Posts Tagged ‘Sam Claflin’

Unbridled Extravagance

My Cousin Rachel

Director: Roger Michell

Cast: Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Iain Glen, Holliday Grainger, Pierfrancesco Favino, Andrew Knott, Tim Barlow

South African born British based director Roger Michell has been responsible for such films as Notting Hill, Changing Lanes, Morning Glory and Hyde Park on Hudson. Michell returns with a cinematic adaptation of the Victorian Gothic romantic drama by Daphne du Maurier My Cousin Rachel set in the dramatic cliffs of Devon and Cornwall and also in Florence Italy.

My Cousin Rachel is a handsome cinematic production held together by a suitably ambiguous performance by Oscar winner Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener, Youth) as Rachel Ashley who arrives in England to seduce the impressionably young Philip Ashley wonderfully played with besotted bewilderment by Sam Claflin (Me Before You, Their Finest and The Riot Club) who is proving to be one Britain’s rising young actors.

When young Philip’s legal guardian travels to Tuscany to recuperate and then mysteriously dies, leaving Philip’s claim to his cousin’s massive estate in a precarious position, Philip travels to Italy to uncover the source of the mystery surrounding his new relative the beautiful Rachel. Upon arrival in Italy he does not meet Rachel but the Italian lawyer handling his cousin’s affairs played by Pierfrancesco Favino (Rush, Angels and Demons), who Philip suspects is conniving with Rachel to steal Philip’s rightful inheritance.

Back in England, advised by his godfather Nick Kendall played by Game of Thrones star Iain Glen and his daughter Louisa played by Holliday Grainger (Cinderella, The Finest Hours and Anna Karenina), Philip is initially weary of Rachel as she sets foot on English soil soon to arrive at the family home at dusk.

Incredibly dramatic, the one thing Philip has not had in his life is any female influences so naturally he is completely beguiled by the beautiful and exotic half Italian Rachel who makes such a fashionable entrance in local society, which is enough to cause a mild scandal.

But as family jewels are generously given away and as Philip approaches his 25th birthday upon which he will rightfully inherit his cousin’s massive estate, intrigue within the landed gentry is heightened by the scheming and provocative Rachel who often dressed in mourning is portrayed as a sort of Black Widow, a woman with a rumoured  history of killing off husbands to profit off their inheritances.

My Cousin Rachel is the Victorian femme fatale, a noir female character who is subtly undermining all that the male hero is trying to achieve, which in this case is quenching his unbridled lust matched only by Rachel’s own unbridled extravagance. Sexual tensions simmer as the scheming continues, but as the narrative draws to a dramatic conclusion, My Cousin Rachel leaves audiences with a portrait of a woman with considerably dubious intentions.

My Cousin Rachel gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and will be enjoyed by audiences that love period dramas with a touch of the Victorian Gothic, especially scenes of luminous pearls cascading down darkened candlelit staircases.

The Nancy Starling

Their Finest

Director: Lone Scherfig

Cast: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy, Jack Huston, Richard E. Grant, Jeremy Irons, Jake Lacy, Eddie Marsan, Helen McCrory, Rachael Stirling

Danish director Lone Scherfig delivers another nuanced and unexpectedly unsettling film, Their Finest featuring a superb performance by Gemma Arterton (The Prince of Persia, Quantum of Solace) in one of her best roles yet. Director of The Riot Club, One Day and An Education, Scherfig is brilliant at capturing the peculiarities of the British social system, exemplified in The Riot Club and perfected in her latest film, Their Finest.

Set in 1940 during the Blitz, while London was being mercilessly bombed by the Germans at the beginning of World War II, Their Finest focuses on the art of propaganda about Arterton who is asked to become a scriptwriter on a film aimed to boosted the morale of the British public particularly from a woman’s perspective when most of the men were being conscripted to fight the war.

Arterton plays the feisty Welsh woman Caitrin Cole whose relationship with a struggling artist Ellis Cole played by Jack Huston (Ben-Hur, The Riot Club) is precarious at best. Caitrin’s co-writer is the cynical Tom Buckley wonderfully played by Sam Claflin (Me Before You) who keeps on advising her to trim the fat on any story which appears too verbose.

