Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The one thing I will give this film is that unlike the previous one, and most of the ones before that, at least there is a followable story here or a sequence of events and scenes that make sense and connect to the previous scenes. The mystery for this movie series for me still remains, why are these movies so popular? Is it only because people believe that Johnny Depp is so good at playing a drunken Pirate? This part of Captain Jack Sparrow has given Depp by far the most money of his career but for me, the whole drunken Pirate bit got boring after the second installment in this franchise.

The story for this newest Pirates movie is about the same as the other ones. There are evil ghost Pirates trying to find and kill Sparrow. There are other criminal Pirates who are fighting each other on the ocean, there is always some kind of treasure everyone is looking for and in this movie, the treasure is something that will remove all curses in the world. This movie actually has dead ghost sharks that try and attack Sparrow and others. All of this involves some good special effects but for me nothing that is entertaining enough to recommend. This movie, like all of the others, will once again make a great deal of money and once again, I will find it a mystery that so many people like these movies.

This movie also stars Javier Bardem and Geoffrey Rush who are both very effective in their roles.

I recommend this movie only for fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but for everybody else, this film can be easily missed.

Movie Review: Baywatch

Just about everybody who has seen the trailers or even the TV show Baywatch from the 80’s would expect to see a bad or stupid movie even before it starts. For these people, you would not be disappointed. Aspiring screen writers like myself will probably have a different viewpoint of a movie this ridiculous and wonder how an idea and screenplay this bad could ever have been greenlighted in the first place, most especially considering the long odds of any screenplay being made into a movie. While watching this stupid film I was thinking about a conference room in Hollywood somewhere, probably two or more years ago when the final meeting for funding and planning this film happened. I think it probably went something like this:

Producer: We have selected you, based on similar previous work to direct Baywatch for us.
Director: Baywatch? You mean that bad TV show from the 80’s?
Producer: It was both stupid and bad, but also the most popular TV show of all time.
Director: It was?
Producer: Yes, it was.
Director: Your kidding.
Producer Number one money maker.
Director: Wow, I had no idea.
Producer: Name recognition. People remember this stupid show and all the women on the beach. Hasselhoff embarrassing himself every week. They will flock to this.
Director: Really?
Producer: Of course. There are plans for a Chips movie too, same reasons.
Director: Another bad TV show.
Producer: It doesn’t matter, its all about making money and name recognition. People remember that idiotic show and those 2 guys on bikes.
Director: If you say so. But for Baywatch, how can you make a two-hour movie about lifeguards running on a beach and saving some people who might drown?
Producer: Easy, you make them solve crimes!
Director: What?
Producer: Yes, they solve crimes, break up a drug ring, that will make it interesting and kill two hours!
Director: But they are not police officers. They are not allowed to solve crimes.
Producer: It doesn’t matter, it’s a stupid movie. Nobody cares about anything making sense and we have to kill two hours. We have about 45 minutes of material for the beach. That gets too boring very fast. We need a hook! And that is solving crimes and chasing after crooks with lifeguards!
Director: This whole idea is just too stupid.
Producer: It’s about money, not quality.
Director: No kidding.
Producer: Interested?
Director: Of course not, the entire idea is too stupid and ridiculous. Lifeguards
solving crimes? I have a reputation.
Producer: We will pay you double what we paid you last time.
Director: I’m in.
Producer: That was fast. See, its all about the money.
Director: One question.
Producer: What?
Director: Are you planning any cameos from the TV show?
Producer: Of course, Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff have already signed.
Director: Sounds like a hit.
Producer: Name recognition is what makes money. Just ask the Kardashians.
Director: One last question?
Producer: What?
Director: Do I have to use my real name on the credits?

Meetings like this are how bad and stupid movies are made. Most recently the movie Chips was released about a very bad TV show from the 70s and the movie was worse than the TV show. Chips grossed only 18 million so hopefully after this movie also bombs we will not see any new bad TV shows made into bad movies anytime in the near future. The reviews for Baywatch (Rottentomatoes 18%) and the box office are very bad so far, so we can all only hope that this is the last of the bad TV shows becoming bad movies, at least for a while.

This movie stars Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron and one has to wonder of Efron will ever make a good movie in his entire career or suffer a career nosedive at any point after making so many bad films.

This film is very bad for many reasons. First of all, the TV show was ridiculous and the idea of creating a story about lifeguards solving crimes involving dirty politics and drug trafficking is absurd. What were they all thinking? If your going to make Baywatch into a movie the least any audience should expect is a little common sense. The actress Priyanka Chopra also stars in this movie as an evil drug crime boss. The entire storyline involving her character is also ridiculous. There is a scene in this movie where the lifeguards not only act as police officers in a morgue but also as forensic scientists, leading to a disgusting moment where 3 of them are hiding in the sliding containers for dead bodies and then some horrible liquid drops onto Efron’s face. Did the producers of this mess decide that something like this is funny or just disgusting or both?

It is very hard to understand or even justify the thinking at any point in this entire film because the decision making is so unbelievably stupid. All attempts at comedy also failed and nobody laughed in the theater I was in.

Run from this embarrassing mess of a movie and hope that the people involved never make a sequel.

Movie Review: Norman

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things..”

― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays

The new movie Norman, starring Richard Gere reminded me of this quote from Henry David Thoreau almost as soon as the film started. Norman Oppenheimer, played by Gere, is what is called a fixer who lives in New York City. A fixer is a deal maker who collects friends and business relationships by asking, “What do you need”, “What can I do for you”. Richard Gere does a great job playing this character who is a dauntless, relentless and annoying person always trying to make a deal with someone. Norman tells lies to people he meets and is lied to in return. He is given phone numbers by the people he harasses on the street and these people almost never answer his call or return the messages he leaves. His entire life and career are in the hands of the people he thinks are his friends or who he has done business with in the past, but they are clearly not his friends. During this entire film, Oppenheimer learns over and over again what he already knows, that all of these people will only show him respect if he makes money for them, otherwise they could care less about Norman Oppenheimer.

This film is complicated by Norman’s relationship with of all people the prime minister of Isreal and Norman’s attempts to save a Jewish temple by trying to orchestrate a deal to have a benefactor donate 7 million dollars. All of this leads to a very involved conclusion that I found to be very well done but perhaps unnecessarily complex. The actor Hank Azaria plays another fixer in New York City who runs into Norman Oppenheimer and there was very well done scene where Norman sees his annoying self in this other lower level fixer. I also found it interesting to know that there are fixers like this in the world, living right at the edge of survival in quiet desperation.

I thought the story of this movie was very well told and the acting well done and I do recommend Norman.