Tuesday, July 18, 2017

It Came From The Cineplex: 47 Meters Down

47 Meters Down was written by Ernest Riera and Johannes Roberts. It was directed by Johannes Roberts.

Riera and Roberts co-wrote The Other Side Of The Door, which I've never heard of. Roberts previously wrote and directed a bunch of other films I've never heard of, including Hellbreeder, Darkhunters, Forest Of The Damned, F and Storage 24.


As an aside here, I feel obligated to point out that Roberts' Storage 24 is noteworthy as one of the lowest grossing movies of all time. As part of a TV deal, it was released in exactly one theater for one day, where it earned an amazing $72.

47 Meters Down is a perfect example of the "survival horror" genre, in which the characters are placed in highly contrived and deadly situations, and have to figure out a way to escape. Think Frozen (the one about being trapped on a ski lift, not the Disney thing), The Reef, The Canyon, The Ruins, and Eden Lake, among others.

Jaws is the granddaddy of all shark movies, and even though it came out over forty years ago, it still casts a long shadow in Hollywood. Any similar movie is automatically going to be compared to Spielberg's classic, so if you've got the chutzpah to attempt to make a shark movie these days, it'd better be a damned good one. Sadly, 47 Meters Down is not going to be dethroning Jaws anytime soon.

47 Meters Down was originally shot as a direct-to-video film, scheduled for release in August, 2016. Dimension Films then sold the rights to Entertainment Studios (which has to be the blandest possible name for a business). They were apparently so impressed with the film that they scheduled it for a theatrical release in June, 2017.

As we all know here at Bob Canada's BlogWorld, any time a movie is delayed for ANY reason, it's ALWAYS a bad, bad sign. And so it is with 47 Meters Down. It's not the worst thing I've ever seen, but there's no tension, zero scares and very little in the way of sharks. It really does feel like a Siffy Channel movie that somehow found its way into the cineplex.


Somehow the film's a modest hit, grossing $41 million against its minuscule $5 million budget. Even subtracting marketing costs (if there were any), that's not a bad return. Look for 94 Meters Down in theaters next year!

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
We start with the usual urban horror movie setup— sisters Lisa (played by Mandy Moore) and Kate (played by Claire Holt) are attractive young Americans vacationing in Mexico. Lisa's boyfriend Stewart just broke up with her because she's "boring," so she's traveling with Kate to prove him wrong. She hopes once Stewart sees she can be spontaneous, he'll come running back to her. Sounds like Stewart's better off without her if you ask me.

Kate drags Lisa out for a night on the town, where they meet two local men, Louis and Benjamin. They hit it off and have a great time, thanks to blessed alcohol. The men tell them they're going shark diving in the morning, and invite the girls to come along. Kate's up for it of course, but Lisa's not so sure, because she's boring. Kate eventually talks her into it.

They meet the guys at the dock the next morning, where they're introduced to Taylor (played briefly by a vacationing Matthew Modine). Taylor's the captain of a comically decrepit boat that you'd only find in a movie, complete with an alarmingly rusty shark cage. No one in their right mind would ever step foot on this tub, but of course Kate's somehow able to talk Lisa into going.

Taylor asks the girls if they've ever been diving before. Kate has, but of course Lisa hasn't because she's boring. She lies and says yes, and Taylor knows she's lying, but takes her money anyway. They chug out onto the ocean, where Taylor's "crewman" Javier starts chumming the water to attract sharks. Kate points out that this is illegal, but Javier says it's OK because they're in Mexico. Charming!

Soon a couple of sharks show up, and Louis and Benjamin get in the cage. Seems odd that the two guys would dive together, but whatever. Taylor lowers the cage just under the water, and the guys get a spectacular view of the sharks swimming around them.

When it's the girl's turn, Taylor infodumps a bunch of expository dialogue, carefully explaining to them (and the audience) how scuba tanks and depth gauges work. He lowers them just under the water, and after a few minutes the girls see an impossibly huge Great White shark cruise past.

Lisa starts getting nervous (because she's boring), and uses her scuba mask's' hi-tech communication system to tell Taylor to bring them up. As he does, his rickety winch malfunctions, and the cage suddenly drops a dozen feet or so. The girls panic and try to get out of the cage. Before they can though, the winch chain breaks and the cage plummets to the ocean floor, 47 Meters Below (Houston, We Have A Title!).

They try to radio Taylor, but unfortunately they're too far down (really?). Kate opens the hatch at the top of the cage and swims up to 40 meters, where she can finally contact Taylor. He tells them to stay put in the cage, as ascending too quickly will give them the bends and kill them. He says he's sending Javier down with a cable to pull them back up with his "spare winch."

The girls huddle in the tank as they watch their oxygen supplies slowly dwindle. They see a flashlight in the distance, and realize it's Javier. They start banging on the cage to attract his attention, but the flashlight hangs motionless in the gloom. Kate's oxygen is dangerously low (because she swam up to contact Taylor, I guess?), so Lisa reluctantly offers to go meet Javier and bring him back.

Lisa hugs the ocean floor as she slowly makes her way to the flashlight. She comes to a terrifying sheer drop-off, with no discernible bottom, and  forces herself to cross it. Suddenly a shark appears, and she hides in a small cave until it leaves. She makes it to the flashlight, but doesn't see Javier anywhere. She sees his speargun lying by the light.

She grabs the flashlight and spear and swims back to the cage. She's horrified when she spots half of Javier's body on the ocean floor, along with the cable. She pulls the cable back to the cage and attaches it to the top. She then swims up to 40 meters to tell Taylor to start pulling them up. Lisa gets back in the cage, and sees Kate's air is almost gone.

The cage begins rising slowly, so as not to give the girls the bends. Hilariously, when they get to 20 meters this cable snaps as well (!), and the cage falls back down to the bottom (!!!). Unfortunately Lisa's leg is pinned under the heavy cage, trapping her. Kate swims up to tell Taylor they're still alive, and he says he's sending down extra oxygen tanks for them. He warns Kate that switching tanks can cause "nitrogen narcosis," and they may start hallucinating (?). He says he's alerted the Coast Guard, which should arrive within an hour to rescue them.

Kate sees two tanks and some flares fall to the ocean floor and swims out to get them. Her air's almost gone, and she manages to switch to one of the new tanks in the nick of time. A shark appears (a rarity in this film) and she hides against some rocks until it swims away. Just as she reaches the cage, the shark reappears and carries her off, presumably killing her. She drops the other tank just outside the cage.

Lisa weeps for her sister until her oxygen gauge starts beeping, indicating she's almost out of air. Unfortunately she can't reach the extra tank just outside the cage, as her leg's pinned. She uses Javier's speargun to try and drag the tank to her. She accidentally fires the gun, slicing open her hand. Eventually she manages to hook the tank and is somehow able to swap it out like a pro seconds before her air runs out. She then inflates her BCD (Buoyancy Control Device), which lifts the cage just enough for her to rip her leg out from under it.