The story in question is how twin sisters managed to save some Allied soldiers off the French coast during the Dunkirk evacuation aboard their father’s fishing vessel The Nancy Starling.

The embellishment of the story and its natural progression to a morale boosting piece of cinema, aptly named The Nancy Starling is the task of Caitlyn and Tom who has to contend not only with the vested interests of the Ministry of Information represented by Roger Swain wonderfully played by Richard E. Grant but also the War Ministry represented by the Secretary of War played by Oscar winner Jeremy Irons (The Reversal of Fortune).

What elevates the grim narrative of Their Finest, a city under siege with Londoners being randomly killed off during incessant bombings is the appearance of fading film star Ambrose Hilliard acidly played with dark humour by character actor Bill Nighy (Love Actually, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Pride).

There are some precious moments between Nighy and his new agent Sophie Smith played by Helen McCrory who takes over Hilliard’s career after her brother Sammy Smith, a brief cameo by Eddie Marsan, is unexpectedly killed in the bombings.

Based upon the novel by Lissa Evans entitled “Their Finest Hour and a Half”, Their Finest is a remarkably interesting war film about the art of propaganda, the process of scripting a film and a precarious love triangle, particularly noticeable when thwarted affections develop between Tom Buckley and Caitrin Cole.

The only criticism is that Their Finest could have been edited more efficiently as the dramatic pace of the film lags at times and this efficiency in getting the story across would have prevented the narrative from becoming slightly repetitive and drawn out.

Yet despite its imperfections, Gemma Arterton and Sam Claflin are brilliant as the young creative screenwriters trying to negotiate a budding romance amidst their own artistic differences.

Audiences should look out for a particularly tart performance by Diana Rigg’s daughter Rachael Stirling as the propaganda film’s sharp tongued production secretary Phyl Moore.

Their Finest as a wartime dramatic comedy gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10. This witty and poignant British film will be enjoyed by those that share the English sentiment of stoically soldiering on in the face of burdening hardships without resorting to emotional melodrama. Which is what the British did during the Blitz.

 

Heir Apparent

Me Before You

me_before_you

Director: Thea Sharrock

Cast: Sam Claflin, Emilia Clarke, Janet McTeer, Charles Dance, Stephen Peacocke, Brendan Coyle, Jenna Coleman, Joanna Lumley, Vanessa Kirby, Matthew Lewis, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Lily Travers

Jojo Moyes’s heart-breaking romantic novel Me Before You was a hit among ladies book clubs around the English speaking world and possibly beyond. So it was inevitable that a big screen version of the celebrated novel should appear. Stage director turned film director Thea Sharrock does a reasonably good job of directing the film version with help from the author who also wrote the screenplay.

It also helps that the two main leads, Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin are so likable in this film, otherwise Me Before You would never have worked. Ironically both actors are known for appearing in big franchise movies and TV shows. Claflin for his role in the Hunger Games trilogy and more surprisingly Emilia Clarke for her portrayal of Queen of Dragons in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones.

Joining the cast is another Game of Thrones star, British character actor Charles Dance (White Mischief) who plays Will Traynor’s father Stephen and Oscar nominee Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) as his mother Camilla.

#LiveBoldly

Me Before You centres on the tragic but fascinating tale of a wealthy corporate raider Will Traynor who is completely paralysed in a freak motorbike accident in central London. The once athletic and daredevil Traynor in the prime of his life has his mobility completed shattered and lands up becoming a quadriplegic. A devastating blow for his upper class affluent parents who see him as eventually inheriting the family estate which includes a castle.

On the other end of the economic scale, is the quirky and fun Louisa Clark who we first glimpse working as a waitress in a tea shop in a small town in England. Clark as she becomes known in the film, is superbly portrayed by Emilia Clarke, a positive and big hearted girl who soon becomes the carer of the selfish and arrogant Will Traynor who is sullen and angry at life’s cruellest blow.

What transpires in Me Before You is a remarkable love story without the desire of two young people who are both caught at pivotal points in their lives. The emotional arc of the film rests on how both Will and Clarke grow through their shared time together despite the dreaded intention of Will to consider euthanasia in a remote Swiss clinic.

