pirates dead men

By Laurie Coker

Rating: C-

The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise his in the past provided for a thrill ride at the theatre. Johnny Depp created a memorable, fun character in Jack Sparrow and he reprises the role for Disney’s latest film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell no Tales, but he seems less than engaged in this installment. The film’s final credits attribute literally hundreds of artists and animators – these talent people and the special effects crew are the stars of Dead Men Tell no Tales. Overt efforts to amuse play out like a kiddy ride at Disney World and the jokes and gags, especially in the first act are just plain dumb. Regardless, directors Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning, for a script by Jeff Nathanson manage a bit of intrigue and a touch of entertainment as the film progresses. Read more »



By Laurie Coker

Rating: C+/B-

A film that purposely makes fun of itself works, if even on the most asininely inane level. The Baywatch movie, starring Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, does just that – with no apologies and none are needed. Director Seth Gordon, working from a script offered by a half dozen writers, uses every gag, pratfall and joke in the book and does so sometimes in slow motion. The sand of the bay is riddled with bikinis, boards, bags, beach bums and not-so-covert criminal activity. In a tale of good versus evil, Baywatch lifeguards race to curtail murder and drug trafficking on their otherwise nearly perfect beats. Read more »



By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

As a child growing up in a Catholic family and remaining active in the church through most of my childhood, I witnessed the different dynamics of power within my community.  I saw several pastors come and go, each bringing something different to the church, its services and activities.   Some of these were happily accepted by the members, while others were highly controversial and often led to negative reactions by the people.  As someone who experienced this in my younger years, I could easily relate to the story and themes of The Women’s Balcony, an Israeli-produced film that doesn’t deal with controversy within a Catholic Church, but the controversial changes made by a new Rabbi in a Jewish synagogue.  This catalyst in the film makes for a thoroughly lovable and mostly amusing story of female empowerment and the power of people to evoke necessary change. Read more »



By Renee’ Collins

Rating: 4 (Out of 5 Reels)

Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) finds the winds of ill fortune blowing even more strongly when deadly ghost pirates led by his old nemesis, the terrifying Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), escape from the Devil’s Triangle, determined to kill every pirate at sea…including him (IMDB).

Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) are new comers and an excellent addition to the franchise who round out the group who are desperately searching for the Trident of Poseidon.

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By Mark Saldana

Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

With the huge critical and financial success of the Jump Street movies, other studios have quickly followed suit with more comedic film adaptations of televisions series, though most of them have yet to achieve the same levels of success and acclaim (Dark Shadows, CHiPs).  From 1989 through 2001, the cheesy, and often melodramatic, action drama series Baywatch aired and gained a massive following.  The silly and corny adventures of beach lifeguards, who often fought crime and performed other services above and beyond the call of duty, offers loads upon loads of rich fodder deserving of the spoof treatment.  This is what seven writers and director Seth Gordon (Horrible Bosses, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters) have attempted to do with their Baywatch movie.  Starring Dwayne Johnson, the film does succeed in delivering some good laughs, but within a mostly formulaic and cliche plot and story. Read more »