The End of the Adventure? Thoughts on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

I finally saw the new film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and as I walked from the theater there were some thoughts that struck me. (There may be minor spoilers)

Overall I thought it was an okay film.  On it’s own it’s a fun little adventure.  But since it is the 5th film of the franchise it asks to be judged as part of the whole  In that instance I will say it’s not as good.  But I don’t think that’s the fault of this film.  It is asking a lot of a film franchise that initially started in 2003 and wasn’t even planned at the time of being a film franchise when the first.

I’ll always say the first Pirates film is my favorite.  I still remember seeing the first one in a movie theater up in Alaska where I was spending the summer working at a youth camp.  The story of Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan was a compelling one.  But with each successive film, it seemed to lose the heart of the first film.  By the time of the fourth film On Stranger Tides it really felt like it hit bottom.

I made the comparison on Twitter that Dead Men Tell No Tales feels an awful lot like Rocky Balboa to the Rocky series.  The reason why I thought that as I walked out of the theater was because how this film has been somewhat portrayed in trailers as the “final adventure”.  It seems to try and “right” some of the “wrongs” of the last film and finish off the story of Jack Sparrow.

For those that don’t remember, Rocky Balboa came nearly 16 years after the last Rocky film (Rocky V).  To me Rocky V is one of those movies that doesn’t exist in my personal canon of films because it’s so bad.  It was always a bad way to send off Rocky.  But then Rocky Balboa released and was a better sendoff to the franchise and the character.  And while Creed has spun off and done it’s own thing, there was closure with the Rocky series.

I think On Stranger Tides is the Rocky V of the Pirates series.  There is no Will Turner or Elizabeth Swan in that film.  The story itself feels a little disjointed and there wasn’t any closure.  Dead Men Tell No Tales at least delves back into the history of Sparrow.  It helps bring the Turner/Swan story back through Will & Elizabeth’s son Henry (as well we get cameos of Orlando Bloom & Keira Knightly) and we get Jack Sparrow sailing off at the end of the film.  Granted given the after credits scene they could spin off and do more with Will/Elizabeth/Henry and Carina in a Creed type spinoff, but I think the story (at least of Jack Sparrow) should end here.

It’s been said of musical or comedy acts that one should always leave the audience wanting more.  You don’t want to overstay and the act get boring or not entertaining.  In some ways stories can be that way as well.  There should be at the end of the story a desire to want more but at the same time leave it to the imagination as to what that more is.  Granted it’s a balance between telling more of the adventure and leaving that desire to dream of what’s there.

Could there be more adventures out on the seas for Jack Sparrow?  Possibly, but sometimes it’s good to leave those up to the imagination of the audience.  There may be a new adventure on the horizon for the Black Pearl but I’m happy to stay in port and remember the old ones.

Sunday Devotional: Luke 24:13-32

Now that same day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem.  Together they were discussing everything that had taken place.  And while they were discussing and arguing, Jesus Himself came near and began to walk along with them.  But they were prevented from recognizing Him.  Then He asked them, “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” And they stopped walking and looked discouraged.

The one named Cleopas answered Him, “Are You the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that happened there in these days?”

“What things?” He asked them.

So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus the Nazarene, who was a Prophet powerful in action and speech before God and all the people,  and how our chief priests and leaders handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him.  But we were hoping that He was the One who was about to redeem Israel. Besides all this, it’s the third day since these things happened.  Moreover, some women from our group astounded us. They arrived early at the tomb,  and when they didn’t find His body, they came and reported that they had seen a vision of angels who said He was alive.  Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they didn’t see Him.”

He said to them, “How unwise and slow you are to believe in your hearts all that the prophets have spoken!  Didn’t the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into His glory?”  Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

They came near the village where they were going, and He gave the impression that He was going farther.  But they urged Him: “Stay with us, because it’s almost evening, and now the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them.”

It was as He reclined at the table with them that He took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.  Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him, but He disappeared from their sight. So they said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:13-32)

This is one of the encounters that happened following the resurrection of Jesus.  There were two followers of Jesus who were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  They were distraught.  They were discouraged.  They had lost their joy, their hope.  And here comes Jesus.  And for the longest time, Jesus did not reveal Himself to the two.  Instead, He makes this a teaching opportunity.  He spends about seven miles sharing about all that was revealed about Himself in the words of Moses and the Prophets (the Old Testament).  And only at the end of the day when they were breaking bread together, did He reveal Himself to the two.

I think we all have those times like the two followers.  We have our struggles and doubts  We lose hope and faith in the midst of hard times and struggles.  But like those two, we need to be reminded again of the truth.  That Jesus is alive.  That He did rise from the grave.  That is has all authority.  And He loves us and wants us to keep being faithful.

This week, let us be reminded of the hope that we have in Christ.  And let us keep being faithful in following Him on the road that we are walking on.

Sunday Devotional: Romans 15:5-7

“Now may the God who gives endurance and encouragement allow you to live in harmony with one another, according to the command of Christ Jesus, so that you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ with a united mind and voice.

Therefore accept one another, just as the Messiah also accepted you, to the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5-7)

We live in a world with a lot of discord and disharmony.  There is a lot of division.  Sin divides us.  But Jesus brings us together.  Paul wrote to the church in Rome and reminded them of this.  On their own, there is division and strife.  But with God, there is unity.

God gives us the endurance and encouragement.  He gives us the hope to come together united.  This is possible through the work of Jesus Christ.  Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins and rose again, is able to bring together people from all walks of life.

