REVIEW: HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (1999)

CAST

Geoffrey Rush (Shakespeare In Love)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Ali Larter (Heroes)
Taye Diggs (Basic)
Peter Gallagher (American Beauty)
Chris Kattan (Undercovr Brother)
Bridgette Wilson-Sampras (Billy Madison)
Max Perlich (Blow)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)
James Marsters (Caprica)

Still from House on Haunted Hill (1999)

The head of a now abandoned asylum, Dr. Richard B. Vannacutt (Jeffrey Combs), once performed grotesque experiments on the patients, killing many in the process. The hospital was closed in 1931 after the patients escaped from their cells, killing the entire staff (except five who were not present) and setting fire to the hospital. Vannacutt had rigged the building with numerous iron gates, activated by cranks and levers that cannot be reset for twelve hours, to keep patients from escaping. He closed the gates during the fire, dooming the patients and himself to death. Decades later, during reconstruction of the facility, several unexplained deaths result in the building being dubbed “The House on Haunted Hill”.
Still from House on Haunted Hill (1999)
In 1999, Evelyn Stockard-Price (Famke Janssen), a spoiled trophy wife, is in a disintegrating marriage with Steven Price (Geoffrey Rush), an amusement park mogul with a wicked sense of humor. Price leases the house from the owner, Watson Pritchett (Chris Kattan), for Evelyn’s birthday party. Evelyn gives Price a lengthy guest list; he shreds it to spite her and then creates one of his own. Five guests arrive for the party – Jennifer Jenzen (Ali Larter), Eddie Baker (Taye Diggs), Melissa Margaret Marr (Bridgette Wilson), Dr. Donald Blackburn (Peter Gallagher), and Pritchett himself. The guests are not the ones Price invited—neither Evelyn nor Price know who they are. Despite this, Price continues the party’s theme, offering $1 million to each guest who stays in the house and survives until morning, with any person not making it having his money added to the pot.

The security gates are tripped, locking everyone inside. After finding some hand guns, Jennifer, Eddie and Pritchett decide to take one of the guns. Meanwhile, Price scolds Carl Schecter (Max Perlich), a company employee – who has developed a series of harmless traps to scare the guests— for not letting him know he planned to pull a stunt like closing the iron gates. When Schecter states that he is not responsible, Price believes Evelyn is responsible. Meanwhile, Pritchett, Eddie and Jennifer go into the lower levels to find a way to open the gates. As Eddie and Jennifer explore the dungeon-like basement, Jennifer confesses to Eddie that her real name is Sara Wolfe, and that she’s an out-of-work assistant to the real Jennifer Jenzen. And that she attended the party in Jennifer’s place because she needed the prize money. However, the two are separated, and Sara is nearly drowned in tank of blood by a ghost impersonating Eddie. Though the real Eddie arrives in time to save her.

Melissa disappears when she wanders off in the basement, leaving behind a massive trail of blood. After Melissa’s disappearance, Price goes to Schecter to accuse him of faking the killing and hiding her; when he turns the seat around Schecter is found brutally murdered. Price sees a doctor walking through the room with a bloody knife on a surveillance monitor and fruitlessly chases after him. Shortly after, Evelyn dies in front of the others, when they find her mysteriously strapped onto a hypercharged electroshock therapy table. Furious, Price pulls a gun on the guests, demanding to know which one of them killed his wife. Sara nearly shoots him, but Eddie knocks him out before either one can kill the other. The remaining guests lock Price in the “Saturation Chamber”, an archaic device that Vannacut used to treat schizophrenics. Blackburn volunteers to stay behind to guard Price, while the others search for another way out. Seemingly clueless as to what the machine is or how it works, Blackburn turns the chamber on with Price still inside, and leaves him trapped. The chamber bombards Price with moving images and ghostly hallucinations until it drives him catatonic.

Meanwhile, Sara and Eddie find Vannacut’s office. Inside, they find a portrait of all the head staff, most of which have their last names, as well Price’s and Evelyn’s maiden name, on a staff picture from the asylum. Pritchett explains that that the spirits themselves created the guest list specifically to include the descendants of the five members of Vannacutt’s staff who did not die in the 1931 incident. The only exception is Blackburn, whose name does not appear amongst the staff.