Me Before You is a tearjerker of note, a heartfelt romantic drama which will certainly not leave a dry eye in the house. The film is ably assisted by some nuanced turns by a range of supporting actors including Downton Abbey’s Brendan Coyle as Louisa’s father Brendan Clark and the handsome physiotherapist Nathan played by Stephen Peacocke (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot).

Naturally as Will’s parents Camilla and Stephen, Janet McTeer and Charles Dance do a superb job of both conveying emotional support and regret at the terrible fate which has happened to their only son, the heir apparent to the Traynor fortune.

However, Me Before You really belongs to Emilia Clarke who lights up every scene with her delightful sensitivity as she portrays Louisa Clark to perfection, the carer that ultimately falls in love with her patient.

This beautifully shot romance is highly recommended viewing, a lighter more British version of Julian Schnabel’s superb film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Audiences should look out for a brief but amusing cameo by Joanna Lumley as she channels Patsy from Ab Fab in a touching wedding scene.

 

Sisters of No Mercy

Huntsman: The Winters War

huntsman_ver12

Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, Charlize Theron, Nick Frost, Alexandra Roach, Sam Claflin, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith

The evil queen stakes just got higher in the prequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, Huntsman: Winter War which is directed by French visual effects supervisor turned director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. His previous visual effects credits include Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Snow White and the Huntsman and Solstice.

huntsman_ver2

Australian actor Chris Hemsworth returns as Erik the Huntsman along with South African Oscar winner Charlize Theron (Monster, Mad Max: Fury Road) as the vicious queen Ravenna.

New to the cast are Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty, Interstellar) as Erik’s estranged wife Sara and an equally evil queen, Ravenna’s sister the Ice Queen Freya wonderfully played by Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada, Into the Woods).

Interestingly this is a female action film and that’s why Huntsman: Winters War works so well although it’s not as good as the original 2012 Rupert Sanders film Snow White and the Huntsman.

Visually, Huntsman is quite dazzling especially in the second half of the film, and director Cedric Nicholas-Troyan makes full use of all the latest CGI available especially when the gorgeous Ravenna emerges out of the illustrious gold mirror looking fabulous.

huntsman Winters War

In actual fact Ravenna’s outfit, which Charlize Theron naturally uses to its full potential is sure to inspire many a drag queen in the future, wonderfully emboldened with beautiful eye make-up and a fabulous gold head dress to match, a rival to Angelina Jolie’s outfits in Maleficent. Simply gorgeous. Who cares if she is an evil queen, when she looks so stunning!

huntsman_ver4

Jessica Chastain is suitably bold and kickass as Erik’s opinionated wife who manages to save his life from a collection of hideous goblins which looked as if they escaped from the set of Pan’s Labyrinth.

huntsman_ver3

Emily Blunt is wonderful as Ravenna’s younger sister Queen Freya whose heart has been turned to ice by the sudden and inexplicable death of her baby daughter who she naturally blames her husband for.

Audiences should watch out for British comedian Nick Frost as a smart-mouthed dwarf Nion and Alexandra Roach as Doreena last seen in Cuban Fury and The Iron Lady as well as Sam Claflin as William, Freya’s doomed husband.

Whilst Huntsman: Winters War is wonderful to watch, the dialogue could have been better written, yet the story is pure escapism, fantasy with a large dose of femme fatale and a couple Erik and Sara who eventually put aside their differences to defeat the evil sisters who are entirely without mercy and vicious to the core.

Huntsman: Winters War is recommended viewing for those that enjoyed Snow White and the Huntsman and should look forward to the third instalment in a film series which was clearly designed to be part of a fantasy trilogy.

Flipping the Coin

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

hunger_games_mockingjay__part_two_ver20

Director: Francis Lawrence

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Jeffrey Wright, Julianne Moore, Sam Claflin, Paula Malcolmson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci, Natalie Dormer, Sarita Choudhury, Patina Miller, Mahershala Ali, Willow Shields, Michelle Forbes

Consistency of vision is always imperative when converting a trilogy of bestselling novels into films and certainly The Hunger Games trilogy based upon the allegorical novels by Suzanne Collins have maintained that consistency in terms of casting, production design and overall cinematic appeal.

hunger_games_mockingjay__part_two

Whether parent company Lionsgate’s decision to split the final installment of The Hunger Games, Mockingjay was a wise one remains debatable. Nevertheless director Francis Lawrence returns with the second part of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay picking up exactly where the first part finished.

