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In his recent feature review of “Alien: Covenant” for The New Yorker, Anthony Lane commented on the lack of recognition fans of that franchise have with characters from the later installments. I would argue that similar effect has taken over “Pirates of the Caribbean,” with Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as little more than the chestbusting xenomorphs erupting out of anonymous scenes of swashbuckling and pirating. This series truly has come to approximate the feel of riding the new rollercoaster the first day the park opens, when you’re quite honestly too old for this type of thrill. You go through the motions – waving your hands and raising your voice on cue – but you don’t lose yourself in it. I had hopes that Norwegian directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (the duo behind “Kon-Tiki”) would be worth following to the ends of the Earth, with a soggy and tired Captain Jack in tow, but this franchise is dead and completely unable to tell a tale worth remembering.




About halfway through the screening of Seth Gordon’s big screen adaptation of the television series “Baywatch,” I realized I had never watched a complete episode. Like most pop cultural phenomenon, I knew so much about the basic premise and its iconography I seemed to have memories of the show. Of course such a blindspot will not diminish the pleasure (what little there actually is) of this large-scale enterprise. The movie, about a team of lifeguards (led by the ever-ready charm of Dwayne Johnson) fighting a spoofy Bond villain, has a bad case of pouty-mouth syndrome – less jokes, than a tendency to drop “F” bombs – and indulges in exploitative body humor/horror (exposing dead limp penises and throwing around severed body parts). None of this is particularly shocking or titillating, which is too bad, because I longed for “Baywatch” to usher in the gloriously outrageous return of a “Porky’s” brand of juvenile sexuality to the multiplex.