Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (Cinema Review)

12A – 129mins – 2017 – 3D


 

THE POWER OF THE SEA

After six years on dry land – the longest gap between installments in Disney’s “savvy” saga to date – Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny “Mad Hatter” Depp) has set sail on blockbuster seas for the fifth time in Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (or the mouthful that is Dead Men Tell No Tales, as it is known Stateside), after both script and budgetary issues blighted initial 2015, then 2016, departures from dock.

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When Marnie Was There (DVD Review)

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U – 103mins – 2014


 

FINE ON THE OUTSIDE

Transposing the setting of Joan G. Robinson’s 1967 children’s book from North Norfolk to Sapporo, Japan, Arrietty director Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s second feature film is otherwise respectfully dutiful to its classic source material – a book which Studio Ghibli founder Hayau Miyazaki proclaimed one of his top fifty children’s stories of all time.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Cinema Review)

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12A – 133mins – 2016 – 3D


SUPER TROOPERS

Ostensibly an orphan, Jyn Erso (Felicity Inferno Jones) has had a less than rosy upbringing after her mother was gunned down and her science officer father, Galen (Mads Doctor Strange Mikkelsen), kidnapped by the Galactic Empire to assist them in completing their “planet killing” orbital monstrosity, the Death Star. Rescued from an Imperial camp, Jyn is recruited by Mon Mothma (Revenge of the Sith’s Genevieve O’Reilly) and the Rebel Alliance to join Cassian Andor’s (Diego Luna) ragtag team of Rebels on a mission to track down Galen and seize the plans to the super-weapon in order to locate a weakness.

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Moana (Cinema Review)

Doctor Strange (Cinema Review)

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12A – 115mins – 2016 – 3D


 

THE DOORS OF PERCEPTION

“Leave behind everything you thought you knew…”

A career-ending car accident sees astonishing-but-arrogant New York neurosurgeon Stephen Strange (Benedict Black Mass Cumberbatch) traverse the globe in search of revolutionary and non-traditional healing techniques to cure his damaged hands. In Kathmandu, Nepal he is introduced to The Ancient One (Tilda Trainwreck Swinton), a master of the mystic arts who harnesses the desperate doctor’s spiritual powers to unleash his full potential.

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Finding Dory (Cinema Review)

U – 103mins – 2016 – 3D


 

THE JEWEL OF MORRO BAY

Seven years after a Pixar-less sequel was planned by Disney/Circle 7 and scuppered before production began, original Finding Nemo writer and director, Andrew Stanton and co-scribe Victoria Strouse started work on an official sea-quel to his beloved Oscar winning search and rescue adventure in 2013.

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Pete’s Dragon (Cinema Review)

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PG – 103mins – 2016 – 3D


 

TALL TALES OF TALL TAILS

I always thought I enjoyed Disney’s original 1977 version of Pete’s Dragon. But despite featuring a Who Framed Roger Rabbit?-preceding cartoon title character (courtesy of Don The Land Before Time Bluth), the Mickey Rooney-starring live action musical showcased some frankly cringeworthy song and dance numbers, cheesy overacting and “brazzle dazzle brilliance” aplenty… Trying to watch it again as an adult was an onerous task, and one I did not complete.

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Alice Through the Looking Glass (Cinema Review)

PG – 113mins – 2016 – 3D


 

THE MATTER WITH THE HATTER

First announced four years ago, The Muppets resurrector James Bobin inherited the directorial top hat from Tim Burton (who stayed on in the capacity of producer) for this slow-tracked sequel to Disney’s 2010 live action Lewis Carroll remake.

“You’ve been gone too long, Alice.”

In the years following Alice’s (Crimson Peak’s Mia Wasikowska) slaying of the Jabberwocky and return to the sexist reality of 19th Century life, she has followed in her sea-fairing father’s footsteps as Captain of The Wonder. Upon debarking, Captain Kingsleigh is distraught to learn her father is dead and her spurned former fiancé, Hamish (Leo Bill), is now her boss, smarmily demanding she be demoted to clerk – no wonder our free-thinking heroine is desperate to escape once more to the dreamlike surrealism of Underland!

Stylistically in keeping with the colour-crowded, CG-heavy Alice in Wonderland, Looking Glass takes an “un-impossible” turn for the darker when the old gang of flamboyant friends tells Alice that the clown-faced Mad Hatter (Johnny Black Mass Depp) is dying of depression following the dim discovery that his estranged family of ginger hat-makers (headed by patriarch Rhys Ifans) have perished.

Desperate to put the colour back in his ghost-white cheeks, Alice tasks herself with entering the Grand Clock Tower and procuring the Chronosphere (think H.G. Well’s antique contraption mixed with General Grievous’ wheel bike) from Time (Grimsby’s Sacha Baron Cohen) himself, allowing her to journey back on the oceans of time to save the tragic Hightopp brood. But can you ever really change the past, or simply learn from it?

The grandiose time travel concept (Time is a he who has automaton Seconds for minions, who in times of need can club together into larger Minutes and giant Hours) is cleverly constructed, however no matter how poetic the plot or nifty the FX, I still don’t ever believe that the human actors are really anywhere but in front of a green screen – no matter how affected their accents or kooky their clothes.

Alice PosterDiverting from Carroll’s prose, Looking Glass successfully manages to pack more of an emotional wallop than its superficial predecessor thanks to an entangled backstory which reveals the reasons for the White (Anne Hathaway) and Red Queen’s (Helena Bonham Carter) sisterly squabbles – and the awkward medical justification for the latter’s inflated bonce. However, a lot of the surreal side characters feel like little more than frivolous window dressing in this “curiouser and curiouser” continuation which will put a Cheshire Cat-sized grin on the lips of those who loved Burton’s interpretation, but won’t convert any detractors.

CR@B Verdict: 3 stars

The Jungle Book (Cinema Review)

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PG – 108mins – 2016


 

UNCANNY FANGY

With revenge-hungry Bengal tiger Shere Khan (the voice of Idris Elba) vowing to murder him as payback for the disfiguring scars man’s “red flower” (fire) left him with, abandoned man-cub Mowgli (Neel Sethi) is forced to flee the pack of his wolfen guardians and return to the human outpost on the jungle’s edge. As he makes his way through the dense Indian vegetation, young Mowgli encounters all manner of furry friends and ferocious foes in this extravagant coming-of-age ‘tail’.

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