Release Date: May 1st, 2000 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Ridely Scott Written by: David Franzoni, John Logan, William Nicholson Music by: Hans Zimmer, Lisa Gerrard Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, Richard Harris, Tommy Flanagan, Ralf Moller, Omid Djalili
Scott Free Productions, Dreamworks Pictures, Universal Pictures, 155 Minutes
“[removes helmet and turns around to face Commodus] My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the TRUE emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next. [Commodus trembles in disbelief]” – Maximus
I’m pretty disappointed in myself for having not seen this movie in twenty years. I saw it in the theater, when it came out, and I also saw it on DVD when that was first released. While I’ve seen segments of it, over the years, it’s been two decades since I’ve watched the film in its entirety. Granted, I can’t believe that this movie is now that old. In my mind, it still feels fairly recent but we’ve already passed the 20th anniversaries for the Harry Potter movies and Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
As I write this, it also looks like it will be my final review on Talking Pulp, as I am now forced to use the Block Editor, which I loathe because it functions like a fucking redacted.
Any-fucking-way, this movie is a masterpiece. It’s pretty damn perfect.
It’s well acted, well directed, has wonderful cinematography, solid action, a story that hits any real man’s man in the gut and it’s meticulously crafted and superbly paced, even though it’s closer to three hours than two.
You’ve probably already seen this. You probably already love it. If you haven’t seen it, why? Get on it!
While I’d like to say a lot more about the film, I can’t stand using this fucking editor so I’m going to sign off.
Release Date: September 3rd, 2021 (Venice Film Festival) Directed by: Denis Villeneuve Written by: Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth Based on:Dune by Frank Herbert Music by: Hans Zimmer Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem, David Dastmalchian
Villeneuve Films, Legendary Entertainment, Warner Bros., 155 Minutes
“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Lady Jessica Atreides
Well, the long-awaited Dune movie by Denis Villeneuve is finally here and while I tried to go into it without any expectations, I am a pretty big fan of the original novels by Frank Herbert and am one of the weirdos that likes the 1984 David Lynch adaptation while also enjoying those two Sci-Fi Channel miniseries that adapted the first three books back around the turn of the new millennium.
It’s hard to review this, however, because it is just one half of the story and it doesn’t even end at a logical point, the film just decides to stop and roll its credits. There are some logical points in the book that would’ve been much better areas to pause the film.
For those who haven’t read the book, which is most people in 2021, this will probably confuse them or piss them off. Especially, since a follow up wasn’t guaranteed. At the time of me writing this, though, the sequel was just greenlit.
So up to the point where the film just stops, I’d have to consider this the best adaptation of the book so far. Granted, it could still fall apart in the second half, which hopefully we don’t have to wait four years for.
The film, as should be expected with Villeneuve at the helm, is a visual masterpiece. However, also with Villeneuve at the helm, Dune starts to suffer, as the initial awe of the visuals starts to wear off and normalize. The movie is slow. That’s not to say that nothing happens but like Blade Runner 2049, it just takes a long time to get there. With this being nearly two and a half hours and just half the plot, I feel like this whole story could’ve been told well over three-to-four hours if it moved at a brisker pace.
As far as the acting goes, it was all good. There really wasn’t a weak link in this chain but it was also hard really getting a grasp on whether or not Zendaya was going to be able to hang, as she only shows up in the last ten minutes of the movie, apart from appearing in Paul Atreides’ dreams.
Timothée Chalamet made a solid Paul, though. I also really liked Rebecca Ferguson and Oscar Isaac. Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem both had great presence and Jason Momoa actually impressed me quite a bit, as Duncan Idaho, one of my favorite characters from the book.
Beyond that, Stellan Skarsgård completely owned the role of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen. Dave Bautista was also intimidating as hell as the Beast Rabban with one of my favorite modern character actors, David Dastmalchian, doing a f’n superb job as the Harkonnen mentat, Piter De Vries. Dastmalchian was in good company with Brad Dourif playing the role in the 1984 film but he still made the role his own, in this film, and really shined through in a unique way.
I wasn’t a big fan of the Hans Zimmer score and honestly, you barely even notice it. It’s just noise and atmosphere and the movie lacks any real themes like the 1984 version, which had incredible music.