The other big thing in this passage is accepting.  Paul is not saying we are to accept sins but we are to accept sinners because we all are sinners.  But through the grace and glory of God, we have been accepted by the work on Jesus Christ and we can repent and turn to Him.

This week let us encourage one another.  Let us live in harmony and let us show love and acceptance to others and as we do point them to Jesus.

Sunday Devotional: Isaiah 52:13-15

“See, My Servant will act wisely;
He will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted.
Just as many were appalled at You—
His appearance was so disfigured
that He did not look like a man,
and His form did not resemble a human being—
so He will sprinkle many nations.
Kings will shut their mouths because of Him,
For they will see what had not been told them,
and they will understand what they had not heard.” (Isaiah 52:13-15)

These are the words from the prophet Isaiah.  He wrote these words hundreds of years before the One who would come to fulfill this prophesy.  That One was Jesus.  Isaiah wrote about how Jesus would be lifted up and exalted.  He wrote that he would be disfigured which Jesus was as He was beaten and flogged to the point of death before His crucifixion.  But this was done so that all nations could be reconciled unto God.

These verses are prior to the “Suffering Servant” chapter.  Though these verses are not as well known, they as well portray how Jesus suffered for us so that “they will see what had not been told them, and they will understand what they had not heard.”  Jesus came as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins and has been raised up and greatly exalted in His rightful place as the Son of God.  This week let us remember and be thankful that Jesus did that for us.

Sunday Devotional: Lamentations 3:31-33

“For the Lord
will not reject us forever.
Even if He causes suffering,
He will show compassion
according to His abundant, faithful love.
For He does not enjoy bringing affliction
or suffering on mankind.” (Lamentations 3:31-33)

The book of Lamentations was written by the prophet Jeremiah.  If there was someone who understood lamenting, it was Jeremiah.  He was a prophet who was charged with speaking God’s truth to the people.  But the people would not listen. And because they would not listen and repent, judgement came and the people suffered including Jeremiah.

Even throughout the book of Lamentations where there is lamenting and grief throughout, there is also hope.  These verses are a part of that hope.  Jeremiah reminds the people that God does have abundant, faithful love for his people.  He does want to bring His people back from suffering and pain.  He “will not reject us forever”.

Sometimes when we are going through painful times and we are in that valley of suffering, we feel that it never ends.  Months or even years may pass and the suffering we feel never ends.  But these verses remind us that even though it seems never ending, it is not.  God will bring it to end.  He loves us and though we may deal with suffering, we have hope because of Jesus Christ.  We are not rejected forever because we have been accepted through Christ’s work on the cross.  We may still endure pain and suffering on this Earth but it will not last forever.

This week, as we may going through our own pains and sufferings, let us rest in the hope that it will not last forever.  That the steadfast love of God endures and He will deliver us.

 

Carrying Pain: Some Thoughts on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

I just saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and it did not disappoint.  There were a lot of great moments in the film and it reminded me why I loved the first one.  It has joy and heart and humor and when it’s serious it connects.  And at the heart of it is hope.

There are a lot of things that could be talked about in this film but there was one point that really resonated with me once I left the theater.  (Minor spoilers but nothing major)

One of the underlying plot points in the film carries over from the first film.  This is the rivalry/fight between Gamora & Nebula.  In the first Guardians, Gamora had the chance to kill Nebula and didn’t.  In this film, Nebula returns at the beginning.  She is first captured by the Guardians and then later escapes.  Later she finds Gamora with the expressed intent of “besting her”.  She comes in guns ablazing (literally) in a spaceship and crashes with Gamora having to save her again.

Later on, Nebula expresses all the rage and anger she had to Gamora was because Thanos would “repair” Nebula with cybernetics when she lost to Gamora and that’s why she hated Gamora.  Nebula raged because deep down she didn’t want to win.  She wanted a sister.  And so that pain built up inside Nebula and made her what she became in the 1st Guardians film and bled into this one.  And Gamora realizes that and tells Nebula that she was just trying to survive.  She didn’t mean to hurt Nebula.  And there’s a great scene where Gamora hugs Nebula and at first Nebula is stiff but finally she returns the hug.

Nebula still carries the pain of her past.  And at the end of the film, she doesn’t let it go just yet as she jets off to go after Thanos.  And Gamora lets her know that she’s welcome with them because she is family.

We all carry pain of some kind.  We are all hurt by people.  Sometimes the pain is unintentional and sometimes unfortunately it’s very intentional.  However we are hurt, we each carry that hurt with us.  Sometimes that pain can be used for good.  We see how we are hurt and we care for others so that they do not feel that kind of pain.  Peter Quill throughout the films carries the pain of seeing his mom die and fights for others.  Nebula rages with anger at the pain she carries and while she is not the same as she was at the beginning of the first film, she still is consumed by the pain and the anger that comes from it.

Like I said earlier, what I love about this series is that at the heart of the films is hope.  Hope for change.  Even if one carries such deep pain, there is hope for change.  I am very much looking forward to Vol. 3 and seeing how the character of Nebula is carrying her pain.  Because it reminds me of the pain that I carry and how I can’t let it carry me.

Thursday Quote Day: Bart Simpson

For this week’s “Thursday Quote Day” and for Star Wars Day, here is a quote from Bart Simpson:

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, contrary to what you’ve just seen, war is neither glamorous nor fun. There are no winners, only losers. There are no good wars, with the following exceptions: The American Revolution, World War II and the Star Wars trilogy.” (Bart Simpson The Simpsons)