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It’s so nice to have a memorable “Pirates” movie again! 

Is it worth $10? Yes 

Where has this been? Why has it taken four tries and 14 years for a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie to come close to the enthralling success of the 2003 original? “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” isn’t just good, it’s really good – the action is creative, the visual effects are spectacular, and the story has elements that are ingenious. Sure it’s overloaded with plot, but darn if I couldn’t stop smiling while watching it.

Captain Jack Sparrow’s (Johnny Depp) big opening action set piece is a doozy. He’s stealing a bank vault. His men have tied the vault to a rope that stretches through the rear of the building; Sparrow is inside the bank, and the local militia is in the front, shooting at him. Sparrow’s men, in horse-drawn carriages, take off, but not just with the vault – the entire bank lifts from its foundation and is dragged through the island! This is a creative twist that makes an otherwise inconsequential action scene an absolute blast. More importantly, it sets a tone that the rest of the movie follows: It’s preposterous and unrealistic, but it’s done with a cinematic smile, and signals that the joy of the “Pirates” franchise has returned!

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Nope. No way. Uh-uh. Just don’t. 

Is it worth $10? No 

“It’s in no hurry to get anywhere, is it?” I scribbled into my notes for “Baywatch,” the new comedy based on the TV show of the same name.

A measured pace could be a benefit, though, if the film uses that time wisely. Further down the page, when I indulged the impulse to doodle, I realized that, nope, it wasn’t going to use its time wisely. Not only was the movie not in a rush to get anywhere, it was in no hurry to be funny or even the least bit entertaining on the way.

The movie stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Lieutenant Mitch Buchannon, a supremely dedicated lifeguard who runs his branch like a tight ship. Shaking up that simile is the arrival of Matt Brody (Zac Efron), a brash (read: arrogant) two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner/swimmer, who is forced onto Mitch by his superior (Rob Huebel) in an effort to drum up publicity. The mismatched duo naturally butt heads but learn to work together when a criminal operation begins flooding their beach with drugs. 

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Solid boxing biopic about the inspiration for the most famous movie boxer of all time.  

Is it worth $10? Yes  

“You do know me, but you don’t know you know me,” Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber) says in the opening narration of “Chuck,” an unconventional boxing biopic that delights in its surprises. The movie is good enough that when it’s over you’ll be glad you spent 98 minutes with Chuck, and will not feel the need to learn more about him. Yes, that’s intended as a backhanded compliment.

The reason we know Chuck already, even though we’ve never heard of him, is because his life story became Sylvester Stallone’s inspiration for “Rocky.” In the mid-‘70s Chuck is a struggling boxer in Bayonne, New Jersey, who works menial jobs while his trainer (Ron Perlman) angles him up the heavyweight ranks. He pays his dues, and when Don King wants “a white guy” for champion Muhammad Ali (Pooch Hall) to beat up on, Chuck, being the only white guy in the top ten, gets a title shot.

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A laid back road trip picture that’s just a little too relaxed. 

Is it worth $10? No  

Anne (Diane Lane), in the middle of a two day trip from Cannes to Paris (a trip which should take about 8 hours), receives a phone call from her husband, Michael (Alec Baldwin). Why isn’t she already in Paris, he asks. What happened? “Nothing, yet,” she answers.

I looked down at my watch. The movie was only 20 minutes in. Dispiritedly, I mumbled to myself, “Yeah, that’s about right. Nothing’s happened.”

“Paris Can Wait” is directed by Eleanor Coppola (wife of Francis Ford) and at 80 years old, it’s also her first narrative film. That’s impressive, especially when you consider the storied pedigree of the Coppola names that she would inevitably be compared to, and because her creation would play out in such a public forum- in front of cranky, know-it-all critics like me. But respect or no, the movie has to be judged, fairly, on its own terms. Sadly, it doesn’t hold up to that scrutiny.

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“Logan” and “The Great Wall” are also new to Blu-Ray this week.

“Get Out” is a tough movie to write up in a review. While I can’t recommend this movie highly enough, part of the fun is the way the story unfolds and how everything comes together and makes sense, so I don’t want to spoil anything. It’s one of those movies where you see something happen in the beginning, then it’s called back at the end and you say, “Ah-ha—I get it now.”

The movie centers around Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya), a black photographer living in the city. His white girlfriend is Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). The two travel from the city to the country estate of Rose’s family, where they meet Rose’s dad (Bradley Whitford), mom (Catherine Keener), and brother (Caleb Landry Jones). He also meets their black gardener Walter (Marcus Henderson) and black maid Georgina (Betty Gabriel). Their behavior is a bit strange, to say the least.

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It’s the best “Alien” movie in 30 years! 

Is it worth $10? Yes 

Admit it: We all despised “Prometheus” (2012), right? It was too long, too confusing, and didn’t seem to have much to do with the “Alien” franchise at all.

Thankfully, with “Alien: Covenant” director Ridley Scott (“The Martian”) has his act together: The action is exciting, the visuals are bold and impressive (see this in IMAX if you can), and the story has clarity that nicely anticipates future installments. This is how you make a good prequel. 

