Friday, May 26, 2017

Movie Review: Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man Tell Tales is the fifth outing for the franchise which has been both a powerhouse of how much they cost to make as well as how much they earn. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer probably never guessed just how enduring the movies featuring Johnny Depp as pirate Jack Sparrow would be. The first movie in 2003 was a delight in story, action, acting and swashbuckling.  Directing the movie this time is the Norwegian tandem team of Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg (Kon-Tiki). The screenplay comes via Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can).

The subsequent sequels after the first movie have been some of the most expensive movies filmed and have netted Disney over $4 billion. However, the sheer joy of the first, the clever word play and the stunts and physical humour have given way to increasing special effects. There was entertainment to be sure but the inventiveness and character acting of the first shines bright in comparison.

The newest outing of Pirates is an improvement over the last movie. This time there is the introduction of some younger blood in the form of Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites, Gods of Egypt) and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario, Maze Runner). Turner, son of Will Turner and Smyth cross paths when both seek the Trident of Poseidon for their own reasons tied to their fathers.

Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow and once again is down on his luck with his beloved Black Pearl trapped in a bottle in his pocket. He and his remaining crew call a beached wreck of a ship home. We first find Jack asleep in a bank vault full of loot with a married woman. This results in one of those incredible action set pieces which the Pirates movies are famous for.

If it feels like there is a lot of back story, there is. And at over two hours, the viewer has to sit through a lot. The introduction of a new villain with Javier Bardem playing the vengeful and dead Spanish Captain Salazar is the spark and the driving force as everyone seeks the McGuffin in the form of the Trident.

Old favourites inhabit the movie. Geoffrey Rush returns as Captain Hector Barbossa and Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley are there as well playing Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. An end credit scene hints at more future adventures. A cameo by Paul McCartney in a prison cell as a pirate should be watched for.

The sense of fun is back with Dead Men Tell No Tales and Bardem has mischief with a bad guy role. The weakness is that with so many characters, the story bounces around a lot and there are many back stories. The young actors tasked with taking over the future suffer from so much happening all at once.

There will be critics who will be less than impressed with the movie but it is still an enjoyable romp. The ending fulfills fans hopes of a happy ending for some of the favourite characters in the series. It becomes easier to overlook the flaws when you are smiling and laughing. Still, it becomes harder to keep the story fresh if there is a checklist of what the movie is required to do for storyline.

The box office should decide whether Pirates continues but with billions made already, is there any doubt?

Monday, May 15, 2017

MINISO Coming to Winnipeg Soon

It is reported that MINISO is in negotiations with malls in Winnipeg to open sometime in 2017.The Japanese/Chinese sore started in 2013 is based in China and appears to be in direct competition to Asian stores UNIQLO and MUJI which are spreading across Canada.

The store is an affordably priced variety store, that sells household and consumer goods, cosmetics, stationery, toys and kitchenware. It would appears that the sore company has Dollarma clearly in their sites as well as other value retailers. They aim to open 500 stores as a long term goal. However, their short term goal is 30 to 50 and soon.

Polo Park would seem the obvious location as well as St. Vital.

It has been and up and down time in retail in Canada. Some stores have shut while many others have opened. It has been heady times. Meanwhile Amazon continues to grow to be the elephant in the room.

New mall developments are adding other components like gyms, housing and entertainment. The Outlets of Seasons has a mix of almost everything including care dealerships and hotels.

The mall has not died yet but there are challenges. However, MINISO could re-write the book on what suceeeds in the future.

Wait to hear an announcement for Winnipeg soon.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Winnipeg Goldeyes New Season

Winnipeg's sports teams might be storied but it is a long time since they were champions. That is, unless, you are talking about the Winnipeg Goldeyes. In 2016, for the second time in five years they won the American Association championship. It was an exciting season that saw Goldeyes clink a spot on the last day of the season clinched a play-off spot. In each the rounds of the play-offs, they came from behind to win. Boring, it was not.

This year's season kicks off against Winnipeg long time rival the Fargo RedHawks on Wednesday at 6 for a two game homestand. Many old favourites on the team are returning and several exciting new faces as well. A few retirements and a few call ups to the big leagues as well.

The teams in the north and central divisions remain stable this year in terms of city and owners but the south division remains a bit of a gong show. Laredo Lemurs has shut and a new team Salina Stockade will play a few games in Kansas and travel the rest of the time as a visiting home team.

Independent league baseball is colourful and entertaining and the Goldeyes play in one of the most beautiful small stadiums in North America.  It is the quality of the entertainment and food and love of sport that bring people back year after year. Some sports have been called the No Fun League and that can't be said for baseball in Winnipeg.

For those who can't come to to a game, the radio broadcast on CJNU is one of the most professional you'll find with Steve Schuster. The coaching, management and staffing are worthy of a big league franchise.

Spring training wraps up and the team takes to the field Wednesday and it seems like the return of an old friend. And indeed since 1994, the Goldeyes have become part of the Winnipeg mosaic.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Opening of Outlet Collection Winnipeg

The crowd wound around the building before 9 AM
The Food Court entrance from the back of Outlet Collection
It seemed an impossible task that the $200 million Outlet Collection Winnipeg factory mall would open on May 3rd. Construction continued all this week and into the morning. IHOP and  McDonald's are all waiting to be completed just outside the mall. The Audi, Porsche dealerships are under construction and the Hilton Hotel is nearer completion.

The mall inside minus some notable exceptions is complete and looks fantastic. Some of the biggest outlets stores are all done including DSW, Nike, Under Armour and Saks OFF FIFTH.

The Food Court was the site of a opening ceremony hosted by Ace Burpee and featured the premier, the mayor and the builders of the mall Ivanhoe Cambridge.

Entertainment, food, models and many dignitaries were in every seat and standing to every side. Nearly 60 retail executives from Ivanhoe Cambridge were there to see the opening and and attend a 2 day business conference. Politicians of every stripe and media of all kinds were in the crowd.

Performers at the ceremony
The ceremony was not long. Ace Burpee acted as host and speeches were made by Premier Brain Pallister, Mayor Brian Bowman and President of Ivanhoe Cambridge Claude Sirois. They welcomed assembled crowd and the people outside.

General Manager of the mall, Dimitrios Cotsianis, announced that the mall would be giving $10,000 to a local charity. It would be up to mall patrons to decide who. he tanked all those who helped bring the mall to fruition. Nearly 2000 workers helped in those last days before the deadline to get things ready.

Premier Brian Pallister
Mayor Brian Bowmna
President Claude Sirois, Ivanhoe Cambridge
General Manager Dimitrios Cotsianis, Outlet Collection

While the speeches were happening, a train rolled through the back and parked behind. It was just a reminder of what the Seasons of Tuxedo site was just a few short years ago: a railyard. Also visible was the huge crowds snaking around the building including a lot of kids who otherwise should have been school. Police and heavy security along Kenaston and Sterling Lyon directed people into the packed mall.  Organizers estimated that at the opening, there might have been 4000 people at the doors.

Following the speeches, media was led to the door opening and people literally ran inside.

Crowd running in
It wasn't long before all the stores were packed to the rafters and traffic reports were saying the street was filled with cars and people

Some stores and restaurants in and outside the mall will open into the fall. Expect it to be busy for the next while!

Much of the photography by Matraisa Klippenstein. Thanks for her professional work that day.