Also, as visually impressive as this is, when I read the books, I’m pretty sure my mind is still going to visualize the David Lynch style. It’s just burnt into my memory, at this point. I can’t really say which is better, overall, because of my nostalgic love of the visuals and design of the original film but this one still looks great and really utilizes modern special effects technology exceptionally well. It greatly benefits in that regard, where David Lynch only had practical effects and physical sets to work with.
All in all, this was a good adaptation, more than anything. It’s hard to say how it will play as a total body of work, once the second half is released, but I now have fairly high hopes for the completed picture. Granted, I assume that one will also be pretty slow.
Release Date: September 8th, 1993 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Tony Scott Written by: Quentin Tarantino Music by: Hans Zimmer Cast: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Christopher Walken, James Gandolfini, Bronson Pinchot, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Rapaport, Saul Rubinek, Conchata Ferrell, Chris Penn, Anna Thomson, Victor Argo, Tom Sizemore, Kevin Corrigan, Michael Beach, Ed Lauter (uncredited)
August Entertainment, Davis-Films, Morgan Creek Entertainment, 119 Minutes (theatrical), 121 minutes (unrated Director’s Cut)
“If there’s one thing this last week has taught me, it’s better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.” – Clarence Worley
Since I just revisited Natural Born Killers, a film written by but not directed by Quentin Tarantino, I figured that I’d also checkout the other one.
True Romance was directed by Tony Scott using a script that Tarantino sold in an effort to get enough money to make Reservoir Dogs. That being said, out of the two scripts he sold, this is the one that was translated to screen the best. Also, Tarantino doesn’t disown this film, as he does Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers.
I think that Scott’s directorial style mixed with Tarantino’s writing was a pretty good match. Granted, this also benefits from having an incredibly talented ensemble cast and one of Hans Zimmer’s most unique but incredibly effective musical scores.
Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette are f’n dynamite in this and despite the insanity of the circumstances they created, they were pretty believable, had superb chemistry and you really wanted these two kids, who had just found true love in each other, to make it though and have that “happily ever after” ending. They luckily succeed. Although, maybe they don’t but I’ll get into that towards the end of the review.
Beyond the two leads you’ve got so many notable people, many of which are in small roles or in the case of Val Kilmer, completely obscured to the point that you don’t even know that it’s him. The real standout scene in the film doesn’t even star the leads, though, it stars Dennis Hopper, who is only in a handful of scenes and Christopher Walken, who is only in this one iconic scene. And man, it’s one of the greatest scenes of Walken’s career. It happens midway through the film and it leaves you with a legitimate sense of dread, making you understand just how much trouble the young lovers are actually in.
The second most iconic scene in this is where Patricia Arquette enters her motel room alone to find James Gandolfini sitting in a chair clutching a shotgun. It’s an unnerving and extremely f’d up scene, as Gandolfini brutalizes Arquette. It’s a scene that Hollywood wouldn’t have the balls to do today due to how brutal it is. However, Arquette does get the upper hand in this ultraviolent fracas and makes Gandolfini pay in an even more brutal way.
That being said, this is an exceptionally violent film but those who have experienced Tarantino’s work, should know what they are getting into, even if the material is brought to life by another director.
So watching this film for the first time in a long time, I was left wondering about the ending. We see the young lovers leave behind the craziness that became their life for a bit. The closing moments show them on a beach with a child. All seems well and good.
However, I doubt that Christopher Walken’s very driven and cold mobster character isn’t just going to stop looking for them, especially after the crew he sent to catch and kill them were all taken out in a blaze of violence in the film’s finale. So there’s that bit of worry in the back of my head and it does leave the movie open for a sequel. However, I’d leave this alone and never attempt that. By this point, that ship has most definitely sailed, anyway.
True Romance is a great film, top-to-bottom. It’s built up a legitimate cult following over the years and being that Arquette’s Alabama is directly tied to Harvey Keitel’s Mr. White from Reservoir Dogs sets it in the same universe as that film and Pulp Fiction and just adds to the picture’s mystique and coolness.
