Everything about this film screams excess, from the ludicrous two-and-a-half hour running time to the whopping scale of the action sequences to Johnny Depp's bizarro costume. But this reunion between Depp and his original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy director Verbinski is a solidly made romp that actually has some genuine laughs and thrills. There's certainly never a dull moment.
It's set in late-1860s Texas, where John Reid (Hammer) arrives to visit his brother Dan (Dale), whose wife Rebecca (Wilson) is John's former flame. After an elaborate prison break, John is deputised and joins the posse of rangers hunting down the escapee. When they're ambushed, John is the lone survivor, nursed back to health by quirky outsider Tonto (Depp), a Native American who knows how to get to the bottom of what's going on here. So they go undercover to find the truth, which involves a secret silver mine, construction on the first transcontinental American railway, and tensions between European settlers and the native Comanche community.
The script is a complex riot of details that resolutely refuse to gel into a coherent picture until the screenwriters are good and ready to fill in the gaps. In the mean time, they throw the characters into a series of madcap action set-pieces that are wildly cartoonish in the way everyone just dusts themselves off afterwards and carries on. From train crashes to horseback chases, this is non-stop action. And Verbinski is an expert at staging these massive sequences, so they're a lot of fun to watch, especially when the film is populated with such energetic characters.
Continue reading: The Lone Ranger Review
In London, Jack (Depp) is brought before George II (Griffiths) so he can help the Brits beat the Spanish to the Fountain of Youth. But after an elaborate escape, Jack ends up in the crew of the ship captained by the evil Blackbeard (McShane) and his daughter Angelica (Cruz), with whom Jack has a past. So now Blackbeard, the Spanish and the British, led by Jack's old nemesis/pal Barbossa (Rush), are racing to the Caribbean to find the secret of immortality. And their first task is to capture a mermaid.
Continue reading: Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Review
With WWF-style wrestling, vivid color schemes, a scary ogre who's not that scary, psychological evaluation by a talking donkey, loads of humor, and a simple and straightforward plot, Shrek zings along, providing fun and thrills at every turn. But the real treasure lies in Shrek's ability to subtlety poke fun at the mega-mouse corporation of Disney en route to providing a quick 85 minutes of pure entertainment. Torturing the Gingerbread Man? I'm sold.
Continue reading: Shrek Review
What everyone remembers, comedically speaking, is Genie, a blue whirling dervish of impressions and wisecracks as vocalized by Robin Williams in 100 percent inspiration, negligible perspiration mode. But Aladdin also features what may be the only tolerable role for Gilbert Gottfried, period: Iago, the cranky parrot sidekick of evil villain Jafar. Even Aladdin and Jasmine, while essentially bland, have likeably cynical streaks (Jasmine is disgusted by the parade of handsome princes sent to woo her, as if she's just finished watching a Disney movie marathon). These characters would have significant goodwill flogged away by a TV series and the pair of direct-to-video follow-ups that bookend it, but on its own, Aladdin is a rollicking good time. And although the contribution of Williams is immeasurable, the Disney team rises to the occasion with some terrific, fast-paced gagwork and visual mastery.
Continue reading: Aladdin Review
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