Friday movie roundup – May 25

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Yarr! Avast, mateys! And other assorted pirate things! The latest giant film in this summer of giant films is “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.” I think it’s the best film in the series — much less chaotic and much more coherent than the last one, in particular.

You know, I pride myself on being a fairly non-snooty movie critic. I like plenty of “popcorn movies” as well as the kinds of movies that film critics stereotypically like. And yet the whole “Pirates” things escapes me. I was surprised when the first one was a huge hit, and downright mystified when the second one became the 6th highest-grossing film of all time. It’s not that I don’t enjoy high-flying swashbuckling adventures; it’s that these particular high-flying swashbuckling adventures struck me as overlong, overcomplicated, and overproduced. And not in a fun way.

Anyway, I think the new one is better, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Adding to my enjoyment was the fact that I saw it via crystal-clear digital projection. I wasn’t in Portland, where I live; the only Portland cinema that has gone digital so far is Living Room Theaters. I was in Salt Lake City, where a brief visit to see family and friends coincided with the “Pirates” press screening on Monday. It was fun to see a movie with my old SLC movie critic pals again, just like the old days, and also to see KSL radio host Doug Wright take a bathroom break twice during it.

This was at the Gateway downtown, a very nice theater that you’d expect to be on the forefront of technology. But over the weekend, I saw “Shrek the Third” with some friends and their kids at the crappy Wynnsong in Provo, a theater that no one even goes to anymore, and even THEY had a digital screen. Good for them! And it’s time to catch up, Portland! (Or, more specifically, Regal Entertainment, which owns nearly all of Portland’s multiplexes.)

The other new release this weekend is “Bug,” a thriller about people who think they see bugs everywhere. Lionsgate didn’t screen it at all in some cities, and only for certain critics in others. I’m not sure what the reasoning is there: “Hey, let’s open a movie opposite ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ but not tell anyone about it! It will be huge!” Seems like when you’re going against “Pirates,” you need all the publicity you can get, even if it’s bad publicity from negative reviews. And considering many of the reviews that have gotten out are actually positive, it’s even more puzzling. Anyway, I’ll try to review it this weekend.

This week’s “In the Dark” podcast is here, while info on subscribing to the free e-mail edition is here.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend, and happy pirating!

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