Blackburn is revealed as Evelyn’s lover and they are working together to kill Price. Evelyn, who was brought back to life by Blackburn, kills him and uses his body to frame her husband. Sara, who heard Melissa moaning in the basement, comes across an incoherent Price in the basement, still delirious from his “treatment” in the saturation chamber. Believing that he is Blackburn’s murderer, shoots him as he begs her to help him. After the others return upstairs, Evelyn approaches Price to gloat, and Price, protected by a bullet-proof vest, attempts to kill Evelyn. The two scuffle before Price throws her through a decaying door. Inside the rotting room, the two realize they just stumbled upon the evil core of the house. The Darkness – a dark, shape-shifting creature composed of the spirits in the house – awakens and begins to take form. Evelyn is captured by the Darkness, which assimilates Evelyn into itself, killing her while Price watches in horror. The Darkness emerges in front of Price, revealing that it is composed of “everyone who died and is responsible”. This force begins to pursue Price. Pritchett is killed by The Darkness, allowing Price to evade it. Price tells Sara and Eddie that “the house is alive” and deduces that the only way to get out is through the attic. The three flee as The Darkness begins to seep through the house, manipulating the walls and shattering the floors as it chases them.

As they flee, Sara trips, and the Darkness uses Melissa’s form to try to lure her to it. Price activates a pulley that reveals an opening in the window of the attic. When the Darkness seeps into the attic, Price sacrifices himself to give the others time to escape, but the Darkness reactivates the iron gate after Sara escapes, trapping Eddie inside. When The Darkness confronts Eddie about his ancestor’s actions, it takes on several forms of all the guests who died during the party. Eddie screams out of desperation that he was actually adopted. As the Darkness prepares to assimilate Eddie, Pritchett’s ghost appears and opens the iron gate. The Darkness is distracted by Pritchett long enough for Eddie to escape out the window to Sara on an outside ledge. Pritchett’s ghost and the Darkness then both fade away. As Sara and Eddie watch the sun rise, they notice an envelope on the ledge. It contains all five $1 million checks, made out to cash. After the credits, a black-and-white film shows the patients torturing Evelyn and Price in the afterlife.

Overall the film starts like any other Hollywood horror but the clever direction, creepy music and imaginative visuals of Dr Vannacutt all create a creepy feel to the film that is better than the gore that also comes. The final section slides back into standard fare with the old CGI evil coming to get us – but up till then it’s surprisingly good stuff.

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REVIEW: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: SALAZAR’S REVENGE (AKA DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES)

CAST

Johnny Depp (Blow)
Javier Bardem (Skyfall)
Geoffrey Rush (Quills)
Brenton Thwaites (The Giver)
Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner)
Kevin McNally (Entrapment)
Golshifteh Farahani (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
David Wenham (Van Helsing)
Stephen Graham (Blow Dry)
Martin Klebba (Men in Black II)
Orlando Bloom (The Lord of The Rings)
Keira Knightley (The Hole)