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“xXx: Return of Xander Cage” and “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” are also new to Blu-Ray this week.  

When the term “visitor from another planet” is used, most folks conjure up visions of aliens landing on Earth, their space craft hovering high in the sky above. There is no such imagery as that in “The Space Between Us,” even though a visitor from Mars does come down to Earth. The twist is that he’s a human born on a Mars colony, and his first-time visit to Earth is shepherded through the auspices of NASA.

The visitor is Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield). His mother Sarah (Janet Montgomery) was pregnant with him throughout her seven month journey from Earth to Mars and gave birth to Gardner shortly after landing. Then she died. This sent mission director Nathaniel Shepherd (Gary Oldman) into a tailspin, unsure of the best way to deal with the news, and left Gardner in the care of the crew.

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It’s a long-awaited return to the big screen for King Arthur, but you’ll wish he stayed away.  

Is it worth $10? No 

In spite of its Old English roots, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” is undeniably made for a 21st century audience. This has nothing to do with modern filmmaking technology, and everything to do with the fact that we are a population that has trouble paying attention to anything for longer than five minutes before being distracted by our cell phones. Accordingly, “Legend of the Sword” can’t stay in one scene to save its cinematic life, and as it constantly shuffles around you can’t help but think, “why?”

More times than you’ll want to count, a scene will proceed along until a character starts talking about future plans, or the past. Director Guy Ritchie and editor James Herbert, who are either unwilling or unable to pay attention to their own movie, frequently cut to a visualization of those past or future events. To use this technique a few times, as Ritchie did in “Sherlock Holmes,” can work as a storytelling device, especially when driven by Holmes’ divine intellect. But relying on it frequently makes it a distraction, a narrative apoplexy that does little to create intrigue and results in the constant disservice of two steps forward one step back. What’s particularly galling is that the story would’ve been just fine if told as a straight narrative.

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What should have been a legendary comedic pairing doesn’t live up to expectations. 

Is it worth $10? No 

If you combine part of the movie "Romancing the Stone” with Amy Schumer’s latest comedy special, you get “Snatched.” Not extremely funny or original, but still entertaining enough to keep your attention. Don't get me wrong, there are some hysterical moments that are scattered throughout, but an unoriginal story and a fairly incomplete film add up to squandered opportunity.

When selfie obsessed dreamer Emily (Amy Schumer) is dumped by her boyfriend, she convinces her play-it-safe mom, Linda (Goldie Hawn), to accompany her to Ecuador for a vacation that was originally planned for Emily and her guy. After meeting some unique characters, the two find themselves kidnapped and on a dangerous and zany trip to make it back to civilization.

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A pleasantly paced, observational documentary about a family of poetic Argentinean goatherders gratifies the eyes and soothes the soul. 

Is it worth $10? Yes 

In their perfect honesty, droves of goats and sheep, sharply urged ahead on a dirt path by a pair of snap-happy dogs, overtake the frame in the opening shot of the Argentinean documentary “Arreo.” The dust kicked up by prancing hooves temporarily obscures the ruggedly handsome panorama of rural Malargüe’s rolling hills. Director-cinematographer Tato Moreno’s film, as promised by this dynamic first sequence, often drifts easily into moments of Zen where nothing is lacking and everything thrives.

In this way and others, “Arreo” serves as a cool cocoon against the overheated political pollution of the United States today. Though the politics of “progress” don’t pardon even the peaceful, affable Eliseo Paradas clan of herdsmen, their way of life in the country endures. More than that, their hard work in the day and simple family time at night evoke mainly one thing: joyful contentment.

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Recent Articles

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales ***
It’s so nice to have a memorable “Pirates” ...
Baywatch *
Nope. No way. Uh-uh. Just don’t.  Is it ...
Chuck ***
Solid boxing biopic about the inspiration ...
Paris Can Wait **
A laid back road trip picture that’s just a ...
Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Get Out
“Logan” and “The Great Wall” are also new ...
Alien: Covenant ***
It’s the best “Alien” movie in 30 years! Is it ...
Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: The Space Between Us
“xXx: Return of Xander Cage” and “Resident ...

Best Movie In Theaters Now: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

It’s so nice to have a memorable “Pirates” movie again! 

Is it worth $10? Yes 

Where has this been? Why has it taken four tries and 14 years for a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie to come close to the enthralling success of the 2003 original? “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” isn’t just good, it’s really good – the action is creative, the visual effects are spectacular, and the story has elements that are ingenious. Sure it’s overloaded with plot, but darn if I couldn’t stop smiling while watching it.

Captain Jack Sparrow’s (Johnny Depp) big opening action set piece is a doozy. He’s stealing a bank vault. His men have tied the vault to a rope that stretches through the rear of the building; Sparrow is inside the bank, and the local militia is in the front, shooting at him. Sparrow’s men, in horse-drawn carriages, take off, but not just with the vault – the entire bank lifts from its foundation and is dragged through the island! This is a creative twist that makes an otherwise inconsequential action scene an absolute blast. More importantly, it sets a tone that the rest of the movie follows: It’s preposterous and unrealistic, but it’s done with a cinematic smile, and signals that the joy of the “Pirates” franchise has returned!

Read more