The best way to go into Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is to think of it as the first film in a brand new franchise; a franchise in which mermaids love men zombies won’t eat you and a Fountain of Youth exists but all laws of logic reasoning and competent storytelling don’t. Although screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio were smart enough to sever the narrative ties to the first two sequels in their franchise’s fourth outing the latest swashbuckling adventure in the series shares most of the same faults its predecessors faced.
Director Rob Marshall (Chicago) steps in for Gore Verbinski in On Stranger Tides but you’ll be hard-pressed to find his contributions to the already-flashy film that finds our hero Capt. Jack Sparrow (the inimitable Johnny Depp) on the hunt for the fore mentioned fountain. Of course he’s not the only one looking for eternal life: also in tow are nameless stereotypical Spaniards the English crown headed by a reformed Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and Blackbeard a ruthless pirate who looks and sounds a lot like Ian McShane. Their paths cross on numerous occasions as the story scrambles across the map culminating in a splashy battle in a magical meadow where Ponce de Leon’s greatest discovery lies.
Less a cohesive story and more a collection of individual set pieces linked together by nonsensical dialogue and supernatural occurrences the film isn’t all that hard to follow if you don’t strain yourself doing so. The sequence of events collide so conveniently for the characters you can’t help but call the screenplay anything but the result of complacency while the film itself sails so swiftly from point to point it’s actually a waste of time to dwell on plot holes and motives. Disrupting its momentum (which is one of the few things the film has going for it) is an unwatchable romance between Sam Claflin’s missionary Philip and Syrena (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) one of a handful of murderous mermaids who do battle with Blackbeard’s crew. Their bland courtship will have you begging for Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley to return to the high seas and that’s saying something.
The all-female fish people are one of a few additions to the Pirates world but their effect on the film is negligible outside of being the impetus for the coolest action sequence in the picture and perhaps the most unnerving of the series. The others include Penelope Cruz as Blackbeard’s busty daughter Angelica and Stephen Graham as shipmate Scrum. The former feels out of place among the cartoony happenings but provides much needed sass while the latter fills in for Kevin McNally’s Gibbs for much of the film and is a pleasure to watch for some hammy comedic moments.
As always however this is Depp’s show and he continues to put a smile on my face with his charisma and theatrical presence. Even though he’s operating on autopilot throughout you can’t help but marvel at his energy and enthusiastic output as he literally fuels the fun in the film. The same can be said of Rush who’s given a meatier and more significant arc this time around. He trades quips with Depp as if they were a golden-age comedy duo and they remain the most appealing attraction in the franchise. Though he brings an undeniable sense of danger to the picture I was sadly underwhelmed by McShane’s Blackbeard a character with such a domineering reputation and imposing look he should’ve been stealing scenes left and right. Instead I felt he phoned his performance in though that could’ve been the result of Marshall’s indirection.
No better than the genre-bending original but a slight improvement over Dead Man’s Chest and At Worlds End On Stranger Tides suffers centrally from lack of a commanding captain. Marshall’s role is relegated to merely on-set facilitator or perhaps liaison between legions of talented craftspeople that make the movie look so good. Whatever vision he had for this venture if he had a unique take at all is chewed up and spit out by the engines of the Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster factory rendering the film as mechanical as the ride from which it is based.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
G.I. Joe is a top-secret multi-national special forces unit comprised of highly-trained physically attractive military personnel from around the world. Equipped with the latest in superawesome vehicles and weaponry and guided by the tough but fair General Hawk they take on the baddest of the bad guys the kind of terrorists that scoff at conventional organizations. As the General himself so aptly states “When all else fails we don’t.”
That credo is put to the test however when a shadowy terrorist group armed with even awesomer vehicles and weaponry like crazy-ass laser guns and computer-guided zombie troopers infiltrates the Joes’ compound and makes off with a cache of four WMDs each of which is capable of leveling an entire city. Do the men and women of G.I. Joe have what it takes to defeat these menacing new adversaries before they mount their next devastating attack?
WHO’S IN IT?