She swims out of the top of the cage, and miraculously runs into a badly-wounded Kate (hmm...). The two swim slowly to the surface, stopping periodically so they don't get the bends. They decide to light the flares, hoping they'll ward off sharks. They light one, and when it goes out, Kate lights the other, but drops it. Lisa lights the third and last flare, which reveals they're surrounded by a dozen hungry sharks.

Somehow the girls make it to the surface. Louis and Benjamin pull them out of the water. Just as Lisa's almost in the ship, a shark leaps up and chomps on her leg. She jabs it in the eye, causing it to let go. She lies on the deck of the boat, laughing in relief.

Suddenly Lisa wakes up, and realizes everything after Kate's death was an elaborate hallucination and she's still trapped in the cage (!). She sees Coast Guard divers come toward her and remove her from the cage. The movie ends as they lift her slowly to the surface. Or maybe this was another hallucination, who knows?

Thoughts:
• For a film that advertises itself as a "shark movie," there really aren't all that many sharks in it. The movie's only eighty five minutes long, and less than ten of them actually features sharks.


• 47 meters is only about 154 feet. Put that way, it doesn't sound like all that terrifying or dangerous. Amazingly though, you don't have to go very deep before you start feeling the effects of the sea. Water pressure increases one atmosphere for every ten meters you descend. So at 47 meters it would feel like almost FIVE atmosphere's pressing against your body!

• Matthew Modine shows up for a few minutes in the movie as the "Day Player." 

See, low budget movies can't afford an all-star cast, so they usually hire one big name actor— usually an older star whose fame has faded a bit. The producers can usually only afford to hire them for one day, two at the most. They then use that day to film as many scenes as they can with the actor. Then they sprinkle those scenes throughout the movie, to give the illusion that they're in it much more than they really are.

This is an old, old trick employed by thousands of cheap B-movies.

This is definitely the case here with Matthew Modine. He appears in a couple of brief scenes at the beginning of the movie and then completely disappears. His voice is occasionally heard on the radio a couple times afterward, but that's it.

• It occurred to me while writing this review that this is the first ever Mandy Moore movie I've ever seen in my life. I guess at long last I can finally cross that item off my bucket list.

• James Van Der Beek was cast as Lisa's boyfriend Stuart, and filmed several scenes with Mandy Moore. All his scenes ended up on the cutting room floor though, as the final film just references him briefly. 


For some reason, Louis and Benjamin get in the shark cage together, leaving the girls up on the ship with Taylor and Javier. When they're done, Kate and Lisa pair up in the cage. Doesn't that seem a little strange?

Presumably they're all on a date, right? So why wouldn't each guy pair up with one of the girls for their dive?

Answer: Because if the experienced Benjamin paired up with Lisa, he'd have known exactly what to do when the cage plummeted to the ocean floor, and the movie would have been fifteen minutes long.


Plus, like it or not, women are generally seen as more vulnerable than men, so it's supposedly scarier to have two frightened gals trapped on the ocean floor.

This is what you call your Plot Contrivance. There was no logical reason to have the girls dive together, other than to make the movie scarier.


• For someone with such a ramshackle, derelict boat, Taylor's scuba gear has a surprisingly sophisticated communication system. The characters have no difficulty talking to one another, even under water.

That said, this comm system seems to have an extremely limited range. The cage falls to the ocean floor, and the two women can't contact Taylor on his ship, which is only 47 meters, or 154 feet away. Kate eventually has to swim up to 40 meters, or 131 feet, before Taylor can pick up her signal.

154 feet doesn't seem like all that big a distance. It certainly doesn't seem like enough to cause a radio signal to fade. Does water somehow block radio waves?

• I've never been scuba diving in my life, so my knowledge of it's pretty limited. From what I've read though, the scuba science in this movie is woefully inaccurate. Laughable, even. Here're a few examples of things the movie got wrong.


As the girls get in the shark tank, Taylor explains that they have an hour's worth of oxygen. But the amount of time you can breathe a tank of compressed air decreases with depth. A scuba tank might well last an hour near the surface, but at 47 meters you'd only get twenty five minutes. Even less if you're panicking or exerting yourself, like the characters were.

Taylor constantly warns the girls that they'll get the bends if they surface too fast. Unfortunately going down is just as bad as coming up. At the high rate of speed the cage fell, the girls' eardrums would have likely burst, possibly causing permanent deafness!

Taylor also warns Kate and Lisa about "nitrogen narcosis," saying it could cause them to experience elaborate hallucinations. Yeah, that's not how it works. It doesn't cause you to dream up fully-realized fantasy worlds, it just makes you dull-witted, like you're drunk.

The question is, do these inaccuracies really matter?

My first instinct is to say yes. A screenwriter should always try to be as accurate as possible, especially these days when looking up facts and figures literally takes seconds.

But then I start thinking about Jaws. It's one of the greatest movies ever made, yet it features some truly eye-rolling shark behavior (contrary to popular belief, real sharks don't stalk people like the villain in a slasher film). 
It's not fair to give Jaws' scientific inaccuracy a pass while mocking 47 Meters Down for doing the same thing.

After thinking about it a while, I came up with an answer to the accuracy question. If a movie features a particular procedure in a brief scene that isn't integral to the plot, then scientific accuracy isn't that big a deal. But if the ENTIRE PLOT revolves around that specific procedure (like scuba diving), then it absolutely needs to be as accurate as humanly possible.


• Near the end of the film, Lisa and Kate make it to the surface and swim to the boat. Just as Lisa's pulled from the water, a shark jumps up and bites her on her leg. Somehow she manages to free herself and is pulled to safety. She lays on the deck, happy to finally be out of the water.

Annnnnd then she comes to, realizing her whole "rescue" was just an hallucination, and she's still sitting on the ocean floor! So basically she created an elaborate fantasy in which she attacked by a shark during her "rescue!" I dunno about anyone else, but I don't think I'd incorporate something like that into my imaginary world.


47 Meters Down is a survival horror film that's light on thrills, scares and, well, horror. Worst of all, for a film that's ostensibly about sharks, there're very few of them on display. In fact the biggest danger in the movie isn't from man-eating fish, but from shady tour guides with dilapidated boats. The movie's also filled with nonsensical and inaccurate "science" that'll have scuba enthusiasts in the audience rolling their eyes till they sprain 'em. Do yourself a favor and rewatch Jaws instead. I give it a C-.

Putrid Posters: Spider-Man: Homecoming (Again!)

There was a time when a movie poster was just as important as the film it promoted, if not more so. A good poster would tease, inform and pique your interest about a particular film, whipping you into a frenzy until you couldn't wait to see the movie.

That time is long past. Gone are the days when movie posters were beautiful examples of graphic design and illustration, and works of art in their own right. Classic movie poster design has been replaced by nightmarish collages, poorly stitched together in Photoshop.


Case in point: the Sony/Marvel Studios joint venture Spider-Man: Homecoming. The movie may be a critical and box office hit, but its marketing campaign is one of the worst I've seen, as each poster released is more appalling than the last.

Like this one, for example. Oy gevalt! Where do I start? Obviously this poster was deliberately designed to be bad, as it's supposed to look like a page from Peter Parker's personal scrapbook. Because scrapbooking is totally a thing that teens are into these days, right? Especially male teens.

