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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films have been huge hits. Based on the Walt Disney ride, it has amassed a fortune since the first movie in 2003. That’s just as well because it has cost a fortune to make. With gargantuan-sized budgets thrown mostly towards the actors and CGI, they truly embrace the word ‘spectacle’. Every penny of the money spent is clearly seen with its efforts in creating colourful romps obviously appreciated. ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ is in the same vein as it offers glorious entertainment other rivals can’t afford to match.

Still sailing the high seas like a piratical scallywag, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is on a new mission. Discovering an old enemy, Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem) has risen from the depths, Jack is worried. Knowing Salazar tends to kill every pirate at sea, Jack goes in search of an ancient artefact to enable him to defeat Salazar. In his quest, Jack is helped by Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) who is on his own crusade to free his father Will (Orlando Bloom) from a bygone curse. What follows is adventure aplenty among the high seas with Jack’s pirate skills firmly affixed to the mast.

As entertaining as previous entries, the fifth outing for the colourful pirates generally scores. You know what to expect with the series by now which isn’t a bad thing. Those wanting action, romance, dazzling CGI and lashings of humour will find it. It may be looking a little tired around the edges with Depp’s Sparrow now more caricature than true character. But there are a few new wrinkles maintaining freshness. Henry’s journey to re-unite his family ties in well with the film’s overall theme with depth seen in a series not usually known for it.

‘Pirates 5’ is hardly a sombre experience with fun and colour evident. Whilst the zippy energy of initial outings feels lost, the performers never over-play the humour in spite of their cartoonish roles. Unlike the previous film Sparrow doesn’t dominate proceedings which allow other characters to come to the fore. This is a wise move as it makes the film different with the CGI out-doing itself. The pacing is occasionally sluggish but the visual feast displayed ensures the story maintains engagement until its soggy conclusion.

An entertaining slice of expensive escapism, ‘Pirates 5’ does exactly what the posters promise. It might not rank among the best but it offers a grandiose epic one expects. Although things are neatly wrapped up another outing wouldn’t be amiss with the pirate’s flag showing little sign of flaying.

Rating out of 10: 6

John Wick Chapter 2

Keanu Reeves is often derided for his acting skills. Phrases such as ‘wooden’ and ‘uninspiring’ are usually thrown about by critics. He’s had the last laugh with a catalogue of hits to his credit. The Matrix films to ‘Speed’ and the ‘Bill and Ted’ movies have proven his popularity with audiences. He may not have won many awards but his determination to persevere against a storm of criticism is to be admired. ‘John Wick Chapter 2’ will probably face the same onslaught although it underscores his persona and sure to further cement his place in action infamy.

John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is a former assassin trying to live a normal life. Sadly ‘normal’ isn’t a word frequently crossing his path. With a litany of villains on his doorstep, he is continually pulled into another wicked crime. When forced to perform an assassination on a rival crime-lord, hell is leashed upon Wick’s world. Faced with a bounty on his head, he tries to flee a cabal of criminals all wanting to receive a fast pay-day. With his skills his most potent weapons, Wick fights to the last to restore order to his wayward life.

‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ succeeds due to its’ focus. It presents itself as an explosive action flick and delivers. It never deviates into being a drama or romance with the gun-play, fights and mayhem lovingly rendered. The characters may be stock-standard archetypes, but ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ isn’t about characters it’s just high-octane escapist fun. Director Chad Stahelski skilfully dives into the seedy, gritty world in which Wick thrives with New York’s mean streets shown in loving detail.

Any sequel needs to enhance its predecessor which ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ effortlessly does. It builds on the environment of danger where friends can instantly become foes. This element adds unpredictability to the story ensuring genuine viewer engagement. Reeves does well as the world-weary assassin wanting to escape his current existence. He is the best out of a cast occasionally delivering overly silly performances. It’s the action everyone wants and it definitely reaches a high standard. Each encounter is as bloody and brutal as needed with the stunt work and pacing top notch. These elevate the emotions the screenplay conveys with physical moments just as powerful as the spoken ones.

Admirers of strong action films with depth will enjoy the latest John Wick outing. It’s tough and uncompromising and crafts more additions to its mythology. A third chapter wouldn’t be unwelcome with Reeves’ place on the action hero pantheon assured.

Rating out of 10: 7