Also known as: The Silence of the Lambs 2 (working title) Release Date: February 9th, 2001 Directed by: Ridley Scott Written by: David Mamet, Steven Zaillian Based on:Hannibal by Thomas Harris Music by: Hans Zimmer Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Ray Liotta, Frankie R. Faison, Giancarlo Giannini, Francesca Neri, Gary Oldman, Željko Ivanek, Mark Margolis, Ajay Naidu, Leonardo Cimino (scenes deleted)
Dino De Laurentiis Company, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Universal Pictures, 131 Minutes
“People don’t always tell you what they are thinking. They just see to it that you don’t advance in life.” – Hannibal Lecter
As much as I just came off of loving Manhunter and The Silence of the Lambs in their reviews, a part of me was dreading having to sit through Hannibal again, as my original assessment of it was pretty poor. Granted, that assessment came in 2001, the last time I saw the film, which was on the big screen, opening night.
I have never had much urge to go back and revisit this and honestly, it kind of soured me on the franchise, including the masterpiece that is this movie’s direct predecessor, The Silence of the Lambs.
Watching this, almost exactly twenty years later, didn’t help the film.
Sometimes, I don’t like a movie but when I give it another shot, years later, I find things in it worth appreciating. This especially happens nowadays when modern movies are mostly just corporate, unartistic shit. Hannibal still failed and the only real positive is the performances from the core cast members.
Julianne Moore was fine but it’s still odd watching this and seeing someone else as Clarice when Anthony Hopkins is still playing Hannibal Lecter. Frankie Faison even returns in his smaller role but Jodie Foster wanted nothing to do with this. I know that she hated how this story ended but they changed the ending in the script and the final film to appease her. Still, she couldn’t be lured back. If she actually read the script, I can understand why.
Reason being, the script is terrible but then, so is the story. Granted, I haven’t read the book, so I’m not sure if that was bad too or if the script was just a really poor adaptation of it. Either way, this was predictable as hell for the most part and it was also incredibly dull.
I just didn’t care about the story, the people in it and the big changes to the ending felt off. Honestly, though, I know how the novel ends and I’ve always thought of its ending as really uncharacteristic of the Clarice character. But then who am I to argue with the author that created the characters in the first place.
Anyway, this also had some intense gross out moments. There’s one where a character uses a piece of a broken mirror to skin his own face. There’s another scene where Hannibal is cutting morsels out of the exposed brain of a human man and then feeding it to him.
The thing is, these moments were pretty gratuitous for cheap shock value. While The Silence of the Lambs was dark as fuck and had some gross out parts, it wasn’t done for shock and it wasn’t over the top schlock like it was in this film. The brains scene actually wrecks this movie more than it already was by that point. I don’t know why a well-versed director like Ridley Scott thought to go that route, creatively, but it felt cheap and made me roll my eyes so hard I pulled a muscle in my face.
Sure, the scene could’ve been in the film and worked but the problem was with how it was shot. Sometimes it’s better to imply something horrific without showing it in frame. This would’ve worked much better if they let the viewer’s mind fill-in the blanks.
The cinematography was good and I thought the music in the film worked. But other than that and the actors making the absolute best out of a shit script, this is just a really, really meh movie.
Rating: 5/10 Pairs well with: the other Hannibal Lecter films.
Also known as: Wonder Woman 2 (informal title), WW84 (promotional title) Release Date: December 16th, 2020 (several international markets) Directed by: Patty Jenkins Written by: Patty Jenkins, Geoff Johns, David Callaham Based on:Wonder Woman by William Moulton Marston Music by: Hans Zimmer Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Robin Wright, Connie Nielsen, Lynda Carter (cameo)
Atlas Entertainment, DC Entertainment, DC Comics, Warner Bros., 151 Minutes
“I don’t wanna be like anyone. I want to be an apex predator. You’ve always had everything while people like me have had nothing. Well now it’s my turn. Get used to it.” – Barbara Minerva
I really liked the first Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman movie. However, I always felt like my initial reaction was a bit overblown, as it had the same sort of long-term effect that the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies tend to give me. You see, I leave the theater really satisfied but then, as time passes, I don’t have much urge to ever rewatch them again.
I let my high rating for 2017’s Wonder Woman stand because it was my initial reaction to seeing the film for the first time. And I also thought that I’d give the sequels their fair shot at doing the same. I thought about revisiting the first movie before seeing its long-awaited and long-delayed follow-up . However, I just couldn’t muster up the interest.