It perfectly captures the amateurish look of something cobbled together by a person with no artistic talent, so in that respect it's actually successful.

But... why would any sane art director think this would be the perfect way to advertise a multimillion dollar movie from a major studio? It's like spray painting "DIAMONDZ INSIDE" on the outside of an upscale Beverly Hills jewelry store. I... I just don't get it.

And then there's this one. At first glance it's better than the scrapbook poster, but it's got more than its share of problems as well. There's way too much dead space in the upper left corner, and it uses a really unappealing section of the New York skyline.

Worst of all, THERE'S NO ACTION! A movie poster's supposed to be electric and exciting! It should look like it's in motion even though it's a still image. This poster's so goddamned boring that Spider-Man fell asleep at the bottom of it! Does this poster make you want to see the movie? If he's bored by his own film, why would I want to pay to see it?

Plus he's inexplicably wearing his school uniform jacket over his costume. Yes, he does this briefly in the film, but there's zero context for it on this poster, which makes its inclusion beyond odd.

And to whoever designed this poster— tilting everything at a 35ยบ angle in a desperate attempt to generate visual interest is the oldest trick in the book, and doesn't work here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Happy 30th Anniversary To Robocop!

Happy 30th Anniversary to Paul Verhoeven's classic film Robocop, which premiered on July 17, 1987. For the two or three people out there who've never seen it, it's a truly subversive movie that offers a scathing commentary on 1980s business and politics, wrapped up in the guise of a violent sci-fi film. It's the thinking man's action movie!

The movie's definitely a product of its time, as it satirizes the Reagan era, corporate takeovers and the growing divide between the rich and poor. It also completely failed to predict both the cell phone revolution as well as the internet.

Despite this, the movie's somehow eerily prescient. It correctly predicted the influence the media has on our lives, the dumbing down of popular entertainment, and the contradictory way technology actually tends to isolate us instead as it brings people together. It even accurately predicted the deterioration and downfall of Detroit!


Best of all, it's ultra violent and gory as hell, and damned near got an X-rating back in 1987! What more could you ask for?

Jesus Christ, I remember sitting in the theater watching this movie first run back in 1987! Where the hell has the time gone?

I'd buy that for a dollar!

It Came From The Cineplex: Baby Driver

Baby Driver was written and directed by Edgar Wright.

Wright previously wrote and directed Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and The World's End. He co-wrote The Adventures Of Tintin with Joe Cornish and Steven Noffat (of Doctor Who fame!). He also co-wrote Ant-Man along with Joe Cornish, Adam McKay and Paul Rudd.


Baby Driver is sort of a throwback to late 1990s gangster/action movies like Go, The Big Hit and The Way Of The Gun. Others have described it as Tarantino-esque, but I didn't get that impression at all.


Fair warning— for a movie called "Baby Driver," it doesn't contain much actual driving. Think Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive, which generated similar complaints about its lack of vehicular action. If you're looking for a character-driven (heh) relationship drama, then Baby Driver's the film for you. If you're hankering for Fast & Furious-style car chases and non-stop action , then you're gonna have a bad time.


Oddly enough, unlike all of Wright's previous films, Baby Driver is not a comedy. It's a straight up action/drama, with a few slightly quirky elements thrown in here and there.

Contrary to most of the internet, I don't worship at the altar of Edgar Wright, as I think he's a very uneven and overrated talent. I LOVED his debut film 
Shaun Of The Dead, as it's one of my all-time favorite movies. Unfortunately Wright's output quickly went downhill from there (for me at least), as I found each successive film worse than the previous one. I was baffled by the popularity of Hot Fuzz, even after giving it the benefit of a second viewing. I wasn't a fan of Scott Pilgrim either, and didn't care for The World's End. Fans lamented the day Wright was fired from Ant-Man (for refusing to tie it to the Marvel Cinematic Universe), but I thought it was cause for celebration.


That's why Baby Driver is such a pleasant surprise, as Edgar Wright finally made a good (but not great) film 
again.

Even more amazing is the fact that a decent movie like Baby Driver is distributed by Sony! Yes, Sony, the gold standard of movie studios (and my former employers!). Why, in just the past three years, they've produced such wonderful films as:

The Monuments Men • Robocop (2014)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 • 22 Jump Street • Think Like A Man Too
Sex Tape • The Equalizer • Fury • The Interview • Chappie
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 • Aloha • Pixels • Ricki and the Flash 
Hotel Transylvania 2 • The Walk • Goosebumps • Freaks of Nature 
Spectre • The Night Before • The 5th Wave • The Brothers Grimsby
Money Monster • Angry Birds • The Shallows • Ghostbusters 2016
Sausage Party • The Magnificent Seven • Inferno • Passengers
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter • Underworld: Blood Wars
Life • Smurfs: The Lost Village • Rough Night

That's quite the grim track record, making Baby Driver's success all the more surprising. I guess when you swing at enough pitches, you're bound to hit a homer now and then.


Critics and audiences are both absolutely in love with this movie, which genuinely mystifies me. I must have seen a different version of the film, because I honestly don't get all the praise. It's got some decent performances and there's one really good action scene at the beginning, but the overall storyline is one we've all seen a hundred times before. I'd call it watchable at best. 

So far the film's a modest hit, racking up $73 million here in the States against its $34 million budget. It's grossed $14 million overseas, for a worldwide total of $87 million. Those are decent numbers for a small film that premiered in the middle of Summer Blockbuster Season. Due to marketing, most films today need to gross twice their production budget just to break even. I doubt Baby Driver did much in the way of advertising, so I'm betting it's turned a decent profit for Sony.


SPOILERS!


The Plot:
A car parks across the street from a bank in Atlanta. Three criminals— Buddy (played by Jon Hamm), his wife Darling (played by Eiza Gonzalez) and Griff (played by John Bernthal)— run into the bank, while their getaway driver "Baby" (played by Ansel Elgort) waits outside. Baby calmly listens to music on his earbuds while he waits. The three crooks return with cases of loot and hurriedly pile into the car. Baby peels out, still jamming to his music. Several police cars pursue them, but Baby expertly performs a series of impressive driving maneuvers, easily losing them.

They return to the headquarters of Doc (played by Kevin Spacey), the mastermind behind the robbery. Baby brings back coffee for everyone, his earbuds still blaring. For some reason this annoys Griff, who asks why Baby has to constantly listen to music. Through the magic of expository dialogue, Doc explains that as a child, Baby was in a car wreck that killed his parents. As a result of the accident he has tinnitus, and listens to music to drown out the constant humming in his ears.

Doc divides the money among the crooks, and gives Baby his small cut. He tells Baby that after their next job they'll be square, as his debt to him will be paid off. Baby goes home to Joseph, the man who raised him after his parents died. Joseph's now an elderly deaf man confined to a wheelchair, so their roles have reversed, as Baby now takes care of him.