Three years following the post-credits scene of At World’s End, 12-year old Henry Turner boards the Flying Dutchman to inform his father, Will Turner, that the mythical Trident of Poseidon is able to break his curse and free him from his ship, and of his intent to seek Jack Sparrow’s help to find it. Will does not believe the Trident exists and orders Henry to leave his ship and never come back.Nine years later (and five after the events of On Stranger Tides), Henry works on a British Royal Navy warship. While chasing a pirate ship, Henry realizes they are sailing into the Devil’s Triangle. The captain dismisses his concerns and has Henry locked up for attempting mutiny. Upon entering the Triangle, they come across a shipwreck, and are attacked by Captain Salazar and his undead crew, who slaughter everyone on board except Henry. Salazar sees that Henry is searching for Jack, spares his life and asks him to tell Jack that death is coming his way.In Saint Martin, a young woman named Carina Smyth has been sentenced to death for witchcraft because of her knowledge of astronomy and horology. She escapes her cell and briefly runs into Jack, who is fleeing with his crew with a vault from a bank they have just robbed. Jack and his crew evade the British Army, but realize the vault they stole is empty; Jack’s crew abandons him for letting them down. Carina later meets Henry, who is awaiting execution for his actions aboard the ship, and says she knows of a way to find the Trident. Carina helps him escape, but is caught by the British Army.Disheartened after losing his crew, Jack goes to a local tavern and gives away his compass to pay for his drink. By forsaking the compass, however, he unwittingly unleashes Salazar and his crew from the Devil’s Triangle. Shortly after, Jack is caught by the British Army. As he and Carina are about to be executed, Henry helps them escape with help from Jack’s crew, and together they sail away on Jack’s ship, the Dying Gull. Carina reveals a map that will lead them to the Trident, and reluctantly decides to team up with Henry and Jack in order to achieve their goals. While searching for Jack, Salazar and his crew roam the seas and destroy ships in Captain Barbossa’s fleet. Barbossa meets with Salazar and offers to help find Jack in exchange for sparing his fleet. Salazar explains to Barbossa that he and his crew once sailed the seas hunting and killing pirates, and had nearly cleansed the seas of piracy before they ran into a young Jack Sparrow, who tricked them into sailing into the Devil’s Triangle, where Salazar and his crew were cursed to remain undead.When Salazar’s ship finds the Dying Gull, Jack, Henry and Carina escape on a rowboat while the crew remains on board to cause a distraction. Salazar and his crew chase Jack, but upon arriving at a small island, Jack realizes Salazar’s ghost crew can’t step on land. Barbossa arrives at the island and allies with Jack, restoring the Black Pearl, which had been trapped in a bottle in Jack’s possession, to its original size. With Jack’s compass, which he obtained from the sea-witch Shansa, Barbossa takes command of the ship and lets Carina navigate them to the island. During the trip, Jack and Barbossa realize that Carina is Barbossa’s long lost daughter. Barbossa tells Jack that he left her at an orphanage with his diary to make sure she lived a better life, never imagining that he would see her again.The Pearl narrowly escapes a British Navy warship, which is destroyed by Salazar’s ship. Jack and Salazar’s crews clash. Meanwhile, Jack and Carina manage to activate the island’s magic, which parts the ocean to reveal a hidden path along the ocean floor. Salazar captures Henry and possesses his body to pursue them. Jack and Carina locate the trident, but Salazar intervenes, fighting Jack and seizing the Trident. Henry, now free of Salazar, realizes that destroying the Trident will break all curses upon the sea and shatters it, returning Salazar and his crew to life. As the divided sea slowly caves in, the Pearl attempts to rescue Jack, Henry, Carina, and Barbossa, lowering the ship’s anchor into the narrowing trench to pull them to safety, but—still intent on killing Jack—Salazar grabs the anchor as well. Carina notices a tattoo on Barbossa’s arm, matching the cover of her diary, and realizes that he is her father. After proclaiming his love for her, Barbossa sacrifices himself to take down Salazar and his crew and save Carina and the others. Following Barbossa’s death, Carina changes her last name to Barbossa.Some time later, Henry is joined by Carina, as they watch his father finally set foot on land again, no longer bound to the Flying Dutchman. As Henry and Carina kiss, Will is reunited with his wife Elizabeth. Watching from the deck of the Pearl, Jack sails away with his crew, opening up his mystical compass to reveal their next heading. In a post-credits scene, Will and Elizabeth are asleep when their bedroom is entered by the silhouette of an apparently resurrected Davy Jones. Just as Jones raises his clawed arm to strike at the couple, Will awakens and assumes this to be a nightmare, oblivious to the presence of barnacles on the floor amid a small puddle of seawater.Pirates of the Caribbean 5 is an amazing film. The acting is spectacular. The Visuals are splendid and the story is very impressive. I loved the film, my one complaint would be that Barbossa Dies.  The film was a great fun-filled ride and i personally can’t wait until the next one.

REVIEW: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES

CAST

Johnny Depp (Into The Woods)
Penelope Cruz (Grimsby)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
Ian McShane (Hercules)
Kevin McNally (Valkyrie)
Sam Clafin (The Quiet Ones)
Astrid Bergès-Frisbey (I Origins)
Keith Richards (The Simpsons)
Stephen Graham (Gangs of New York)
Richard Griffiths (Harry Potter)
Judi Dench (Skyfall)
Gemma Ward (The Great Gatsby)
Luke Roberts (Reign)

After a failed attempt to rescue his first mate, Joshamee Gibbs in London, Captain Jack Sparrow is brought before King George II. The king wants Jack to guide an expedition to the Fountain of Youth before King Ferdinand and the Spanish Navy can locate it. Jack’s old nemesis, Captain Hector Barbossa, now a privateer in service to the British Navy after losing his leg and ship, the Black Pearl, which he says was sunk, is heading the expedition. Jack refuses the offer and escapes. He meets up with his father, Captain Teague, who warns Jack about the Fountain’s rituals. Jack learns someone is impersonating him to recruit a crew to find the Fountain. The impostor is Angelica, Jack’s former lover, and the daughter of the ruthless pirate Blackbeard, who practices voodoo magic and wields the mythical “Sword of Triton” that controls his ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. While Jack is shanghaied aboard Blackbeard’s ship, Gibbs escapes execution by memorizing and destroying Jack’s map showing the Fountain’s location, forcing Barbossa to take him along.

