Movie Review: Ghostbusters, Answer the Call (2016)

When there’s something strange, in your neighborhood. Who ya gonna call?

Shout it with me now – GHOSTBUSTERS!

I grew up watching the original Ghostbusters and remember being both a little terrified and thrilled by it. It came out when I was only four and I most definitely saw it when I was way too young. It gave me nightmares for months, but even then I still wanted to watch it. Fun fact: it’s also the movie that taught me my first swear words. My parents were thrilled, I tell ya.

The newest reinvention of Ghostbusters takes the original movie and gives it a huge facelift – namely by swapping out the all-male ghostbusting team for a female cast and swapping the ditzy secretary to Chris Hemsworth. (Seriously, watch it just for that – so funny.) While the basic storyline stays the same, the locations and ghosts get an update as well, making the story more relevant to this decade of viewers.

The Story

Erin Gilbert is a recognized physicist working at Columbia college and is trying her best to fit in, and more importantly, be treated as an equal among her peers. Needless to say, this goal is challenged when her old friend and fellow physicist continues to push a book about ghosts the two of them wrote years before.

In a desperate attempt to get Abby to pull the ridiculous book down, Erin agrees to help Abby with a paranormal investigation of a haunted mansion where they witness and get slimed by a very real ghost. The footage is posted online and Erin loses her job.

With nowhere else to go and a new found excitement for the paranormal, Erin agrees to join the team and they start taking calls for other ghost sightings, significantly more sightings than what should be happening. As they work through the different cases, they realize that the sightings follow along ancient supernatural ley lines and there is something much bigger going on.

At the same time, the Feds join the picture trying to publicly denounce the Ghostbuster’s work to prevent a panic, all while still needing their help. Then, a famous ghost debunker, played by Dan Ackroyd, tries to prove them as phonies as well, only to be tossed out a window by a ghost that one of the Ghostbusters release to prove him wrong.

Turns out, our villain Rowan, has been planting devices around the city that attract ghosts in order to charge his mega device. This ultimately will give him power over all ghosts and earn him the respect and attention he failed to achieve on his own. The Ghostbusters must stop him before all of New York is swallowed into a vortex of doom.

If you want to know how it ends, you best go watch it.

My Review

I literally have avoided this movie because I worried that it wouldn’t do justice to the original, or worse, just be gross and stupid. I was wrong. In the end, I loved what they did with the story itself and how they crafted each of the characters to serve very different roles. It definitely helps that the entire cast is populated with amazing comedians and actors. The Ghostbusters themselves are entirely composed of ladies from Saturday Night Live.

The original Ghostbusters skirted some fairly adult material and I had concerns for this one possibly going down that route as well. Instead, it pulled way back on the weirdly sexual themes contained in the first and made the primary villain a social reject nerd who wanted attention – something far more relatable than an all powerful androgynous catwoman who needed a “Key Master” to open a portal. Yeah, I didn’t realize that was also a sex thing until way too late.

While the majority of the ghosts have also gotten a very cool CGI facelift, fear not – original Slimer does make an appearance.

Recommendations

This Ghostbusters is significantly more family friendly than the original. There are still instances of sexual themes and ogling and a splash of suggestive dialogue, but it felt far less icky. As for violence, there’s an exciting ghost fighting montage during the climax that’s more fun than intense and at one point I think a guy gets shot in the jewels. There is, however, a suicide by electrocution which some could find disturbing, but happens so fast that no one has a chance to dwell on it.

As for language, yeah, it’s a little worse than the original. While there’s still not a ton, it’s there. It’s mostly minor swears and a middle finger. I didn’t really notice it as a problem.

Should young kids watch it? My youngest was fine, although the first ghost startled him a little bit. No nightmare inducing traumas here. That said, he’s got two older siblings that make sure he’s seen and heard just about everything, so there’s not much that phases him. I’d recommend ages 10+ that are okay with mild swearing and moderate intensity scenes with ghosts.

I give Ghostbusters 2016 a rare 5/5 stars for being well written, well executed, and thoroughly enjoyable.


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The Story of the Bean Plant

Seven weeks ago, back in the heady early days of this thing we call virtual schooling, my son and I planted a bean to observe the plant lifecycle in action. Honestly, I didn’t even think the seed would sprout. The packet of green bean seeds had been sitting around in my basement for the last decade with my other gardening hopes and dreams, just waiting for something to happen.

