Pirates of the Caribbean number 5…an enjoyable conclusion

The latest Pirates movie is great. It is less confusing than the previous films, funny, full of action, and has a satisfyingly conclusive ending.

It starts off hilariously with a ‘bank heist’ and a tipsy and, as usual, useless Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) who narrowly escapes beheading by guillotine. Shipless and crewless Sparrow is nevertheless still in demand.

Intersecting story characters include Salazar (a cursed, ghostly foe from Sparrow’s past) who sails the Flying Dutchman (a ghostly ship), Barbosa (a living foe) and Henry Turner (son of Will Turner). All of them need Sparrow: Salazar (a marvellous Javier Bardem) for revenge for Sparrow’s defeat of him many years prior; Barbosa (Geoffrey Rush) for a special map and the magic compass; and Turner (Brenton Thwaites) for help finding a magical treasure. A very clever and determined woman, Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) also enters the mix. She figures out how the map works and joins up with Sparrow and Turner. The three, together with Sparrow’s absurd crew, ‘resurrect’ The Black Pearl and set sail.

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The Book Thief moves, teaches, impresses

A review by Brenda Daniels

The Book Thief is the story of young Liesel Meminger who lives in Germany during World War II. Unable to keep her children, Liesel’s mother sends Liesel and her younger brother by train to a village in Germany to live with foster parents Hans and Rosa.

In the opening moments of the film, Liesel’s brother inexplicably dies leaving only Liesel to start a new life with strangers. During a quiet burial ceremony beside the train tracks the cleric drops a book which Liesel picks up and keeps.  It’s title? “The Gravedigger’s Handbook”. This introduction sets the scene for the film: a film about death, about book theft, and about the relationships forged by a young girl through and around those books.

Based on the book of the same title by Markus Zusak, The Book Thief depicts the desperately sad effects of war – and death – on real, small people. Death surprises its victims – depicted in the film by juxtaposing beautiful music and calm narration with violent content. But somehow the subject of death is not morbid and by the end viewers are simply left with a sense of how close death is to each of us. Relationships in The Book Thief are acted with depth and finesse, especially by Geoffrey Rush (Hans), Emily Watson (Rosa) and Sophie Nélisse (Liesel). And it is the relationships that are forefronted; Germany and WWII form only the backdrop.

The film follows the same lyrical quality as the book. It is a beautiful portrayal of how important relationships are in the face of suffering. It is a film that teaches, that moves, that leaves a lasting impression. I will treasure it along with my copy of the book.

The Book Thief opens at NuMetro cinemas in South Africa on 24 January. It carries an age restriction of 10PGV.

Illustrated page from The Book Thief  (Source: Creative Commons)

Illustrated page from The Book Thief (Source: Creative Commons)