Quick Hit: Completely missing some of the qualities that made the first one partially enjoyable, this film sinks to the predictable tunes of a sinking sequel.
I’ll start off by saying the best thing about this movie – Colbie Smulders is in it.
Yup, that’s about all I’ve got for this one. Oh wait – the opening Reacher scene in the diner was at least expectedly enjoyable.
Filled with a baffling side plot involving a daughter that is simply used as a reason for Jack and his new partner in crime to move around, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is not a good movie. The plot bounces around, never really explaining why people are bad besides saying – hey, people like money, so there must be bad people trying to make it. While this is indeed a true statement, it’s tough to base an entire movie around it, which is why I suppose they threw in the whole thing with Reacher’s daughter.
The acting is bad, even with Ms. Smulders and Tom Cruise consistently glaring at everything (seriously – each other, the “daughter”, the camera, the walls, the bad guys). The dialogue is worse, frequently falling into territory that is dangerously close to Troll 2. It’s almost as if this was a lazy sequel or something.
I guess I can find one more thing that I enjoyed about the movie – there is one scene in a kitchen that attempts to capture the spirit of the first movie’s often exciting action scenes (the other scenes in Never Go Back, including a rooftop fight and chase scene, never quite live up to the hand to hand action as well as other times). But, pay attention to the wording there, dear reader. It is an obvious attempt. Here, the punches seem like they’re being pulled at the last second, and any real danger with a meat pounder is consistently put out of mind by constantly allowing it to be smacked to the ground.
Ok, so I’ve avoided actually talking about it long enough – let’s talk about the daughter plot. I’m not spoiling anything, because I don’t actually know what is the case here. Reacher finds out he supposedly has a daughter. Now, based on what we know of him from the first movie, Reacher is a loner that has the investigational skills of a Sherlock Holmes who moves around a lot. This woman is claiming that she had his baby without him knowing. So now there is a teenage girl (they say her age, but based on the actress playing her, it seems indeterminately between 16 and 20) who is “just like Reacher” over and over in the movie. Never once does our incredible detective run any type of test that could actually identify that the girl is his daughter or not. Seems a bit out of character to me.
I didn’t like this one much, and I’m sorry for it, because I think that Jack Reacher is a character that probably has a decent literary following, and I always like to see those succeed. But I couldn’t get past the ineptitude of the plot in this one, and I’m giving it a “D-“.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: Desperately attempting to fix all the things that were wrong in the previous entry, there is a gentle reboot here that ties up several loose ends but fails to capture all the magic.
After hearing that they were going to make another Pirates movie, I was pretty disappointed. That’s because the last movie had turned into such a sinking ship (sorry guys, I had to do it). I knew I would have to see it thought, because let’s be real, I’d invested nearly ten hours of my life in the Pirates movies, and if anything, I thought that Captain Jack Sparrow needed a send-off.
And frankly, at times, you get that. Captain Jack’s introduction is a breath of fresh air in the series. It’s just a tiny bit better than the cream puff scene I mentioned in the last one. He and his group of rag tag pirates steal a bank. Like… the entire bank. It’s memorable, funny, and over-the-top, like the series at its best of times. Unfortunately, the scenes like this are limited entirely, and in one, the series literally jumps the shark. Or the undead, zombie shark, if you prefer.
The new series baddie is back to being supernatural. It’s Javier Bardem dressed up in CGI, and consistently saying “Sparrowwwwwwwwww” in his best creepy voice. It’s really not as cool as it sounds. In fact, I didn’t really understand the bad guy’s arc at all. It had something to do with a triangle that sounded kind of like the Bermuda Triangle, but not really. Another thing that I did like though was the return and completion of the story arc of Barbossa. It essentially allows the character to come full circle and become the most dynamic character in the series. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Jack.
Depp’s portrayal of Jack used to be the best part of the series. Luckily here, they again try to turn him into a side piece, and it works somewhat. The problem is that I feel like Depp doesn’t really remember how to play Sparrow. At times he falls almost into Hatter speak from Alice in Wonderland, and other times he loses some of his accent entirely. He no longer seems drunk, despite the fact he is consistently drunk. It’s disappointing, because at times you can tell he finds the thread again, and things pull together fantastically. Other moments are regrettably, just a bit sad.
