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Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only an error to be exposed. -- H.L. Menken

The Rating System

Kex Liked It:
It Sucked:
It Really Sucked:
It Sucked as bad as Eyes Wide Shut:

It Sucked badly enough to bring the world to the brink of apocalypse:



Last Week: Classic Review: Stargate:

The nearly inescapable conclusion I am arriving at is that I just wasn't intended to see Castaway. It was on the agenda for Saturday, but it just didn't end up happening, so we rescheduled for Sunday. I awoke very early Sunday morning with the kind of gastro-intestinal ailment that would permit a viewer to watch all the Batman movies without actually seeing the caped crusader, so once again the adventure was postponed. Its become sort of an obsession now, however, so I will probably try again next weekend, or maybe later this week.

Rather than leaving the K.A.W. readership without a new review this week, I opted for another classic review; Stargate. I rarely miss sci-fi movies in first run, particularly if they have a strong mass appeal, and Stargate was a boxoffice champion. I've heard from a lot of people what a wonderful movie this was, so I figured it was about time to check it out for myself. Its entertaining, and wildly overrated.

This is one of those sci-fi flicks that get the credulous ET visitation nuts all worked up over ideas from which a kindergartner could extract the logical flaws. It follows along ideas presented by populist authors like Von Daniken and Sitchen that earth was previously visited by extraterrestrials who are essentially responsible for the construction of ancient wonders like the pyramids and the Sphinyx.

Now, considering that the pyramids represent astonishing creations for a bronze age technology, but rather pathetic creations for a civilization capable of interstellar travel, I continue to be amazed that anyone could buy into such nonsense, but books along this subject continue to be huge sellers; go figure. Similarly, Stargate clobbered competition at the box office the year it was released, so apparently it remains an appealing idea.

The premise of Stargate is that a mysterious ring of some sort is unearthed in Egypt in 1928. Somehow, by modern times, it ends up in the possession of the military, which is trying to deciper what it is and how it is used. This is another favorite fantasy of UFO nuts: That the military has nothing better to do than systematically suppress knowledge of ancient ET artifacts. They can't quite figure out the symbols on the object, so they enlist the help of a maverick Egyptologist, Daniel Jackson (James Spader).

Naturally Jackson figures out the symbols, and a party, led by Jack O'Neil (Kurt Russell) is sent into the stargate to find out what is on the other side. Unbeknownst to Jackson, O'Neil's real mission is to blow up the stargate at the destination point.. The party arrives on the planet Abydos, which supports a civilization similar to ancient Egypt. Curiously enough, while civilization on earth has advanced rather dramatically, not much in the way of technological development has been going on at Abydos.

Shortly after O'Neil and Jackson's party arrives, a spacecraft also reaches Abydos which reveals the true secret of the Stargate. An alien being, who turns out to be the Egyptian god Ra (Jaye Davidson, who was the man posing as a woman in The Crying Game) arrives intending to destroy life on both earth and Abydos. Apparently Ra has taken on human form because the human body is so easy to repair.

Now, I have to think that a civilization capable of routine interstellar travel and the construction of wormholes that can transport life forms from one end of the galaxy to the other would probably have solved most of their own vexing medical problems. Ra's glowing white eyes and voice that sounded like a 33 1/3 record played at 78 was also a bit distracting, so apparently they hadn't quite worked out the hostship in human bodies either.

With the help of the Abydosians, the small party of humans overcome the forces of Ra, and end up blowing up his spaceship with his own superbomb. Most of the earthlings return home, but Jackson remains behind, because he has fallen in love with a local, just like in one of those European-explorers-in-the-southseas movies. Apparently they don't blow up the stargate afterall, because a Fox Tv series based on the movies hits the screen within a couple of years. Its still running.