Baby stuffs his share of the stolen money into an impressive stash under a floorboard in the apartment, as Joseph watches. He signs to Baby that he knows he's involved in something shady and to be careful. Baby takes a mini-recorder from his pocket, which he uses to capture everyday conversations around him. He uses a sample of Griff's tirade earlier that day to compose a "song." We see he has hundreds of such tapes, including a special one labeled "Mom."

Later Baby goes to Bo's Diner, where he "meets cute" a young waitress named Debora (played by Lily James). They chat for a while and Baby secretly records their conversation. Later at home he turns Debora's sample into a song.

Doc calls Baby in for his "final" job, and introduces him to the new crew: Eddie No-Nose (played by Flea, of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame), JD (played by Lanny Joon) and Bats (played by Jamie Foxx). This time the target is an armored truck. Bats becomes angry with Baby because he listens to music the whole time Doc outlines the plan. He shuts up though when Baby's somehow able to recite their agenda word for word.

Baby drives the criminals to a bank, where they wait for the armored truck to arrive. Bats becomes incensed again when he sees that JD bought the wrong masks for them to wear during the robbery (Mike Myers from Austin Powers instead of Michael Myers from Halloween).

The three rob the armored truck, but things go south when Bats kills a guard. They run back to the car, and Baby, who's shaken by the murder, takes off. A marine witnesses the robbery, firing at the robbers as he uses his truck to block the getaway car. Baby somehow drives between a row of parked cars and a wall to escape. 


They make it to a highway, with the marine in pursuit. He forces the front of the getaway car under a semi truck, trapping it. Bats starts to shoot the marine, but Baby frees the car and drives off before he can take the shot. JD realizes he dropped his gun back at the bank. Back at Doc's hideout, Bats asks Baby if he deliberately stopped him from killing the marine. Baby says no, but Bats doesn't believe him.

Baby goes to the diner again to flirt with Debora. She jokingly says it's not fair that there are few if any songs about "Debbies," but thousands with the name "Baby" in them.

Later Baby meets with Doc to get his cut of the money. When he mentions they're even now, Doc laughs and says Baby's his good luck charm and he plans to keep on calling him. He orders Baby to dispose of a car, which he sees has JD's body in it. Apparently Doc wasn't happy that he lost his gun during the robbery.

Baby takes the car to a junkyard, where he flashes back to the accident that killed his parents and injured his ears. Baby tries to go straight by taking a job as a pizza delivery man, using his driving skills to impress the customers. He takes Debora out to a fancy restaurant, where he's interrupted by Doc, who wants him for another job. When Baby refuses, Doc threatens to harm Debora and Joseph. Baby grudgingly agrees to the job. He takes Debora home and they share their first kiss.

The next job is stealing blank money orders from a post office, and Doc sends Baby in to check out the security. While there, he interacts with a friendly teller (foreshadowing!). Later on, Baby calls Debora and says he wants the two of them to drive far away from Atlanta, someplace where Doc will never find them. Despite the fact that she's known him for less than a week, she agrees.

Doc gathers Buddy, Darling and Bats for the post office job. But first he sends them to buy guns from an arms dealer called The Butcher (inexplicably played by singer/songwriter Paul Williams). They arrive at a warehouse where they're met by The Butcher and his army of thugs. As they look over the guns, Bats notices the boxes say "APD" on the side (for Atlanta Police Department, I guess?) and realizes The Butcher's a cop. Bats shoots The Butcher dead, which causes a massive firefight. Doc's crew manages to kill all the undercover cops, but Darling's shot in the arm.

On the way back to Doc's, Bats says he's hungry and wants to stop at Bo's Diner (um... shouldn't they be getting medical treatment for Darling?). Baby doesn't want to stop, as he doesn't want Debora to see him with a bunch of criminals, plus he's afraid of what Bats might do to her. Bats insists though, and they all go in.

Debora waits on them, and luckily she's smart enough not to say anything to Baby. Bats senses something between the two, and asks Baby if he knows Debora. He lies and says no, so Bats pulls his gun on her. Baby grabs his hand and stops him. The crew leaves, and Baby slips Debora a note that reads, "Road Trip— 2 am." I guess Debora will automatically know where to meet him.

Back at Doc's, he asks how things went with The Butcher. Bats says he killed him and his men because they were all cops. Doc says he knows that, as they worked for him (!). Bats lies and says The Butcher fired on them first. Buddy and Darling also lie and back him up. Doc wants to call off the post office heist, but for some reason Baby tells him to go ahead with it.

Doc orders the crew to spend the night in his HQ. Baby tries to sneak out to meet Debora, but he's intercepted by Bats and Buddy. Bats grabs Baby's recorder and discovers he's been taping all their conversations (to turn into songs). This leads Bats to believe Baby's an informant, and he knocks him out.

Baby wakes up back at Doc's, and sees Bats apparently raided his apartment. He's sitting in Joseph's wheelchair, and there's a pile of Baby's tapes in the middle of the table. Doc asks Baby to explain the tapes, and fast. Baby plays one, and they all realize he's just making crappy techo songs from their conversations.

The next morning, Baby drives the crew to the post office. Buddy causes a distraction inside by pretending to take Darling hostage. Meanwhile, Bats sneaks in the back to steal the money orders. As Baby waits in the car, he sees the friendly teller from the previous day. He shakes his head to warn her not to go in. She runs off and comes back with a security guard, just as the crew approaches the car. Bats kills the guard and orders Baby to take off. He hesitates, until Bats points his shotgun at him. Baby floors it and deliberately rams into a truck in front of them, which causes a piece of rebar to crash through the windshield and impale Bats in the chest (!). They all jump out of the car as the cops arrive.


Baby runs through the city in an epic footchase scene. He eventually steals an old woman's car, but not before grabbing her purse from the front seat and tossing it to her (more foreshadowing!). He runs into Buddy and Darling, as they're all surrounded by cops. Darling fires at the cops and is killed. And enraged Buddy fires back, and in the confusion Baby gets away.

Baby returns to his apartment (which seems like the first place the cops would look) and finds Joseph on the floor where Bats dumped him. He grabs all his money from under the floorboard, stuffs it in Joseph's pockets and takes him to a nursing home.

He shows up at the diner to pick up Debora, but is shocked to see Buddy sitting at the counter, having apparently got away from the cops. When Buddy threatens Debora, Baby shoots him in the chest. He and Debora run from the diner and steal a car.

Baby drives to Doc's and begs for help. Doc tells him to get lost, as he's preparing to leave town. For some reason, when he sees Baby and Debora together he has a change of heart and agrees to help them. Just then more of The Butcher's men arrive. Doc gives Baby a bag of money and says he'll hold off the thugs long enough for the two lovebirds to get away. Doc's shot several times before killing The Butcher's men.

Suddenly Buddy arrives in a stolen cop car, and runs over Doc, killing him (!). Baby rams into Buddy's car, knocking it over the edge of the parking garage. It falls several hundred feet and explodes. Baby's sure that's the end of Buddy, but anyone who's ever seen a movie before knows that's not true. Sure enough, Buddy appears again like the killer in a slasher movie. He grabs ahold of Baby and fires his gun next to both of his ears, causing his tinnitus to go crazy and deafen him. He then goes after Debora, but Baby shoots him in the leg, causing him to topple over the ledge and fall onto his burning car, which explodes for good measure.

