You may be asking yourself, what is Pirates of the Caribbean, a film series based off a theme park ride, doing with a fifth installment? I can tell you in one word. Money! But, what about quality? Is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and the rest of the Pirates franchise for that matter, a success or failure?
This exchange occurs between Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) and Diana Prince /Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in one of the major turning points of the film. Diana is eager to leave her home, the island of Themyscira, and venture back into man’s world in an effort to end World War I, while Hippolyta advises against it, encouraging her daughter to remain safe on the island. Although the heavenly comforts of her home are enticing, Diana forgoes security and comfort for a cause that’s greater than herself. By the film’s end, she is far from the naive and innocent girl that viewers first saw; instead she is a battle-hardened and mature woman, shaped by her experiences. As viewers stare at her with awe at her transformation, they realize the answer to Diana’s question: she would not have grown had she not left what was comfortable and routine.
I remember back in elementary school, my friends would all read Captain Underpants, a silly comic book series by Dav Pilkey about a superhero who donned nothing but tighty-whities and a red cape. I never actually read the series myself, excepting one time in the school library where I ended up taking a quick peek for myself. This past Friday, DreamWorks Animation brought the comics to life with Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. Directed by David Soren and written by Nicholas Stoller, Captain Underpants manages to tell a competent story with good characters and a surprising variety of laughs. The movie focuses on two schoolboys, George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch), who build their friendship on their sense of humor.
Crafting a good prequel film can be tricky. While it is exciting to see backstories of fan-favorite characters or the genesis of a cinematic world, the audience usually knows the outcome of the film. No matter how ambitious, creative, or innovative directors attempt to be, prequels are doomed from the start and are always a slave to canon. As a result, most prequels (X-Men: First Class, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Rogue One aside) are merely “creative ways” to reach an assured end and can often feel only marginally connected to the original film that inspired it. This debacle is largely what plagues director Ridley Scott’s latest sci-fi horror film, Alien: Covenant.
Concept albums are often a substantial sacrifice to commercial success. If an artist’s impulse to explore a certain idea outweighs their desire to make simpler songs with less context, that are a better fit for their brand, the album may not grab the popularity that a less complex album could have. For some people, the idea and passion that ties a project together may be enough to excuse a lesser quality of music. For others, having an exceptional concept isn’t enough to uphold an otherwise lackluster album. Logic’s Everybody, his third studio album and his seventh musical project released in the past seven years, should be enough to satisfy, if not please, both sides.
Considering the wide variety of obscure Marvel characters, from Squirrel Girl to Spider-Ham, then the likes of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Racoon and Groot are not too out of left field. The only question was whether audiences would be receptive to an Odyssean epic set against the backdrop of 70s and 80s tunes, where a human space pirate, emerald assassin, vindictive warrior and an anthropomorphic raccoon, along with his tree sidekick, joined forces to save the universe. Yet, with due faith in the Marvel brand and an innovative script from James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, Guardians of the Galaxy ended up being one of the best breakout hits of 2014, praised for its touching characters, visual splendor, humor and unpredictability. Just as the superhero genre was becoming stale due to a bevy of uninspired films like Iron Man, Thor and the X-Men sequels, Guardians gave new life to the genre. The film helped propel other eccentric and outlandish properties, such as Ant-Man (2015), into the mainstream zeitgeist.
Everyone has their guilty pleasures. I have to admit, Pirates of the Caribbean is one of mine. How can you not love the soundtrack from At World’s End? Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is just around the corner, and I’m wondering what they’re going to do with it. After internet pirates ironically “pirated” the movie, which is about pirates, I wondered what would possess them to do that.
Emma Watson, Tom Hanks and John Boyega in the same movie? A movie that’s a tech thriller about the dangers of social media? Man, I was hyped for this film! I mean, it had to at least be fun, right? Unfortunately, I haven’t been this disappointed in a movie since Batman v. Superman. Directed by James Ponsoldt and based on the book by Dave Eggers, The Circle comes across as a soapbox movie that can’t even get its message straight.
It’s been a busy semester, believe me, I know. Most of you so inclined have not had the time to read any comics, what with all assignments and studying, and guess what? Neither have I. But I have been able to pretend to have time on occasion, so with borrowed time I would like to recommend a few of the year’s best comics to brush up on when school’s out.
LEAVING RICHARD’S VALLEY by Michael Deforge
The Webcomic Pick
Many of you readers may have a sensitive wallet, so I thought I’d kick off this list with a comic you can read absolutely free of charge on a little place called the internet. Alt Comics enfant terrible Michael Deforge has been serializing Leaving Richard’s Valley on Twitter and Instagram in semi-daily updates with an improvisational energy that almost looks easy.
Cornell Cinema inaugurates a new 3-D projection system Friday night with the post-apocalyptic film Mad Max: Fury Road.
In 2016, Cornell Cinema received a capital equipment grant from the New York State Council on the Arts offering the campus theatre half of the installation cost for a 3-D system. A crowdfunding campaign launched in November matched the funds — remarkably quickly — and the Friday night show will be its first run. For many people, myself included, 3-D film still feels new. Cornell Cinema hopes to share the medium’s weighted cinematic history. The first 3-D exhibition dates back to 1915 and, since that time, the stereoscopic method attracts Hollywood, independent, documentary, foreign and experimental film productions.