Movie Reviews #46…

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Ronning and Sandberg, dirs. One thing I strive for in my series of books is consistency. In the five movies in this movie series, there is none. I guess Disney doesn’t care as long as the movie makes money. If you take it as a stand-alone, it’s a mixed bag, with other flaws I will describe.

Depp is his usual mumbling, bumbling self as Jack Sparrow, of course. Bardem is OK as Salazar, although he tends to overact. Rush is much better as Barbossa (obviously the better actor in the trio). And I didn’t care at all for the romantic duo, so I won’t even tell you who they are.

If you think this looks awfully like the previous movies (emphasis on the “awfully”), you’re right. Magic and fantasy take precedence, of course, and the movie plays the usual havoc with history, a characteristic of Hollywood in general and Disney in particular. I’m just tired of the whole series—more tired of it than the Star Wars one. Maybe people go for the driving music (it gave me a headache) and the visuals (often blurred and lost in obscurity).

I guess that production crew of thousands listed in the credits must stay employed. Speaking of the credits, there’s an end piece after the credits that tries to set up another “sequel” (without the consistency, though, it’s hard to call any one movie the sequel to the previous one). If you haven’t reached the two-Excedrin level with the music, which accompanies that long list of credits, wait for the end piece and tell me via email what sequel they’re trying to set up—another ho-hum movie adrift in blockbuster seas?

Wonder Woman. Patty Jenkins, dir. I’m not sure this is the celebration of feminism that reviewers want it to be, but it’s a lot of fun, and it features a kick-ass female who reminds me of some of my own characters. Gal Gadot does a great job as Diana and Chris Pines excels as Steve, the British spy who lands a stolen German plane in the Amazons’ lagoon. Viewers can debate which actor, Gadot or Lynda Carter, is more ravishing, but they’re both ex-beauty queens. I suspect Gadot does a lot of her own stunts; she taught combat during her tour in the Israeli army. Look for more Gadot in future films.

This is an origins story that’s a bit long and convoluted with some obvious questions like: What became of the German battleship? Why did the villain send the heroes to the WWI frontlines instead of killing them outright in London? Why doesn’t Wonder Woman grow old if she grew from a child to a woman? And why did her mother worry about her safety in training as an Amazon warrior knowing her secret past?

Again, the driving, pounding music gave me a headache, but that’s par for the course in these Hollywood action thrillers. Visual effects are fantastic, though.

If you like these movies derived from comic characters (the first for Wonder Woman if you discount her brief appearance in Batman v. Superman—which just about stole the show, I might add), this is a great movie to see.


Rembrandt’s Angel. To what lengths would you go to recover a stolen masterpiece? Scotland Yard’s Arts and Antiques Inspector Esther Brookstone goes the extra mile. She and paramour/sidekick Bastiann van Coevorden, an Interpol agent, set out to outwit the dealers of stolen art and recover “An Angel with Titus’ Features,” a Rembrandt painting stolen by the Nazis in World War Two. Their efforts lead to much more, as they uncover an international conspiracy that threatens Europe. During their dangerous adventures, their relationship solidifies and becomes a full-blown romance. Published by Penmore Press, this novel is available in ebook format at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, B&N, and Apple, and in print through Amazon or your local bookstore (if they don’t have it, ask them to order it). Great summer reading!

In libris libertas! 

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