Meanwhile, after a failed mutiny aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Jack is forced to guide the crew to the Fountain. Blackbeard seeks the Fountain’s power to circumvent his predestined fatal encounter with a “one-legged man”, who happened to be Barbossa. Jack must find two silver chalices aboard Juan Ponce de León’s missing flagship, the Santiago. The Fountain’s water must simultaneously be drunk by two people from the chalices. Drinking from one chalice containing a mermaid’s tear will extend life; the second person dies, their remaining years of life transferred to the other drinker. Jack also discovers that the Black Pearl was captured and shrunk before being added to Blackbeard’s collection of other shrunken ships in bottles.

The Queen Anne’s Revenge heads for Whitecap Bay to find and harvest mermaid tears. A mermaid named Syrena is caught, but Philip Swift, a captive missionary, falls in love with her. Reaching Ponce de León’s ship on an uncharted island, Angelica and Blackbeard coerce Jack into retrieving both chalices. Jack locates the grounded, decaying vessel, only to find Barbossa there. Both claim that the Spanish have taken the chalices, after it was nowhere to be found on the vessel.

Jack and Barbossa team up to sneak into the Spanish camp and steal the chalices. Barbossa reveals he only wants revenge against Blackbeard for attacking the Black Pearl, and his leg being amputated. Jack and Barbossa escape with the chalices. Meanwhile, Syrena, reciprocating Philip’s love, is tricked into shedding a tear. Blackbeard collects it, leaving her to die while Philip is forced to go with them. Jack returns with the chalices and bargains with Blackbeard for Angelica’s safety, Jack’s confiscated magical compass, and Gibbs’ release. In return, Jack vows to give Blackbeard the chalices and lead him to the Fountain; Blackbeard agrees, and Gibbs is set free with the compass.

At the Fountain, Blackbeard’s crew are confronted by Barbossa and his men and they battle while Barbossa and Blackbeard fight. The Spanish suddenly arrive, intending to destroy the Fountain, believing its power an abomination against God. When Barbossa stabs Blackbeard with a poisoned sword, Angelica pulls it out but is cut and poisoned. Barbossa obtains Blackbeard’s magic sword and gains control of the Queen Anne’s Revenge and her crew. Philip is mortally wounded, but he returns to free Syrena. She retrieves the missing chalices and gives them to Jack, telling him not to waste her tear. Syrena goes back to the dying Philip. She says she can save him if he asks her to. When he asks for her forgiveness, she takes him underwater.skeletyi-v-shkafuWith Blackbeard and Angelica both nearing death, Jack wants Angelica to drink from the chalice containing the tear. Instead, Blackbeard drinks it, asking his daughter to sacrifice herself. Angelica agrees and drinks from the second chalice. Anticipating that the self-serving Blackbeard would sacrifice his daughter, Jack lied about which chalice contained the tear to save Angelica’s life and Blackbeard’s soul. Angelica’s wounds are healed as the Fountain fatally consumes Blackbeard’s body. Although Angelica claimed she loves Jack, he distrusts her intentions and strands her on a cay. Now wielding Blackbeard’s magical sword, Barbossa captains the Queen Anne’s Revenge and returns to piracy.  Jack finds Gibbs, who had used the compass to locate the Revenge. He reclaimed the shrunken Black Pearl and the other conquered ships in bottles, carrying them in a gunny sack. The two leave, hoping to revert the Black Pearl to its original size. In a post-credits scene, a voodoo doll of Jack crafted by Blackbeard washes ashore and is found by grinning Angelica.On Stranger Tides is not a perfect film, but as an installment to a decent enough franchise it is a more than worthy one. I’m pretty sure if you’re looking for a good time going into it, you will have fun.