Films like this can be fun as long as they are viewed as "leave your brains in the parking lot" entertainment. Unfortunately, too many viewers think they are documentaries. Probably the most amazing aspect of this film is that no sequel has appeared to date. Afterall, there are probably all sorts of aliens that could stumble upon the stargate and decide to come to earth for the purpose of sucking out some human brains or something. Most Hollywood sci-fi centers around brain-sucking aliens. On the other hand, most Hollywood sci-fi just sucks in its own right, and there isn't much in the way of brains involved.

Last Week: Blackhawk Down:

For about an hour after I saw this movie, I suffered through one of the most severe crises of conscious I have ever encountered since I started doing these reviews. I seriously considered not offering a review of this film, mostly because I would have awarded it another crum of notoriety, and frankly I'd rather none of my readers receive any particular extra motivation to go see it. Personally, I wish nobody would go see it, but its already a little late for that.

Then I realized that if I didn't hold true to my real impulses and take this film on full bore, I'd be cowering in the same limp-wristed, panty-waist fashion that 95% of the reviewers in America have adopted. Hell, most of the butt-boy reviewers out there are acting like Billy Mumy's TV family in the classic Twilight Zone episode in which he is a 6-year old omnipotent monster. "Yes Ridley, this is a good movie. Its a very good thing you made it."

Bullshit. The bulk of the reviewers are wimping on this film because they are afraid of being tarred with some sort of anti-American, unpatriotic label if they don't expose it for the cinematic turd it is. Smashing this movie isn't going to tarnish the memories of brave servicemen who gave their lives in the incident it depicts. Rather, its Ridley Scott who is tarnishing that memory. No, too weak: What he is doing is cinematically dropping trou and taking a long, serious whiz right on their graves.

Not that anyone should be particularly surprised by that. Ridley Scott hasn't made a good film since Thelma and Louise in 1992, and the man creates silver screen garbage like the French crank out B.O. Last year he managed to win an Oscar for the pathetic and wildly overrated Gladiators, mostly because the Academy voters who actually have the common sense to vote for a decent movie that has something important to say split their vote between Traffic and Erin Brockovich. Meanwhile, a small plurity of voters obviously too clueless to find a Mormon in Provo decided the vote.

There really isn't much plot here to summarize. The story loosely recounts the tragic attempt by the U.S. military to weaken a militant Somalian leader by kidnapping a couple of his deputies in 1993. The military didn't reckon on his potent militia, and what was supposed to be a relatively easy, one hour extraction operation turned into a bloody 13 hour fire fight that cost the lives of 18 Americans and about 1000 Somalians.

The movie is primarly an account of the battle itself, with the political and historical context so removed that we could have been watching an account of any battle that has taken place anywhere in the world over the last 5 decades. For as much action as the film presents, it is utterly impossible to distinguish between the various characters, or even give a flying crap about any of them. Mostly we just want to get out of the theater ourselves in one piece, with a measure of sanity and our hearing preserved.

Not that taking the politics out of the film is an entirely bad thing. As it is, this movie will already provide a generation of brain dead conservatives yet another opportunity to renew their attacks on former President Clinton. I've never figured out their virulent hostility toward the man, apart from their overpowering jealousy that he managed to get himself a hummer and most of them have never had one.

Well, that may not be entirely true. John "Stebby" Stebbins, who's name is changed to Grimes (Ewan McGregor) in this film might well have landed himself one at some point. Unfortunately he apparently did it with someone underage, and not consenting, consequently he is presently serving a 30 year sentence at Leavenworth for rape and child molestation. The army insisted that his real name not be used in this movie, hence the change. I'm glad they did, because an hommage to sensibility of that nature would have never occured to a hack director like Scott.

And before I get anymore emails from the political right claiming that if the current president got himself involved in a similar sex scandal, I'd be screaming my head off, here is the reality. If Shrub got himself a blowjob from an 18 year old, blonde high school cheerleader on national TV tommorow, I wouldn't give crap one. What I would like him to do is to take some real action to get all the G.E.D. wannabes off the security gates at our airports so I can feel halfway secure flying again.

