Jack Davenport

REVIEW: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) races to find the heart of Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) to avoid succumbing to Davy Jones’ Locker while Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) search for Jack to serve their own agenda.

Dead Man’s Chest loses some of the fun seen in The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). There’s still moments that are delightful, like the sword fight on a giant wheel between Sparrow, Turner and Norrington (Jack Davenport). While that sequence leaves you with a huge smile on your face, there definitely isn’t as many laugh out moments compared to the first film.

That’s in part to how the main trio spend pretty much the first hour apart from each other, or as a duo and when the third arrives, someone else disappears. There’s still the other members of Jack’s crew like Gibbs (Kevin McNally), Pintel (Lee Arenberg) and Ragetti (Mackenzie Crook) to add to the dynamics but when the main trio’s not together for convoluted reasons it does drag the film down a bit.

Convoluted is a good way to describe the plot of Dead Man’s Chest. There’s a lot of threads that different characters are following and it’s just a little messy at times. This is in part due to the villains. There’s Davy Jones, who doesn’t appear on screen till almost midway through the film but he certainly makes an entrance, and there’s also Cutler Beckett (Tom Hollander), the Chairman of the East India Trading Company. Cutler Beckett is a different kind of villain, he has power and ties different from your average pirate making him a foreboding presence looming from the shadows.

The effects still stand up, especially the work on Davy Jones and his crew, and the battles between the Flying Dutchman and the Black Pearl are still exciting and look great. It’s the exposition that doesn’t always work.

Dead Man’s Chest is not a bad film by any means. It just loses a lot of the family-fun/action-adventure vibes present in the first film, making it a bit less enjoyable. 3/5.

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REVIEW: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

I wasn’t planning on rewatching and potentially reviewing all the Pirates of the Caribbean films in the run up to the fifth film’s release but I’ve seen trailers for Salazar’s Revenge every time I’ve been to the cinema recently so it gave me the craving to rewatch the series.

When governor’s daughter Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) is kidnapped by Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) of the Black Pearl, blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) teams up with eccentric pirate Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) to save her.

The Curse of the Black Pearl is Johnny Depp’s first outing as Captain Jack Sparrow and it’s clear to see why Sparrow and Depp’s performance has kind of become iconic over the past ten plus years. Jack Sparrow is one of those characters who’s become a favourite to so many people. He permanently appears drunk and clueless but he often surprises everyone by having a mad plan all along. He’s funny, somewhat charming and good with a sword.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is such good fun. It’s full of action, epic duels and it does that magical thing of balancing action and comedy superbly. It’s also a very quotable film and I spend most of my time mouthing the lines along with the characters. Depp, Knightley and Bloom all have great chemistry and it’s wonderful when they’re on screen together. Everyone gives it their all, Barbossa is a formidable villain and Norrington (Jack Davenport) is surprisingly sympathetic.

I can’t not mention the score. Composed by Klaus Badelt with input from Hans Zimmer, the Pirates of the Caribbean score has become one of the most recognisable scores in recent years. It perfectly captures the fun and excitement of the film and has kind of become the theme for anything pirate related.

The special effects used on Barbossa’s crew still look pretty good over a decade later and perhaps that’s because they are used sparingly. The film waits to reveal the secret of the curse and even once it has, it still makes the moments when you see the effects of the curse truly count.

I just love Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl! It is such an enjoyable film that I do not get tired of rewatching. I honestly think the word fun is the best word to describe, The Curse of the Black Pearl. It is one of those classic, action-adventure, fun for all the family kind of films and over the years it hasn’t lost its charm. 5/5.

REVIEW: A United Kingdom (2016)

a-united-kingdom-posterWhen Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), the heir to the throne of Botswana, falls in love with and marries Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), a white woman from London it causes an international stir. Together they have to fight for their love and for Seretse’s right to be King of his country.

A film like A United Kingdom sinks or swims on its lead performers and their chemistry but luckily Pike and Oyelowo feel like such a believable couple. From the first moment they meet, you can believe they’re falling in love and their relationship grows stronger throughout the film as they each encounter bigotry from both their families.

Alistair Canning (Jack Davenport) and Rufus Lancaster (Tom Felton) are the British bureaucrats who have interests in Botswana and who rules it. They are the faces of British politics in A United Kingdom and are as smarmy and conniving as you’d expect them to be. They believe they know all and know better than the people of Botswana and it’s a pleasure to see them proven wrong.

Naledi Khama’s (Terry Pheto) relationship with her brother and her sister-in-law Ruth is an unexpected delight. Naledi is as against their marriage, and Ruth in particular, just like anyone else to begin with but as their story progresses, Naledi and Ruth learn to work together and gain an understanding of one another. Seeing female characters put aside their differences and work together is always a delight. They become strong allies and each use their power and status to try and do the best for the people of Botswana.

A United Kingdom is an incredible true story that really should be more common knowledge. Not only is it a wonderful love story about love conquering all, but it’s about politics and international relations and racial tensions in Britain and around the world. It is also a beautiful film and the cinematography of both London and Botswana is stunning. It is seriously a very nice-looking film, and the contrasts between England and Botswana work so well together but it never makes one inferior to the other.

A United Kingdom is a wonderful film with some brilliant performances. It might make such a true and powerful story more like a fairy tale but that almost adds to the romance. 4/5.