Archive for Javier Bardem

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2017 by Tom Austin-Morgan

The fifth instalment of the Pirates franchise hit the screen this week, the big question is: Did anyone other than Johnny Depp really ask for this film?

This is the second of the series not to be directed by Gore Verbinski, the fourth – On Stranger Tides – having been directed by Rob Marshall, who really pared back a lot of the extravagance that Verbinski packed into the bloated Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s EndSalazar’s Revenge has two directors, Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, and as much as there is no real sense of different ‘voices’, it’s not entirely coherent either.

As far as these films go, this is basically ticks all the boxes: Johnny Depp doing his drunken Keith Richards/David Bowie as a pirate impression, implausible CG galleon battles, cursed pirate crews, a score that beats you into submission during the action set-pieces, returning characters, risqué jokes, basically everything you expect. The problem with Salazar’s Revenge is that nothing is quite right.

The CG is a bit ropey, especially the zombie sharks, the film was shot for 3D (which I didn’t even realise was still a thing) so there are lots of pointy things and explody things shooting towards you, and it always stands out when you watch in 2D. The jokes are more suggestive than ever, and the gender politics in the franchises universe are more draconian than ever (anyone remember there were women in high-ranking positions in the previous films? Even Knightly managed to become Queen of the Pirates! Here the single female character is branded a witch time and time again) the cameo from a famous pop star is even more clumsily shoe-horned-in than Keith Richards’ – which actually made sense. And Johnny Depp seems to have been given free-reign to basically just do whatever he wants while having fewer and fewer lines of dialogue. In fact, the dialogue he does manage to spit out is now virtually unintelligible as his drunken slurring has been turned up to 11 in this film, especially during the opening scenes.

Luckily, the talents of Geoffrey Rush and Javier Bardem manage to serve as balance to Depp’s mad ramblings, although Bardem is basically playing a pantomime villain. Newcomer Kaya Scodelariois a breath of fresh air as Carina Smyth, the woman of science trying to track down her absent father. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner, the son of Bloom and Knightly’s characters, he’s just as wet and weak as Bloom and Sam Claflin’s character from On Stranger Tides. This franchise really has a thing for tepid male supporting characters.

The plot centres around a cursed crew of Spanish pirates(?) who are set free after years being confined to some sort of cave and who are out to get the person who put them there in the first place: Sparrow. Various characters are looking for the Trident of Poseidon (which, the more it’s said, the stupider it sounds) that will break the curse. The list of people included in tracking down the Trident of Poseidon (see?!) includes the English, who want to use its power to rule the sea… but even though they’re set up to be powerful secondary protagonists they seem to get forgotten by the writers halfway through the film. Adventure ensues, a central character is killed-off and that’s about it.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge – and the franchise in general – is the movie equivalent of popcorn. It has no real calorific content, it’s probably not good for you, but it tastes quite nice at the time until you have too much of it and you start feeling sick, however you start to feel hungry again soon after finishing. Th film passes a couple of hours, but is completely forgettable and not very good. But at least Mr Depp will be able to pay some of his legal fees with the earnings, if the press is to be believed he’s going to need it, so expect many more adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow in the coming years.


Review: Skyfall

Posted in Film with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2012 by Tom Austin-Morgan

I’ve left it a while to write this review because I didn’t want to get swept away in the torrent of critical acclaim that gushed forth from pretty much everyone at the time of release. Perspective often helps to shape a more truthful review and I felt that people were so relieved that this was immeasurably better than Quantum of Solace that their reviews sounded a little too raving.

So, Skyfall is the film to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the franchise and, as such, had to be a massive improvement on the previous film to keep Bond relevant enough and viable to keep on funding. Enter Director Sam Mendes to see what he can bring to the table after the forgettable effort of Marc Forster, though the failure of Quantum of Solace was not entirely his fault, as the script was written during the writer’s strike and Forster had to pad out the sparse dialogue with Jason Bourne style action sequences which made it feel nothing like a Bond film, the complete opposite of what was set up by Casino Royale a couple of years before it.

What Mendes and his writers have done is move back towards the more self-contained nature of the Bond films instead of the episodic formula introduced to the franchise along with Daniel Craig. This is not a continuation of the story and, in some cases, is reminiscent of The Dark Knight Rises; Bond, like Bruce Wayne, has taken some time out and is a shadow of his former self, in a physical sense, but must rebuild himself for one more confrontation because his sense of duty outweighs his longing to give up.

We start with a sprawling chase sequence through Istanbul which involves cars being crashed through markets, motorbikes being driven on roofs and through windows and finally a train with Bond chasing the villain with the aid of a JCB. Finally after a fist fight on top of the train Bond is accidentally shot by a fellow operative, Eve (Naomie Harris), after being given the order by M (Dame Judi Dench). In all this time you forget that you haven’t even seen the iconic title sequence yet, which is praise enough for Mendez. The title song by Adele has the classic crooning soul feel that inspires memories of classic bond themes like ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ by Shirley Bassey and the visuals are evocative of the Roger Moore/Sean Connery films.

It takes a while to get Bond back to London and in the meantime we focus on M and her mistake of losing a hard drive with the names of MI6 agents, which is the reason for the ‘death’ of Bond. This sounds like a preposterous gaffe for the head of MI6 to make, but if you look back through the news in the last few years spies, MPs and military officers are always leaving laptops, hard drives and dossiers on trains! In fact, this is less of a Bond film and more of a film about M. Or at least the relationship between the two…and the main villain.

Javier Bardem plays Silva, a former MI6 agent who was given up by M while being tortured and has got his hands on the top-secret information and has started giving away the spies identities on Youtube…not to mention destroying MI6 headquarters. His entrance doesn’t happen until a long way into the film, but when it does it is a brilliant scene. He has the scariest hair in Bond history and treads the line between unstable and unflappable precariously. The first encounter between Bond and Silva brims with sexual tension with Silva caressing Bond while commenting on his physique with Bond quipping lines back at Silva to throw his bravado back at him.

The film is 143 minutes long but never drags, in fact there were some sequences that had me on the edge of my seat, literally. Towards the end Bond steals M away to his ancestral home in Scotland for the final confrontation. With the help of the groundskeeper, Kinkade (Albert Finney), they rig the house with booby traps which is reminiscent of a grown up Home Alone. This is the point in the film that lost me slightly because it seemed that there was less at stake because the action – of which there is an insane amount – is taking place on a remote lodge in the middle of nowhere. But then again, the point of this film is the relationship between the two men and their boss, so perhaps it is right that it came down to a showdown between the three of them. The last confrontation of Silva and M is another of the moments where you get completely immersed in the tension.

By the end of the film we have been introduced to a couple of significant characters, namely Q, played brilliantly by Ben Wishaw and Moneypenny, we are also reintroduced, albeit briefly, to the DB5 from Goldfinger complete with ejector seat and machine guns. Which doesn’t really make a lot of sense in the scheme of things, but then Craig’s bond does drive a DB5 in Casino Royale.

In the end this is a break from the serial nature of the last two Bond films, but after the failure of Quantum of Solace, the only way to go was as a standalone film. And although some of the call backs to previous films were a bit awkward, on the whole this was a barnstorming success and warrants the continuation of one of the biggest franchises in film. If you’ve not seen it already you’re missing out.