REVIEW: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END

CAST

Johnny Depp (Into The Woods)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
Orlando Bloom (Lord of The Rings)
Keira Knightley (Atonement)
Jack Davenport (Flash Forward)
Bill Nighy (Wrath of the Titans)
Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Mackenzie Crook (Solomon Kane)
Kevin McNally (Valkyrie)
Stellan Skarsgard (Avengvers Assemble)
Tom Hollander (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation)
Martin Klebba (The Cape)
Naomie Harris (Skyfall)
Chow Yun fat (Crouching Tiger, Hidden tiger)
Keith Richards (The Simpsons)
Marshall Manesh (How I Met Your Mother)

To control the oceans, Lord Cutler Beckett executes anyone associated with piracy by ordering Davy Jones to destroy all pirate ships in the seas. Condemned prisoners sing “Hoist the Colours” to compel the nine Pirate Lords to convene at Shipwreck Cove to hold the Brethren Court. Captain Jack Sparrow, one of the Pirate Lords, never named a successor. Captain Barbossa, along with Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann, Tia Dalma, and the crew of the Black Pearl, plot to rescue Jack from Davy Jones’s Locker. Travelling to Singapore, the crew meet Captain Sao Feng who owns navigational charts to the Locker. Beckett’s soldiers invade, but the crew escape. Feng and Turner make a deal to give Jack to Feng, so he in turn can use the Pearl to rescue his father Bootstrap Bill from the Flying Dutchman. The crew travels to the locker and rescues the marooned Jack. They find themselves trapped, encountering dead souls, including Elizabeth’s father Governor Swann. They learn the Dutchman must have a captain. Returning to the living world, the Pearl is attacked by Sao Feng and Beckett’s men. Through a complex series of deals, Elizabeth is handed over to Feng under the belief she is the goddess Calypso, while the rest of the crew make for Shipwreck Cove aboard the Pearl, though Jack later throws Will off the ship as part of the plan to seize control of the Dutchman. Sao Feng tells Elizabeth that the Brethren Court bound Calypso in human form after she betrayed her lover, Davy Jones. He plans to release her to defeat Beckett. Davy Jones attacks Feng’s ship, but Feng appoints Elizabeth his successor as Pirate Lord before dying. Admiral Norrington frees Elizabeth and her new crew from the Dutchman, but is killed by a crazed Bootstrap Bill.

The Black Pearl arrives at Shipwreck Cove where Barbossa attempts to persuade the Brethren Court to release Calypso. Jack’s father Captain Teague and Keeper of the Pirate Code, informs the Court that only an elected Pirate King can decide. A vote is taken. To avoid a stalemate, Jack casts his vote for Elizabeth, making her King. Davy Jones visits Tia Dalma in the Pearl’s brig, revealing she is Calypso, and they promise to be together again.

The Brethren Court and Beckett’s fleets emerge for war. On a sandbank, Elizabeth, Jack, Barbossa, Beckett, Jones, and Will parley, trading Will for Jack, and Barbossa steals Jack’s piece of eight, all of which are owned by the Pirate Lords and required to free Calypso. Barbossa frees Calypso, but when Will reveals it was Jones who imprisoned her, Calypso vanishes and summons an enormous maelstrom.

The Pearl and the Dutchman battle in the maelstrom. Elizabeth and Will are wed by Barbossa before swinging over to the Dutchman to aid Jack. On board the Dutchman, Jones and Jack engage in a duel, with Jones gaining the upper hand. Jones stabs Will with a sword, but Jack and Elizabeth have Will stab Jones’ heart. Jones dies, and falls in the maelstrom, free for all eternity. Will succumbs to his injuries. Jack and Elizabeth escape the Dutchman as it is sucked into the maelstrom. As Beckett’s ship, the Endeavour, approaches to destroy the Pearl, the Dutchman rises, now captained by Will, and the crew free of Jones’ curse. Together, the two pirate ships destroy the Endeavour, with a stunned Beckett going down with the ship while his army retreats. With Will now bound to escort souls lost at sea to the next world for ten years, Will and Elizabeth consummate their marriage before he departs on the Dutchman.

Jack and Joshamee Gibbs discover Barbossa has stolen the Black Pearl again, but Jack planned ahead and cut out Sao Feng’s navigational charts, departing from Tortuga alone to track down the mythical Fountain of Youth to become immortal. Ten years later, Elizabeth and her son watch from a sea cliff as Will returns aboard the Dutchman.

