Johnny Depp

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge drew no attention from me, and offered very little to try and ‘woo’ me into watching it. Majority of my interest of this franchise was soon lost after the second instalment of Dead Man’s Chest. I find the Pirate of the Caribbean franchise entering realms of similarity with Fast and the Furious with the rinse and repeat formula.

Salazar’s Revenge is taking this rinse and repeat formula and caking it on by the pounds. I’ve become disenchanted with the figure of Captain Jack Sparrow, as Johnny Depp seems to be offering new to the character, but rather a further drunken stupor.

In the presence of rinse and repeat formula, Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg have decided to take the Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner roles and replace them with Kaya Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites. However, Ronning and Sandberg had a role reversal, with Scodelario’s Carina Smyth as a smart young woman, who shows a deft hand at keeping out of trouble. Whereas Brenton Thwaites’ Henry Turner just offers the run-of-the-mill love story, replicated from the first instalment.

Majority of the performances throughout the 130(ish) runtime, are very mundane and uninteresting. Aside from Scodelario’s performance as Carina, I found myself bored with the characters as they fall into very two-dimensional characters and offer nothing new.

I imagine this is potentially down to the world building not being that immersive either. If anything Salazar’s Revenge offered a truly ridiculous world where pirates once ruled the seas. The film had lost me at the point where Salazar (Javier Bardem) releases undead sharks. I mean, come on.

Seriously.

Salazar in his own right was an intriguing character, but there was nothing built around him as Ronning and Sandberg layered the film with exposition and the cast pointing out the plot to one another over and over and over. His revenge of Captain Jack Sparrow could have been played out brilliantly, rather than becoming the lacklustre affair it is.

As for Salazar’s curse, there wasn’t that much to be invested in as majority of the screen time is faced with Jack Sparrow and his quest for the Trident of Poseidon to break his run of bad luck. And it seems as though the curse isn’t that original either with the undead wreaking havoc once more.

I think therein lies my issue with Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge as it becomes very lacklustre. I often found myself bored throughout the plus 2-hour runtime and very bored with the over-egged performance of Jack Sparrow. The plot doesn’t do a great deal of justice to the massive runtime, and doesn’t offer anything that hasn’t already been witnessed in the previous instalments.

I tried to go into Salazar’s Revenge with an open mind, but left still disappointed as I mentioned it did little to peak my interest in the first place. Aside from Scodelario’s performance, there was little else to enjoy about this film. I find the investment in this film just was not there for me. Everything that could’ve potentially immersed me, did not, from the characters to the CGI. It’s fair to say Salazar’s Revenge just did not do it for me.

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What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

A Johnny Depp film without Tim Burton involvement? Sign me up. I’m a big fan of Johnny Depp, but with Tim Burton, you know what you’re getting with the casting of Johnny Depp.

The purpose of this film is an intriguing one because the title actually reflects the protagonist, because seriously what is eating at Gilbert Grape, played by Johnny Depp. This expressionless young boy hangs in the balance as he struggles to do the right thing in the sleepy town of Endora, Iowa. But for him to never state why he is always looks pissed off is a strange one, because it begs What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

Gilbert pretty much maintains this expression throughout the film

The film opens up with Gilbert and Arnie Grape awaiting for the caravans to past through Endora, that has become a yearly ritual for the brothers. One caravan breaks down as Gilbert chases after his brother. Arnie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, is a mentally handicapped teenager who requires constant care from Gilbert, otherwise he’ll climb up the town’s water tower. Whilst handling his brother, he also has to deal with his mother who has locked herself away in their house and become morbidly obese. This is after her husband and Gilbert’s father committed suicide seventeen years earlier in the film.

This isn’t the only problems that Gilbert Grape faces, as his place of work faces competition from the new “Foodland” (basically Asda/Tesco/Sainsbury’s) and of course his current affair with Betty Carver (Mary Steenburgen) and the fear that Mr Carver is going to find out and kill the poor boy. And that caravan broke down? Contains a young woman, Becky (Juliette Lewis), who shows Gilbert a different side of life.