Blackhawk Down also stars Josh Hartnett as Sgt. Matt Eversmann, Tom Sisemore as Colonel Danny McKnight (surprise! Sisemore is actually still alive at the end of the movie!) Eric Bana as Sgt Norm Hooten, William Richtner as Sgt Paul Howe, and Sam Shepard as General Garrison. Not that you will be able to tell most of the characters apart, and Scott explains that in some cases, some of the characters represent consolidations of numerous real people. Another B.S. Scottism. Most of them are stereotypes imported from every war movie ever made.

I want to issue an extreme caution to parents that if you go see this film (don't), absolutely, positively do NOT take the children. This movie isn't just violent, its one of the most violent movies ever made. The comparison to Saving Private Ryan is inevitable, but there is a critical difference. Private Ryan left me feeling down and drained, but at least I felt I had just watched an important movie. This film just left me feeling violated.

The film opened with a quote from Plato scrolled across the screen: "Only the dead have known the end of war." The same might be said of bad movies.

Last Week: Chicago:

I tried to warn you people. Massive action should have been taken. But the voice crying in the wilderness was ignored as usual. Now the time has come to pay the piper, and you have no one to blame but yourselves. You could have listened, BUT NOOOOOOOOOO. We just sat on our asses and let it all go by.

First, we let Hollywood actually go out and create a horrifying assault on our senses like Moulin Rouge. At that point, the masses should have been marching on Hollywood and just flat torching the place. But it didn't happen. Then we let the bigshot critics rave and smoochy up to that piece of trash, and allowed it to be nominated for all sorts of awards. What did you think was going to happen in the wake of something like that?

What did happen was the production and release of Chicago. Just in case anyone doesn't know, the word Chicago means "stinking onion" in one Native American tongue. Titling this film Chicago is almost complimentary. But in the aftermath of Moulin Rouge, this was just inevitable. Somebody was bound to think this movie was a good idea. Expressing how bad of an idea this really was is almost impossible.

By the conclusion of this film, it must be admitted that Kex stared at the closing credits virtually speechless. Leaving me speechless is about as easy as sitting through all of a 72 hour Gilbert Godfried marathon. Then again, I'd rather do that than sit through this movie again. Or maybe he could have appeared in this movie. It wouldn't have made it worse.

I think my most vivid memory of the movie, in retrospect, was a vain attempt to fashion ice cubes from my soft drink into sufficiently sharp projectiles to jam into my eyeballs. But they kept melting too fast. It occured to me that I'd still be able to hear what was happening in any event, so there was just no means of successfully dulling all the appropriate senses simultaneously.

The utter disorientation associated with this movie is profound. Its a little like going to bed one night in America, and awakening the next morning in some third rate Banana Republic where the nation's leader is some war-mongering, pin-headed moron nobody elected. Oh yeah.... Well, we shouldn't have to endure that kind of displacement TWICE in a lifetime. Its just too much.

This movie has virtually no plot whatsoever. Its a 5 minute story stretched into a full length, two hour movie as the result of a lot of dancing and music. Mind you, I have no problem being entertained by dancing and music. Its just that a lot of it is brought to us by none other than Richard Gere. Don't you think that if someone was going to make a movie in which Richard Gere sings and dances, that it might have occured to someone, at some point before they actually cast him, to ask him if he could actually do it? Believe it or not, that little oversite slipped by the folks that made this travesty.

The likes of this result hasn't been seen on the silver screen since the 60's, when Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood were cast to sing and dance in Paint Your Wagon. I guess what this proves is that Hollywood is reluctant to learn from its own mistakes. just wait long enough, most of 40 years in this case, and someone will repeat someone elses bone-headed blunder in spades.

One of the female leads is Rene Zellweger. She can't sing either, although she can dance a little. The real problem here is that she had to wear a lot of slinky costumes that were supposed to be enticing and sexy. But Zellweger has no boobs. I mean none. Nada. Zippo. Hell, Gere had bigger boobs than she did.

