Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

Pirates of the Carribean [4/5]

Yesterday Jennifer and I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean, the new summer blockbuster from Disney that stars Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom. I had been looking forward to this film for a few months, ever since first seeing an ad for it, but I was worried that when it actually arrived it would end up being disappointing, as so many big budget Hollywood movies tend to be. Fortunately, I was wrong about that. It’s a big fun festival of swashbuckling, which was probably only a few edits away from getting a perfect rating from me.

There are plenty of plot summaries to be found on the web, so I’m not going into a lot of detail about that here, except to say that things were strung together pretty well. Besides, the plot isn’t really all that important in a movie like this. The important things are the swashbuckling and the star, in this case Johnny Depp playing Captain Jack Sparrow. Depp was absolutely brilliant in this role, and, in my opinion, he pretty much makes the movie. Maybe someone else could have pulled it off (for some reason Bruce Campbell is springing to mind), but it would have been tough to find someone who could so skillfully balance the clown and the hero (well, anti-hero). The rest of the cast does a fine job as well, including Orlando “Legolas” Bloom in the roll of blacksmith turned pirate Will Turner, Geoffrey Rush as the captain of the Black Pearl, and Keira Knightly as the beautiful, yet surprisingly strong, love interest. It’s Depp who is the star of this movie though, and it’s his presence that takes the movie beyond the realm of the ordinary.

I do have a couple of minor complaints though, the first having to do with the ending. It’s a Hollywood blockbuster, so you know it’s probably going to have a happy ending. The problem is that it feels like the movie veers at the last minute to a sort of schmaltzy happy ending, rather than the exciting one that it was moving toward. It has the feel of something that was changed at the last minute, probably due to the opinions of some brain dead test audience somewhere, and, though it isn’t such a poor ending that it ruins the film, it could have been better. In addition, the pacing of the film is pretty good, but it does drag a bit in spots, and I think it definitely could have done with some editing, especially toward the end. Cutting the length down to around two hours would have made it a better movie.

Still, these quibbles are hardly going to stop me from enthusiastically recommending that you go and see this movie, in the theater if you can, or at least on DVD. You’ll be glad you did.

2 Responses to “Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”

  1. Louis Evans Says:

    Julia and I also really liked it, even more than we had been expecting to. Depp was chewing the scenery, but as that was clearly what he was supposed to do I didn’t really mind, and he did a good job at it to boot.

    Only issue I had with this film is that I wish we’d seen LXG first so that it wouldn’t have been less disappointing compared to PoTC

  2. Jack Says:

    You know, I doubt seeing LXG first would have helped much (though I saw them in the same order)… LXG makes all the familiar mistakes of the modern American action movie (shakey-cam, cardboard characters, over-crowding, discontinuous editing, etc.), while PotC makes only a few missteps (the overly simplistic/sweet ending). Even the occasional sluggish scene helped to, IMO, build up an illusion of greater depth (you had the feeling the film had far more than the roughly one dozen speaking parts it had because of all the scenes with lots of people milling about but only the familiar ones saying anything, for example).

    Of course, the difference between Depp in the lead (willing to make himself look foolish and silly if that’s what the role takes) vs. Connery (unwilling to play the character as written, so forcing a serious re-working of the source material that was, mostly, to weaken it) is telling as well. Remaking yourself in the shape of the role is acting; remaking the role in the shape of yourself is meddling.