Having now seen Wonder Woman 1984, I feel a bit harsher towards the first movie, as it kind of exposes some of the flaws it had a bit more. The reason being, this film shares those flaws but also shows that Jenkins couldn’t correct them and in fact, doubled down on them because she either didn’t know they were there or because she doesn’t listen to actual criticism.
The biggest of those flaws is the action. In the first film, it was wonky and not very great except for a few dynamic shots. In this movie, you open with some Amazonian Olympic games, followed by a quick action montage to reintroduce us to the film’s hero. Then you have to wait an hour and twenty minutes before you get to the first legit action sequence, which is terrible, ignores all the laws of physics and has certain things happen just for plot convenience. You then get another sequence in the White House and then one more big final fight. That’s it for a two and a half hour movie about a comic book superhero.
I actually have to say that the opening sequence of the child Diana competing against adult Amazons in their version of American Ninja Warrior was, believe it or not, my favorite thing in the film. This takes up the first ten-to-fifteen minutes of the movie and then it’s all downhill from there.
This is followed up by reintroducing us to Gal Gadot, as the adult Diana a.k.a. Wonder Woman. This is a cheesy, slapstick-y introduction that wedges in so much blatant ’80s iconography it looks like Stranger Things buttfucking The Goldbergs while sucking on Ready Player One‘s tits and reaching around to fingerbang Hot Tub Time Machine. The whole sequence is awful, lowest common denominator, try hard bullshit where the director doesn’t know what she’s doing but she’s trying to cover that up by throwing Trapper Keepers in your face.
Over an hour later we get the next action scene. This is actually the first straight up, real action scene. However, it is quick, dumb and ended with Diana lassoing a goddamned missile, riding it down the street to scoop up two kids and then crashing and rolling on the street in a way that would have killed them. But whatever.
The White House fight was actually fairly decent and the only action sequence that was. But for a high point in regards to the action, it was dull and just a paint-by-numbers affair.
The final fight sees Diana then fight Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah, who at this point has turned into an actual humanoid cheetah. The character’s CGI is deplorable. I mean, it’s really damn bad. It was hard to watch this scene, as it played like late ’90s Sci-Fi Channel cringe.
At the same time, I did feel the emotion of the conflict, as Diana cared about the woman Cheetah used to be but even then, the visuals were so shit that it ruined the connection that this confrontation needed to have with the audience. The baffling bad CGI was just distracting and pulled you right out of the film.
After that, we have to see Wonder Woman finally confront Maxwell Lord, who has essentially turned himself into a genie that is trying to grant the wishes of everyone on the planet. This whole storyline was dumb as hell, made little-to-no sense and I never really understood the villain’s true motivation other than he was a loser that craved power. It was said that this character was supposed to represent Donald Trump and be a critique of his presidency and personality. Frankly, after seeing this movie, that doesn’t make a lick of fucking sense. Also, in the end, he reverses everything and reunites with his son. Was he off the hook? Did he serve jail time? I guess none of that is important because this movie is stupid.
So between the action scenes, we have long drawn out dramatic stuff. Most of it is boring but we see Diana and Steve, her love from the first film, reunite. However, Steve came back from a wish Diana made early in the story. So, the writing was on the wall from the get go that Steve was going to have to die to beat the villain.
Moving on, the cinematography was bland and basic. It felt tonally at odds with the first picture and didn’t really feel like it had any ties to any of the other Justice League or DCEU movies. Maybe Jenkins is trying to ignore all that and just do her own thing. I don’t blame her for that, actually.
Before wrapping this up, I should also mention that there’s a pointless cameo by Lynda Carter but I do like seeing her. I just wish she would have had something more to do than catch a pole from falling on a baby.
So that’s it. This wasn’t worth the wait and really, I don’t care about a third film or anything coming out of the DCEU, anyway.
It’s Christmas, back to drinking whiskey and smoking meat.
Rating: 5/10 Pairs well with: its predecessor, as well as Aquaman and other DCEU films.