Katherine Zeta-Jones plays the primary female supporting role. She also has to sing and dance, and her talents in both areas are at least passable. She also has at least the hint of boobs, so the sexy costumes were more appealing on her. Unfortunately, using the word "appealing" in any context associated with this film is a severe misnomer.

Queen Latifa is also in the movie, and she can definitely sing. Watching her dance, however, is a little like watching elephants ice skate. But she does have boobs. Wow, does she have boobs. They must be like size ZZZZZZZZZZZZ or something. I think most of them exists in hyperspace. Maybe she should donate some of them to Rene Zellweger. Or maybe Zellweger should just consider implants. Then again, she could just be forced to watch this movie a couple of dozen times. Something is bound to swell up.

I knew this movie was entirely fictional, not from the music and dancing, but from the plot itself. According to this movie, some lady in Chicago, back in the 20's, was picking up a gun and killing her husband about every 5 minutes. If anything like that were really going on in those days, we'd probably have some sort of sane gun control laws these days. No such luck, however.

This movie also had a huge cast of scantily clad females in huge, elaborate production numbers. They wore extremely slinky costumes, and did a lot of very suggestive bumping and grinding. And were those costumes every slinky...tiny tops adorned with sequins, little G-strings, very tight fitting....wait, what am I saying? This was truly one of the greatest pieces of film making I've ever seen.

Last Week: A Kex Video Review: Out of Time:

I saw just enough previews of The Butterfly Effect to come to a sane decision that I didn't want to blow any portion of a sunny January afternoon sitting through it. To make matters worse, there weren't any particularly interesting new or independent releases to fall back on this week. In fact, the only other half way appealing possibility was the rerelease of Mystic River.

The principle reason that the folks who are responsible for Mystic River decided to put it back in theaters is that they must have some suspicion that the bribes were sufficient to land it at least a couple of Oscar nominations this week, so its back in the theaters rather than gaining dust on the shelves at Blockbuster. I didn't particularly want to see it when it first came out a few months ago, and my enthusiasm hasn't been buoyed much since.

So it was off to the rental store, where we brought home two recent DVD releases, View From The Top, and Out of Time. I'm embarrased enough to admit that I saw the former, let alone review it, so Out of Time got the nod, although it was a close call. Writing a review of this movie isn't much more fun than sitting through it.

If Oscar nominations this Tuesday included a category for the most retarded attempt at a convoluted plotline, Out of Time would be a shoe-in for not only the nomination, but the odds on favorite to win the statue next month. Even an actor with the talents and capability of Denzel Washington couldn't make this mess worth sitting through. The only way this film could have even approached a reasonable level of entertainment value would have been to enact the script using collubus monkeys.

The first problem with this script is that it doesn't remotely acknowledge the realities of life in a small town. In this particular case, the small town in question was a little one horse settlement somewhere in Florida, not that it made a bit of difference. The realities of life in tiny towns is that generally everyone ends up knowing everyone else's business. If they don't know what is going on simply by keeping their eyes open, they can always get updated by watching the inevitable airing of laundry on Springer.

In the small town in question, Chief Whitlock (Denzel Washington) is boinking Ann Harrison (Sanna Lathan), who happens to be the wife of one of his underlings, Chris Harrison (Dean Caine). Chris is apparently a former NFL quarterback turned cop. Meanwhile, Whitlock is in the process of divorcing his hottie detective wife, Alex-Diaz (Eva Mendes).

You can't tell me that the morally bankrupt antics of the chief of police and a former NFL quarterback wouldn't be the daily discussion in the local barbershops and hen sewing circles. Yet somehow or another, the entire soap opera remains more or less under raps. But hang onto your chairs folks, things get a lot more complicated.

Apparently a big drug bust has occured somewhere in the proximity of this little Florida burgh, and Chief Whitlock and his force are charged with the safe-keeping of $450,000 in confiscated bills as evidence. Chris, Anne and some other sleazy character the writers pulled out of their ass for convienience half way through the movie decide that Whitlock is enough of a moron to hand the money over to Anne, providing he is mislead into believing that she is seriously ill. It turns out that he is, in fact, stupid enough to fall for their con.