The original assignment was to stick the seeds on a wet paper towel in a plastic baggie so the kid could watch the roots grow and the stem and then the leaves, if you were that lucky. I swear growing up, my seed was always the one that rotted and grew florescent mold instead of actually growing.

So when it fulfilled its seedy destiny and definitely grew, I was both surprised and thankful. I had no desire to explain that sometimes things die to my kiddo. It’s literally last thing on my list of things I don’t want to do during an already insanity causing year.

But, it couldn’t live in that sandwich baggie, it needed to be in dirt – as kiddo so helpfully told me. Every. single. day. Change means risk. Transferring a delicate baby plant that’s clinging for its life on a paper towel to a Solo cup of dirt could very well kill it, especially if I relied on the elephant-like grace of my 3rd grader. At the same time, it was his project. He had every right to do the transfer himself.

Long story short. Our combined efforts didn’t kill the thing. If anything, it might have encouraged it. I have a proud adult bean plant living in my office window that’s ACTUALLY GROWING BEANS.

The big decision now is whether we eat the three whole beans when they are ripe, or let them grow to maturity and repeat the cycle again with the seeds we collect?

The moral to this story is that you might be a bean seed. You might have been stuck in a position where you couldn’t really do anything for an excruciating amount of time until one day you finally got your chance. It might be a wet paper towel in a baggy kind of a chance, but it is better than sitting in an envelope with a bunch of other dry seeds.

You choose. Do you grow like a crazy 3rd grade science experiment? Or do you accidentally let the furry blue mold get you?

There might be risks and dangers. You might risk everything to move up to something bigger and better (with actual dirt!). There might be someone with the grace of a pachyderm there trying to help you, but might actually crush you.

Grow anyway.

And when your three green beans are long and fat, harvest and remember that you once were a little seed.


Hi everyone! Jodi here. I’ve been enjoying writing these little Friday tidbits for the past while and sharing my thoughts on life, the universe, and everything. But, like all good things, it’s time for a change. At the end of October, these Friday notes will shift exclusively to my newsletter and this blog will be dedicated to weekly book and movie reviews and the occasional important announcement.

Don’t miss out – join my newsletter today. You’ll get updates, freebies, links, and all sorts of fun stuff.

Movie Review: Edward Scissorhands

Crazy as it may sound, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the iconic Tim Burton film, Edward Scissorhands. If that doesn’t make you feel old, I don’t know what will. It made me feel old, and that’s saying something. I rewatched the movie to commemorate the anniversary and –

It was really boring.

The Story

Edward Scissorhands is a man who was created by an inventor who is every bit a mad scientist. The inventor lives in a castle on a hill overlooking 1960s iconic suburbia. Robots and machines fill this castle making salads and cookies. Before Edward was complete, his creator dies, leaving him unfinished. Instead of a pair of functioning hands, he has multiple pairs of scissors in place of fingers making him look a bit like Freddy Kruger.

Edward would have been content to stay up in the castle, isolated and alone, but is instead found by an Avon rep, Peg Boggs, who decides he needs to come live with her. As Edward has only known his castle world, the “modern” world comes as a bit of a shock.

All the nosy neighboring housewives start their gossip and a series of hijinks ensues where they discover that Edward is good at topiary, grooming dogs, and cutting hair. When Edward doesn’t give one of the housewives what she wants, she starts spreading rumors about him that he’s different and dangerous.

It all comes to a head when Peg’s daughter comes home with her complete dick of a boyfriend. When he discovers that Edward can open locks, he comes up with an idiotic plan.

Everything goes wrong, naturally, and Edward is chased out of the suburb back to his castle where he lives to this day.

My Review

I’ll admit, I liked the movie a lot more as a kid where the novelty of Edward’s scissor hands was still interesting and watching him be really good at a few unique things was fun. But like most movies rewatched as an adult, I found there were lots of really weird choices made by the writers.

First, it moves sooooo slowly. Granted, movies from the early nineties tended to spend more time building up the vague idea of ambiance, but this was a grueling sort of slow development that felt pointless.

