Film Reviews

30 Mar

On Stranger Tides

The new Pirates of the Caribbean film has had some flack from critics and, having wondered how the franchise would fair without two of its three main leads, I must admit I did wonder, as the lights dimmed in the cinema, whether the critics were right and it had lost steam and become more about spinning further money from a series that had run its course. I really don’t know why I worried; as usual, the film critics were wrong and this was a fun romp.

To be honest, as much fun as Will and Elizabeth were, I was always one of those who found Captain Jack Sparrow to be the heart and soul of the series. Thank goodness that Johnny Depp stole the show in the first film! Jack is just as much fun here as ever he was as he goes on a quest for the Fountain of Youth, more by accident than design, and encounters the dread Blackbeard along the way (of course, this does raise all sorts of questions not only about when it is all supposed to be set, but why Blackbeard wasn’t one of the Pirate Lords, but, to be honest, I couldn’t really care less – this is not historically accurate drama, but a romp through history as we all imagine it when the Golden Age of Pirates exists as a single entity rather than the reality of covering a wide number of years and locations; after all, I doubt you will find many history books that support the notion that Blackbeard had a zombified crew!).

Some critics actually complained that the plot was hard to follow (but I have heard that mantra with At Worlds’ End and it wasn’t true then) but anyone with an ounce of brains will have no trouble following the plot. You may wonder at a couple of points whether some of the characters are being a bit stupid, but the gist of their plans make sense and nothing is so complex that you will be scratching your head at it.

On Stranger Tides is a great action romp that speeds furiously and humorously towards its conclusion and doesn’t outstay its welcome; although not a short film, I was a little surprised when it reached its conclusion as it really didn’t feel as if I had been there that long. Although I had my doubts about some elements, such as the mermaids, I was impressed with how they were incorporated into the film and I especially liked the way that the Spanish expedition (one of four searching, simultaneously, for the fountain) was used. An excellent film that I would highly recommend for a fun afternoon out for the kids or an evening’s entertainment for the adults!

Highly recommended.

Salt

With a rather bland, condimental title, Salt didn’t sound like much, but the trailers looked like it ought to be a good film, so I eventually picked it up on DVD and gave it a watch. I wasn’t disappointed!

Evelyn Salt is an agent with the CIA whose eventful life has included imprisonment in North Korea. Having been returned to the arms of the agency, she finds herself interviewing a former KGB agent who wants to defect and has a very interesting story to tell – unfortunately for Agent Salt, the story is all about how she is actually a Russian sleeper agent planning an assassination… As you might expect, her denials do little to assuage the suspicions of her colleagues and, with her husband missing and possibly a victim of the Russians, she is forced to go on the run. Naturally, that doesn’t impress the CIA with how innocent she is acting, so they set about hunting her down with extreme prejudice and an exciting chase sequence follows.

But, it is not all explosions and clinging to the tops of moving vehicles whilst being shot at. There is the entire question of whether Agent Salt actually is a sleeper agent as we learn more about her past and her own actions fail to clarify the issue. Eventually, we do learn what is happening, but even then you are left wondering just who can be trusted and where her actual loyalties lie. The film manages to be both great fun as an action adventure and cerebrally entertaining as you attempt to work it all out and guess who Agent Salt really is. Whilst it is quite possible you will guess correctly early on (after all there are not that many alternatives to choose from), with twist piled upon twist you will find yourself questioning whether your guess is correct after all.

In additional to the theatrical release, the DVD comes with the Extended and Director’s Cut versions of the film. So far, I haven’t had a chance to watch these versions and see whether they actually add much to the film as shown in the cinema or add further twists, but Salt is a film that is worth rewatching, so it will be no onerous task to see how they stand up beside the initial version.

Salt is a fun film that will entertain you if all you want is an action romp to snack popcorn to, but also has plenty of scope to get you thinking and wondering just how it all might play out.

Highly recommended.

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