break Will’s curse. They aren’t the only ones headed in that direction however as Captain Salazar is after Jack, Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is KIND OF after Jack, and some dude from the British Navy (David Wenham) is after all of them so he can throw them in jail. Will Jack Sparrow manage to find this treasure and also avoid the wrath of Salazar who just so happens to have a grudge against him? What exactly did Jack do to Salazar in order to gain his ire, and how far will he go for revenge? Do these movies REALLY need to be this complicated every single freaking time!?
A Cure for Wellness and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Gore Verbinski
You know, Gore Verbinski is a much more versatile director than I think he gets credit for. Sure, he made three Pirates movies and then that Pirates movie in the old west, but he’s also got The Ring, The Weatherman, and Rango under his belt too; all really solid movies. Hell, even his big blockbuster films are at least interesting if not always good! Okay, The Lone Ranger isn’t even that much, but I’ll give credit to those Pirates movies for being fantastically well-crafted even if the story wasn’t always there to back up the designs. Now he seems to be going back to his roots in a way as this is the lowest budget he’s had to work with since The Weatherman, and he’s also heading back to the horror genre which seems like a pretty good idea considering how well that Ring remake turned out. Is this a new benchmark in horror that all others will be compared to, or will this be a catastrophic failure the likes of which we haven’t seen since The Lone Ranger? Or you know, it COULD be somewhere in between those two. Anyway, let’s find out!!
The movie follows an up and coming… business man of some sort named Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) who’s sent to some faraway Wellness Center somewhere in the Swiss Alps to retrieve the owner of the company he works for. You see, the board of directors got a strange letter from their boss Mr. Pembroke (Harry Groener) that he’s found the cure for what ails him at this facility and that he’s never coming back. Of course, if he REALLY didn’t want to be bothered anymore, he would have included official documents removing himself from the company to go along with that letter, but if he did that then Lockhart wouldn’t have a reason to go and we wouldn’t have a movie, now would we? It also helps that Lockhart did some illegal… business stuff I guess that he thought he had kept secret but the board knows ALL about it and is holding that over his head to get him to go to Switzerland. Once Lockhart gets there, its IMMEDIATELY clear that something just isn’t right about this place. Is it the creepy staff that acts like condescending zombie vampires? Is it the strange girl named Hannah (Mia Goth) who’s comes and goes with seemingly little understanding about the world around her? Maybe it’s the fact that the head of the facility is named Dr. Heinreich Volmer (Jason Isaacs) which is probably in the top ten villain names of all time! I’m guessing it’s that. Well any normal person would just bolt it to the airport at this point, but Lockhart JUST SO HAPPENS to get in a nasty car accident on the way back from the Wellness Center and wakes up back at the facility a few days later with a cast on his leg. Well since he isn’t GOING anywhere for now, he might as well try to find Pembroke and see if there’s some shady shit going down in this Wellness Center that puts a little too much emphasis on water and for some reason uses REALLY outdated medical equipment. Will Lockhart get what he needs from Pembroke and save his job? Just what is going on in this creepy facility with so many creepy people and creepy equipment? Is the cure that everyone is looking for… love!?
Rings and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by F Javier Gutiérrez
What in the hell took them so long with this!? Not only is this coming out over a decade since the last one, this one has been pushed back at least three times from its initial release date in November 2015 which is only a few months shy of Monster Trucks’s unimaginably long delay, and we all know how THAT turned out! Then again, no one was stupid enough to mortgage their studio on THIS film, but I’m not all that optimistic either way. There’s a hell of a lot going against this movie even before it was pushed back several times, so unless we’ve got the next Fede Álvarez helming the damn thing, I don’t think there’s much hope of this being even halfway decent; otherwise they wouldn’t have waited until February to dump it on theaters. All that said, you never know! Hell, even Monster Trucks managed to be a LITTLE bit of fun, and it’s not like the first film was a sure thing either being a remake of a well-known Japanese horror film! Maybe there’s something to this that the studios just didn’t see! Yeah… that’s a bit of a long shot, BUT let’s find out anyway!
So if you’ve seen the trailers, it turns out they don’t actually tell you ANYTHING about the plot of the movie as they basically consist of the cold opening and the last five minutes. What’s REALLY going on here is that Julia (Matilda Lutz) is a woman dating some dude who went off to college named Holt (Alex Roe) and she ends up worrying about him after he stops taking her calls. Now in the REAL world this would mean that he’s found some campus squeeze, but instead she finds out that the Biology professor named Gabriel (Johnny Galecki) has him and a WHOLE bunch of other students working on some sort of study into a magic video tape that kills whoever watched it after seven days. That is, unless the person makes a copy of the video and has someone else watch it, in which case the seven day curse resets and is put on the next person. It’s not clear exactly what Gabriel’s end goal is here, but shit goes to hell when one of the students dies from Samara’s wrath (the ghost from the other Ring films) and it leaves Holt hanging who need someone to watch his copy soon. Julia volunteers herself as tribute, but something goes wrong as the video is different, she can’t make a copy herself, and she gets some weird scar on her hand that no one else has gotten. Clearly Samara is changing the rules on them, so the only way to stop her once and for all is to solve the mystery of what happened to her and why she’s so damn pissed! No, not the mystery from the FIRST film! This is a whole NEW mystery about her past that no one bothered to mention until now! Can Julia and Holt figure out… whatever it is they need to figure out, before it’s too late? Did Gabriel learn anything USEFUL by messing with the ghost for this long? So can she just come through ANY screen now; even ones that aren’t TVs? I wonder what would happen if she haunted a 3DS…