This is Jeff Bayer, and I don't update this site very often. If you'd like to listen to my current movie podcast you can find it at MovieBS.com.

New this Week: 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,' and 'Vanishing on 7th Street (DVD)'

Hitting movie theaters this weekend:

Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides - Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane

Movie of the Week

Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides

The Stars: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Ian McShane The Plot: Jack Sparrow and Barbossa embark on a quest to find the elusive fountain of youth, only to discover that Blackbeard and his daughter are after it too. The Buzz: Who dares to release a film on the same day as the next Pirates film? No one dares. Well, slight correction -- Woody Allen dares, but Midnight in Paris is a limited release. Really looking forward to that one too...but back on task...

I will admit my bias, as I absolutely adored the first three Pirates films, but that aside, this film's first trailer knocked my socks off. Though it be a mere trailer, it had it all: Jack Sparrow (the franchise’s most beloved character), the incredible Hans Zimmer score, a great supporting cast, and of course, the wild combination of action, adventure and romance that we’ve all come to expect from Bruckheimer’s Pirates films. Not to mention the incessant comedic zingers that spout forth from the mouth of Johnny Depp’s perfectly played Jack Sparrow: “There should be a Captain in there somewhere.”

I will admit that I was skeptical when I first heard that another Pirates film was in the works, but when I learned that Rob Marshall was at the helm (Memoirs of a Geisha, Nine), my shoulders relaxed a little bit. Some skepticism remained, however, as the third film had solidly completed the complex arc of the Pirates tale, and a part of me just wanted to see the series remain “complete” as is. However, after seeing the film's initial trailer, I’m entirely amped to check out the fourth installment of the series.

Based on the aforementioned trailer, I’m happy to see that the production values seem to have remained intact, that is to say, this film looks to be a consistent continuation of the saga on all filmic fronts. I’m excited to see that Geoffrey Rush is returning, as well as Keith Richards. I believe Penelope Cruz is a good actress, but she’s always struck me as a little hyper, if not wonky — I’m sure Marshall will work her into the framework just fine though (he did well enough with her in Nine). I’m sure I won’t be the only one missing Keira Knightley here, but alas, such is life.

All things considered, I'm really excited to delve back into the adventure-rife world of Jack Sparrow.

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New Blu-ray and DVDs released this week:

Alabama Moon (DVD) - John Goodman, Jimmy Bennett, Clint Howard Beverly Hills Cops (BD) - Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, John Ashton The Comancheros (BD) - John Wayne, Stuart Whitman, Ina Balin Daydream Nation (BD/DVD) - Kat Dennings, Reece Thompson, Josh Lucas Diabolique [Criterion] (BD/DVD) - Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse Elephant White (BD/DVD) - Kevin Bacon, Djimon Hounsou, Jirantanin Pitakporntrakul Hurry Sundown (DVD) - Michael Caine, Jane Fonda, Loring Smith The Hustler (BD) - Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie Jagged Edge (BD) - Jeff Bridges, Glenn Close, Maria Mayenzet The Mechanic (BD/DVD) - Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland Money Train (BD) - Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Lopez The Other Woman (BD/DVD) - Natalie Portman, Scott Cohen, Lisa Kudrow Pale Flower [Criterion] (BD/DVD) - Ryô Ikebe, Mariko Kaga, Takashi Fujiki The Rite (BD/DVD) - Colin O'Donoghue, Anthony Hopkins, Ciarán Hinds The Roommate (BD/DVD) - Minka Kelly, Leighton Meester, Cam Gigandet Vanishing on 7th Street (BD/DVD) - Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo

Blu-ray/DVD of the Week

Vanishing on 7th Street

The Stars: Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo The Plot: The population of Detroit has almost completely disappeared, but a few remain. As daylight disappears they realize that the Dark is coming for them. The Buzz: Seems an awful lot like an M. Night Shyamalan premise, mixed in with a dash of Kirk Cameron’s Left Behind. Not the most flattering thing I’ve ever said about a film off the get go, that’s for sure.

The film's trailer starts off cool enough — I liked the opening shot of the city (at dawn presumably), it looks like Anywhere, U.S.A. and that drew me in. But just a short time later, when the jumbo-jet crashes into the city streets, that’s when this trailer started to lose me. I was wondering, “how did that jet just happen to wait to fall out of the sky until the perfectly dramatic moment?” Wouldn’t the plane have crashed much sooner? Perhaps they’ll adequately address this in the film, but I feel there will likely be many such holes, and based on what I’ve seen in this trailer, Vanishing on 7th Street has a real done-to-death cheese-ball feel to it.

Still, I want to like this film, and I’m planning on seeing it, because I love Hayden Christensen (GASP! I know, I know, I’m supposed to hate him), but after watching this trailer a couple times, I’m pretty skeptical.

However, this film does have a few feathers in its proverbial cap. Feather one: Director Brad Anderson is a solid entertainer. I thought Transsiberian was surprisingly good, and felt the same about The Machinist. Anderson is not an earth-shattering director, but he does turn out watchable entertainment. Feather two: Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo and Hayden Christensen are all talented players (seriously, stop grumbling about Christensen, it’s become passe). Feather three: It’s rated R. I was happy to see that, as this trailer reeked of PG-13.

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