After receiving the money, Anne and Chris fake their deaths, and the evidence all seems to point to Whitlock. But guess who shows up to investigate the apparent twin homocides? Yup, the good Chief's wife. So he has to stay one step of her investigation wiping out everything that seems to incriminate him, while at the same time, seemingly aiding in advancing the investigation.

The biggest problem with the whole movie is that we don't particularly care whether he succeeds or not. In the first place, he did steal state's evidence for which his ass should have been thrown in jail. I don't give a crap if his motives seemed to be honorable. The man was an idiot, and he was doing his thinking from behind his zipper. So I spent 105 minutes of my life trying to think of a good reason why this moron shouldn't end up stamping license plates.

I didn't succeed in finding one. Through a rather ridiculous series of events fortuitous for Whitlock, he ends up getting bailed out of the hot water, and I was just reminded once again that there isn't a hell of a lot of justice in the real world either. Well, there is a little. This movie wasn't exactly a big success at the box office, and the number of Academy Award nominations it will receive this week will be exactly equal to the number of WMD's found to date in Iraq, which is equal to the number of days Neil Bush spent in jail for obscounding with even more money than Whitlock.

Last Week: The Wedding Date:

I thought things would actually get better after I left the movie theater. After seeing a film this bad, you could probably appreciate any sort of life you might lead outside the theater, even if it mostly involves sleeping in a cardboard box and dining at the dumpster buffet.

Then we went to a restaurant to eat. I won't say which one, but the franchise is owned by a former movie star who made a lot of trashy comedy films that didn't involve much more than car chases and inept law enforcement officers. Most of them were filmed in the south.

Anyway, after I made my lunch selection, the waitress politely asked if I were ordering off the regular menu, or the senior menu. I politely asked if she wanted to small tip or none at all. No. Actually I didn't. I should have. Maybe its time to look into the cost of a bottle of Grecian Formula.

The Wedding Date is sort of a mirror image remake of Pretty Woman. As most movie goers will recall, that is the film that made Julia Roberts a megastar, and planted the seed into the minds of a generation of young girls that a career in prostitution is a potential road to meeting fabulously wealthy single men who look like Richard Gere.

Of course, those that actually tried it found out that it is a much quicker path to terrible diseases, unwanted pregnancies, drug abuse and regular beatings at the hands of your employer. And those are usually the positive aspects of the job.

The Wedding Date plays the same story in reverse. Kat (Debra Messing) is a young woman who is about to fly off to Scotland in order to attend her younger sister's wedding. The bestman at the wedding is her former boyfriend, so she doesn't want to attend the wedding alone. She figures if she can show up on the arm of a handsome man, her ex-lover will be insanely jealous, and maybe even come back to her.

So, Kat cashes in most of her 401K in order to hire a handsome male escort named Nick (Dermot Mulroney). Now, at this point, its necessary to pause to make a couple of important points. First, Kat works as a customer service representative for an airline. That is certainly a perfectly respectible occupation, but one that probably doesn't pay fabulously. So immediately we wonder how the hell Kat manages to afford a nice apartment in downtown Manhatten that probably carries about a $3000 a month price tag: Probably a couple of times what Kat pulls in at work.

This is a dumb mistake Hollywood writers make constantly, because most of them are so out of touch with what things are like in the real world that they truly believe that a counter person at McDonalds could afford to stay indefinitely at the penthouse suite in the Waldorf. It just ain't so. So please, Hollywood people; no more movies where characters live wildly beyond their means.

The second thing we begin to wonder about is why an attractive, single woman in New York City is apparently incapable of finding a guy to accompany her on an expenses paid trip to Scotland without having to pay him six thousand bucks. I know guys that would jump at the chance just to spend a few hours on a plane ride with a woman that looked like Debra Messing, even if it meant that their skin would turn purple for a month afterward. Nevermind the fringe benefit of a free trip to Scotland, and the possibility of actually having sex with her.