Also known as: Superman: Man of Steel (working title), Autumn Frost (fake working title) Release Date: June 10th, 2013 (New York City premiere) Directed by: Zack Snyder Written by: David S. Goyer Based on:Superman by Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster Music by: Hans Zimmer Cast: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Christopher Meloni, Russell Crowe, Carla Gugino (voice)
Syncopy, Legendary Entertainment, Warner Bros., 143 Minutes
“You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.” – Jor-El
I was pretty disappointed with this film when it came out and honestly, I’m still pretty disappointed in it, watching it seven years later.
My biggest takeaway from the movie is how good Henry Cavill is as Superman. It just kind of sucks that this is the script and the film that he was given to play that role.
Sadly, the movies with him in them didn’t get any better and this whole DCEU is like a wet fart when compared to Marvel’s MCU, which this was designed to compete with.
Zack Snyder seems like a nice enough guy but his films just never really seem to speak to me. He has his fans, he has his critics and while I want to like the guy’s movies, I can’t give them a free pass because he’s a great guy that does come into his projects with actual passion for the material.
The big issue with this film more than anything is the writing. It’s just a drab yet exhausting story where it feels like a lot happens but nothing happens. It also features so much over-the-top mass destruction that it breaks the movie from top-to-bottom.
General Zod, a human-sized alien dictator comes to Earth and causes more destruction to a major city than all of the Godzilla movies combined yet Superman won’t kill him until Zod’s just about to laser eye a few people to death?
One, this guy already killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions.
Two, why the fuck didn’t these people run while Superman had Zod mostly subdued in a read choke?
Three, couldn’t Superman have just poked Zod’s eyes out Three Stooges style?
When you think about it, this is a really dumb movie.
Hell, you don’t need to think about it. I watched this the first time in the theater baffled by half of it and annoyed by the other half. And man, I really wanted to like it because I loved Cavill, as well as Russell Crowe and Michael Shannon. I also liked seeing Laurence Fishburne play Perry White. Although, Amy Adams was just another actress that didn’t feel like Lois Lane.
Ultimately, this wasn’t the worst DCEU movie but like most of them, it was still a wet fart.
Rating: 5/10 Pairs well with: the other Zack Snyder DCEU films.
Release Date: July 15th, 2012 Directed by: Phil Joanou Written by: Chad St. John Based on:The Punisher by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru, John Romita Sr. Music by: Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard (The Dark Knight soundtrack) Cast: Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman, Shannon Collis, Jack Goldenberg, Sammi Rotibi, Brandee Steger, Karlin Walker
1984 Private Defense Contractors, RAW Studios, 10 Minutes
“Couple of years back, that was me standing right where you are now, looking out that door. The difference was, a little girl back there.” – Big Mike
For just a ten minute movie, this delivers the tension, suspense and incredibly badass payoff that is usually reserved for a regular feature length film. Dirty Laundry packs a solid f’n punch and it is hands down, one of the best fan films ever made.
No, it doesn’t feature great amateur special effects or costumes like some of the other impressive comic book fan movies out there, it just features a solid actor that loves his role, a second solid actor that turned it up to eleven and a filmmaking crew that understood the source material and authentically tries to both build off of it and compliment it.
The Punisher: Dirty Laundry didn’t just succeed in what it set out to do, it exceeded it.
Tom Jane, once again, proved that he was the perfect Frank Castle. And if this film does anything, it proves that point pretty definitively. In fact, this made me want a proper sequel more than I ever thought I did.
There has been talks about another one of these fan films in the future but it’s been quite some time since this one came out. Still, it’s something I’d love to see and I hope that the right people can get involved and just give us a full-length film with Jane, front and center, bringing justice to more scumbags.
This was competently shot, fantastically written, perfectly acted and even if the gunshot effects weren’t perfect, it didn’t wreck the satisfying feeling you get in your gut seeing The Punisher turn vigilante, once again.
I’ve linked to the entire short film below.
Rating: 9/10 Pairs well with: the 2004 Punisher movie with Thomas Jane, as well as other Punisher movies and the Netflix television show.
