Thursday Apr 24
TheatricalThe Woman in Black (2012)
10/02/2012 | Nikki Baughan

Having relaunched in 2010 with the promise of delivering solid horror films for a modern audience, the output from the rebooted Hammer Films has been something of a mixed bag. While its inaugural release, remake Let Me In, was received with great fanfare, subsequent films The R [ ... ]


TheatricalMan on a Ledge (2012)
03/02/2012 | Nikki Baughan

For his feature debut, Danish filmmaker Asger Leth follows his 2006 documentary Ghosts of Cite Soleil (co-directed with Milos Loncarevic) with something entirely different; a high concept action thriller that is about as Hollywood as they come. That’s to say that everything is [ ... ]


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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

Theatrical

Tides are turning...

Has Jack Sparrow met his match? He’s in London, facing piracy charges, has no crew, no ship and – seemingly – no hope. But, of course, keeping Jack behind bars wouldn’t make for much of a film and so, following a beautifully-choreographed escape through the streets of London, a scene-stealing cameo from Keith Richards as Jack’s worldly-wise father and reunion with feisty former love Angelica (Penelope Cruz), Jack is soon ensconced on the ship of the legendary Blackbeard (Ian McShane), on the hunt for the fabled Fountain of Youth. On his tail is pirate nemesis Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) but, as the journey gets increasingly dangerous, the old foes may find that they need to work together if they are to make it home alive…

Although it’s been four years after Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – and almost a decade since the first film, The Curse of the Black Pearl turned a theme park ride into a successful movie franchise – it’s like Captain Jack Sparrow has never been away. So familiar is Johnny Depp’s outlandish performance, and so seamlessly does director Rob Marshall take the reigns from Gore Verbinski, that this newest instalment fits comfortably alongside its predecessors.

So comfortably, in fact, that - just as the first three were all variations on a theme - this is again essentially the same film told differently. Luckily, it’s still just about entertaining enough to hold appeal thanks, largely, to Depp’s performance. He is still a joy as Sparrow, and so utterly at home playing these outlandish characters – think Sweeney Todd, Willy Wonka et al – that it’s now something of a shock to see him in more straightforward roles, such as in the recent flop The Tourist. Depp commands the film, and the franchise, and keeps the momentum going.

That’s not to say he’s the only good performer on screen; McShane is well-cast as the malevolent Blackbeard, his understated style ensuring the character stays well clear of pantomime villain territory, while Rush is solid as Barbossa and Cruz looks like she’s having a blast as Angelina. Former stars Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are certainly not missed.

Where it becomes clear that this was more an exercise in money-grabbing than coherent filmmaking comes with the storyline. Despite some raucous set-pieces and sense of old-fashioned adventure that runs through the narrative, it’s all a bit tired. There is no sense of urgency built into this quest, and some of the characters are so underdeveloped as to be nothing more than cardboard cutouts; there’s a particular storyline involving a mermaid and a preacher which ends with frustrating abruptness.

And all these shortcomings do throw up a huge question of purpose; if a film brings nothing new to audiences why bother making it at all. The answer is, of course, that it’s still a reliable slice of summer cinema and brings a guaranteed treasure chest of box office gold to Disney’s coffers. But while On Stranger Tides just about hangs on to its sense of fun, it’s doubtful that further instalments will fair as well. Let’s just hope the producers see sense, and let this franchise sail off into the sunset.