Peeta Mellark has been returned to the rebels from the capitol, although slightly deranged and brainwashed. Our sturdy heroine Katniss Everdeen, beautifully played by Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) is unsure of Peeta’s complete rehabilitation and loyalty.

hunger_games_mockingjay__part_two_ver17

In a brutal war, which takes Katniss and her team first to District 2 and then onto a treacherous mission of penetrating the devastated capitol, where images of the aging President Snow, still wonderfully played by Donald Sutherland, are flashed across random TV screens at interim moments during a savage battle between the rebels and peacekeepers. Urged on by the charismatic District 13 President Coin, played by Oscar winner (Still Alice) Julianne Moore, Katniss and her unit are implored to take the capitol and assassinate President Snow.

hunger_games_mockingjay__part_two_ver16

As the love triangle which was initiated in The Hunger Games, between Katniss, Peeta and the hunky Gale Hawthorne, played by Liam Hemsworth is teased out to its logical conclusion, Katniss has to stay true to her own convictions, despite the brutal toll it takes on herself and her family. Katniss realizes in Mockingjay Part 2 that she is a symbolic pawn between Presidents Snow and Coin, while always struggling to retain her own autonomy and individuality.

hunger_games_mockingjay__part_two_ver10

Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks reprise their roles as Haymitch and Effie Trinket respectively, although audiences should be warned that Mockingjay Part 2 is considerably darker in tone and texture than the lurid The Hunger Games or the visually gripping Catching Fire.

hunger_games_mockingjay__part_two_ver13

A dark mood of warfare and finality hangs over the film, even with the cast giving a sense that this violent action trilogy has exhausted all options. Considering the recently high level of violence in the contemporary world, especially as shown on international news broadcast, suffice is to say that American author Suzanne Collins has made her point about millennials becoming immune to violence both on screen and in real life.

hunger_games_mockingjay__part_two_ver15

Despite an all-star cast including the last screen appearance of Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) as Plutarch Heavensbee, Mockingjay Part 2, belongs to Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson as their characters come to terms with their dramatic destiny in the face of a manipulative conflict between the Rebels and the Capitol.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is recommended viewing for fans of the entire trilogy although the 3-D technology was not used effectively, making the second part of Mockingjay too long and aimless. Inevitably, Katniss Everdeen triumphs but at great personal cost to herself.

 

 

 

Raising Debauchery to an Art Form

The Riot Club

riot_club

Director: Lone Scherfig

Cast: Max Irons, Douglas Booth, Matthew Beard, Sam Claflin, Freddie Fox, Holliday Grainger, Natalie Dormer, Samuel West, Tom Hollander, Tony Way, Julian Wadham

Based on Laura Wade’s play Posh and with the skillful direction of Danish film maker Lone Scherfig (An Education), The Riot Club assembles a cast of the next generation of British thespians from Oscar winner Jeremy Iron’s son Max Irons as well as Edward Fox’s son Freddie Fox along with the dashing Douglas Booth (Romeo and Juliet), Sam Claflin (Snow White and the Huntsman) and Holliday Grainger (Great Expectations) in a truly brilliant diatribe about the hidden debauchery of the aristocracy.

What makes The Riot Club even more brilliant is Scherfig’s superb use of tension in the film as the second half really does raise debauchery and menace to an art form, with horrific consequences.

The Riot Club focuses on a privileged group of Oxford freshman who form a secret society, a sort of uninhabited Lord of the Flies style gathering in which the ten member group have to outdo each other in decadence, bravado and more significantly stamina, something most young men are extremely competitive about.

With the taglines of Filthy, Rich, Spoilt, Rotten, The Riot Club truly does show the terrible side of young and obnoxious men behaving extremely badly from trashing University dorm rooms to the disgusting initiation procedures a young man will go through to belong to this elite and secretive club.