So Nick and Kat jet off to Scotland, and a film that already isn't too good decides to really take the lowroad. Instead of pursuing an interesting comedic path in which the two attempt to sell their relationship to an avante-garde assortment of characters, or some similar entertaining plotline, this film degenerates along a different line. It seems that the reason that Kat's ex broke up with her is because he slept with her sister. He loves her, but she is marrying his best friend. And Kat is disappointed and angry with her little sister for her betrayal.

Meanwhile, Nick is just trying to be sage and savy, as he is falling in love with Kat through the entire ordeal. And as we suffer along with him, the film is blasting us with one of those manipulative soundtracks that make the action on the screen almost unnecessary. You could more or less deduce what is going on in the plot without hearing a single line of dialog, providing you could hear the music.

There is one exception, when an old Air Supply song suddenly makes its way into the soundtrack in such a wildly inappropriate fashion that it might as well have wandered onto the screen from another film.

But in the end, Kat and Nick fall in love. He gives up his male escort career, which means that he is leaving behind a series of encounters with horny gay men and lonely elderly ladies. Since that doesn't leave him qualifed for any type of job that doesn't involve a drive up window somehow, Kat's financial prospects certainly aren't going to improve. I do hope that she has good medical insurance, though, since his bacteria infested body is likely to infect her with a dozen veneral diseases.

Last Week: Failure to Launch:

If they had left "to launch" out of the title, the overall description of this film would have been much more apt.

I'm going to admit one thing. For all but about 30 seconds, this movie was almost tolerable, and would otherwise have rated no worse than a frowny. Then the people who made it had to flush the experience completely and show us something no movie goer in the history of the universe ever wanted to see.

I can demonstrate my point with a quick question. Okay, by show of hands, how many of you out there have EVER wanted to see the geriatric butt cheeks of Terry Bradshaw? That makes none of I don't even have to ask the second question. But just in case you are curious, it was this: How many of you out there have ever wanted to see the naked butt of Terry Bradshaw TWICE?

Now comes the complete suspension of disbelief part of our program. Suppose for just a moment that there was ever a sexual union between Kathy Bates and Terry Bradshaw that produced offspring. I realize of course that this could never, ever happen in OUR universe, considering that there is no woman on the planet who could stand Bradshaw's obnoxious personality long enough to have sex with him, and Kathy Bates is a devoted lesbian.

However, just assume for a moment that such a thing COULD happen. Does anyone out there believe for even a second that the product of such a union would result in anything that looks vaguely like Matthew McConaughey? I don't think so either. But this film asks us to believe that anyway.

The storyline here is equally implausible. Tripp (McConaughey) is a 30 something young man who still lives at home, with no intention to ever leave. His parents (Bradshaw and Bates) want him to fly the coup, so they hire a young woman (Sarah Jessica Parker) who claims to be an expert in getting men in similar situations to leave home.

All this really proves is that Tripp's parents are clueless idiots. It probably isn't THAT difficult to convince a young man with a good job to leave home. The phrase "make his life a living hell" comes immediately to mind. Instead, the pair chose this more elaborate and probably expensive method.

Its not all that hard to figure out where the plot of this movie is going to go from there...obviously everything is going to backfire, the young woman is going to fall for Tripp, they are going to have some big blowout, then eventually get back together. And that is, of course, exactly what happens.

So, just to keep the movie from being too predictable, the writers unleashed an entirely unnecessary sideplot about Parker's weird female roommate, who is being driven crazy by a mockingbird. To her rescue comes one of Tripp's loser friends, who also live at home with his parents, and of course, they also launch into a torrid love affair.

You see, Tripp's two best friends are also clueless losers who live with their parents. I'm not sure how all these guys met...maybe there is a bar somewhere for 30 something males in the throws of arrested adolescence.