Also known as: P.O.T.C. 3 (promotional abbreviation), Pirates 3 (informal short title), Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (working title) Release Date: May 19th, 2007 (Anaheim premiere) Directed by: Gore Verbinski Written by: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio Based on:Pirates of the Caribbean by Walt Disney, characters by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert Music by: Hans Zimmer Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, Stellan Skarsgård, Bill Nighy, Chow Yun-fat, Jonathan Pryce, Jack Davenport, Kevin R. McNally, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Naomie Harris, Tom Hollander, Keith Richards
Second Mate Productions, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Walt Disney Pictures, 169 Minutes, 128 Minutes (censored Chinese version)
“You will listen to me! Listen! The other ships will still be looking to us, to the Black Pearl, to lead, and what will they see? Frightened bilgerats aboard a derelict ship? No, no they will see free men and freedom! And what the enemy will see, they will see the flash of our cannons, and they will hear the ringing of our swords, and they will know what we can do! By the sweat of our brow and the strength of our backs and the courage in our hearts! Gentlemen, hoist the colors!” – Elizabeth Swan
One of the three films had to be the worst one of the original trilogy and well, this is it. Regardless of that fact, it’s still one hell of an adventure movie that hits the right notes and sends these characters off with a well-deserved bang.
Had this been the actual end, people would’ve had a much brighter and appreciative view of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. However, Disney’s gotta be Disney and they couldn’t leave well enough alone and stop while they were ahead.
Regardless of the films that followed, this was a close to prefect ending to the original three pictures and it brings everything full circle in a great way and finished the job of developing the main characters stupendously, making them some of the greatest characters in motion picture history, especially in regards to blockbuster cinema.
Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow is just as good as ever but the real treat of this movie is seeing the story of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan come to a close. Sure, they have a cameo years later, but this really ends their story, as I’m assuming the cameo won’t lead to anything now that Disney wants to do a female reboot of the franchise. *cough* Good luck with that, Disney.
I liked seeing how the characters of Will and Elizabeth evolved from children in the beginning of the first movie, to a solid, badass couple that essentially saved the oceanic world by the end of this picture. It’s especially great seeing how perfect Elizabeth evolved, as she leaves this chapter as an incredibly strong, independent woman that an entire armada saw as a real leader.
The original Pirates trilogy should be a primer on how to make a great female character that isn’t a cookie cutter Mary Sue. Maybe J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson should’ve watched these films before farting out the Disney Star Wars trilogy.
Anyway, this is the most over-the-top, insane Pirates movie of the lot but it all leads to an incredible final battle that sees the Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman go to all out war while being sucked down into Calypso’s maelstrom a.k.a. a massive whirlpool.
I also really liked how they explored Bill Nighy’s Davy Jones even more, getting into his personal turmoil that shaped him into a monster and set him off on an extremely dark path. His story is handled with such great care, though, that it’s hard not to relate to him and his pain. But it’s also fantastic finally seeing him meet his end.
Additionally, I loved how this movie built up the already established mythos and expanded the Pirates universe pretty immensely. I didn’t necessarily dig every new thing they tried to do but it worked for this story and how it ended.
The thing that hits me the hardest in these films, however, is the story of James Norrington. What a fantastic and spectacular character arc! The guy goes through so much over the course of the three films, trying to do what he thinks is right, only to sacrifice himself, quite selflessly and courageously, for the woman he loves but knows he can never have. I fucking love that guy and he doesn’t get enough respect due to how he’s never really the biggest thing onscreen.
In the end, this is one solid movie (and trilogy) that is probably much better than it should have been. I have to tip my hat to Gore Verbinski’s superb direction, as well as just how great the actors were. I wish we could have more Pirates movies as good as the first three but that ship has most assuredly sailed.
Rating: 9.25/10 Pairs well with: the other Pirates of the Caribbean movies, especially the original trilogy.
Also known as: Pirates of the Caribbean 2 (working title), P.O.T.C. 2 (promotional abbreviation), Pirates 2 (informal short title) Release Date: June 24th, 2006 (Anaheim premiere) Directed by: Gore Verbinski Written by: Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio Based on:Pirates of the Caribbean by Walt Disney, characters by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie, Jay Wolpert Music by: Hans Zimmer Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Stellan Skarsgård, Bill Nighy, Jonathan Pryce, Jack Davenport, Kevin R. McNally, Lee Arenberg, Mackenzie Crook, Naomie Harris, Tom Hollander, Geoffrey Rush (uncredited)
Second Mate Productions, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Walt Disney Pictures, 151 Minutes
“There will come a time when you have a chance to do the right thing.” – Elizabeth Swan, “I love those moments. I like to wave at them as they pass by.” – Jack Sparrow
Man, this movie was so good and I found myself asking myself, “Why the hell don’t you fire up these movies more often, dummy?!”