It takes an elite group of actors to play an elite group of soldiers and the cast of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is stocked with an abundance of Hollywood’s most talented performers all adorned in various types of leather fetish apparel. White Chicks star Marlon Wayans plays Ripcord a flight specialist who can pilot any type of airplane even enemy crafts that respond only to voice commands uttered in Celtic. Channing Tatum star of Step Up and Step Up 2: The Streets plays his best pal Duke a badass infantryman who knows no fear. Preeminent ginger chick Rachel Nichols showcases her fiery crimson locks as Scarlett a shrewd intel expert whose stoic exterior hides a growing attraction to Ripcord. Barking out the orders as General Hawk is Enemy Mine star Dennis Quaid.
On the side of the bad guys is the Baroness played by Factory Girl star Sienna Miller in a push-up bra dirty librarian glasses and a raven-colored dye job. She’s the point woman for McMullen a shady Scottish weapons magnate played by Christopher Eccleston. But McMullen is no ordinary shady Scottish weapons magnate; he’s covertly amassed a huge terrorist empire headquartered beneath the polar ice caps. It’s there that “The Doctor ” a horribly disfigured mad scientist played by (500) Days of Summer star Joseph Gordon-Levitt concocts all sorts of diabolical new weapons and gadgets to unleash on the innocent.
Oh and there are ninjas too. Good guy Snake Eyes played by Ray Park wears sleek black body armor while the evil Storm Shadow played by Byung-hun Lee runs around in a updated version of Elvis Presley’s classic all-white jumpsuit.
Loaded with scene after scene of high-tech action-movie eye candy G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra assaults the senses with such a relentless barrage of over-the-top stunts eye-popping visual effects and stylized fight sequences that only the most coldly cynical of viewers will be able to resist submitting to its visceral charms.
As with most sugary indulgences the sweet dizzying high is followed almost immediately by a painful crash. Feelings of guilt and shame start to simmer as you kick yourself for yielding to such soulless gluttony. The next morning you awake with a throbbing headache and a heart filled with regret. The following day a doctor informs you that you have adult-onset diabetes. So in a nutshell G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is the cinematic equivalent of adult-onset diabetes.
The scene where they have the big fight with all the advanced weapons and a whole bunch of stuff blows up. Oh wait that’s EVERY scene.
For the bulk of his performance Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s face is obscured by a bulky breathing apparatus and his voice is altered to sound like the computerized movie trailer's narrator. Which makes one wonder why they bothered to hire a name actor for the role in the first place.
How would you like Elvis Presley's 1976 blue Cadillac El Dorado Biarritz parked inside your garage? Lovely thought isn't it? Dream no further--the car can be yours if you bid on eBay, and you have enough money in the bank.
The online auction house eBay Motors is offering a stable of celebrity-touched cars to the highest bidder in the "Cars of the Stars" auction, which closes on Thursday.
"The eBay Motors category is the fastest growing category on eBay," said Kevin Purseglove, a PR representative for eBay. "People who have sold their cars online have gotten more traffic than anywhere else."
Along with Presley's Caddie, John Lennon's 1970 Mercedes-Benz limousine, Tim Allen's 1960 Chrysler 300F convertible, Reggie Jackson's 1970 Chevrolet Nova and Jerry Garcia's custom 1994 Dodge van are also on the auction block.
Other auction houses are jumping on the celebrity bandwagon. According to the Associated Press, the Barrett-Jackson auction house in Los Angeles also auctions celebrity cars. Currently on auction are Wonder Woman Linda Carter's 1984 Jaguar XJ6, a 1975 Lincoln Continental once owned by Elvis Presley and a 1999 Chevrolet Suburban driven by The Sopranos' Tony Soprano during the first series of the HBO mobster series.
Elton John auctioned off 20 classic cars from his personal collection last Wednesday at Christie's auction house in London. The singer received $2.75 million dollars for his cars and released a statement claiming he was surprised at the results. "When the bidding kept going up and up way above the estimates, I was both thrilled and surprised. There's obviously a lot of money to be made from second-hand cars!" John said in the statement.
"Bidders have the chance to drive away in a car from some of our most beloved icons," Simon Rothman, vice president of eBay Motors told the Associated Press.
Purseglove adds that most of the cars auctioned off are listed on eBay by the estate, the celeb's next of kin, or automobile collectors who buy cars because of the individual who owned it or because of their passions for cars.