As a writer, I get what they were trying to achieve. Edward is coming from one created world and being transplanted into another which is just as artificial. All the houses are painted in candy bright pastels and are uniformly boring. All the housewives have nothing better to do than gossip and paint their nails until their husbands get home. Edward is the only interesting thing that has happened or will happen.

Showing up far too late in the movie for any real meaning is a forced ethics discussion where Edward has to weigh what’s right over what is kind and he chooses kindness. This is important for the finale where he has to make another difficult ethical choice, this time choosing his own life and that of the girl he likes over the dick boyfriend’s life.

If there’s a moral to the story it’s that everyone should mind their own business or people get hurt.

Recommendations

If you love Tim Burton and his imagery, there are some fascinating bits where you’ll see his earliest style coming through. It’s all over the castle and its grounds. It’s in Edward’s original costume, and it’s loosely in the story as being different is explored.

If you are craving a hit of 60s nostalgia, that’s there as well from the styles of the homes, to the colors, to the stereotyping, to the glass grapes, and to the vintage cars. There’s even a rotary phone and corded land lines.

As one of Johnny Depp’s earliest roles, it’s really strange to see him playing a character with so few speaking lines. He literally spends the movie blank faced and being dragged around by other people.

After those few things there’s nothing in this film that’s terribly interesting. The story isn’t well developed, the characters feel like cardboard, and it moves beyond slowly.

I give Edward Scissorhands 2/5 stars for being slow and boring with only a few rare interesting or beautiful bits. Bonus point added for Danny Elfman’s music.

Change is as Good as a Rest

This week is Fall Break which means a much appreciated change in my schedule. One whole week where entire mornings aren’t sucked away by all the various needs and dramas created by the crap shoot that is virtual schooling. One whole week where we’ve made a point to have a bit of fun where we can. One whole week where I don’t drag myself to the end of the day and then fall into bed utterly exhausted.

To say I’ve been enjoying it is a massive understatement. I resumed my morning yoga practice, much to the dismay of my bones who’ve gotten rather used to not doing much more than sitting and walking. There’s nothing quite like finding center in the quiet of the morning before the kiddos have woken up.

Despite the change being short lived, or perhaps because of it, it’s made me think of the old English proverb ” A change is as good as a rest” I know that these more relaxed days are numbered and so it was all the more important to make the most of them. Had this been a longer break, it might have taken longer to jump into the activities I enjoy.

Here’s to cool fall days, warm rich meals, and taking a moment to just be.

I hope that this fall break has been a pleasant one for all of you and that you’ve taken the time to do the things you enjoy.


Hi everyone! Jodi here. I’ve been enjoying writing these little Friday tidbits for the past while and sharing my thoughts on life, the universe, and everything. But, like all good things, it’s time for a change. At the end of October, these Friday notes will shift exclusively to my newsletter and this blog will be dedicated to weekly book and movie reviews and the occasional important announcement.

Don’t miss out – join my newsletter today. You’ll get updates, freebies, links, and all sorts of fun stuff.

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

This book has been on my “to be read” list for ages and I finally got my hands on it. There has been a lot of hype about it in my writer circles, so I was eager to see what all the fuss was about. Initially, I thought that this might be a steampunk story with a Cinderella twist because of the original cover – a woman’s foot in a high-heeled shoe that was transparent enough to show that the foot was mechanical inside.

Nope. Not steampunk. Not even close.

The newer cover which is a much closer fit to the elements of the story.

The Story

Cinder, is a gifted mechanic, which is good, and part cyborg, which is bad. As you can guess, she’s the Cinderella in our story and has a nasty stepmother as well as two sisters, one who’s kind and the other who is cruel. There is a ball, and a prince, and a lost foot, and even a special vehicle that get’s Cinder to the ball. But, there’s no fairy Godmother.

The other part of this story, strangely enough, is an Anastasia story. There is a lost heir to the Lunar throne, one who, if found, could remove the current wicked Lunar Queen and restore justice and ensure peace between Lunars and Earthens.

And then, there’s the world the story is built within. In this Cinderella story, we are taken to the future where there is a pandemic running wild with no cure. Yeah, I didn’t see that one coming either. Guess I should have read the back cover blurb… Oops. The story is set in New Bejing 126 years after World War IV.

