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

“The worst pirate we’ve heard of” returns in the fifth installment of the franchise.

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If The Fast and the Furious can get 8 movies, then Pirates of the Caribbean can do so as well. In its latest addition to the franchise, Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush welcome new characters portrayed by Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, and Kaya Scodelario.

Five years after On Stranger Tides, Captain Jack Sparrow is down on his luck; he lost his crew, his ship, and a sense of purpose. Imprisoned, he meets Henry Turner (Thwaites), the son of William Turner (Orlando Bloom), who asks for his assistance in retrieving the Trident of Poseidon and informs him that Captain Salazar (Bardem) and his cursed Spanish crew are coming their way to kill him. With the help of the intelligent Carina Smyth (Scodelario) and Jack’s old pirate crew, they sail away in search of the infamous artifact.

Though this is the first movie in the franchise not to feature Hans Zimmer’s music, the soundtrack is still beautiful to listen to. The main theme still has remnants of the past theme, yet it is still fresh.

Both Thwaites and Scodelario are effective as solo characters. Their own character arcs are well-motivated and relatable. Their romance sub-plot, however, feels forced and is just a bootleg version of Will Turner-Elizabeth Swann.

Captain Salazar has the motivation of almost all Pirates bad guys, but Bardem manages to make it feel personal. His Captain Ahab-level obsession to kill Sparrow has lead to his demises (yeah, plural). There were time when I had a hard time understanding him though.

Johnny Depp has portrayed the character for over 14 years (sometimes in Disneyland). Evident in the latter movies, Jack Sparrow walks in a very thin line of being a parody or caricature of himself. The Curse of the Black Pearl portrayal has always been my favorite.

The story in itself is nothing new. Change a few character names and artifact names here and there, and you soon realize you’re basically watching the same thing.

SPOILER ALERT

However, the scene between Barbossa (Rush) and Carina, who was revealed to be her long lost daughter, is completely surprising and emotional…or maybe I have a soft spot for father scenes/stories.

Also, despite appearing to be the last movie in the franchise, the post-credits scene at the end tells us otherwise.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales features the same story with minute differences. Let us all hope that the next movie ends this franchise with a satisfying bang because Dead Men Tell No Tales is…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

Bliss Movie Review

Jerrold Tarog delves into the bad side of dreams in his latest psycho-thriller…

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Along with the likes of Ian Veneracion and TJ Trinidad, Iza Calsado stars in Bliss, a psycho-thriller movie where everything seems uncertain.

Actress Jane Ciego (Calsado) stars as Abigail in her latest movie, Bliss. Due to a freak accident on set, she is left bedridden in a faraway house. Despite the attempts of her husband Carlo (TJ Trinidad) to calm her down, Jane becomes suspicious of her true condition in the house. Her creepy nurse Lilibeth (Adrienne Vergara) only increases her anxiety even more. As the movie progresses, twists, turns, and reveals only questioned the predicament she is in. Is everything real? Is it all a bad dream? Or is it something far worse?

The number one positive of the movie is its music. Thanks to director Tarog’s musical background, the music of the movie achieves in inserting suspense to the viewers’ minds. Once the music hits, you expect nasty things to come up.

Iza Calsado’s portrayal of Jane/Abigail is amazing. It is entertaining to watch her slow descent to madness.

But here we go…

The biggest issues I had with the movie are its slow pacing and poor storytelling.

This is a slowburn movie. And with slowburn movies, you got to have a big payoff. Examples of good slowburn movies are UnbreakableSplit, and Predestination. The pacing of these films are slow, but the rewards at the end make it all worth it…just like courting the love of your life. In Bliss, the so-called “payoff’ at the end weighs almost nothing due to the poor storytelling of the movie.