But if the nude scenes featuring Bradshaw aren't sufficient assault on your optical senses, your hearing is also attacked at the end of the film when Bradshaw and Kathy Bates join together in singing a musical duet. So much for Failure to Launch. I left the theater deeply regretting that the projector didn't fail to start.

Last Week: Pirates of the Caribbean: At's World's End: (no pun intended)

Kex: At Wit's End. This movie is about as much fun as walking the plank. I love Disneyland. I love the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. But if it were nearly 3 hours long, I'd jump ship and swim for it after about 20 minutes. Everyone who has ever been to Disneyland or World knows well that while the rides are wonderful, they mostly exist to get you into the gift shops at the end. The most enduring mystery in life is how parents with a couple of kids can afford to take a family there.

Much like Disney rides, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 only existed to get us into Pirates 3, which mostly existed because Pirates of the Caribbean, Curse of the Black Pearl made a kajillion dollars. I dare you to go back and watch the first movie, then explain to me how the second and third relate to it in any way, shape or form, beyond the same title phrase and a few actors.

It would be utterly impossible to attempt to explain much of the plot of this movie, since it is a series of fractured and not entirely consistant plot details that ultimately lead nowhere in particular. For a film that is ostensibly centered on action and fun, this effort breaks away every time something interesting is starting to happen, and disintegrages into 100 interminable blabfests.

The characters in this film spend so much time explaining what they are about to do, and what they have done, and what they wish they had done that the entire mess feels about as charming as a Russian novel. This film simply collapses under its own weight, and by the end, we are wishing for a mindless special effects extravaganza just to ease the unbearable tedium.

The only particularly good thing about this film is the performance of Johnny Depp, which actually adds to the misery of the whole experience. Orlando Bloom is so wooden that we half expect someone to drop him suppine and force some misbehaving crew member to walk off his back into the foaming brine. Kiera Nightly is as invisible as an attractive woman can be, and Geoffery Rush never figures out how to play his character. That leaves Depp to blow everyone else off the screen with his over-the-top characterization of Jack Sparrow.

Twenty minutes into this film, most of the audience was so confused and lost by the swarm of competing plotlines that most of them were just wishing for the onset of canon fire and a good free for all battle. Not to worry. They only had to wade through more of the same for most of two hours before the big, confusing final battle ensued. Even that didn't bring the film to a climatic conclusion. Instead, we had to suffer through another 15 minutes of wrap up, which really did little more then to set up the possibility of Pirates of the Caribbean 4: The Search for the Fountain of Youth.

I'd suggest an alternate title--Pirates of the Caribbean 4: Yet Another Raid On Your Wallet. Does anyone out there really believe that this was the final installment? No way folks. Hollywood has come up with a new formula: Give you a lot of more of the same, and hope you'll keep turning out to see it.

Our closest movie theater, which is just a few blocks down the street is one of those 16 screen megaplexes with stadium seating. Yesterday, the 16 screens were devoted to showing exactly 4 movies: This one, Shrek 3, Spiderman 3 and some other movie that was showing on one screen. Think about that one for a moment: There were 3 movies showing on 15 screens, everyone one of them we had effectively seen twice before. Tell me that anyone in Hollywood is working hard on coming up with new ideas.

The good news here is that we are very early in the summer season, and we are almost done with sequels. The only other major sequel still to come is Evan Almighty, which at least features some different characters, most importantly, no Jim Carrey this time around. Everything else is at least sort of original, although the bet here is that even the original productions are going to look a lot like stuff we have seen before.

I'm not going to recommend this film to anyone with particular enthusiasm, but special caution is issued to parents. The running time is very close to 3 hours, and frankly, it feels like it. There is a lot of violence and no chance that children will be able to follow the dozens of competing plotlines. Heck, most adults won't be able to follow the plethora of plotlines. If Jimmy Buffet sees this film, he probably won't want to be a pirate anymore.

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