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May 23, 2011 - Image 8

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Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-05-23

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8

Monday, May 23, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Stormy seas for 'Pirates'

TVAnetworks prepare for
another polar fall season
By JAMIE BLOCK Read more previewson MichiganDaily.comR
Daily Arts Writer

Even the devilish Jack
Sparrow can't save
Disney's sinking ship
By TIMOTHY RABB
DailyArts Writer
When contemplating Disney,
one often visualizes the iconic Cin-
derella castle, the Epcot Center's
resemblance to
a golf ball and
Kodak moments
with Mickey and Pirates of
(an occasionally
naughty) Donald the Carib-
Duck. bean: On
But more nota-
ble than Disney's Stranger
obsessive brand- ri es
ing is its relent-
less effort to At Quality 16
bastardize every and Rave
idea the com-D.n
pany has stowed Disney
in its vaults. Step
one, tell us an enchanting story;
step two, keep milkinguntil there's
nothing left; step three, milk some
more.
This week's "Pirates of the
Caribbean: On Stranger Tides"
is no exception. Straight from
the prolific yet uninspired Jerry
Bruckheimer (who, in case you
didn't know, is the Michael Bay of
cop-themed TV shows and is now
set on ruining pirate films), it's
everything we've come to expect
from the franchise since 2006's
"Dead Man's Chest." The plot is
shallow, the characters are flatter
than flapjacks and the action is too

COURTESY OF DISNEY
Stay tuned for "Jack Sparrow and the Order of the Phoenix."

frequent and hectic to make room
for a good story.
"Pirates" (which is adapted from
Tim Powers' novel, "On Stranger
Tides") finds the eccentric Jack
Sparrow in London searching for
his impersonator. The crook turns
out to be Sparrow's former lover
Angelica (Pendlope Cruz, "Vicky
Cristina Barcelona"). Together,
the two find Angelica's father, the
ruthless pirate Blackbeard (Ian
McShane, "Deadwood"). Beauti-
ful though she may be, Cruz looks
lost in her role, and her acting takes
a deserved second place to Keira
Knightley's career-making per-
formance as Elizabeth in the first
three "Pirates" films.
Without Knightley and Orlando
Bloom to start the film off on solid
footing, the rest of it is a merry-go-
round of pirate clichds, chandelier-
swinging slapstick and of course,
Johnny Depp, who was quite enter-
taining ... the first time around. But
even an industry darling like Depp
can't stave off Sparrow's expiration
date, now long past. Drunken emo
pirate impressions can only amuse
us for so long.

What's to be said of the film's
strengths? Though it's hardly a
compliment, Disney earns a star for
cuttingthe runtime down closer to
two hours. It's hard to imagine how
they could've added another half
hour of nothing without incurring
the ire of an angry movie mob.
The other star is well-earned for
excellent production value, the only
real saving grace. The make-up, the
attention to detail and choreogra-
phy are, per usual, excellent. They
should be, if a production budget
of $250 million has anything to say
about it. But the writers failed to
borrow much of anything from an
abundance of source material, save
for a few character references.
Though the built-in fan base
of the first three "Pirates" films
may ensure the box office success
of "On Stranger Tides", it's clear
that Disney has become its own
worst enemy. Maybe they should
let Pixar take the wheel from here
on out. Originality is always better
than lazy rehashing. If "National
Treasure 3" is any indication, we're
in for a lot more of the same from
Disney Pictures.

Last week shaped television
forever - or at least for next fall -
when the major networks held their
annual upfronts, announcing their
new fall schedules. Here is a spot-
light on the upcoming shows that
matter - either for looking particu-
larly strong or particularly awful.
THE STRONG
NBC's "Awake" - This is shap-
ing up to be best new series in a
long time. Jason Isaacs, perhaps
best known for portraying Lucius
Malfoy in the "Harry Potter" films,
takes the lead role in a series that
is already earning comparisons
to "Inception" for the way it plays
with our conceptions of dreams and
reality. The series follows a cop who
gets into a car accident with his wife
and son in the car. He wakes up into
two different realities: one in which
his son died in the crash, and one
in which his wife died. He goes to
sleep in one reality only to wake
up in the other. But details from
the realities begin to bleed over, as
clues to a case in one reality spawn
new leads in the other, and his two
psychiatrists each attempt to con-
vince him that the other reality is
nothing but a dream. It's a dark,
surreal yet ultimately relatable, tale
of not wanting to let go. This awe-
inspiring new series comes from
the great mind of Kyle Killen, the
creator of last fall's "Lone Star,"
which was also met with critical
acclaim. Hopefully this time, audi-

show. If the series is even close to as
compelling as the trailer, they really
should.
NBC's "Free Agents" - It's
nice to see some smart, dry com-
edy on NBC, and even nicer to see
Hank Azaria being lovably, miser-
able. There's a genuine, pretty sad
story lingering there behind all the
laughs. While it's mostly a work-
place comedy, this one's really about
the characters. This is going to be
one of those shows that, like "Com-
munity," doesn't always have to be
laugh out loud funny, because audi-
ences will be invested in the story
itself. The one bad thing about this
show is that it's getting a bit of an
experimental run on Wednesdays
instead of the prominent Thursday-
night block spot it deserves.
CBS's "Person of Interest"
- Michael Emerson ("Lost") is
enough to make any new series
seem appealing. He plays billion-
aire Mr. Finch, who has a mysteri-
ous list of people about to commit
violent crimes, and hires vigilan-
tes to prevent them from doing so.
His newly hired vigilante is Reese,
played by Jim Caviezel ("The Pris-
oner"), a government agent turned
depressed homeless person. While
the show may not have a particular-
ly exciting or new premise, it does
seem to be a particularly strong
take on the action drama, with
strong performances and compel-
ling mysteries surrounding its main
characters.

mm ME

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ences will actually tune into his THE AWFUL
NBC's "Whitney" - Whitney
Cummings is a fine stand-up come-
As University ofMichigan Alwnni, dienne. She should have stopped
there. "Whitney" is full of the same
We've been supporting the jokes over and over, and they're all
UM Community since 1939... the same jokeswe've heard millions
of times before about how often dif-
DEISCOLE BIB RBERS ferent kinds of couples have sex or
marriage or how crazy weddings
are. They're not funny at all, and
this show is stealing the spot on
Thursday nights that "Free Agents"
should have.
ABC's "Work It" - Guys dress
in drag to get jobs because women
are controlling the working world.
Then they have to keep it up for...
ever. That's right. It's not just one
episode about guys pretending to
WWWDASCOLA .COM be women to achieve a goal - it's
WALK4NS OME1 a whole series. And it's the least
funny new comedy of the lot.

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