There is a bit of a plot here, even if it is threadbare. It involves new characters that all have connections to the old ones, which normally I don’t like – but here I thought was fitting. The whole movie seems to end and tie up everyone’s arcs, which I really enjoyed. There was also just enough cameos from the old cast to make it feel like a series again instead of just a standalone movie. And…then… because… the people that make the Pirates films hate us… there is an after-credit scene.
I’m not going to explain it (there are other places on this wide expanse of knowledge that we call the internet you can find the spoilers if you want them), but suffice it to say that it sets up yet another sequel if sufficient interest is made in it. Please, if there is anyone reading this with any power, please let this stop. Let an ending just be an ending.
I will say this - I didn't really think I needed an explanation for Jack Sparrow's name and outfit and collection of random stuff hanging on his head. However, I actually didn't mind it, and thought it was pretty interesting. And I thought they did a good job of finding someone that looked like a young Jack Sparrow. So, thanks for that. And Paul McCartney cameos here, and I liked that soooo much better than Richards.
Dead Man’s Chest is entertaining at times, but ultimately simply an average blockbuster. I’m giving it a “C”.
Thanks for joining us for Pirates weeks. We really enjoyed it, and I know I love themed weeks. If you have any ideas for theme weeks, please send us an e-mail or drop us a line in the comments. See you soon - sequels week is only a few weeks away!
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
Quick Hit: Falling short of all it could have been, this film rides its stars charisma to being eternally average.
Ok, so we all know the story of Passengers. A story that bounced upon the Blacklist for many years, it finally gained two charismatic stars to be made. Everyone was extremely excited for it, and then the critics panned it. Though nominated for an Oscar, it never really felt like it garnered any attention.
“Why is this?” You may ask. Well, I’m hoping that’s one reason you tune into my reviews. I hope to shed light on some things, or at least give an opinion on some of film’s big questions. You see, I think that this one is fairly easy for me. The reason that Passengers isn’t going to be immortalized as a great movie is because it was a giant case of genre mix-up.
Let’s get this out of the way first – we all know I’m not opposed to a great love story. But here, it’s not set up to be a perfect love story, in the same way that Alien or The Shining isn’t set up to be a good love story. They’re set up to be horror films, and I think this is the same way. It’s the story of a man that essentially ruins a woman’s life, and then through the awkwardness of Stockholm syndrome, has her decide to spend her life with him. It’s not a perfect love story.
Allow me to paint my picture with a few scenes and details. First, the ideas and themes presented in this film. Loneliness. Boredom. Robots with self-awareness. Space Danger. What at first I saw as essentially Wall-e, I quickly realized was much more akin to Alien or 2001: A Space Odyssey. And it’s easy to see the draws to that and the shining with the different visuals. Even the robot, who is easily a blatant representation of the bartender in The Shining – who is a ghost that only Jack Torrance can see. None of this is whimsical – it’s scary.
Second, there is the scene where Lawrence is running through the hallways, and trying desperately to avoid Pratt’s voice that is booming through the speakers. It’s terrifying. And Lawrence plays it perfectly, screaming as the sound of the scene fades out. The same thing happens when she finds out that Pratt woke her up. Even the sex scenes in this film have an air of horror to them – rarely are they gentle, instead they are sudden and violent. I know that is meant to convey need, but when you take it in the package with the rest of the film, it all seems scary.
I think that’s why I didn’t love Passengers, and just thought it was an average film. I liked the performances, (despite the fact I thought that Fishburne’s character was a plot cop-out) and I liked the visuals. The scene with the pool losing gravity was awesome in a 10/10 kind of way. But the movie, which had been so strong, fizzles towards the end by showing us exactly what you expect and want to happen. It’s no mystery why – Hollywood loves the romance, and horror films tend to ride low on the prestige circuit. But what ultimately could have been an “A”, ends up as a “C+”.
Thanks for reading.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"