All of these disparate elements come together in a cunningly woven story where Cinder is driven to desperate measures to escape her situation only to find she’s not only needed, but a vital part of solving a much larger issue.

My Review

This was a fun romp through an interesting and well-constructed futuristic world. Meyers has put a ton of effort to weave together fantastical ingredients into a realistic gritty world. Cinder takes the Cinderella role and pushes the boundaries further by first, being really good at something unexpected, and second, wanting something else than to go to the ball and be with the prince.

Part of the fun in this book is seeing how the Cinderella trope is turned on its head and which parts of the story remain faithful. Instead of cute cartoon mice, we have a spunky android helper who’s obsessed with fashion and Prince Kai. Instead of a pumpkin carriage, we have an old gasoline powered car that Cinder fixed herself as an escape vehicle to be able to leave the city, where hover cars couldn’t go. And instead of a huge search to find a missing shoe, Cinder loses her cyborg foot, revealing to the prince that she’s not quite human.

There are a few things that irritated me personally. Meyers doesn’t shy back from letting people who are important to main characters die. There are three instances where we as the reader are teased along that there might be a cure to save these people and it’s all a matter of beating the ticking clock. In most stories, one of these will survive in a dramatic scene where the cure comes at the last possible second. While I see why Meyers chose to not follow the traditional footsteps, as it makes for a much more devastating loss for Cinder, but as a reader I don’t like to be led along to then be robbed of a successful rescue.

The earlier cover with the high-heel shoe and reveal of the cyborg foot.

Recommendations

This makes for a great young adult sci-fi. It’s got lots of action, some tasteful romantic leanings, quite a bit of angst and drama, and great world building. Yes, there are some mild descriptions of blood and injury, mostly relating to the plague like pandemic that’s riddled through the story, but they aren’t excessive or over the top.

For those who love adaptations, this one does a solid job taking the Cinderella story and elevating it to something with more stakes.

I enjoyed Cinder and give it a 4 of 5 stars for being thoroughly entertaining but doing a few things that misled the reader in an annoying way.

One-Hit Wonder Syndrome

It’s a perfect day to talk about an interesting phenomenon – why one-hit Wonders are a thing. A one-hit wonder, is when an unknown band creates a song that goes wildly popular overnight and become instantly famous. They then go on to make other songs because their fans demand it, but those songs don’t catch on and the band slowly fades into obscurity. That band is only known for their one and only hit.

Here are some famous one-hit wonders:

  • “My Sharona” by The Knack
  • “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell
  • “Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners
  • “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba

It’s been pointed out that several of these bands did later go on to have other songs hit the charts and rank in the top twenty, but in comparison to the one song that made them famous, the other songs never achieved the same popularity.

One-Hit Wonders in the Business World

The one-hit wonder phenomenon isn’t unique to just the music industry, a similar thing happens in the business world as well. We see it when someone who has never run a business has a great new idea for a service or product and it takes off. Suddenly they are famous for their awesome thing and everyone is talking about it.

What often happens next is that they get an offer they can’t refuse to sell the company for an ungodly amount of money and they return to square one – coming up with an idea for a new business. But this time, the world is watching.

Suddenly, there is a huge amount of pressure to come up with not only something good, but something that could take off again like what happened before. At this point, one of two things can happen, either they fold under the pressure and can’t come up with anything, or they hold this unfounded belief that creating a groundbreaking idea is fairly easy because they’ve done it already. The latter often will then create something uninspired or useless and fail spectacularly. With the world watching, it’s that much more devastating.

But why?

When someone unexpectedly finds success, but hasn’t yet racked up several failures under their belt, they never experience the hardships that give people perspective. The hard work they did must be all that is required to achieve wild success. Everyone else who fails must not be working at the same level. Sometimes, they even start believing that they have a special talent that granted them this success. Other people just aren’t as special as they are and that’s what makes them fail.

What they don’t realize is that wild success, especially in a business venture, requires more than just hard work. A series of uncontrollable factors must line up at the same time, such as what is popular in the market at the moment, what needs exist among buyers, and what has recently caught everyone’s interest. Should the timing be wrong and these factors not present to make a product look even more desirable, then no amount of hard work can make the product go viral. Yes, it can be successful, but not wildly so.