Cut to the next day, as Baby and Debora are heading for a new life on the West Coast. For some reason Debora's driving, and she stops when she sees a road block ahead. She wants to try and run it, but Baby stops her and turns himself in.

At Baby's trial, Debora, Joseph, the post office clerk and the purse lady all testify that Baby's a good kid who just made some bad choices (!). The judge sentences him to twenty five years, with the possibility of parole after five. Debora sends him postcards of the places they plan to go once he's out. Five year later Baby's released, and Debora's there waiting for him.

Thoughts:
• The movie wastes no time as it jumps straight into the action with a lengthy and impressive old school car chase scene.


Baby's first getaway is downright awesome, as he effortless performs dozens of vehicular stunts, flying between cars and obstacles with inches to spare as he outwits the police.

Unfortunately that first action setpiece is the best one. Baby's next two getaways are nowhere near as much fun. He's almost caught on numerous occasions, and he continually smashes into cars, trucks and telephone poles before eventually escaping. For a movie that's ostensibly about a professional driver, these later stunts aren't very impressive. Heck, anyone could smash up their car during a getaway!

By the way, according to director Edgar Wright, the car chases were all filmed practically, with no CGI or green screen. That seems unbelievable in this day and age, but I guess we'll have to take his word for it.

• Edgar Wright dusts off two of his trademark directorial tricks and uses them again in Baby Driver.

Right after the first getaway, Baby exits Doc's HQ and sashays down the street to a coffee shop (to the tune of Harlem Shuffle), passing numerous extras along the way  He sweeps into the shop, picks up his order and dances his way back to HQ, all in one long, unbroken take.

Wright used this exact same "long take" shot TWICE in Shaun Of The Dead, as Shaun walks from his apartment to a shop and back, passing numerous extras along the way.

Later on when Baby and the crew meet with The Butcher, there's a violent shootout. Baby's got his ever-present earbuds in, and the gunshots are all timed to the beat of the music he's listening to.

Again, Wright used this same technique in Shaun Of The Dead, during the zombie shootout in the Winchester pub.

In the first scene of the movie, Baby walks down the street, into a coffee shop, buys several coffees and walks back— all in one continuous shot.

• Apparently Edgar Wright's a big fan of the Back To The Future films (but then who isn't?). Kevin Spacey's character's named "Doc." John Bernthal plays "Griff" (the name of Biff Tannen's grandson). Flea has a bit part in Baby Driver, and played "Needles" in Back To The Future II and III. And lastly, Doc mentions a previous caper called "The Spirit of '85," which was the year Back To The Future premiered.


• CJ Jones, who plays Baby's hearing-impaired foster father Joseph in the film, is deaf in real life.

• Doc uses a completely different crew for the first two robberies in the film. At one point he says he never works with the same team twice, with the exception of Baby.

Then in the very next scene, we see that his next crew is made up of members from Team #1 and #2.

I guess technically Doc is correct here, as this new team isn't exactly the same, but... it's still composed of previous members!

• Everyone and their dog has already pointed this out, but I noticed it right off so I'm joining in too. For much of the movie, Baby wears an odd jacket that looks very much Han Solo's iconic costume in Star Wars: A New Hope.

Actor Ansel Elgort was supposedly on the short list to play the lead in Disney's upcoming Young Han Solo film (whatever it's called), before they ultimately went with Alden Ehrenreich. Was Baby's costume choice just a coincidence? Homage? Or was this Edgar Wright's way of blasting Disney for not hiring Elgort?

• Speaking of Elgort, I'm not sure he was the best choice for Baby. Yes, I get that he's a damaged loner who rarely speaks or lets anyone get close to him. A role like that demands someone who can really emote— someone who can tell us what they're thinking with just their eyes. Unfortunately, Ansel Elgort is not that actor. He comes off as little more than a mannequin, and gives new meaning to the word "wooden."

• Lily James plays Debora, the friendly waitress at Bo's Diner. The second I saw her I honest to god gasped, as she looked exactly like Madchen Amick, who played waitress Shelly Johnson in Twin Peaks. In fact for a second I thought it WAS Madchen Amick there on the screen, until I realized she'd be close to fifty by now. It's an amazing resemblance!

• The biggest surprise in the film was cherubic singer/songwriter/actor Paul Williams in a cameo role as ruthless crime lord The Butcher. Williams spent most of the 1970s constantly popping up on every single variety and talk show on TV, belting out We've Only Just Begun in his strangled, warbly voice. 

I'm assuming that the diminutive Williams' casting as a violent criminal in Baby Driver was meant ironically.

• At one point Baby flips through the TV channels in his apartment, and we see a brief shot from Disney/Pixar's Monsters Inc. Apparently it was a big deal to get permission to show footage from a Disney film in an R-rated movie. In fact Monsters Inc. director Pete Docter even gets a special thanks recognition in the end credits!


For some reason, in the third act Buddy suddenly transforms from a laid-back criminal into a slasher movie villain. Baby seemingly kills him at least twice, and each time he returns from the dead (just like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees) before he's finally put down for good.

I wonder... earlier in the film there's a Michael Myers Halloween reference. Was that some kind of weird foreshadowing of Buddy's storyline?

• Oddly enough there are actually two songs titled Baby Driver. One's by Paul Simon, and is featured during the end credits. There's also one by KISS, which is NOT used in the movie. 

Either Edgar Wright liked the Paul Simon song better, or Gene Simmons wanted way too much money to license the KISS one.

• As regular readers of my blog know all too well, I am very critical of modern movie posters. I hate the fact that illustrated posters have seemingly gone the way of the dodo, replaced by horrible Photoshopped montages.

That's why I'm happy to report that Baby Driver features an honest to goodness, actual ILLUSTRATED poster! And it's glorious! Take a moment to stare at this rare example of illustrated screen art, and soak it all in.

One tiny complaint about the poster— is Baby's 2006 Subaru WRX supposed to be going backwards? Based on the "speed lines," that's certainly how it looks. Speed lines generally flow away from a car, not toward it! Plus we can see the text on the "Downtown Atlanta" highway sign, something that wouldn't be possible if the car was coming at the viewer. 

It's certainly possible that the car's meant to be going backwards here, as Baby drives it that way several times in the film. I just thought I'd point it out.

There's actually a second illustrated Baby Driver poster as well. This one's got a nice retro vibe to it. I don't like it as much as the character poster, but the fact that it's been illustrated rather than Photoshopped elevates it quite a bit in my humble opinion. I wish more studios would give us posters like this.

Baby Driver is a competent little film that's long on character and drama, but short on vehicular action. It's also the best thing Edgar Wright's done in many a year. Somehow I doubt it'll have the rewatchability of Wright's Shaun Of The Dead. I wouldn't recommend rushing out to see it at the cineplex, but it's worth a look on home video. I give it a B-.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Doctor Who?

Welp, it finally happened.

In an effort to try and control spoilers and leaked info, today the BBC announced who'll be playing the Doctor in Season 11 of Doctor Who.