SPOILER ALERT

Even the best horror, psychological, or thriller films use the first minutes of its duration to set up the world of the story. Sometimes, the first act will take up a third of the story. This lets the viewers have a sense of the average life of the characters. So…when the suspense hits the fan (or in this case, the question of whether everything’s real or not), the viewers would be as scared/anxious/confused as the characters. But the viewers will never be scared/anxious/confused in this movie, because the movie constantly reminds you that it is all in Jane’s head! From Carlo’s scenes in the hospital to director Lexter Palao’s (Audie Gemora) interview with the Reporter (Michael de Mesa), nothing is a secret; nothing is a mystery… That Lexter interview alone is enough to spoon-feed the audience to obesity.

Also, some unnecessary scenes should have been deleted! Obiously, the Lexter interview has got to go! Also, the sub-plot between Carlo and Jane’s assistant (Stephanie Sol) only wasted my time. A lot of scenes/minutes were invested in this sub-plot, but no payoff at all!

Lastly (and a bit nitpicky) is how TJ Trinidad suddenly shifts to English in his dialogue. Good scenes/line deliveries ended anticlimactically due to the sudden shift in language. Maybe it is his way of saying it?

Watching the trailer of Bliss gave me a lot of hope and expectations, but it was all taken away. Even with good actors, the movie extremely suffered from its poor storytelling. Without a doubt, this is…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY

Luck at First Sight Movie Review

Luck and Fate play tag in director Dan Villegas’ latest rom-com flick.

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Directed by Dan Villegas (Walang Forever and English Only, Please), this movie shows the first pairing of Jericho Rosales and Bela Padilla in a rom-com.

Joma (Rosales), a struggling gambler, is down on his luck. His neighbors demand him to pay his debts; he has no money; and bad luck seems to follow him. Desperate, he bought a green marble that will help him find his life charm. This leads him to meet Diane (Padilla), a woman who manages his sick father’s drugstore. Due to possibly luck, everytime Joma and Diane touch each other, good luck (particularly money) comes knocking. They used their good luck to win gambles and make money. There is only one rule though… If they want the good luck to continuously prosper, they should not fall in love with each other.

First, let me tell you about what I like about this movie. There is obvious chemistry between Jericho Rosales and Bela Padilla. Their interactions and “falling in love” scenes are cliche, true…But it still manages to be organic because of the movie’s two stars. Jericho Rosales has proved that even at his age (even joked at the film), he is still a heartthrob and a good partner to any star. Also, I love it when he acts like a desperate gambler. It is pitiful and pathetic at the same time.

The scene stealers of the show have to be Kate (Kim Molina) and Boggs (Cholo Baretto), who portrayed Diane’s cousin and Joma’s cousin, respectively. They provided most of the comic relief.

However, the movie suffers a lot of problems.

First, it is plagued with rom-com cliches. Even with a relatively new concept (life charm), the story depends heavily with methods used a hundred times in rom-coms. In fact, an equation such as “gambler with lots of debts+woman with sick father+life charm+rule about not falling in love=this movie” left little to the imagination. The story unraveled the way I expect it to be. Scenes went by the way I expect it to be. There was a formula, and the filmmakers followed it religiously.

BUT, the last scene of the movie may have went to a better ending (once you get to know the main characters), but sadly it decided to go to the comfortable ending. It was pretty much a downer for me.

SPOILER ALERT

Second, an established characteristic of Joma was thrown out the window in the last 30 minutes of the movie: his bad luck in gambling… It would not make sense for him to suddenly be that good in gambling. If he was that good in gambling, then he does not need Diane in the first place, and that would only contradict the very set-up of this movie. Though it lazily explains why (THE POWER OF LOVE), that only raises new questions! Why hasn’t Joma’s “love” for his family/abandoned home not enough to give him this amazing gambling skills? Does it have to be sexual love for it to work? It’s like that Frozen plothole again…

Lastly (though it is a bit nitpicky), Jeric Raval was underutilized in this movie. Instead of Thou Reyes, he could have been the film’s antagonist. I have to be clear though…Thou Reyes is actually an entertaining antagonist in this movie.

Luck at First Sight suffers from cliche, cliche, and most importantly cliche, and only the incredible chemistry of its actors managed to save this from being a bore and a cringe fest. This is…

GREAT GOOD BAD UGLY