One-Hit Wonders in the Writing World

Yes, this is a real thing, although it presents itself differently. There are a rare few authors who find wild success with their first novel. The novel itself is something they’ve worked on for possibly years and years before going through the process to find the perfect agent and publisher who were willing to take a risk. As with businesses, the same uncontrollable factors are at play here as well. There has to be a significant group of people hungry for this type of book all the same time. Sometimes this is because a wildly popular movie has turned a new group of readers to the genre. Sometimes the global social climate makes certain titles much more appealing.

With authors, everyone who loved their first book are far more willing to pick up the second, which means there is already a certain level of success already baked in when they release that second book. But, there is also a lot that can go wrong. They had all the time in the world to finish their first book and no expectations. This can make writing easier and creativity come faster.

When writing a second book, often that same author will have deadlines and also the fear of trying to live up to the expectations of their fans. They have to produce something better, faster, and under pressure. While some writers can rise to the challenge, many end up creating a product that isn’t as good.

The moral of this story

The lesson here is that failure is a vital part of learning to appreciate success and being able to replicate it going forward. For those who had a lucky break their first time at the bat and perhaps hit a home run, that doesn’t make them the best player on the team.

Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s the best teacher of experience you could ever have.


Hi everyone! Jodi here. I’ve been enjoying writing these little Friday tidbits for the past while and sharing my thoughts on life, the universe, and everything. But, like all good things, it’s time for a change. At the end of October, these Friday notes will shift exclusively to my newsletter and this blog will be dedicated to weekly book and movie reviews and the occasional important announcement.

Don’t miss out – join my newsletter today. You’ll get updates, freebies, links, and all sorts of fun stuff.

Book Review: The Fork, The Witch, and The Worm, by Christopher Paolini

The full title of this book is as follows (this is important later, so pay attention):

The Fork, The Witch, and the Worm: Tales from Alagaesia, volume 1: Eragon

Pretentious much? Not only does this title promise that there will be more of these, but from differing characters as well. This book is a tiny thing, especially when compared to the other Paolini books. It’s slightly bigger than my hand and the text and margins inside are both abnormally large. The publisher wanted this to look longer than it actually is. I don’t know about you, but that feels a lot like lying to the reader. Not cool.

The book itself looks for all the world like it should be a novel – meaning a single cohesive story. It’s not. I should have read the title closer where it said “tales” as that was the only hint that this book is actually an anthology. This makes lie #2 in my book. If you read the title page and acknowledgements, you learn that Paolini’s sister wrote the second of the three stories.

The Witch part of the story, “On the Nature of Stars,” is hers and her name isn’t mentioned anywhere on the cover. Rude.

Do I have strong feelings about this? Yes. Yes I do.

The Story…?

There are three distinct short stories within this book and each one is named in the title. The first, “A Fork in the Road,” centers around a young girl who has been bullied and ends up telling her story to a stranger enjoying the fire at her parent’s tavern. The stranger ends up being something more than he seems and gives the girl a fork while teaching her a lesson that even the littlest things can make a difference. It’s a nice little story and has one of the main cast of the Inheritance series playing the role of the stranger, which isn’t revealed until the end.

The witch part, “On the Nature of Stars,” is a bit stranger. It takes the characters of Angela the healer and Elva, the girl Eragon inadvertently cursed, and fills in a chunk of the story where they go off together. So … it’s fanfiction. We get to see Angela get her own point of view, which is a nice change, and we see an effort to make things better for Elva, which was something I always thought should have happened in the original story. This story is one of the better bits of the book. Well done, Angela Paolini. Yes, Christopher borrowed her name when he wrote the character of Angela the Healer initially. I find it almost too on the nose that Angela, the writer, chose to dive deeper into that character. But that’s just me.

Then, there’s “The Worm of Kulkaras” which the scene depicted on the cover. I had high hopes that this would be an awesome dragon story. And … it’s not. The story is about Ilgra, an Anointed Urgal (they are the one’s with horns) seeking revenge after a dragon killed her father then took up residence on the nearby mountain.

These three stories are connected by a narrative led by Eragon himself as he works to make Mount Arngor the new home for the surviving dragons and to protect their eggs. Each of these stories are presented to him to help him cope as he struggles with the pressures of leadership.

