Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) Review


The song of Elizabeth Swan and Will Turner, Henry (Brenton Thwaites) teams up with Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) in order to save his father from the curse of the Flying Dutchman and bring him back to life. To do this, they must find the famous Trident of Poseidon before the evil Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), whom has a grudge against Jack, does. Along for the ride is Carina (Kaya Scodelario) as a young woman who also wants to find the trident based on a map left behind by her father, and Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).

The latest entry in the Pirates franchise brings us on another adventure with Jack Sparrow, along with some newcomers. Like the last film, this one isn’t particularly necessary, but in a sense it does have more purpose than the last film. What this does is actually bring the series full circle with how our new characters connect to others. But there is a twist towards the end that feels completely out of nowhere and feel like an inconsistency in the series. In all honesty, the twist doesn’t really work, though I can understand its purpose. That aside, this entry does have everything you would expect from a Pirates film. Great set design, solid visuals and cinematography, fun action sequences, and of course some good laughs from ol’ Jack himself. But along with that we have an overstuffed script with too much going on and more characters than we actually need. And while we get some good humor from Jack Sparrow as per usual, it feels like he’s lost the spirit and adventurous side we’ve seen of him. Instead he’s just a regular perverted drunk, which he is, but that’s all he is in this one more or less. Depp still turns in a fine performance regardless as Sparrow, and the same goes for Rush as Barbossa. Although we are given a bit more depth into Barbossa’s character and Rush does a great job of showing this side of his character we haven’t seen before. Bardem is fine as Salazar, even if the character himself isn’t particularly as memorable or engaging as Barbossa in the first film or Davy Jones in 2 and 3. As far as the newcomers, the pair are a welcoming addition and do well with their respective roles. Their chemistry is decent, but the relationship aspect feels a bit too forced and rushed. Finally we have the return of our two other characters from the original trilogy. Orlando Bloom returns as Will Turner in a smaller role and is serves his minimal time well. Keira Knightley on the other hand, while nice to see, returns in a scene that feels so much like an after thought. She’s in the movie a whole 3 minutes and doesn’t receive any dialogue. This is merely a cameo, whereas Bloom is more of a “special appearance.”

The latest entry in the Pirates franchise definitely isn’t necessary, but nonetheless it’s a much better and more worthy entry than the last film. This one essentially brings the franchise full circle and works as a reboot. It still has the fun entertainment and laughs with its action, and the newcomers serve as worthy additions. Despite the bloated script, and some questionable choices in the script, as well as a forgettable villain, it’s still a ship worth sailing.



Collateral Beauty (2016) Review


After a man loses his daughter, he finds himself beginning to slip into the hand of grief and loss. His co-workers begin to worry about his well-being, but also about the company going downhill due to his incapability. He tries putting his pain into letters written to Death, Time, and Love. His co-workers use this an opportunity to try shake some sense into him by hiring actors to represent each of the things he wrote to. But they realize that it’s not only helping him, but helping themselves in the process.

The plot I just described might seem spoiler-y, but trust me, it’s not. This is established early on in the film as far as the set up. The trailer makes it look like these people magically appear to Will Smith’s character, ignoring the fact that they are actors. I can see why they’d rather sell that, but some may not want to be lied to going into it. Even though this slightly changes the plot of the film, it still very much captures the heart of the trailer and presents what it is really about. This film is getting trashed by critics and audiences, and I’m honestly shocked, but at the same time I’m not. Apparently films of this caliber are just meant to be hated. The movie is very cheesy, fluffy, sappy, and often times predictable, but it is the feel good movie that people will walk out of feeling uplifted, hopeful, and charmed. The story is often times very sad, and you really feel for Will Smith’s character as you watch him go through this slump, though I do think they could have captured this a little better. We get more insight to his co-workers more often than Smith’s character. His co-workers do come off as heartless considering they’re only doing this mostly to save their asses by making Will’s character seem crazy during his grief processes. But gradually we see them becoming more sensitive to him as they become more aware of their own problems, and the three people they hire become just as affective of their lives as well as Smith. There are a lot of genuinely heartfelt moments involved and some that tug at your heartstrings. You can say this movie is sappy, cheesy, etc., all you want, but you must be a pretty insensitive person if you can’t throw your inhibitions away and get lost with what the film is trying to offer. It’s not a perfect movie, nor is it particularly original, but it does what it was meant to do, and that’s make you actually feel particular emotions that film’s like this just need to be made for. To provide a certain type of hope, happiness, and making the heart full.

What makes the film it’s most powerful is due to the marvelous performances by the cast. Will Smith turns in a very strong emotional performance as the lead character Howard. He perfectly captures the depression and grief he’s feeling due to his loss. It’s not as gritty as Casey Affleck’s in Manchester by the Sea, but it’s a portrayal that feels the most common among those who have felt a great loss. Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, and Michael Pena also turn in fine performances, while they don’t have quite the heavy emotional material Will does, they really capture their supporting roles in ways that help you see things in perspectives despite their motives. While Smith provides the strongest performance in the film, I genuinely feel that Helen Mirren, Jacob Latimore, and Keira Knightley provide my favorite performance and characters. They play the three figures Smith’s character writes to and the actors his co-workers hire. Mirren, Latimore, and Knightley embody Death, Time, and Love so beautifully and perfectly and provide much of the heartfelt moments that you go into this movie and walk out hoping to receive. The actors they play even perfectly embody the figures. Mirren is presented as quick-witted, knowledgable, and truth-speaking aspects shown in Death. Jacob Latimore shows the bitterness and hostility that Time boasts, and finally with Keira Knightley, it’s her beauty, sensitivity, and strong sense of caring that makes her perfectly the embodiment of Love. Naomie Harris also turns in a pretty powerful performance as a woman who also lost a child and is the grief counselor for the group Smith’s character attends, and they both share some great on-screen chemistry together.

If you’re someone who enjoys films of this caliber that provide charm, heart filling, and hopeful films; cheesiness and sappiness and all, then this is the perfect film for you. People can hate on these movies all they want, but whether they want to believe it or not, they very needed and are made for a purpose, and Collateral Beauty perfectly fulfills this purpose with it’s beautiful story and powerful performances by the cast.