At World’s End is a great film, making superb use of its immense budget and wowing audiences with incredible set-pieces and climactic action.  At World’s End is a solidly entertaining film, held up by brilliant action

 

 

REVIEW: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST

CAST

Johnny Depp (Into The Woods)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
Orlando Bloom (Lord of The Rings)
Keira Knightley (Atonement)
Jack Davenport (Flash Forward)
Bill Nighy (Wrath of the Titans)
Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Mackenzie Crook (Solomon Kane)
Kevin McNally (Valkyrie)
Stellan Skarsgard (Avengvers Assemble)
Tom Hollander (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation)
Martin Klebba (The Cape)
Naomie Harris (Skyfall)
Derrick O’Connor (Alias)
Reggie Lee (The Dark Knight Rises)

The wedding of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann is interrupted by Lord Cutler Beckett of the East India Trading Company, who has arrest warrants for the couple as well as for Commodore James Norrington, for allowing Captain Jack Sparrow to escape execution. Norrington’s whereabouts are uncertain, as he resigned after his obsessive pursuit of Sparrow resulted in the Navy’s flagship, HMS Dauntless, being destroyed in a typhoon. Elizabeth is imprisoned, but Beckett promises to free her if Will tracks down Jack and brings Beckett Jack’s magic compass which points to whatever the holder wants most. Shortly after, Governor Swann tries to escape Port Royal with Elizabeth but is captured. Elizabeth negotiates with Beckett to let her escape to find the compass herself, and she hides aboard a Scottish merchant vessel, the Edinburgh Trader.
On the Black Pearl, Jack reunites with Will’s father Bootstrap Bill, who reveals he is a crewman on the Flying Dutchman, captained by Davy Jones, whom Jack previously made a deal with to raise the Pearl from the depths. Jack must join Jones’ crew or be dragged to Davy Jones’ Locker by the monstrous Kraken. Will eventually finds Jack’s crew on an island ruled by cannibals, from which they escape. The crew meet voodoo priestess Tia Dalma (Naomie Harris), who tells them Jones’ weakness is his heart, locked within the Dead Man’s Chest. Locating the Dutchman, Will is shanghaied into service while Jones sends Jack to bring him one-hundred souls so his blood debt can be paid. On the Dutchman, Will meets his father, and learns that the chest’s key is in Jones’ possession. After playing a game of liar’s dice against Davy Jones, Bootstrap helps Will escape with the key, but Jones sends the Kraken after him, sinking the Edinburgh Trader.
In Tortuga, Jack hires a new crew, including Elizabeth, and Norrington, now a drunk. All parties arrive on Isla Cruces where the chest is buried but a three-way sword fight breaks out between Jack, Will, and Norrington who all want the heart for their respective goals: Jack wants to call off the Kraken, Will wants to rescue his father, and Norrington wants to regain his life. In the chaos, Jack obtains Jones’ heart and hides it in a jar of dirt, but Norrington secretly steals the heart and runs off pretending to lure away the Dutchman’s crew. Jones attacks the Pearl with the Kraken, which devours most of the crew and destroys all but one of the Pearl’s lifeboats, but Jack, who briefly fled, returns and wounds it with a net full of explosives.

Jack orders the survivors to abandon ship, but Elizabeth manacles him to the mast so that the crew can escape the Kraken. Jack manages to break free, but is dragged down to the bottom of the sea by the Kraken. Jones discovers his heart is missing and rages. In Port Royal, Norrington approaches Beckett and gives him the heart and Letters of Marque meant for Jack, allowing him back into the navy as well as allowing Beckett to gain control of Davy Jones and the seas. The Pearl’s crew take shelter with Tia Dalma, where they all agree to rescue Jack. Tia Dalma introduces the captain that will guide them: the resurrected Captain Barbossa.Yes it is darker, much darker than the original. But I think the darkness only adds to the film. It makes the film more credible, rather than a children’s story.

REVIEW: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL

CAST

Johnny Depp (Into The Woods)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
Orlando Bloom (Lord of The Rings)
Keira Knightley (Atonement)
Jack Davenport (Flash Forward)
Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Mackenzie Crook (Solomon Kane)
Kevin McNally (Valkyrie)
Zoe Saldana (Star Trek)
Martin Klebba (The Cape)

In the early 18th Century while sailing to Port Royal, Jamaica, Governor Weatherby Swann, his daughter Elizabeth, and Lieutenant James Norrington encounter a burning shipwreck and recover a young boy, Will Turner. Elizabeth discovers a golden pirate medallion around his neck, but keeps it so as to protect him. As boats are launched to scour the wreck, Elizabeth sees a ghost ship vanishing into the fog. Eight years later, Norrington is promoted to Commodore and proposes to Elizabeth, but her tight corset makes her faint and fall into the sea. Will’s necklace, which she is wearing, casts a summoning spell. Captain Jack Sparrow comes to Port Royal intending to commandeer a ship, and rescues her. Norrington identifies Jack, and a chase ensues. Jack runs into Will, now a blacksmith and talented swordsman. They duel, and Jack is knocked unconscious, and captured and imprisoned.