My Review

I wanted to love this, I really did. I wanted to be able to fall into the story, or stories as it were, and relive a taste of the larger story contained in the Inheritance Cycle. Instead, I found the forced construction of having Eragon trying to fit these three stories into his narrative uninspired and clunky. He starts the story overwhelmed and tired and being a bad leader because he can’t take a break. The random stories are forced on him to teach him how to be a better leader, kind of, and he feels magically better for having experienced each one, even though we don’t really see him internalize anything. In the end, he’s a calmer, happier person but hasn’t overcome anything major other than being bad at managing his own time.

As for the three stories, the one that captured my imagination the most was the one written by Angela. There is an otherworldly quality to the descriptions and how the story unfolds as we are seeing the world from a character who has always been a bit of a mystery. The writing is evocative, the danger and stakes meaningful, and the characters interesting.

The other two short stories didn’t leave much of an impression. The main character of “A Fork in the Road” is a whiny girl who was forced to do a mean thing out of peer pressure and lost a friend for it. From the start, this isn’t a story I’m super interested in. I was supposed to get some lovely magic and wonder and instead I got a story that teaches young people to be brave by winning a barfight with magic and a fork.

As for the dragon story. Sigh. I get what Paolini was trying to do by writing it in a new voice to match the storytelling cadence of the Urgals, but it was downright irritating. Each sentence followed the same construction of using a prepositional phrase before completing the thought.

Literally. Every. Single. Sentence.

Sidenote: When I was a younger writer, I thought that particular construction made the words feel more important and artsy and tended to use it far more than anyone should. Several years and multiple editors later, I’ve learned better.

That, and I felt cheated by the climax. The story spent way too long building up to one ending and then pulled a rabbit out of the hat by throwing in something the reader had no idea was a threat. There was some nice action there, but the main character gets cheated by not getting the thing they wanted or the thing they actually needed. What she got instead was for the dragon to not think she was nothing, which was never an explored theme of the story.

My Recommendations

If you love Paolini and were hoping for something that broadened his created universe, this might book will leave you frustrated. There’s just enough there to tease at a few cool possibilities of something, but it left me wanting. For those diehard fans, the places it connects with existing characters were nice, but not substantial and not nearly enough.

As for it being an interesting fantasy book, if you hadn’t read the other Eragon books, the interconnecting narrative doesn’t have enough substance to stand on its own and the short stories aren’t super compelling.

It’s clean and the violence is typical for a YA fantasy.

I give The Fork, the Witch, and the Worm 2/5 stars for failing me on so many levels but having a few nice bits of writing.

Taunting Karma

Remember how last week I was so wonderfully excited about the coming of fall and how I loved all of the cozy comforts of snuggling and cocoa? Yeah, I taunted karma, and she came after me with a stick.

I forgot it would be midterms for my kiddos this week.

With virtual school this is a whole new beast to figure out. Some teachers are doing great and it’s easy to figure out what their expectations are. For these classes, its easy to have confidence that we are doing what needs to be done to stay on target.

Then, there are a precious few teachers who are trying really hard to teach virtually, but haven’t mastered communicating, well, anything. My kids want to do a good job, and heaven knows I want them to do a good job. But for a few classes, we aren’t sure what that looks like.

That means that this week I get to spend lots of extra hours helping kids write essays, research topics, learn Spanish, take videos for virtual PE, and for my youngest, stay on his Zoom calls.

And karma wasn’t done at that.

Several important appointments also ended up being scheduled all this week. These are the kind of appointments that in a perfect world I’d schedule at least a week apart because they really stress me out. But at least they’re over now, right? It’s like ripping off a band-aid to do them all at once, right? Maybe. In this instance it feels like the stress is cumulative. Instead of suffering low grade stress for longer, I get to have massive stress spikes that feel like you need to scream but can’t because it would freak out your family, so you push it all way back down instead.

Because that’s super healthy.

Thanks Karma. I know I brought this on myself, but the irony of it all is amusing.


Hi everyone! Jodi here. I’ve been enjoying writing these little Friday tidbits for the past while and sharing my thoughts on life, the universe, and everything. But, like all good things, it’s time for a change. At the end of October, these Friday notes will shift exclusively to my newsletter and this blog will be dedicated to weekly book and movie reviews and the occasional important announcement.

Don’t miss out – join my newsletter today. You’ll get updates, freebies, links, and all sorts of fun stuff.