While the first Pirates of the Caribbean flick is the best of the lot, this one is still a damn fine adventure movie with the right balance of swashbuckling, really cool lore and fun, complex characters that have immense chemistry with one another and superhuman levels of pure, unadulterated charisma.
The only real downside of this film is that Barbosa is only in it for about 5 seconds but if I’m being honest, you really don’t notice because everything before that ending cliffhanger is great.
The film picks up where the last one left off and we see Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan have their wedding day ruined by a government douchebag that wants to have them executed for helping Captain Jack Sparrow escape at the end of the first movie. This sets Will on a mission to find Jack Sparrow and to retrieve his magic compass for the shitty bureaucrat.
Pirates films can’t be that simple though, so we see our characters chase multiple MacGuffins for multiple reasons and we get a well-layered plot where everyone wants this film’s treasures for their own reasons. Jack wants to escape the curse of Davy Jones, Will wants to save Elizabeth and his father, Elizabeth wants to save Will, Norrington wants to redeem himself and Barbosa’s former stooges just want the treasure because they’re f’n pirates.
The film also introduces Bill Nighy as the physical embodiment of Davy Jones, one of the coolest onscreen villains in motion picture history, as well as the kaiju-like beast, The Kraken.
I’ve heard some people complain that the plot is too complex and hard to follow but I disagree. Each character is well-defined and their personal motivations are made pretty clear. And even though you feel you know them and understand them, there are still some surprises, twists, turns and double-crosses that only enrich the story and the series as a whole.
The film also has incredible special effects and it’s obvious that Disney didn’t waste a penny making this movie. Just the amount of time that had to go into Davy Jones and his crew must’ve been insane and a really painstaking process. But that hard work and time paid off, as the effects are near perfect and help to make this a more fantastical picture than the previous one.
This chapter in the series also brought in Hans Zimmer to score the music. While he uses the iconic themes of the previous movie, he builds off of them and provides his own brilliant original compositions that don’t betray the work done by the previous composer and in fact, enhances it.
There are so many stellar sequences in this film but the three-way sword fight between Jack, Will and Norrington is, hands down, one of the greatest swashbuckling moments in motion picture history.
Additionally, the whole cannibal island segment of the film was cinematic perfection. While it does get pretty slapstick-y, it doesn’t feel out of place or too hokey. I’ve said elsewhere that Depp’s Sparrow is his generation’s version of Chaplin’s The Tramp and that comparison seemed even more clear to me after revisiting this chapter.
Dead Man’s Chest is a great film. While it falls short of The Curse of the Black Pearl, it does so just barely. In fact, the only thing that really works against it is that it’s the first part of a two-parter and isn’t its own self-contained story.
Rating: 9.5/10 Pairs well with: the other Pirates of the Caribbean movies, especially the original trilogy.
Also known as: Arkham, Gotham, Batman 3 (working titles), Magnus Rex (fake working title), TDKR (informal short title) Release Date: July 16th, 2012 (New York City premiere) Directed by: Christopher Nolan Written by: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer Based on: characters by DC Comics Music by: Hans Zimmer Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Matthew Modine, Ben Mendelsohn, Burn Gorman, Juno Temple, Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson, Nestor Carbonell, Desmond Harrington, Thomas Lennon, William Devane
DC Entertainment, Legendary Entertainment, Warner Bros., 164 Minutes
“There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.” – Selina Kyle
Where I’ve seen the first two films in this trilogy at least a dozen times each, I’ve only seen this one once: in the theater. If I’m being honest, I didn’t have much urge to see it again after my initial experience. But I’ll explain why as I roll on and review it.
I was pretty excited for this film but I also knew that it would be damn hard to top The Dark Knight or to try and replicate its greatness. Well, I wasn’t wrong. And while this isn’t a bad movie, it’s certainly the weakest of the trilogy and just falls flat when compared to the other two pictures.