See what I mean? Leo as Arnie and Mary Kate Schellhardt as Ellen Grape.

See what I mean? Leo as Arnie and Mary Kate Schellhardt as Ellen Grape

As she sends his life into a spiral, his care for his brother and his family begins to evaporate, which causes the family to suffer. In reality this film stays on the path of Gilbert coming to the end of his tether and him snapping or not caring for his brother (like the scene when he left him in the bath believing he could bathe himself).

That being said, the film is one I thoroughly enjoyed with the storyline unfolding over six days leading up to Arnie’s 18th birthday. And Johnny Depp’s and Leonardo DiCaprio’s acting was without a doubt was the greatest thing about this film. Especially DiCaprio portraying a young boy with mental disabilities.

Ernie nearly conquering the Endora's water tower.

Arnie nearly conquering the Endora’s water tower.

Again, funnily enough I’ve not read the book because this film has largely passed me by. What was the adaptation like with any of those who have read it? With Lasse Hallström, it seems popular for him to adapt books looking at his track record being Safe Haven, Dear John and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. One thing is for sure that I shall be interested in reading the book to see it’s comparison. I’ve only seen Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Hallström, and I enjoyed that as well, tackling similar issues of the protagonists finding themselves and in relationships that develop and/or deteriorate.

That all being said this film is no edge-of-your-seat family drama. It’s just a simple film of Gilbert trying to find the balance between everything and trying to live his life, which has become very difficult. His situation is probably summarised by Betty Carver saying she picked him because she knew “he wasn’t going to go anyway”. Which foreshadows the film a little bit but hey ho. Either way, it’s a simple, refreshing drama that is quite entertaining. The ending is fairly expected with the events leading up to it, but everything (like always with these dramas) the paths undertaken by everyone in the family is explained and helps the story finish in a nice place with a well rounded ‘happy place’.

4/5

My Top Films From 2012

I realise this should have been posted before the end of 2012, but oh well. I was going to go see Life of Pi on New Year’s Eve, but I ended up working and what not, so unfortunately it will not be included.

It was a good year for films, with the beginning of The Hobbit being unveiled, to the continuation of the James Bond saga and the capping off the Christopher Nolan trilogy. Of course, actually choosing my favourite film from the past year is difficult. For one, I cannot remember all the new films that I have seen, and also many great films did come out. There were many great films that came out, but I thought I could narrow it down to a top five.

Number 5: 21 Jump Street

For me, 21 Jump Street was good. I enjoyed it. Coming from knowing no knowledge about the original television series, so I cannot tell whether or not it was anything reminiscent of the old series, all I know is that Johnny Depp, who was in the original series, cameos in this film. The enjoyment came from the laughs provided, in particular the chicken lorry that blows up, after a series of gas trucks and other stuff not exploding. It was refreshing seeing Channing Tatum appear in a comedy role and not be a pretty boy that he appears to do, Magic Mike, need I say more? Either way, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum make that classic role, the brains and the beauty. And they do it really well, becoming brothers, in more ways than one. If you like films that have those funny consequences, then this film is one for you, the two out of favour, rookie cops are sent undercover to a high school to break up a drug ring. You expect laughs and consequences and that’s precisely what you get. Can’t fault it, aside from the ending as it opens up on to a possible sequel, which I believe wouldn’t work, or would just be terrible.

Number 4: Moonrise Kingdom

I found it tough to place this film fourth, as I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan and have loved every single one of his films. For some reason, when I watch his films, I know what to expect, but I don’t know what to expect at the same time. Moonrise Kingdom includes an all star cast of Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and Bill Murray to name a few! It’s just an excellent film, that I thoroughly enjoyed, in which we experience two children who decide to run away after falling for each other. Of course it being a Wes Anderson film is has a very nostalgic feel generally, as well as being set in the 1960s of course, coupled with the acting abilities of this cast, it makes one excellent film for 2012, and would definitely be in my top 5. It could be one of my favourite Wes Anderson films.