This is hazing at its worst along with the cunning and knowing ability which shines through especially in the second half of this film, that no matter how disgusting or debauched their activities get, The Riot Club will manage to get away with it, relatively unscathed. In this privileged aristocratic circle, money truly does buy them everything except in this case decency and consideration for their fellow man.

The Riot Club is disturbing at the best of times, captivating and utterly debauched and aptly directed by Scherfig who as a female director superbly shows how the pack mentality in men can lead to the most heinous of acts. Audiences should watch out for cameo’s from rising Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer as a high class escort as well as an excellent performance by Holliday Grainger as Miles Richards’s (Max Irons) girlfriend Lauren who does not come from the aristocracy and whose merchant background is used as a weapon to humiliate her when she is mistakenly called to the raucous dinner at an old English pub outside Oxford, where literally all hell breaks out.

It’s at this dinner, making up the exceptional second half of the film, that the Riot Club really live up to their horrendous reputation with copious amounts of heavy drinking and drug taking which fuels these aristocrats libido and aggression.

The Riot Club shows off the menacing side of the posh British upper classes and also the exclusivity of the landed gentry who think that despite their actions they are continually above the law because of the vast wealth. Highly recommended viewing but not for those easily offended.

 

 

War is a Constructed Image

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

hunger_games_mockingjay__part_one

Director: Francis Lawrence

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore, Jeffrey Wright, Elizabeth Banks, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Dormer, Donald Sutherland, Robert Knepper, Paula Malcolmson, Sam Claflin

The final book of the Hunger Games Trilogy, Mockingjay comes to the big screen in two parts, Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is a monochromatic diatribe about notions of war as a constructed image, and intelligently explores the concept of rebellion.

Katniss Everdeen, superbly played by Oscar Winner Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) has survived the Quarter Quell and plunged Panem into civil war between the Capital and the Districts, with her own District 12 being obliterated by the ruthless Capitol bombers.

Director Francis Lawrence creates a superb dichotomy between a more vicious Capital and the newly discovered District 13, a haven for the rebels built entirely below ground so as to escape the Capital’s firepower. Utilitarian District 13 ruler Madame President Coin, wonderfully played by Oscar Nominee Julianne Moore has plans of using Katniss as the much beloved symbol of resistance, the Mockingjay.

hunger_games_mockingjay__part_one_ver24

However in the Capital, President Snow, played by veteran star Donald Sutherland has captured Peeta Mellark, the tribute who didn’t escape the Quarter Quell and like Coin is using Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) in a vicious game of propaganda and deceit to lure Katniss and her supporters into attacking the Capital.

In this manipulated game of propaganda, both Katniss and Mellark are used as constructs by a ruthless war machine intent on destroying humanity in this allegorical society. With Katniss being filmed against the ruins of one of the Districts after a hospital is destroyed, the viewer would think they are watching scenes of the recent conflict in the Syrian Civil War or the Crisis in the Ukraine.

Director Lawrence obviously working with a far bigger budget, has a clearer vision of this dystopian world post Hunger Games, after the lavish excess of the Capitol and the vicious expandability of the children fighting each other in a death match which made the first two films The Hunger Games and Catching Fire that much more riveting.

Whilst in the first two, the children or tributes as they were known in Suzanne Collins novels were the centre of attention, in Mockingjay it is clearly an adult world, with war a primary signifier in moving the brutal narrative along, ably assisted by a brilliant supporting cast.

This cast includes Oscar winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman (who incidentally died of a drug overdose during the filming of Mockingjay) in one of his last screen performances as Plutarch Heavensbee, Elizabeth Banks in a wonderful cameo as the downtrodden Prisoner of War yet still irrepressible Effie Trinket, along with Woody Harrelson as Haymitch and Jeffrey Wright as Beetee who all bring a gravity to Katniss’s predicament as her decision to become the symbol of the rebellion is thwarted by President Snow’s twisted methods especially using Mellark as a pawn.

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire was clearly aimed at the mature teenage market, but Mockingjay Part One is definitely aimed at a more mature audience whose has become used to seeing violent images of global conflicts flash across their TV screens. Even though it’s an allegorical tale Mockingjay Part 1 undoubtedly reflects a contemporary 21st century immunity to violent onscreen images of war, highlighting that along with all the propaganda and the rhetoric, the constant bloodshed seen has become engrained in a future society which appears to be emotionally resistant to such global strife, despite its constant coverage on all the international news broadcasts.

