Subtitled Salazar's Revenge in the UK, this fifth film in the long-running series never quite gets its sea legs. With a waterlogged script and a startlingly murky production design, this is the first movie in the franchise that lacks a sense of swashbuckling merriment. It's lively enough to keep the audience watching, but it never quite makes any sense because any sensible details are lost amid the chaotic action sequences.
It opens with Henry (Brenton Thwaites), son of franchise veterans Will and Elizabeth (Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley in cameos), who is on a quest to free his father from his watery imprisonment. For this he needs Poseidon's trident, which only Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) can find with his magical compass. Except that Jack has swapped the compass to buy some whiskey. Then Will meets the feisty Carina (Kaya Scodelario), who's star-reading skills will come in handy. But the vengeful Salazar (Javier Bardem) is also after the compass and the trident, hoping to reverse his own ghostly curse. And as things heat up, Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) dives into the pursuit as well.
What follows is a series of set-pieces in which these various factions scuffle for control of people and artefacts that can lead them in their quests for power. They all talk incessantly about the elaborately complex mythology, but it never makes any sense why each person knows only fragments of the lore. And it's also not easy to hear what they're shouting amid the general chaos of yet another epically choreographed fight scene. Thankfully, the actors are hammy enough to stand out from the sea of digital effects that fill the screen.
Continue reading: Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Review
It seems Captain Jack Sparrow has been sailing the seas as a pirate for many, many years, and in that time he's made a lot of enemies. As a young trouble-maker, he damned a pirate-hating adversary and his crew to a seabound immortality - and now Captain Salazar has returned to exact his revenge. Panic is afoot when it becomes clear that Captain Salazar has escaped his eternal torment at the bottom of the Devil's Triangle, and as much as Jack loves an adventure almost as much as he loves rum, this time he could truly be out of his depth. It will take more than his trusty compass to help him this time, but thankfully he has the help of a new headstrong maiden named Carina Smyth who happens to be a skilled astronomer, plus the return of his old friend Will Turner. Together they must uncover the Trident of Poseidon before Salazar does, and send the enemy back to their watery graves.
Forget Davy Jones' Locker and the Fountain of Youth, Captain Jack Sparrow is on an all new quest as he embarks on the hunt for the fabled trident of Poseidon. It may sound like he's set his sights far too high this time, but he's never failed the crew of the Black Pearl yet - and he really could do with a windfall right about now. To make matters worse, Capitan Salazar is back from the Devil's Triangle with his ghostly crew, and the trident is his only hope of stopping them. This time he's got the help of his old friend Will Turner, who is apparently free of his binding contract with The Flying Dutchman.
Saroo Brierley has lived a good life with his caring mother and father in Australia, but as he grows older, memories begin to return to Saroo of his life before he was adopted.
When he was young, Saroo lived with his family in a small village and since the father of the family left years earlier, Saroo's mother looks after him, his 2 elder brothers and young sister; she works as often as she can to feed and care for her children but often that just wasn't enough. Wishing to help the family, the two elder boys would often go off and beg at the busy railway station and find occasional work helping sweep trains.
When Guddu announces that he's going to the train station, his younger brother (Saroo) asks if he can go with him, he accepts and the boys set out on their journey. With his little brother feeling tired, Guddu leaves his brother to rest and tells him to stay where he is. The five year old did what he was told for a while but soon grew impatient by his brother's absence, he decides to go look around the train station and eventually falls asleep on a stationary train thinking his brother would know where he was. When the little boy awakes he finds himself speeding through unfamiliar landscapes with no way to escape.
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Life-changing moments feature in each of the nine short films in this Australian anthology, and each is told with remarkable artistry and sensitivity. While the filmmakers use different styles of filmmaking, there's a clever connection between the shorts, as themes of inner longing are made resonant by earthy honesty. So even if each brief segment film feels like just a fragment of an idea, taken together the film is remarkably moving.
It opens and closes with the animated "Ash Wednesday", using the T.S. Elliot poem to explore the idea of communal memory. From here a variety of mini-stories unfurl, often using the same character names even though the films are dramas, comedies or documentaries, and many have no dialogue at all. The lighter clips include "Reunion", in which a couple (Cate Blanchett and Richard Roxburgh) are surprised that spending Christmas with his mum isn't as awful as expected. "Cockleshell" follows a young guy (Toby Wallace) who's obsessed with the girl (Brenna Harding) next door. And both "Big World" and "Boner McPharlin's Moll" take lively kaleidoscopic looks at how reality is often nothing like our idea of how things should be.
Other segments are dark and provocative, including "Aquifer", about a man (Callan Mulvey) who is pushed by a news headline to recall a painful childhood memory. Two young boys (Jakory and Jarli-Russell Blanco) have a creepy adventure while on a beach day out with their dad and uncles in "Sand". The most moving film is "Commission", in which a young man (Josh McConville) drives to the outback to tell his estranged dad (Hugo Weaving) that his mother is dying. The best performance comes from Rose Byrne in the eponymous "The Turning", as a trailer-trash wife and mother whose friendship with a rich woman (Miranda Otto) sparks a religious epiphany. And the most unforgettable short is "Long, Clear View", impressively directed by Mia Wasikowska, which follows a young boy (Matthew Shanley) playing with his dad's rifle.