 And the winner is.... Jodie Whittaker, whoever the hell that is.

Take that, Patriarchy! In your face, old white men! You just got served! Women can play fictional characters traditionally written as male just as well as you can!

So what do I think of this decision, you ask? Well, Mom always told me, "If you can't say something nice, then don't say anything at all," so...























































































.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Wall-Eyed

In the past few weeks, you may have noticed a sudden and distinct absence of anti-Trump posts here at Bob Canada's BlogWorld. Don't worry, I haven't gone over to the other side. In a flailing effort to preserve what's left of my sanity, lately I've been doing my best to ignore Glorious Leader and not comment on his shenanigans. 

But his latest statements about his pet project, the Mexican Border Wall, were too good to let go.

This week Trumpy announced that his original plan for a 2,000 mile long border wall were being significantly scaled back, saying:
"It’s a 2,000 mile border, but you don’t need 2,000 miles of wall because you have a lot of natural barriers. You have mountains. You have some rivers that are violent and vicious. You have some areas that are so far away that you don’t really have people crossing. So you don’t need that."
Trump stated that the wall will now only need to be around 700 to 900 miles long. Of course even at this reduced length, it would still be a massive undertaking that would cost billions and take years to complete.

And then Glorious Leader went completely off the rails, as he actually claimed that the wall would need to be "transparent" so that American citizens could avoid the large sacks of drugs constantly being thrown over from the Mexican side. Said Trump:
"One of the things with the wall is, you need transparency. You have to be able to see through it. As horrible as it sounds, when they throw the large sacks of drugs over, and if you have people on the other side of the wall, you don't see them– they hit you on the head with 60 pounds of stuff? It’s over. As crazy as that sounds, you need transparency through that wall."
Jesus wept. 

So how the hell is he planning on making a goddamned see-through wall? Is it gonna be made of glass? I have a horrible feeling that Trump recently watched Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, and thinks that "transparent aluminum," is a real thing.

And setting aside just how bizarre the idea of a transparent wall is, who the hell's out there casually tossing SIXTY pound bags of drugs over a twelve foot wall? The Hulk? Even if it was possible to throw a bag that heavy that high, why the hell would there be any Americans milling around our side of the wall?

You'll have to excuse me, as I need to go lie down in a dark room. I'm getting another one of my sick headaches.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

It Came From The Cineplex: Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Welp, so far Summer Movie Season 2017 is playing out as expected, just like the previous few years. Studios bet the farm on bland, ill-advised and massively-budgeted tent pole pictures that crash and burn on arrival at the box office (I'm lookin' at you, The Mummy and King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword), while a precious few rise from the rubble to become bona fide hits (like Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 and Wonder Woman). Unfortunately I don't see this trend going away anytime soon.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was written by Jeff Nathanson (with "story by" credit for Terry Rossio) and directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg.

Nathanson previously wrote Speed 2: Cruise Control (with Jan de Bont), Rush Hour 2, Catch Me If You Can, The Terminal (with Sacha Gervasi and Andrew Niccol), The Last Shot, Rush Hour 3, Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (with David Koepp and George Lucas) and Tower Heist (with Ted Griffen, Bill Collage and Adam Cooper).


Ronning and Sandberg are Norweigian filmmakers who previously directed Max Manus: Man Of War and Kon-Tiki, neither of which I've ever heard of.

If you've seen even one of the previous Pirates movies, then you know exactly what to expect here. T
here's an attractive young couple who "meet cute" and fall in love by the end, a soggy sea villain who's looking for a magical McGuffin and Jack Sparrow slurs and staggers his way through the film, having little or no effect on the plot.

And that in a nutshell is the problem with Dead Men Tell No Tales. It's not a terrible film, it's just bland and stale. Even worse, it contains absolutely nothing to distinguish it from any of the previous four.

Pirates Of The Caribbean was a surprise hit wayyyyy back in 2003, grossing a whopping $654 million against its $140 million budget. That kind of success made a trilogy inevitable, and the second and third films were even more lucrative, grossing an amazing $1billion dollars (or close to it) each. 

With the trilogy completed, further films were neither needed or wanted, but Disney pumped one out anyway in 2011, which once again went on to gross over a billion dollars worldwide. That made a fifth installment all but inevitable.

It's hard to believe now, but back in 2003 Johnny Depp's performance as Jack Sparrow was a breath of fresh air at the cineplex. The public had never seen anything quite like his eccentric, outrageous antihero, and the character was embraced by audiences worldwide. Incredibly, the role earned Depp an Oscar™ nomination for Best Actor! Unbelievable!

But that was then, in the Before Time. These days Depp's performance as Jack has lapsed into pure self-parody. There's something sad and pathetic about seeing him don the old costume again as he staggers around the set, slurring the same old, worn catchphrases. It's like watching your sad, drunken uncle do his cringeworthy Cap'n Jack impression for two and a half hours.

Oddly enough, Jack Sparrow's been shoved aside in Dead Men Tell No Tales, as the other characters far outshine him. He stumbles his way through the movie with little or no effect on the plot, and nothing even remotely resembling a character arc. Heck, Geoffrey Rush as Barbosa has a far more interesting plotline in the film than Jack does, and comes close to being the bona fide star.

Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley had the good sense to flee the series after their three film contracts were up (although they're pulled back in here for brief cameos). They're replaced by a pair of equally vapid leads, who might as well be clones of the originals.

Javier Bardem stars as Captain Salazar, the latest in the franchise's succession of waterlogged villains. Bardem is the only one who seems to be having a good time here, and his Salazar is easily the most 
interesting character in the entire film.

The plot seems a bit more streamlined this time, which can only be a good thing, as previous films were bogged down by excessively convoluted scripts. Many are claiming this new film is a "soft reboot," meaning it advertises itself as a sequel while stealthily remaking the first movie. I don't see any evidence of that here. This is most definitely a sequel, as it picks up a dozen dangling plot threads from previous films and continues them.


The film ends on something of a final note, even though we all know that's not true. If the movie reaches the magic billion dollar number, you can be sure a Part 6 will be along soon. There's a post credit scene that sets up an additional film, and shortly after Dead Man's Chest Premiered, Disney officially announced a sixth installment.


So far this series has given us titles such as Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and now Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. I've no doubt we can soon look forward to Pirates Of The Caribbean: Shiver Me Timbers, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Ahoy, MateyPirates Of The Caribbean: Blow The Man DownPirates Of The Caribbean: Thar She Blows!Pirates Of The Caribbean: Walk The PlankPirates Of The Caribbean: Yo, Ho, Ho and the ultimate title, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Arrrrrrrrrrrr.

The film's a bona fide flop here in the States, grossing just $167 million against its $230 million (!) budget. Ouch! Once again though, the foreign box office has saved a poorly-received American movie. It's made a whopping $544 million overseas, for a worldwide total of $712 million. That's a respectable amount, but it's about $300 million LESS than the previous outing took in.