Mockingjay Part 1, although the storyline purposefully is left hanging at the end, still remains an impressively dark cinematic vision, gripping and unrelenting. Audience naturally hope that Part 2 will be equally brilliant and impressive. This is recommended viewing for those that have read the books and have followed the massive success of this ferocious and fascinating film franchise.

The Evil Queen Stakes

Snow White and the Huntsman

Vicious Vanity takes no prisoners

Director Rupert Sanders visually stunning Gothic Snow White and the Huntsman channels Gullermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth and the hit HBO Feudal Fantasy series Game of Thrones and ain’t no fairytale although all the elements of fantasy are evident from Trolls to Dwarves, to Knights and Fairies. The real winner of Snow White and the Huntsman is the Evil Queen Ravena played beautifully with a seriously unhinged quality by Oscar winner Benoni superstar Charlize Theron, referencing her earlier role in Monster. In Snow White and the Huntsman, Charlize steals the show and is the backbone to this dark fantasy epic featuring Kirsten Stewart as the meek and anaemic Snow White and Thor’s hairy and gruff Chris Hemsworth as the sword wielding Huntsman sent to rescue the damsel trapped in the dark forest…

Mirror Mirror

This Queen ain’t no Bad Apple

Where the frivolous and occasionally funny Mirror Mirror spectacularly fails is the casting of goodie-two-shoes actress Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen in director of The Immortals Tarsem Singh’s frothy and glossy retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in Mirror Mirror, which as a comedy is fun in parts namely due to the casting of genuine dwarves, along with Nathan Lane and Lily Collins, daughter of singer Phil Collins as the sweet and innocent Snow White, but the casting of Julia Roberts as the Evil Queen?Really?

Joan Rivers, Rupaul  or Kim Catrall could do a better job especially in this semi-Bollywood fantasy featuring  the buff Armie Hammer as the hapless but entirely vacant Prince. Wait for the end of Mirror Mirror to see the Dance number and the redeeming aspect is the fabulous costumes at the Queens Ball with Snow White as a Swan…

Unlike Mirror Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsman is pure feudal old world action with a dash of macabre incest, vanity and vicious magic realism. Charlize Theron steals the show as the completely off kilter pyschopathic Evil Queen who bathes in milk and whose gold mirror comes to life. Twilight star Kirsten Stewart only really comes into her role as the grubby Snow White in the second part of the film, but alas there is no chemistry between her and the Huntsman, played with less enthusiasm by Chris Hemsworth who really made an impact with Kenneth Branagh’s Thor.

Mirror Mirror is suitable for pretty little girls and Snow White and the Huntsman is more closer to malignant  witchcraft appealing to a more jaded generation complete with a sinister Evil Queen hell bent in her quest for the heart of a virgin at the expense of the seven dwarfs, the occasional fairy and a hapless Troll. Charlize Theron is just that much more menacing in the evil Queen stakes and film’s final show down is visually stimulating.

 

 

Elusive as a Mermaids Tear

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

The fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise seems to be weighted down in the middle by a plot which falters considerably in managing the antics of Captain Jack Sparrow competing against Blackbeard in their quest for the fountain of youth without the support of his original team. Johnny Depp reprises his role as the outrageous pirate which garnered him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in the first film in 2003, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. While On Stranger Tides is in the hands of Chicago and Nine director Rob Marshall and not Gore Verbinski who directed the first three Pirates films, is lighter in tone, the action less dramatic and a meandering storyline which is as elusive as a mermaids tear.

Captain Jack is Back

Gone are Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom who did not sign up for the fourth film leaving Captain Jack Sparrow adrift in a new version fighting Blackbeard and wooing the mercurial Angelica, played by Penelope Cruz, who looks equally surprised at being cast in a Walt Disney film. Cruz is far better suited to art house films like Vicky Christina Barcelona and Volver, than in a Hollywood Blockbuster, although her rendition of Angelica as a fiery counterpoint to Sparrow’s wild antics  is certainly worth the praise.