Throwback Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean, At World’s End

There’s nothing more redeeming to an okayish sequel than to get another chance and make a trilogy. For those keeping track, this is the third Pirate’s movie and the one where Jack Sparrow is stranded on the Bonneville Salt Flats, erm, I mean Davy Jones’ locker. We also visit the foreign and mysterious South China Sea and Chow Yun-fat. Yeah, I don’t know how they talked him into the movie either, but it works.

Behold, Davy Jones’ locker. If you squint, you can see the Wasatch Range in the background.

The Story

We left the second Pirate’s movie with several unresolved issues. Will still hadn’t saved his father like he’d vowed. Jack was eaten by a Kraken, which simply cannot be because he’s the reason we watch these movies. Barbossa continues to have an unhealthy interest in the Black Pearl and since Jack is interwoven into the Pearl’s fate, is still part of the story. Davy Jones corrupted himself and Flying Dutchman and it’s crew by not fulfilling his duty of escorting dead souls of those who died at sea to the afterlife. Elizabeth feels horrible guilt because she believes she’s responsible for Jack’s death – which she is. Shackling someone to a mast while a Kraken is attacking tends to do that.

Meanwhile Lord Cutler Beckett, the project manager of the East India Company, has angered pirates far and wide by executing anyone associated with piracy in all of the Caribbean – which is literally everyone. This compels the Brethern Court, consisting of the nine pirate lords of the sea, to convene and find a way to stop him.

The former crew of the Pearl, now under Barbossa and on a boat from the South China Sea, rescue Jack from Davy Jones’ locker in what can be only called a cinematic extravaganza of special effects. One of those is finding Jack and the Pearl in the otherworldly white expanse of Davy Jones’ locker. If you ever want to see it, simply head 40 min west of Salt Lake City on I-80. Bizarre place, the kids love it.

Back to the story, Jack is needed to cast a vote at the Brethern Court, as he’s the pirate lord of the Caribbean and never appointed a successor before getting mixed up in Davy Jones’ affairs. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Swann inadvertently becomes the pirate lord of the South China Sea. They, and the other pirate lords, argue about how to handle Beckett and after lots of dialogue choose to go to war. They believe they’ll win because they have Calypso to do their bidding. And…they’re wrong. It seems no one told her that her love, Davy Jones was the one responsible for trapping her in a human body in the first place.

She causes a maelstrom, another wickedly cool special effect which draws the two hero ships into it’s spiraling waters. A great sea battle ensues, lots of crazy happens, and at this point is where the spoilers will get me into trouble.

The cover for Keira Knightly’s new album (no, not really)

My Review

This is my second favorite pirates movie after The Curse of the Black Pearl. We see some incredible new places, I particularly love the visuals of entering the ice cave into the upside down world. Is this still a complicated Pirates movie? Yes. There’s a heck ton of different storylines happening and I still haven’t quite figured out what Jack’s deal was with Davy Jones that started this whole mess in the first place.

For being complicated, at least everything feels like it fits. We know what Beckett is up do thanks to the second movie, so having him expand this role and become an even greater threat makes sense. The new characters introduced served an important role and were woven into the stories of the characters we already knew, which is fairly important. It’s what makes a sequel not feel accidental.

The only really weird part that should have been given a lot more attention is the strange relationship between Jones and Calypso. If her anger was to become a key element of the climax, then it’s important for the audience to understand where it was coming from on a very relatable level.

Yes, that is Keith Richards.

Recommendations

This is a solid movie that’s easy to like. All our favorite characters return and do fun things. There is action and cool places and dramatic effects. Yes, there is complexity, but for the most part, all of it fits together. As with all the Pirates movies, this is not great for young audiences due to the violence, dramatic explosions, and the whole bit about Will having his heart cut out, which is thankfully off screen.

As for objectionable material, yes there is a bit of kissy kissy there at the end, but all clothes stay on and it’s fairly chaste. There isn’t any swearing and everyone keeps their clothes on, although apparently ample cleavage is now okay for Disney so proceed with caution if that makes you uncomfortable.

All-in-all it’s a fun adventurous romp.

I give Pirates of the Caribbean, At World’s End 4/5 solid campy goodness with only a few weak spots.


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