3 stars

Read Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Cast and Crew Interviews

 

ROLL CREDITS...
Stars Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian Mcshane, Geoffrey Rush
Director Rob Marshall
Screenplay Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
Certificate 12A
Distributor Walt Disney
Running Time 2hrs 17mins
Opening Date May 18

Theatrical Reviews Archive

The Woman in Black (2012)
Orphan (2009)
Night at the Museum 2 (2009)
Man on a Ledge (2012)
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Synecdoche, New York (2008)
Star Trek (2009)
Tormented (2009)
Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Black Swan (2010)
Coraline (2009)
Adam (2009)
Aliens in the Attic (2009)
Terminator Salvation (2009)
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
Summer Scars (2007)
GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)
Red Riding Hood (2011)
Coco Before Chanel (2009)
Blind Loves (2008)
Moon (2009)
Angels & Demons (2009)
Cherry Blossoms (2008)
Helen (2008)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Delta (2008)
Dorian Gray (2009)
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)
The Taking of Pelham 123 (2009)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
Jennifer's Body (2009)
Hereafter (2010)
Bottle Shock (2008)
Brüno (2009)
Watchmen (2009)
Just Another Love Story (2007)
The Disappeared (2008)
District 9 (2009)
Paranormal Activity (2009)
Afghan Star (2008)
Fireflies in the Garden (2009)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Anything For Her (2008)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
Sex and the City 2 (2010)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Last House on the Left (2009)
Sunshine Cleaning (2009)
Heartless (2009)
Frozen River (2008)
New Town Killers (2008)
Zombieland (2009)
Frozen (2010)
500 Days of Summer
Year One (2009)
The Expendables (2010)
Predators (2010)
The Scouting Book For Boys (2009)
Knight and Day (2010)
Public Enemies (2009)
This Is It (2009)
Awaydays (2009)
Hierro (2009)
Tetro (2009)
The Road (2009)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009): Review & Clips
Source Code (2011)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Robin Hood (2010)
Machete (2010)
Fuck (2005)
Shutter Island (2010)
The Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call: New Orleans (2009)
The Unborn (2009)
Cemetery Junction (2010)
2012 (2009)
Lebanon (2009)
Not Quite Hollywood (2008)
The Yes Men Fix the World (2009)
Submarine (2011)
Drive Angry 3D (2011)

Highlights

Airborne

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British actress Kimberly Jaraj shares her diary from the set of upcoming airplane thriller Airborne...

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

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Director Rob Marshall, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and stars Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane and Geoffrey Rush talk Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides...

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Shadow

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As his visceral horror Shadow comes to DVD, we sit down for an exclusive chat with Italian director Federico Zampaglione

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Movie Highlight

The Woman in Black

Having relaunched in 2010 with the promise of delivering solid horror films for a modern audience, the output from the rebooted Hammer Films has been something of a mixed bag. While its inaugural release, remake Let Me In, was received with great fanfare, subsequent films The Resident and Wake Wood have been less successful. So with its first big release, The Woman in Black, Hammer has much to prove – and has piled on the pressure by choosing to adapt a story that’s not only a bestselling novel but also a long running West End play.

An additional challenge is that tale is so effective because of its simplicity; there are no big set pieces for a filmmaker to hide behind. So it’s reassuring to see that, while some elements of Susan Hill’s story have been tweaked to give it more of a cinematic scope, the narrative runs fairly true. At its heart is young lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) who, still reeling from the death of his wife in childbirth four years previously, is sent to a remote village in order to organise the paperwork at the isolated Eel Marsh House. On his arrival he finds the locals most unwelcoming, believing that anyone disturbing the peace at the house brings tragedy to the village. Although initially sceptical, Kipps soon discovers that the mansion holds horrifying secrets, and that one of its former occupants is determined to exact terrifying revenge…

READ FULL REVIEW:  The Woman in Black

DVD Highlight

The Walking Dead

The living dead have been a mainstay of horror cinema for decades. Now they maraud onto the small screen in Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the graphic novel by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard.

Brit favourite Andrew Lincoln (This LifeTeachers) adopts a convincing drawl to take on the role of sheriff Rick Grimes, who wakes from a coma to find the local residents have become flesh-eating ghouls. While the initial set-up is reminiscent of 28 Days Later, these zombies are not Danny Boyle’s fast moving monsters, but the lumbering breed of tradition. That doesn’t dilute their impact; as Rick teams up with other survivors, the zombies are relentless in their pursuit and the tension builds to unbearable levels.

READ FULL REVIEW: The Walking Dead

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