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The Big Release
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
What’s the story? Captain Jack is back and looking for the Fountain of Youth. On his quest he is, in equal measure, aided and dissuaded by Captain Barbossa, Blackbeard and Blackbeard’s first mate, Angelica, a one-time flame of Sparrow’s.
Cast: Johnny Depp (Alice in Wonderland, Edward Scissorhands), Penelope Cruz (Vanilla Sky, Volver), Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech, Shine). Director: Rob Marshall (Chicago, Nine).
Plus points: Any time spent in the company of one Captain Jack Sparrow can’t be considered wasted. The fresh blood of the new cast works well in places, with Penelope Cruz and Ian McShane handling their parts fine. There really isn’t much to dislike about what is essentially, a reasonably enjoyable romp.
Let downs: Then again, there isn’t a whole lot to really like either. An ending that replicates Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade so much so it deserves its piracy title sees the film culminate with a fizzle rather than a bang.
Verdict: Not nearly as bad as many critics have made out, but not nearly as good as you may have hoped for either. The Pirates franchise will forever be saddled with unreasonable expectations from those that hope that, one day, they’ll throw up a ‘surprise’ like the first, unaware that by definition that’s impossible. Unless of course, we have twenty more ‘average’ POTC films until all expectation is lowered to sea level.
What’s the story? When his client, a wealthy, senile man refuses to move into a retirement community, New Jersey lawyer Mike Flaherty decides to become his legal guardian. Stashing him in care and making a tidy profit, Mike hadn’t taken into account the old man’s grandson who, having runaway from home, comes looking for him.
Cast: Paul Giamatti (Sideways, American Splendour), Amy Ryan (Gone, Baby, Gone, Changeling). Director: Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor).
Plus points: If you’re a fan of anything close to quality entertainment you’ll have come across Thomas McCarthy’s work. Be it his impressive directorial efforts, his writing work for Pixar with Up or his boo-hiss portrayal of Scott Templeton in The Wire, the man has great taste and a Midas touch.
Let downs: The adjective ‘nice’ has been used so often to describe this movie you’d think all reviewers were watching Puppies and Kittens Go Wild. Slightly more mainstream than McCarthy’s previous more indie-heavy works.
Verdict: Another success for McCarthy and his exceptional cast. A healthy meal of a movie that should be a perfect alternative to the fast-food Blockbusters about to clog up the summer.
What’s the story? A serial killer who calls himself Blitz is targeting policeman in London. Two detectives, Nash (by-the-book) and Brant (very-much-not-by-the-book), must stop him before he kills again.
Cast: Jason Statham (The Expendables, Transporter), Paddy Considine (Dead Man’s Shoes, In America). Director: Elliott Lester (Love Is The Drug).
Plus points: Paddy Considine has yet to appear in a bad film. This being a certifiably proven fact, hopes have to be high that LeDonk can sprinkle some magic fairy dust on what seems, on the surface, a fairly routine, ‘angry cop chases bad guys’ template.
Let downs: Any film with The Stath has to be filed under tongue-in-cheek from as early as the casting process. This being another certifiably proven fact, the plot’s over-reliance on cop killing mayhem leaves a nasty taste.
Verdict: Marketed as ‘Dirty Harry in London’, it just about manages the less grandiose mantle of ‘The Bill on the Big Screen’. Stath fans will get a kick – and a punch – out of it but, all-in-all, Blitz doesn’t quite pull off what it was trying to achieve (whatever that was).
What’s the story? When her blind twin sister apparently commits suicide, Julia starts to see fleeting images of a possible killer. She must find him before she too loses her sight.
Cast: Belén Rueda (The Orphange, The Sea Inside), Lluís Homar (Broken Embraces, Bad Education). Director: Guillem Morales (The Uncertain Guest).
Plus points: Having bailed on The Hobbit, Guillermo Del Toro is back to putting his name in front of the word ‘Presents’. After the success of The Orphange it would take a brave man to complain about that.
Let downs: Critics have noted its “overly long running time”, which at just a little under two hours seems worrisome. That figure isn’t the least bit bum-aching.
Critics said: “Julia’s Eyes is a classy and lovely horror film to look at” (FEARnet) and “even the bloodhounds will find solace in some horrifically violent sequences” (BloodyDisgusting). 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: Another strong recommendation from Del Toro sets him up as the best person to confer with if you’re looking for advice on which Spanish horror flick to check out.
The Best Film(s) Still Showing
Attack The Block/Hanna
It’s a straight fight between the two British Director Joe’s for your multiplex money. Wright’s film is a kinetic oddity that mixes emotion with the kind of camera work that would make Michael Bay spew. It features a top-class performance by Saoirse Ronan as a hitgirl to out-hitgirl Hitgirl, while Cornish’s debut shows a much more rounded and realistic view of London street life than that of Harry Brown et al, despite featuring Alien/Wolf/Bear Motherfuckers.
Both are original, if not quite perfect, works by this country’s very own that should be enough to get you waving a Union Jack. Or at the very least handing over some pounds at the box office.