There are some reports that the budget was actually closer to $320 million, due to delays caused by Johnny Depp injuring his hand during shooting. Because of marketing and other hidden costs, these days movies need to gross around TWICE their production budget just to break even. If those $320 million reports are accurate, then this film's never going to turn much of a profit. Jack Sparrow may have finally been done in, not by fellow pirates, but by studio economics and a disinterested audience.

SPOILERS, I GUESS!

The Plot:
The movie opens as young Henry Turner sneaks out of his house at night, rows into the ocean and jumps overboard (!). Somehow he just happens to land on the deck of the ghostly Flying Dutchman, the ship captained by his father Will Turner (played by Orlando Bloom). After the events of the previous films, Will's cursed to ferry those who died at sea into the afterlife. Henry believes he can lift his father's curse with the help of the legendary Trident Of Poseidon. Will says to forget about him, and sends him back to his boat.

Nine years later, Henry (now played by Brenton Thwaites) is a sailor about the Monarch, a British Royal Navy ship. When the ship starts to sail into the Devil's Triangle, he warns the captain not to enter the dangerous area. He's accused of treason and locked in the brig.

The Monarch enters the Triangle and sure enough, it's immediately attacked by the undead Captain Salazar (played by Javier Bardem) and his ghostly crew of the Silent Mary. Salazar's men kill the entire Monarch crew (it's a Disney movie!) except for Henry. Salazar tells Henry to send a message to Jack Sparrow that he's coming for him.

On St. Martin, a young woman named Carina Smyth is accused of witchcraft for her knowledge of astronomy and horology (the study of time). She manages to escape her cell and sneaks out of the prison.

Elsewhere on the island, the Mayor (played by Bruce Spence) touts the theft-proof safe in the town's 
new bank. When he opens the safe, he finds Jack Sparrow (played of course by Johnny Depp) sleeping off a bender inside (?). Jack's crew ties a team of horses to the safe in order to steal it, but they inadvertently end up pulling the entire bank building through the streets of St. Martin (??).

The bank trundles through the streets in a massively expensive setpiece, as Jack hangs onto the safe for dear life. Unfortunately all the money in the safe falls out the open door as it bumps and jostles along the streets. By the time the crew makes it back to Jack's ship, there's only a single coin left in the safe. Jack's crew tells him they're fed up with his drunken, incompetent leadership and desert him.

Meanwhile, Henry's scheduled to be executed for treason. Carina sneaks back into the prison and tells him she has a diary containing a map to the Trident Of Poseidon, and for some reason wants him to help her find it.

Jack staggers into a pub to buy a bottle of rum. When he finds out he doesn't have enough money, h
e trades his magic compass (that points to the owner's fondest desire) for a bottle. For some reason, this immediately frees Captain Salazar and his crew from the Devil's Triangle, allowing them to come after Jack. Yeah, I don't get it either, but let's just go with it or we'll be here all day.

Carina helps Henry escape from prison. Unfortunately she's immediately recaptured and thrown back in jail. Jack's also arrested for bank robbery and tossed in the slammer. 
Henry visits Jack in prison, disappointed to find out that the legendary sea captain is a hopeless drunk. He tells Jack he plans to find the Trident and use it to break his father's curse.

Jack and Carina are taken to the gallows for execution. For some reason Jack's given the choice between hanging and the guillotine, and picks the latter. At the last second, Jack's crew comes to the rescue, led by Henry, who paid them to come. How he knew where Jack's crew was or even what they looked like is left to our imaginations. The pirates fight the guards and both Jack and Carina are nearly executed several times before they're ultimately freed. Everyone makes their way to Jack's ship, the Dying Gull, a barely-seaworthy tub that miraculously doesn't sink when it's launched.

Out at sea, Captain Barbosa (played by Jeffrey Rush) is enjoying the high life after taking the Queen Anne's Revenge from Captain Blackbeard (which happened in the fourth movie). Barbosa encounters a sea witch, who for some reason now has Jack's compass. She gives it to Barbosa.

Salazar then approaches Barbosa's ship and calls for a meeting. Salazar infodumps his origin story to Barbosa, saying that many years ago he was a captain in the Spanish Navy, determined to wipe out every pirate he saw. They came across a pirate ship with a young Jack Sparrow among the crew. Salazar and his men attacked the ship, killing many of the pirates.

As Jack's captain lay dying, he gave him the magic compass. Jack then assumed command of the ship, and tricked Salazar into following him. At the last second Jack's ship veered off, and Salazar's sailed helplessly into the Devil's Triangle, which I have to admit was a pretty cool scene. The ship was destroyed and all aboard were lost, doomed to live as ghosts in the Triangle. Jack then became captain of his own ship.

Salazar now wants to find the Trident Of Poseidon (that makes THREE people looking for it now) and use to to kill Jack Sparrow. Barbosa agrees to help him.

A British Navy ship spots the Dying Gull and heads toward it. Suddenly Salazar's ship appears and destroys the Brits. Salazar and his men then board Jack's ship and attack. Jack, Henry and Carina escape in a rowboat and head for a nearby island (our heroes, ladies and gentlemen!). Salazar sends a group of zombie sharks after them, but the three manage to escape and make it to shore. Because of their curse, Salazar and his crew can't step onto dry land, so Jack and the others are safe as long as they stay on the island.

Barbosa arrives on the island and demands something from Jack— the Black Pearl. In one of the previous films, the ship was magically miniaturized and placed inside a bottle, which Jack wears around his neck. Jack agrees, breaking the bottle and setting the tiny ship in the water, where it instantly grows to full size. Barbosa then takes command of the ship, and ties Jack to the mast. For some reason, he allows Henry and Carina to come along for the ride, unrestrained.

Carina uses the stars and the map in her diary to navigate their way to the Trident. Barbosa sees a design on the cover of her diary, and recognizes it as his own. He then realizes that Carina is his daughter. 
He left her (and the diary) at an orphanage years ago, to give her a chance at a better life. In a rare lucid moment, Jack figures this out as well, and Barbosa threatens to cut out his tongue if he tells Carina about her parentage.

Eventually the ship reaches a remote island where the Trident's located, and Jack, Barbosa, Henry and Carina go ashore to search for the Trident. Carina sees a field of jewels corresponding to the design on her diary, but can't locate the Trident. She sees a large jewel jutting out of a rock, and realizes a piece of it's missing. She pulls the small jewel from the cover of her diary and places it in the larger one. It fits perfectly, and the large jewel lights up, causing the sea to magically split in two (Moses-like), revealing the Trident at the bottom.

Jack, Henry, Barbosa and Carina run down the Trident, just as Salazar and his men appear on one side of the ocean. Salazar grabs the Trident and tries to stab Jack with it. Henry somehow realizes that destroying the Trident will break EVERY curse of the sea worldwide. He breaks it in half, and the undead Salazar and his men are instantly brought back to life (um... shouldn't they turn into moldy corpses?).

With the Trident destroyed, the sea trench starts to collapse. Far above, the Black Pearl sails as close to the edge of the trench as possible, dropping its anchor so Jack, Henry, Barbosa and Carina can climb back up. They start climbing the chain, but Salazar sees them, and he and his men follow.