Geoffrey Rush reprises his role as Captain Barbarossa and Ian McShane plays Blackbeard with an elegant malice, emanating villainy and evil in all his immoral endeavours. Johnny Depp does not manage to top his original performance in the first Pirates film, as by now his Keith Richards style take on Jack Sparrow as over the top has been all too familiarized. From such a versatile actor like Depp, he requires exciting characters to stretch his formidable talents, which director Tim Burton understands beautifully casting him in most of his films from Edward Scissorhands, to Sweeney Todd and more recently Alice in Wonderland.

Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides should have been called the Fountain of Youth, while the entire characters quest for the illustrious fountain whose powers can only be harnessed with a mermaids tear has a plotline dangerously close to Raiders of the Lost Ark. After a brilliant start in the grimy streets of Georgian London and a daring and explosive action sequence, On Stranger Tides becomes adrift both figuratively and literally as the search for the fountain of youth is misguided by a floundering subplot of a Christian missionary being seduced by a coy mermaid, one can’t help feel that Sparrow was the only one carrying the voyages further without support from his winning team. The success of the first three films hinged on the brilliant combination of Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly as the trio who bravely battle pirates on the high seas from Captain Barbarossa to Davy Jones to monsters and sea goddesses like Calypso.

In this fourth installment, although Cruz and Depp are tantalizing in the main roles there is not enough screen time for both these highly competent actors to truly develop a brilliant repartee. Much of the witty and comic  dialogue is smothered by the action sequences which had the timing been perfect, On Stranger Tides would have shared the success of the preceding Pirates films, which is more to do with director Rob Marshall whose talents are more adept at directing musicals and historical epics than a Hollywood special effects laden blockbuster. Director Rob Marshall vision of Pirates is more lavish, sexier and less action packed.

Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides will surely draw the crowds but is in no way a superior film when viewed as part of a Franchise, and while it begins brilliantly, the middle seems bogged down with subplot and the ending lacks any spectacular finale demonstrated in At World’s End. Disney seems to be taking all the viewers for a long and illustrious journey on a voyage which is in danger of losing its lustre and originality. Bring back Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann to help Jack Sparrow reinvigorate the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Film Directors & Festivals
Reviews and Awards
Review Calender
December 2017
M T W T F S S
« Nov    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031
  • TV Review: ‘Godless’ on Netflix
    Look, there’s nothing wrong with making a Western. It’s gorgeous out there, and if you have a Netflix budget and Netflix runtime, why not put Scoot McNairy and Michelle Dockery out in the middle of New Mexico and film horses galloping to an endless horizon? There’s any number of ways to make that beautiful, and […]
    Sonia Saraiya
  • Russell Simmons Accused of Rape By Three Women
    Three women told the New York Times that they were raped by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons in incidents dating back to 1988. Tina Baker, a singer, alleged that Simmons raped her in the early 1990s, when he was her manager. Drew Dixon claimed that Simmons sexually harassed and then raped her when she was an […]
    gmaddaus
  • TV News Roundup: Comedy Central Acquires All Nine Seasons of ‘The Office’
    In today’s roundup, “The Office” will air reruns on Comedy Central, while NBC sets an air date for “Red Nose Day.”  ACQUISITIONS Comedy Central has acquired all nine seasons of “The Office.” On Jan. 15, Comedy Central will kick off an all-day “Office” marathon.  Select episodes will be available to stream on Comedy Central’s website […]
    Rebecca Rubin
  • Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson Extends Overall Deal With Starz
    Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson has extended his overall deal with Starz into September 2019, the premium cabler announced Wednesday. “I am extremely pleased to expand my partnership with Starz and Lionsgate,” Jackson said. “This investment in my television and film ventures through G-Unit Film & Television will launch a wide range of new original scripted […]
    Joseph Otterson
  • Megyn Kelly Sees Ratings Lift With Donald Trump Accusers Interview
    “Megyn Kelly Today” saw a noticeable uptick in the ratings Monday, when Kelly hosted several women who are accusing President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct. According to Nielsen data, Kelly’s 9 a.m. hour of “Today” drew 2.91 million viewers on Monday, with 813,000 in the key adults 25-54 demographic. Those numbers come despite the fact […]
    Joseph Otterson