Number 3: Prometheus

Prometheus, visually, was the superior film for me. Some of the shots that were included astounded me. It was simply immersing me in a whole new world. Michael Fassbender was fantastic in this film as David. However, the story progression left many frustrated as ‘answers’ so to speak are not given. But if it gives Ridley Scott the chance to leave us in awe at this whole new world, I would enjoy that. A lot. Set as a prequel to the Alien series, two doctors find a constellation in which a moon could be hospitable. They believe this could be our origin and go searching for it funded by Weyland Coorporation, they find something, but obviously I don’t want to ruin it. For the visual spectacle that has made the sci-fi genre stronger recently, this film is top dog. Unfortunately the only thing making this film a top five for me is the visual spectacle put on show. Only David (Fassbender) stand out massively in an acting role for me as he is brilliant. He perfects the role of being a robot that is meant to be a human, but obviously as you can tell there is something peculiar about David throughout the film.

Number 2: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Being a massive Lord of the Rings fan, this film was always going to be in here somewhere, but I decided not to have it top, even though this film is absolutely fantastic. Only due to reading the book before hand did I pick up a few errors, but then again I cannot be too critical as there this is the usual case. For one, I loved the ending of the The Hobbit and thought it fantastic. Freeman was also fantastic as Bilbo. I am certainly excited to see the next part, however I can only imagine a few areas will be left out due to the amount of the story they have to cover within the second film. Alas, I believe that Lord of the Rings fans will only be able to bear with The Hobbit, as it is long and in some parts slow and I can imagine if you didn’t like Lord of the Rings trilogy, you wouldn’t like The Hobbit. The sequence in which the dwarfs are singing about Erebor sent shivers down my spine as that was just a fantastic scene as well as the scene with The Pale Orc and the tree. The second part has been nicely set up and I cannot wait for it.

Number 1: The Dark Knight Rises

Someone asked me what my top film was, and it was between The Hobbit and The Dark Knight Rises. When they said I could only watch one, I have to choose The Dark Knight rises as I will never tire of the brilliant sequences and Bane’s terrifying character. It is the end of the trilogy by Christopher Nolan and it is a spectacular one. Admittedly, it’s not the greatest ending and neither is it to the trilogy as majority of people will say The Dark Knight is a better film. I am impartial as I really enjoy all three films for their different aspects. The opening scene in The Dark Knight Rises however is one of the greatest things I have seen. Of course, there are some annoyances but that is of course natural to the films. My big annoyance was Bane being killed off so simply and there was no reference to him afterwards. Granted it was Talia’s grand scheme of things, but still, he was really badass. The ending was not brilliant due to the open questions left in place, such as how did Bruce Wayne really survive, will Joesph Gordon Levitt take over as Batman, or become Nightwing? What will happen to Gotham now? It was quite frustrating to say the least, but the most well-rounded film I believe after the great visual displays, exciting action scenes, a shock – albeit not a great one, but a shock nonetheless – and great acting displays by Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Gary Oldman and also Anne Hathaway.

Well, they are my top films. I’ve made a kind of pact with myself to see as many films as I can that come out this forthcoming year, although I’ve already got my heart set on few, such as Lincoln, Life of Pi (I know it came out last year, but I’ve got to see that), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Gangster Squad, Only God Forgives and Man of Steel – This list is near endless. So I’m going to try and get a post out for every one of them. I can see a different take on Fairy Tales can be a theme for next year, as Jack The Giant Killer has popped up and Snow White and the Huntsman last year. We shall see on that one.

A mention for The Avengers, as many people enjoyed it and what not. I did not. I just found it a reason to make money as Superheroes were making money at the box office at the time. The last half hour of The Avengers and Dark of the Moon were very similar and it just annoyed me as they are two totally different films. For me, it just lacked on a whole massively and could have been improved in various degrees.

Thank you for reading, I would love to know what you think of my selections and whether you agree, or disagree with them. All feedback is welcomed!