Continue reading: The Turning Review
Fans of the 2007 Spartan war romp 300 probably won't care that this spin-off is even more chaotic and much murkier to look at. It still features armies of scantily clad muscle men grunting idiotic declamatory dialogue as they charge into cartoon-style battles against all odds. No, this isn't particularly subtle filmmaking: it's loud and brutal. And good for an unintentional laugh.
At the same time as Spartan King Leonidas (a briefly glimpsed Gerard Butler) is leading his 300 men to battle against Xerses (Santoro), Greek General Themistocles (Stapleton) approaches Leonidas' wife Gorgo (Headey) for help facing Xerses vengeful military commander Artemisia (Green) on another front at sea. Themistocles' main officers are Aesyklos (Matheson) and Scyllias (Mulvey), whose son Calisto (O'Connell) secretly joins the army as they set sail for an epic ship-based battle against Artemisia's fearsome forces. And there are two more watery conflicts to come, each more outrageous than the one before, as Artemisia taunts Themistocles seductively while dispensing fiery death and destruction at every turn.
The addition of two strong women adds a bit of interest here, but the focus is still on the bare-chested men, even if only three or for of them actually emerge into proper characters. Headey's chief contribution is a rambling voiceover narration explaining everything for us, while Green's wry smirk and momentous glower let her steal every scene. By contrast, the men seem rather feeble. Stapleton is manly and commanding, but not hugely charismatic. Rising-star O'Connell barely gets two decent scenes. Santoro is hilariously grouchy eye candy. And everyone else is clearly expendable.
Continue reading: 300: Rise Of An Empire Review
When Leonidas and his valiant army of 300 Spartans were wiped out by the vast forces led by Persian God King Xerxes, the rest of Greece now feel that their country has gained honour following their tragic loss. However, their battle is not over yet as Persia is rapidly sailing in for another invasion. Rival cities Sparta and Athens are forced to set aside their bitterness towards each other if they have any hope of victory - though with Xerxes on their tail with immortal power, their lives teeter on the edge. Nonetheless, the Greeks remained filled with a fierce determination following Leonidas' heroism and so Themistocles of Athens leads his naval fleet to war while Sparta's army prepares for another fight. How can they survive against a seemingly impervious God King and his female ally, the just as ruthless, sword-wielding Artemisia? Outnumbered and overpowered once again, there is still hope.
Continue: 300: Rise Of An Empire - Clips
Following Leonidas' honourable though inevitable death alongside his Spartan army of 300 at the hands of Persian God King Xerxes, the rest of Greece cannot help but feel a certain pride at the valiant effort. Now, with Persia quickly threatening invasion, rival cities Sparta and Athens must throw aside their differences and rally together to defeat their forces - but with an all-powerful king like Xerxes, their chances of survival look minimal. Nonetheless, filled with a newfound determination after Leonidas' heroic venture, Athens' naval fleet led by the admiral Themistocles set out to bring Persia down, as Sparta's army prepares another brave attack. They may be outnumbered yet again, but hope is the last thing Greece is going to give up.
Lena Headey discusses her role in '300: Rise of an Empire' and it seems there is a distinct female presence in the sequel to '300'.
300: Rise of an Empire promises to have a stronger female on-screen presence, which isn't exactly a difficult feat considering 300, released in 2007, was nothing but wash-board abs and a host of handsome men.
Lena Headey at Elle's Women in Hollywood event, held at the Four Seasons Hotel in L.A.
The sequel's list of equally butch men includes Jack O'Connell (Skins); Sullivan Stapleton (Gangster Squad); Hans Matheson (Sherlock Holmes) and Callan Mulvey (Zero Dark Thirty). David Wenham, Andrew Tiernan and Rodrigo Santora are reprising their roles from 300.
After a valiant but ultimately unsuccessful attack by Leonidas' army of 300 Spartan men on Persia's much larger army led by the 'God-King' Xerxes, the rest of the Greeks are at war with Persia determined to end their invasion and bring down their so-called God once and for all. Athens and their strong naval fleet, led by the admiral Themistocles, are forced to team up with Sparta, their civil rivals, and their formidable army though the Greeks are still ultimately outnumbered on a massive scale by Persia. However, with a determination instilled by a national pride in the sacrifice of Leonidas and his men, the Greeks enter in their new battle gladly and with a significantly reduced fear of their enemy.
'300: Rise Of An Empire' is the gritty, action-fuelled follow-up to 2007's '300' directed by Zack Snyder ('Dawn of the Dead', 'Watchmen', 'Man of Steel'). This sequel has been adapted from the graphic novel 'Xerxes' by Frank Miller and directed by Noam Murro ('Smart People'), though Snyder does make his return alongside Kurt Johnstad ('Act of Valor') on the screenwriting credits. With a multi-award winning epic to beat, 'Rise Of An Empire' looks to be a thrilling addition to this war saga and it is set to hit screens in the US on March 7th 2014.
Sam Neill and David Wenham - Sam Neill, David Wenham, Hollywood, California - Los Angeles Premiere of Legend of the Guardians The Owls of Ga'Hoole held at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre Sunday 19th September 2010
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