2 1/2 Stars
Ridley Scott films have an amazing attention to detail. Everything from production, set and costume design to the actual cinema techniques of editing, cinematography and script are poured over with feverish devotion. Wether it be an alien vessel, a look at modern warfare or gladiatorial days in the Roman coliseum; Scott and his collaborators are masters of recreating a time period and mounting gargantuan production behind them. Kingdom of Heaven is Scott’s first return to ancient times since the OSCAR winning Gladiator, the two films couldn’t be more different. Those seeking the majestically beautiful violence of that earlier classic will be disappointed to find that Kingdom is a slow-moving, often-times ponderous affair than is more thought-provoking film. In fact other than two or three protracted battle sequences, including a doozy in the final act, there is a virtual lack of violence or action of any kind.
3 1/2 Stars
‘Pirates’ is a highly entertaining mix of humor and swashbuckling action. Defying the odds uber-producer Jerry Brucheimer took on the project after years of failed attempts at converting the concept into a film; then entrusting director Gore Verbinski to craft a picture of immense beauty and astonishing technical wizardry. Yet all would be for not without the stand-out central performance by Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, the sexually ambiguous pirate. Depp’s comedic timing and unique look are assets that rarely have been exploited to the effect they are here. His shtick is so amusing that OSCAR voters took notice and nominated him for Best Actor that year. Continue reading
2 1/2 Stars
‘Dead Man’s Chest’ is a plot heavy meandering sequel that owes more than a bit story-wise to‘Empires Strikes Back’. Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are all back but the freshness and humor that made the original so appealing is largely missing here. However the CGI and technical craftsmanship on display is admittedly staggering. This installment is darker in tone than the first film and lacks a rooting interest for the audience, even Depp’s antics aren’t quite as charming. Continue reading
1 1/2 Stars
The final chapter in the ‘Pirates‘ trilogy is just as bloated and confusing as the previous installment. Lacking a compelling story yet stuffed to the gills with special effects, and whimsical nonsense ‘At World’s End’ is far worse than ‘Dead Man’s Chest’. Even the welcomed return of Geoffery Rush as Capt. Barbossa and the addition of Chow Yun Fat to the cast can’t save this bore. Clocking in at two hours and fifty minutes this entry suffers from the same excessive length and overkill that seems to be a hallmark of the series.
3 1/2 Stars
A throw back to the Hollywood sword & sandal epics from the 1950′s & 60′s. Lavish production design and glamorous looking stars are cast in the mythical Greek roles, the lengthy script by David Benioff is gracefully handled by veteran director Wolfgang Petersen. Smart casting keeps characters visually identifiable even when names and ancient lands becomes a bit much to keep up with. Continue reading