Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Pirates of the Caribbean

In my recent poll pitting recent blockbusters films head to head Pirates of the Caribbean came out on top. Edging out Spider Man and Ocean’s Eleven among others. I had thought that Spider Man was going to take the cake, but no, Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow prevailed.

What is it that people like about this movie [and I mean just this one and not the franchise]? What was it that made it one of the biggest films of 2003? Why were critics so impressed with it? Why or how did Johnny Depp manage to win a SAG award over pimped contenders like Sean Penn and Jude Law? These are all good questions, let me try to answer them.

Starring the aforementioned Depp with Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley, Pirates of the Caribbean is a Disney comedy film. Well I thought it was a comedy. But now I don’t know. The other day James was doing a list of potential action stars, and I commented that I’d like to see Keira [among others] in an action film. JD responded asking me what about Pirates of the Caribbean. Which got me thinking, is this an action flick? Is it a genre flick? I figure maybe I should back up and give you a plot rundown but if you don’t the plot…well…that’s just bad. Okay, fine. [You’re lucky I’m in a good mood.]

The film takes place during the time of colonisation in the Caribbean. While sailing to Jamaica with her father, the Governor, an adolescent girl happens upon a young boy unconscious boy floating on some wreckage. Elizabeth spies a necklace around his neck which she confiscates as the young boy is lifted unto the ship. Years later after some interesting machinations involving a rakish Captain Jack Sparrow we come to realise how Will ended up that wreckage as a child. Enough plot.
Standing at the top of Pirates of the Caribbean and its success is Johnny Depp. I believe this is the best performance that Depp has ever given. As the dashing Jack Sparrow with a slightly drunken flair there isn’t any self consciousness or any suggestion of trying too hard. It’s just ludicrous, over the top and deliciously fun. I was all for Sean Penn in Mystic River and Jude Law in Cold Mountain that year, but had Johnny Depp won, I won’t have minded at all. I don’t think anyone can deny the magnificence of this performance.

What I hate about people who remember this movie, though, is that the supporting performances are so often criticised. This movie is not supposed to be a game changer in terms of acting [Depp is just good like that], so why complain that Knightley and Bloom bring nothing new to their roles. They’re perfectly effective as the young couple. We’re supposed to feel three things. That Will Turner is too good to be an apprentice, Elizabeth Swann is more than a pampered rich girl, and that the two belong together. I don’t know about you, but I believed all that. And though the script was not bad, the treatment of their romance was not as prolific as the treatment of Jack’s escapades. So of course it pales in comparison. But the movie’s called Pirates of the Caribbean, Lovers in the Caribbean. Geoffrey Rush is also great as the token villain in the film.

The reason that it never occurred to me that this was an action film is probably the setting. A period piece action piece? Surely you jest! The film is beautiful to look at – the art direction, the costumes, the visual effects, the cinematography are all eye catching…and it sounds good too [props to the sound mixing]. Even technically this is a good film. And the special effects are not those that bang on your head like those horrid Transformer films. It's all done with a level of sophistication that belies Jack Sparrow's intention.

If you're one of those rare persons who've never seen this movie, I'm not giving away the plot...and if you are one of those rare persons who have not seen this movie...go out and get it NOW. It's a good film, and it'll keep you occupied for two hours and more. This film makes people happy and for something that's enjoyable and is well acted and produced...that's a rarity. I think that's a large reason for the rabid following that the film has picked up...and imagine all this in a Disney film. Really?

Pirates of the Caribbean was one of the films that I seriously considered including in my top 100 films. It did fall short [it’s in my 200].

So were you bowled over by the Pirates? Did you look and walk away? Do you think this is an action movie?

Don't forget to VOTE


MovieMania said...

I have watched about maybe 30 minutes of the movie, maybe three years ago, and i've never watched the whole thing through. But I just might sonn...

anahita said...

I have so much love for this film. One of my favourites ever. And I completely agree with what you said. the next two films were over-complicated and very blockbuster-y (still loved them) but this film was absolute genius - original, funny and with an awe inspiring performance by johnny depp. made in a time when pirate films were no longer cool it was a risk taking film, and just so funny and so GOOD. I think a lot of people starting hating on it after the next films were made and it became yet another action trilogy, but the first on its own is just so amazing. I love it so much :D

Matthew Coniam said...

I can't stand Johnny Depp or that pirates film, but our interests coincide on the matter of Keira... she does a bit of action stuff in Domino and King Arthur: another action period piece.

Encore Entertainment said...

Movie Mania you should probably go see it. What made you stop looking?

Anahita I do know how much you love it. Everyone does:)

Matthew OK if you don't like Johnny Depp you're definitely not going to like this...and geez it seems Keira has done action before.