Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

15 07 2006

Surprisingly, for a sequel, Disney delivers more swashbuckling good times with this familiar band of pirates. 


The movie retains the original cast, Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, among others.  Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is still as tipsy and comical as he was in the first Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.  Jack Sparrow’s offhanded comments, knack for getting into trouble, and lack of impulse control when it comes to rum, keeps the mood on the lighter side, even when the tone is eerie and more suspenseful.   


Since the movie does take place in the Caribbean, there is some voodoo in it, so I personally won’t recommend it without a disclaimer.  The majority of the voodoo in the movie is brief, and comes up as references.


If you decide to see the newest Pirates of the Caribbean, keep in mind that this is the second of a trilogy.  This movie gets right into the story without the character introduction of the first one, and because it isn’t the final one, either, it won’t answer every question you may have before the credits begin to roll. 


Overall, I found Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest to be a very entertaining, funny, pirate adventure.  I wasn’t about to set sail under the Jolly Roger, but I did feel like I definitely got my money’s worth. 


Superman Returns

10 07 2006

Look up in the sky… it’s a bird… it’s a plane… no, it’s a computer generated Superman!


After being gone for five years, Superman returns to discover life in the big city isn’t how he left it.  Lois, the love of his life, is now dating another reporter, newspapers no longer exhibit his picture or even mention his name, the world appears to have moved on and left the blue-and-red clad hero in the dust.  “Does the world still need Superman?”, is the question that sets the stage for the film.


For those of you who will always think of Christopher Reeve as the legendary face of the Man of Steel, Brandon Routh looks and acts impressively like Reeve, which makes the transition easier.  Routh is good as both Superman and the awkward newspaper reporter, Clark Kent.  Lex Luther, Superman’s arch nemesis played by Kevin Spacey, adds a bit of warped humor and sarcasm to the film, for good measure.            


The storyline isn’t deep and hardly has a shred of realism to it, but it’s a comic book-based story about a man from outer space who flies around in a cape.  If it was something other than comic book-ish it wouldn’t be Superman.  Even the Superman movies with Christopher Reeve were move like a cartoon than a realistic drama. 


Because of this, I didn’t expect the movie to be profound and meaningful, but sometimes the storyline leaves you feeling apathetic toward the characters and the impending dangers.  As one reviewer put it, “Superman flies up, but he doesn’t always take you with him.”


The special effects were probably my biggest complaint.  The effects looked like something straight out of a made-for-TV movie, and were more painful that anything to sit through.  The changes between the actor and the computer-generated Superman are not only visible, they’re distracting.  If I didn’t know special effects could be any better, I would say they should’ve waited a few years before trying something like this to avoid such a cheesy looking effect. 


It looks like they spent more time working on the opening credits — which are impressive — than the rest of the movie.  Aside from the opening credits, it might be something to see on a small screen.


There are subtle inappropriate implications made right from the start.  It’s not something you’d have to watch with the remote in hand, but just be aware it is rates PG-13 for a reason.  


With a funny opening storyline, a talented cast, and special effects always on the rise, this movie had a lot of potential.  Unfortunately, it didn’t fully live up to it.

Movie Review: The Da Vinci Code

3 07 2006

The Da Vinci Code is a modern-day, fast paced treasure hunt with the desired treasure being evidence to discount the claim of Christ’s deity and the very basis of Christianity. 


As far as entertainment goes, this movie has most everything a treasure hunt film needs.  It has the quick thinking Harvard professor, the pretty lady who runs around in high heels and magically never twists her ankle, a creative storyline, and plenty of suspense along the way to keep you engaged. 


Unfortunately though, The Da Vinci Code is not only about maps, ancient piles of gold, and spies in the same cartoony way the Indiana Jones movies are so enjoyably portrayed.  For the plot to thicken, Christianity has to be disproved and exposed as a fraud, because if it can’t be disproved, this treasure hunt and all that it’s based on, falls completely apart. 


The Da Vinci Code not only discolors history and presents the viewer with faulty evidence, it also shows that the “right” way to examine history and fine art is through the same scrutinizing lens a detective would look at evidence at a crime scene through.  It makes sense when a detective who knows a crime was committed in that location looks for evidence to determine what happened and then tries to piece the clues together, but when someone takes random pieces of art, a few out-of-context statements from an old document and tries to connect the dotes into making a story, it’s not even logical.


The evidence the movie uses to support its claims are summed up nicely by a quote from the move itself, “The mind sees things as it wants to.”  The movie takes things out of context and proudly displays them as hard evidence.  To paraphrase a man I heard give his opinion on the movie and the book, “It is true that we are all entitled to our own opinions, but we are not entitled to our own facts.”               


Due to the overwhelming response of the Christian community, I had expected the story to be more persuasive in its faulty logic.  Considering the confusion that has come from this story, I hope for the sake of the people who’ve been deceived that the book lays out a better case for its argument than the movie did.  And that the confusion isn’t merely due to the lack of education in history, art and the history of Christianity in our society.


Christianity –especially Catholicism—is shown in a very poor light, and what’s even more disturbing is the characters who are presented as the truthful and kind ones are involved in the occult, which paints it in a rosy view.   It also shares information about some of the occult rituals and pagan gods and goddesses throughout the movie.


Summing it up, The Da Vinci Code is an entertaining film, but it has the potential to seriously alter people’s thoughts and views regarding the history, art, and Christianity shown in the movie if the viewer isn’t already grounded in the truth.  If someone is completely unfamiliar with the style and history of the Renaissance era, the correct way to study and view art, and the history of Christianity, a naïve onlooker could be swept up in the suspense and enjoyment of the film and never even know they’re walking around with a distorted and colored view because of a movie they enjoyed. 


In a time when art, history and religion or merely looked at as school subjects, and the media shapes the views of most of the population, a movie with so many flaws is a danger to not only the thought processes of individuals, but also the way history and the arts are remembered and appreciated in not only our own generation, but in the ones to come.