Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Avast me maties!
So, the question is: Does Pirates 4 sink or swim? I'd say it manages to stay afloat, but misses catching full wind in it's sails. To be more specific, the film is as are all of the Pirates films in my opinion, a fun ride. On the other hand, I can't say that it manages to tread any new ground or breathe new life into the series. As much as I love Depp's Sparrow, the film never seems to quite hit it's stride. Sure, there are some cool action sequences - most noteably the mermaid scene - but there's something missing. Call it heart, call it the x-factor, whatever it is, it's just not quite there. Depp is in fine form as Jack Sparrow once again, along with Kevin Mcnalley as Gibbs and an always stellar Geoffry Rush as Barbosa. But the new comers fail to impress. Penelope Cruz is ok at best, while Blackbeard (Ian McShance) is cool, but just not quite villain enough to be formidable. The most forgettable in the film are the dull pair of Phillip and Syreena...(notice I didn't bother looking the actors' names up) By the time they mysteriously exited the film, so did my memory of their ever having been in it. Those gripes aside, as I said the film is a fun ride. There are some fun action sequences along with ever-stunning visuals of gorgeous locals none of us are likely to see any time soon. The cinematography is in good form, although I will say certain action scenes seemed to be cut a bit slowly for my tastes. As far as the ending creating room for sequels... It does... I guess. I suppose from a certain perspective there are some loose threads left open, but none of them are pressing enough to leave you wanting for more. In fact, I thought the story tied itself together rather cleanly and could just as easily be let alone for good. I liked it, I didn't love it. I'm sure that in the end the box office results will determine Captain Jack's next heading, I'm just not sure if I'll be aboard that particular ship.

Movie Review: Thor

THOR - I'll admit it was about a week ago that I saw the film, but I think that has helped to give me some perspective on its lasting effect for me. That said, here's the breakdown on my review of Thor.
STORY: The story was pretty solid combining several versions of Thor's mythology according to Marvel. The characters felt authentic, and the meshing of the two worlds (Asgard and Earth) seemed to clash much less than I would have expected. As one might have guessed, however, its a tough task to take something as wildly fantastic as Thor's world, and prevent it from seeming cartoony or ridiculous. Fortunately, I felt it was handled pretty well. While at times characters seem to be far less affected by encountering gods than one might expect, I can't say I much cared. I was pleasantly distracted by the themes of the story, and how they played out on screen.
PRESENTATION: The visuals of Asgard and its counterparts were truly epic. I still can't get over how realistic CG environments are becoming. I truly felt like I was in the spaces they imagined. The costumes were also equally epic. I can't say however that they felt natural outside of Asgard. While the brilliant color palette of Thor's costume worked well against others in his world, when he was on Earth the outfit seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. I'll say that this was certainly a tough challenge for the filmmakers: to create an authentic fan pleasing costume and still have it fit into a realistic modern earthen setting. All qualms aside it plays out very well, but I did sometimes find myself distracted by the crayola reds and blue against the more subtle complex sepia tone of the desert backdrop.
ACTING: I found the acting in Thor to be one of the most pleasant surprises. Chris Hemsworth (who I've never, ever heard of) carries himself with a sly wit and charm befitting of a fallen god. Equally impressive is Tom Hiddleston as Loki. He had all of the whiny angry child angst and lust for revenge one could want from a slighted younger brother god-type guy. I will say that oddly enough performances from the vets like Anthony Hopkins (Odin) and Natalie Portman (Jane Foster) seemed rather subdued. I'm not sure if this was to allow the newcomers to take center stage, or a lack of meaningful scenes. Either way I never found myself cringing about lame one-liners or ridiculous leaps of logic more than once or twice.
OVERAL: 7.5 / 10 - I'm being a bit harsh here, but I think that while Thor has some impressive substance and action, it falls just short of transcending its genre. This wouldn't matter as much had we not already been blessed with the likes of Nolan's The Dark Knight. Unfortunately the bar has been set pretty high. That said, Batman is inherently set it the real world with no godly powers or wild outfits (save one), and Thor comes impressively close to being a great movie, given that it encompasses such fantastical characters and visuals. It could have easily been a cheesefest, and yet was not. I'd say, mission accomplished.