Since the birth of eBay in 1996, users have found themselves bidding on items ranging from clothing to music to antiques. Three years ago, cars were included on eBay.
According to Purseglove, celebrities are finding that they can get a great deal of attention by selling their items on eBay, simply because it's a flexible marketplace. It's easy to sell merchandise, and it attracts a lot of media attention.
Many sell their goods for a charitable cause. Tiger Woods is auctioning a 2001 Buick Regal he drove during the week of his Masters golf win. According to the Associated Press, the buyer will also receive an autographed plaque, a Buick Nike golf bag and clubs. All proceeds benefit the Tiger Woods Foundation.
Talk show host Rosie O'Donnell, who regularly sells her show memorabilia to benefit the For All Kids Foundation, has gained significant recognition for her organization, Rosie's Charity Auctions, founded in 1997 to help support the intellectual, social and cultural development of at-risk children across the U.S. According to O'Donnell's Web site, the Foundation has awarded over 500 grants to nonprofit organizations for children and families across the country.
" [eBay] has a pretty good relationship with Ms. O'Donnell," Purseglove said. "Sometimes guests that go to her show will bring autographed items for her to sell online."
O'Donnell, whose eBay seller name is "4allkids," is currently selling a pair of size 9½ Nike sneakers, an I-Zone camera, autographed pictures of herself and guest Martin Short, and her notes from Thursday's show.
The National Trust in London is selling off the house where ex-Beatle John Lennon lived with his aunt for 18 years before he achieved stardom in 1963. The four-bedroom property, valued at 150,000 British pounds is expected to sell for a higher sum. Ron Burkey, the son of Ernest Burkey, who owned the house, told London's Sunday Mirror on June 11 that the house was for sale because his father hated the fans who turned at the gates of his home. "We'll advertise it on the Internet," he told the publication. "There are a lot of fans in Japan and America who are incredibly passionate about John Lennon."
Hollywood Reporter editor Anita M. Busch resigned Monday following a dispute with publisher Robert Dowling over his decision to quash an article by the trade paper's labor reporter. The article by David Robb questioned whether the paper's gossip columnist, George Christy, had accepted favors from movie producers in return for mentions in his column. Robb resigned last week. Another Reporter writer, Beth Laski, also quit Monday. Busch, who last week appeared to be trying to control the internal fallout from the incident, apparently was jolted by a statement issued by Dowling to The Associated Press on Friday accusing Robb of losing his objectivity and failing to adhere to the Reporter's standards and journalistic ethics. In a letter to the editorial staff, Busch said, "I just can't stand by comments made to The Associated Press about a journalist that I know as being one of the most ethical and incorruptible I have ever worked with." In a statement Monday expressing disappointment over Busch's resignation, Dowling repeated his accusations against Robb and, in interviews with other publications, maintained that Robb's story was not killed but "reassigned." He told the Internet media magazine Inside: "As I said in the staff meeting today, if I had to do it over again, I would make the same decision." A story about the Christy matter, written by two other Reporter writers, appeared in the trade paper on Monday, noting that the Screen Actors Guild is investigating charges that Christy received credits in movies without ever working in them in order to receive benefits from the guild's pension and health fund. Robb told the New York Post that it was "a shadow of my story. They had to write something." Meanwhile, Christy, in an interview with AP, insisted that he had in fact worked in the films for which he was credited. He added, "I should say that there is such a thing as a cutting-room floor."
LITTLE TV "DIVERSITY" AT 8 P.M., SAYS STUDY
According to a study by the organization Children Now, the so-called Family Hour between 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., contains the least racially diverse casts in all of primetime TV. Minorities are included in these shows only to provide "a service, a piece of information or a punch line," the study said. It found that only 13 percent of network fare during the hour featured a mixed cast, versus 67 percent during the 10 p.m. hour. The study also found that men outnumbered women on programs during the 8 p.m. hour by more than 2-1 and that the female characters on them tended to be "beautiful, young, thin and white."