That night, the Black Pearl, the ship Elizabeth saw as a child, attacks Port Royal in search of the medallion that summoned it. Two pirates capture Elizabeth and take her to meet Captain Barbossa for negotiations. Elizabeth says her last name is Turner, to conceal her identity as the governor’s daughter, but Barbossa takes her as prisoner. Elizabeth tries and fails to kill him, and Barbossa reveals that after his crew took the Aztec treasure of Cortés from Isla de Muerta, they were cursed as immortals, and they appear as skeletons in moonlight. To lift the curse, they need to return all 882 gold pieces and sacrifice the blood of the owner of each piece. Elizabeth’s medallion is the final piece.

Will Turner frees Jack from prison to rescue his love Elizabeth. Jack agrees upon learning Will’s surname. The two commandeer the HMS Interceptor, infuriating Norrington, and head for the lawless port of Tortuga to recruit a crew. Among the crew is Jack’s friend Joshamee Gibbs. Jack reveals that Will’s father Bootstrap Bill Turner was a pirate, which confuses and angers the law-abiding Will. Gibbs tells Will that Jack was captain of the Black Pearl until Barbossa mutinied and marooned him on an island; Jack escaped and vowed revenge on Barbossa. At Isla de Muerta, Will and Jack witness Barbossa sacrificing Elizabeth’s blood and the final gold piece. However, the curse is not lifted because the medallion did not belong to Elizabeth; it belonged to Bootstrap Bill, making Will the owner by bloodline. Will rescues Elizabeth and brings her to the “Interceptor”, while Jack and his crew confront Barbossa aboard the “Pearl” and get locked in the brig.

The Pearl pursues the Interceptor, taking the crew hostage and destroying the ship. Will makes a deal with Barbossa to let Elizabeth go free in exchange for his blood to lift the curse, but Barbossa exploits a loophole in the agreement and maroons Jack and Elizabeth on the same island Jack was left on before. Elizabeth makes a smoke signal, and Commodore Norrington brings the “HMS Dauntless” to rescue Elizabeth and arrest Jack. Elizabeth requests Norrington to return for Will, convincing him by accepting his marriage proposal. That night, the Dauntless arrives at Isla de Muerta. Jack plans to lure the pirates out to be ambushed by the crew of the “Dauntless”, but the plan goes awry when Barbossa’s crew walks underwater to attack Dauntless. Elizabeth escapes the “Dauntless” and frees Jack’s crew from the brig of the Pearl. However, they refuse to help her rescue Will, so Elizabeth sets out on her own. Jack seemingly reaches a deal with Barbossa to operate a pirate fleet, but suddenly frees Will and engages in a duel with Barbossa, while Elizabeth and Will fight off Barbossa’s crew. Barbossa eventually stabs Jack, but Jack is revealed to be under the immortal curse as well, having taken and kept a piece of gold from Cortez’s chest. He reveals the entire deception as a coup to win back the Pearl. Jack shoots Barbossa, and Will simultaneously drops the final medallion into the chest, with his blood on it. The curse is now lifted, causing Barbossa to become mortal; Barbossa dies from Jack’s gunshot, and the rest of Barbossa’s crew are captured or killed by the Navy. Jack, Elizabeth, and Will escape the island.

Upon returning to Port Royal, Jack is led to the gallows to be hanged for piracy. Elizabeth diverts Norrington’s attention and Will attempts a rescue, but Will and Jack are surrounded and held at gunpoint. Elizabeth intercedes and declares her love for Will, leaving Norrington crestfallen. Jack dives into the sea and escapes aboard the Black Pearl, which is waiting nearby. Governor Swann pardons Will and gives his blessing for Elizabeth to marry him. Norrington decides to permit Jack and the Pearl “one day’s head start” before initiating pursuit. In a post-credits scene, Barbossa’s pet monkey steals a piece of gold from the chest and regains immortality.

Pirates is a cracking film, full of humour, action and pirate satire and has a wide appeal. If you haven’t seen it yet, which really is highly unlikely, then just buy it .