To start, I was a bit perplexed when I first heard that Bane was going to be the big bad of the movie. I don’t necessarily have a problem with Bane but after following The Joker and Two-Face, I felt like the third film should’ve featured more of the old school villains, as opposed to bringing in a more modern one that is kind of boring by comparison. I mean, a Christopher Nolan movie featuring The Riddler, The Penguin or hell, even The Mad Hatter, could’ve been really intriguing.
What we got instead was pretty much a rehash of the threat and the plot of the first movie: Batman Begins. In fact, in this film, Bane is even tied to the same villainous organization of that film. We also get a curveball where we find out he really isn’t the big bad but that just kind of makes the overall story even more redundant.
I guess I understand why Nolan chose Bane, as he wanted to try and keep his Batman films grounded in reality as much as one can with a comic book property but seeing a secret Illuminati-type group descend upon Gotham City with the hopes of using a superweapon to destroy it is derivative of the director’s own work.
Now we do get Catwoman in the film but she is written to be the most sterile and boring version of the character I’ve ever seen. Sure, Anne Hathaway is stunning but for whatever reason, Catwoman just doesn’t feel sexy or believable as someone that can ensnare Bruce Wayne/Batman. She just isn’t interesting and it’s hard to imagine her as someone that could pull Bruce’s heart out of the pain it still feels, eight years after the death of Rachel.
Hell, Bruce’s little romantic moments with Miranda/Talia seem more genuine and their relationship isn’t supposed to be the one the audience is pulling for even before the big plot twist reveals itself.
The film’s overall story is trying to be as good of a thriller as the previous two. It just isn’t and that’s the real issue with it. While I do want to see the heroes beat the baddies and win out in the end, the film just comes off as repetitive and dull. It feels like a weak copy of the first two pictures with a much slower pace and a broken back side quest that slows the movie to a halt. I just can’t get as into it as I did the other movies.
Now I get that “breaking the Bat” and dropping him into a hole was about building him back up to make him stronger and that we needed to get him out of Gotham so that Bane could grow his power but it’s a half-assed recreation of the Knightfall plot. This story also only seems to borrow from it because it was Bane’s most iconic moment and biggest temporary victory in the comics. And with Batman overcoming his incredible injury and then climbing out of a hole deemed “impossible” to escape, it all kind of wrecks Nolan’s strive for realism. You can’t simply punch a popped disc back into someone’s spine.
I also hated the film’s ending but I think I’m done harping on the negatives, as I probably sound like I dislike this quite a bit, when I actually don’t.
The film is well-acted and that’s what really makes this work where it does.
I really dug Tom Hardy as Bane, even if his voice has become a social meme. I also just loved seeing the regular cast get back together for one more adventure. Bale, Caine, Freeman and Oldman are all so great in these roles and I loved the final act of the film where we get to see Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon get very involved. My only complaint about Caine’s Alfred is I didn’t like how Bruce pushed him away and left him without much to do in the second half of the film.
Additionally, I really enjoyed Marion Cotillard as the character who would reveal herself as Talia al Ghul. I only wish that we would have gotten to see her be more of a badass but her big reveal comes at the end of the movie and she’s not around much longer after that. Not having a Talia versus Selina fight was a missed opportunity.
The film also boasts great cinematography but why would anyone expect any less from Nolan at this point? I liked the brighter look of the town, especially in the third act, and how a lot of the film happens in daylight.
The final act, which sees Batman and the GCPD bring the fight to the League of Shadows in the streets was superb and chilling. Watching Batman and the cops take it to the villainous terrorists head-on was incredible and the best moment in the film. Watching Batman and Bane fight in a sea of people was also damn spectacular.
All in all, this is still one of the greatest superhero movies ever made. It just happens to be the worst of its trilogy and if I’m being honest, it felt like Christopher Nolan and the writers were just tired and wanted to move on to the next phase of their lives.
However, even if someone else would have to step in and do it, I’d rather see this film series continue, as opposed to seeing Warner Bros. keep trying to reboot Batman. Just let Nolan produce and pick the best creative team to help build off of his vision. I mean, a Joseph Gordon-Levitt Nightwing movie in this cinematic universe would certainly get my money.
Rating: 8.25/10 Pairs well with: the other two films in The Dark Knight Trilogy.
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