BACK TO THE '70S COMMERCIALS, TOO
In a one-time stunt, Fox TV's That '70s Show on Tuesday will include commercials for five regular advertisers -- Cola-Cola, Dr Pepper, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Volkswagen -- that originally aired in the '70s. Jon Nesvig, president for sales at Fox Broadcasting, told Tuesday's New York Times: "We were looking for a way to 'event-ize' That '70s Show for the sweeps. ... It becomes a little bit like the Super Bowl, where the commercials are part of the show, so hopefully people will stay tuned to watch." Although the TV Land cable channel regularly runs vintage commercials for free, advertisers will be paying an estimated $150,000 apiece for those airing on Fox tonight, the Times reported.
CAMERON SAYS HE'LL WAIT HIS TURN TO FLY INTO SPACE
James Cameron, who has proposed a television series for Fox TV filmed aboard the International Space Station, has indicated that he does not want to become embroiled in the same sort of controversy between NASA and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency that involved "space tourist" Dennis Tito. In an interview with Tuesday's USA Today, Cameron said that he would await the completion of safety and training protocols for non-professional astronauts. The newspaper quoted a Russian space official as saying that Cameron would be required to undergo extensive training before being allowed to fly to the space station and that he would not be able to make the trip until late 2002 at the earliest.
WEAKEST GROWS WEAKER
Although it won its time slot, NBC's The Weakest Link slipped significantly in the ratings Monday night. The Anne Robinson-hosted quiz show sank to an 8.7 rating and a 14 share versus a 10.5/16 a week earlier. The slide helped CBS regain the leadership on Monday night as it averaged a 9.3/14. ABC took second place with an 8.7/13, while NBC slid to third with an 8.5/13, just a notch above Fox, which scored an 8.4/13.
DISNEY DOESN'T WANT DREAMWORKS SPOTS ON ITS KIDS RADIO NET
The Walt Disney Co. is attempting to block affiliates of the Radio Disney kids radio network from accepting promotions and advertisements for the upcoming DreamWorks movie Shrek, the online media magazine Inside reported Tuesday. Inside published a notice that appeared in Radio Disney's affiliate newsletter, reading in part: "Due to recent initiatives with the Walt Disney Company, we are being asked not to align ourselves promotionally with this new release. Stations may accept spot dollars only in individual markets." Promotions and screenings for Shrek that had already been arranged in San Francisco, Chicago, Cleveland Phoenix and Seattle were canceled, Inside said.
IN THE MIDNIGHT HOUR
Spokespersons for the Writers Guild of America and for film and TV producers continued to express optimism Monday that the two sides would be able to agree to terms for a new labor contract before the current one expires at 12:01 a.m. PT Wednesday. However, as Tuesday's Washington Post observed, there is "little clear evidence to support the sunnier view," and many expect that the guild may ask members for strike authorization following today's meeting (although it is likely to agree to an extension of the deadline). On Monday, Mayor Richard Riordan renewed his offer to mediate the dispute and implied that he was miffed that his previous offer had not been accepted. "Both sides so far have said they don't want politicians involved," Riordan said, "but a strike could be devastating to the city."
GET-OUT-THE-VOTE ACTOR DIDN'T GET OUT TO VOTE, SAYS WEB SITE
Calling it a "colossal display of hypocrisy," the enterprising online investigative site The Smoking Gun reported Monday that actor Ben Affleck, who received much TV coverage during the last election when he participated in get-out-the-vote drives for Al Gore, never bothered to vote in the election himself and in fact has not voted in federal or state races since 1992. Although on election day, Affleck concluded an appearance on the Rosie O'Donnell show by remarking, "I think this is the time to get involved, especially the young folks who are here. ... I'm about to go vote," he had not even registered to do so, the article claimed. A spokesman for the actor said that he was prevented from voting because of a "bureaucratic snafu."
A NEW EALING COMEDY IS COMING
For the first time since 1957, the Ealing comedy logo will be attached to a new film when a remake of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Ernest is released next year, the British newspaper The Guardian reported Tuesday. The $15-million film starring Rupert Everett, Judi Dench and Reese Witherspoon recently began shooting in the west London studio, now owned by the BBC, where such classics as Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Man in the White Suit, The Lavender Hill Mob and The Ladykillers were produced.