REVIEW: SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE

CAST

Joseph Fiennes (Flashforward)
Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron man)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)
Tom Wilkinson (Batman Begins)
Martin Clunes (Doc Martin)
Simon Callow (Amadeus)
Judi Dench (Skyfall)
Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake)
Colin Firth (Love Actually)
Mark Williams (Harry Potter)
Ben Affleck (Batman V Superman)
Rupert Everett (Shrek 2)

In 1593 London, William Shakespeare is a sometime player in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and poor playwright for Philip Henslowe, owner of The Rose Theatre. Shakespeare is working on a new comedy, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter. Suffering from writer’s block, he has barely begun the play, but starts auditioning players. Viola de Lesseps, the daughter of a wealthy merchant, who has seen Shakespeare’s plays at court, disguises herself as “Thomas Kent” to audition, then runs away. Shakespeare pursues Kent to Viola’s house and leaves a note with the nurse, asking Thomas Kent to begin rehearsals at the Rose. He sneaks into the house with the minstrels playing that night at the ball, where her parents are arranging her betrothal to Lord Wessex, an impoverished aristocrat. While dancing with Viola, Shakespeare is struck speechless, and after being forcibly ejected by Wessex, uses Thomas Kent as a go-between to woo her. Wessex also asks Will’s name, to which he replies that he is Christopher Marlowe.When he discovers her true identity, they begin a secret affair. Inspired by her, Shakespeare writes quickly, with help from his friend and rival playwright Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlowe, completely transforming the play into what will become Romeo and Juliet. Then, Viola is summoned to court to receive approval for her proposed marriage to Lord Wessex. Shakespeare accompanies her, disguised as her female cousin. There, he persuades Wessex to wager £50 that a play can capture the true nature of love, the exact amount Shakespeare requires to buy a share in the Chamberlain’s Men. Queen Elizabeth I declares that she will judge the matter when the occasion arises.

When Richard Burbage, owner of the Curtain, finds out that Shakespeare has cheated him out of both money and the play, he goes to the Rose Theatre with his Curtain Theatre Company and starts a brawl. The Rose Theatre company drives Burbage and his company out and then celebrate at the local pub.

Viola is appalled when she learns Shakespeare is married, albeit separated from his wife, and she realises she cannot escape her duty to marry Wessex. Will discovers that Marlowe is dead, and thinks he is to blame. Lord Wessex suspects an affair between Shakespeare and his bride-to-be. Because Wessex thinks that Will is Kit Marlowe, he approves of Kit’s death, and tells Viola the news. It is later learned that Marlowe had been killed in an accident. Viola finds out that Will is still alive, and declares her love for him.

When Edmund Tilney, the Master of the Revels, is informed there is a woman player at The Rose, he closes the theatre for breaking the ban on women. Viola’s identity is exposed, leaving them without a stage or lead actor, until Richard Burbage offers them his theatre. Shakespeare takes the role of Romeo, with a boy actor as Juliet. Following her wedding, Viola learns that the play will be performed that day, and runs away to the Curtain. Planning to watch with the crowd, Viola overhears that the boy playing Juliet cannot perform, and offers to replace him. While she plays Juliet to Shakespeare’s Romeo, the audience is enthralled, despite the tragic ending, until Master Tilney arrives to arrest everyone for indecency due to Viola’s presence.

But the Queen is in attendance and restrains Tilney, instead asserting that Kent’s resemblance to a woman is, indeed, remarkable. However, even a queen is powerless to end a lawful marriage, and she orders Kent to “fetch” Viola because she must sail with Wessex to the Colony of Virginia. The Queen also tells Wessex, who followed Viola to the theatre, that Romeo and Juliet has won the bet for Shakespeare, and has Kent deliver his £50 with instructions to write something “a little more cheerful next time, for Twelfth Night”.

Viola and Shakespeare say their goodbyes, and he vows to immortalise her, as he imagines the beginnings of Twelfth Night, imagining her as a castaway disguised as a man after a voyage to a strange land.

Stoppard certainly knows what he’s about: The plot is delightful and the references elegant, clever parodies if you spot them or inconspicuous parts of the plot if you don’t. And the references are on all levels: to Shakespeares plays, his unknown life and the many theories that have been made about it, and his writer and actor collegues Will’s muse is Violet, played wonderfully by Gwyneth Paltrow, who shows off in this film her finest acting to date and credibly pulls off the tricky task of being both an object of poetic inspiration and a genuine, down-to-earth human being.