As they climb, Carina notices Barbosa has a tattoo on his arm that matches the design on her diary. She realizes the truth about her parentage, and asks what she is to him. He answers "Treasure," and lets go of the chain. He falls onto Salazar and his men, knocking them off the chain. The ocean trench closes, engulfing them all. Jack, Henry and Carina make it back up to the Black Pearl.

Some time later, Henry and Carina stand on a hill and kiss. She says she's decided to ditch the name "Smyth," and call herself "Barbosa" in honor of her father. They watch as a figure emerges from the ocean, and see it's Henry's father Will, who's now freed from his curse. Elizabeth Swann, or I guess Turner (played by Keira Knightley) shows up for ten seconds and welcomes Will home.

Jack's once again Captain of the Black Pearl. He has his magic compass back and uses it to set sail for the sixth movie.

In the after credits scene, Will and Elizabeth are in bed asleep. Their bedroom door opens, and a shadowy figure with a large claw enters. Will wakes up, sees nothing and goes back to sleep. We pan down to see soggy barnacles on the floor, indicating Davey Jones was there.

Thoughts: 
• For some reason, 
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is known as Pirates Of The Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge in the UK. Strange. Maybe there's already a film with a similar title there?

• Javier Bardem plays Captain Salazar in the film. He's keeping things in the family, as his wife Penelope Cruz starred as Angelica in the previous movie, Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

• Brenton Thwaites plays Henry Turner, son of Orlando Bloom's Will Turner. I'm assuming Thwaites was cast for his slight resemblance to Bloom, and because he delivers a similarly wooden performance.

By the way, in real life Thwaites is only twelve years younger than Bloom, and just four years younger than his "mother" Keira Knightley. Kids grow up so fast these days!

That's still nowhere close to the most ridiculous "Minimum Familial Age Gap" record set by 2004's Alexander. In that film, Angelina Jolie plays the MOTHER of Colin Ferrell, despite the fact that she's only ONE year older than him!

• Because of her scientific knowledge, Carina's accused of being a witch and sentenced to hang. 


Oddly enough there's an actual witch in the film, who helps both Barbosa and the British Navy locate Jack Sparrow. Even more puzzling, the Navy officers seem perfectly willing to work with her, never once suggesting she be locked up or executed.

So which is it, movie? Does this society hate witches or doesn't it?

The movie's supposedly set in 1755. England abolished the practice of executing witches two decades earlier in 1736. Additionally, astronomy was a proven science at the time, as the Greenwich Naval Observatory was founded in 1675. Carina's knowledge of the stars would not have been seen as heretical, supernatural or witchy.

• By the way, for someone who claims to have studied astronomy, Carina doesn't know what she's talking about. She says she was named after "The Brightest Star In The North." Um... Carina isn't a star, it's a constellation— one that's only visible in the Southern Hemisphere. Whoops! 

Secondly, the movie takes place in 1755, meaning Carina was probably born sometime around 1735. The Carina constellation was discovered in 1751. Double whoops!

• When Jack's captured and thrown in the dungeon, he meets his Uncle, er, Jack, who's locked up as well. 

For some reason, former Beatle Paul McCartney has a cameo role as Uncle Jack. I guess it's only natural— after all, Rolling Stones member Keith Richards played Jack Sparrow's father Captain Teague in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

• When Jack's placed in the guillotine, he looks down and sees a couple of severed heads in the basket below him. This is an Easter egg, as the heads were modeled after the film's directors, Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg.

Nitpick Alert! The Pirates movies have never been big on historical accuracy, a trend that definitely continues here. After Jack's captured, he chooses the guillotine as his form of execution., noting it was invented by the French. Sorry, Jack. There was a similar contraption in use in England in the 1755, but it looked quite different and was called "The Maiden." Dr. Joseph Guillotin invented the, er, guillotine as we know it in 1789, well after the movie takes place.

Additionally, Jack mentions mayonnaise, saying it was invented by the French as well. He's technically right, but it wasn't called "mayonnaise" until 1806.

Inaccuracies like this generally bother me, as they could be avoided with thirty seconds of googling. I'm not terribly upset by the slip-ups here though, as this is a big dumb action movie and not a documentary. Besides, it's got far bigger problems than flubbing the date that mayonnaise was invented.

• Whenever we see the soggy Captain Salazar, his long, stringy hair flows back and forth like it's being affected by unseen underwater currents. It's a nice little detail that I liked quite a bit, and was probably a nightmare for the CGI artists to create.

• Speaking of CGI one of the highlights of Dead Men Tell No Tales is Jack Sparrow's origin story, as we get to see him back when he was young, sober and in his prime. It's actually one of the better parts of the movie, as we watch him outsmart Captain Salazar, see where he got the name "Sparrow" and find out why he wears his signature hat and beads.

Young Jack is played by Johnny Depp of course, as Disney once again trots out the digital de-aging technology that they love to use so much. Maybe they paid a lot for it, so they're trying to get their money's worth? The tech was used to great effect to de-age Robert Downey Jr. In Captain America: Civil War and Kurt Russell in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2.

Honestly I'd rather see an entire movie this young, in-his-prime Jack Sparrow, instead of the perpetually inebriated sot who wore out his welcome log ago. It'd probably be too expensive to de-age Johnny Depp for an entire movie though.

• In the third act, Henry breaks the Trident Of Neptune, which breaks all curses of the sea all over the world. While that sounds like a good thing, it should have caused quite a few problems for the characters that never actually occur.


When Salazar and his men first sailed into the Devil's Triangle, their ship exploded, instantly killing them all and turning them into soggy ghosts. Most of the ghosts appear to be minus significant body parts. Salazar himself is missing the back of his skull, while others are lacking limbs, chests and even heads (!). Heck, one of his men appears to be nothing more than a floating torso. 

Yet once their curse is lifted, for some reason Salazar and his crew are transformed back into completely whole, living humans. I dunno... they were blown up and dismembered before they were cursed, right? So shouldn't they turn into inanimate piles of rotting meat?

Similarly, once the Trident's snapped in two, Will Turner's curse is lifted and he's able to return to land and join his wife Elizabeth. 

But in Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End, Will's heart was cut out (!) and placed inside the Dead Man's Chest for reasons. Seems like the second the curse was lifted, he should have dropped dead like a sack of wet laundry.

Sounds like the screenwriter forgot to watch the previous films before he sat down at the computer.

• At the end of the movie, Barbosa attacks Salazar, sacrificing himself to save his daughter Carina.

Earlier this year in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (SPOILERS!), Yondu attacks Ego, sacrificing himself to save his foster son Peter.

Pirates came out just a month after Guardians, so there's no way it could have deliberately stolen this little story arc. Still, it's an interesting coincidence that two big budget summer films killed off a major character in exactly the same way.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales isn't a terrible film (it's nowhere near as bad as The Mummy), but it's bland, repetitive and offers absolutely nothing we haven't already seen in the previous four outings. Johnny Depp's once-entertaining Jack Sparrow shtick wore out its welcome long ago, as he's now lapsed firmly into self parody. For diehard fans of the franchise only. I give it a C+.

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