Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ahoy, Matey!

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Director: Gore Verbinski
Cast: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush, Keira Knightley
Released: July 9, 2003
Viewed in theaters: July 11, 2003

Oscar nominations:
Best Actor - Johnny Depp (lost to Sean Penn for Mystic River)
Best Sound Mixing (lost to Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (of course it did))
Best Sound Editing (lost to Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World)
Best Visual Effects (lost to Return of the King)
Best Make-Up (lost to Return of the King - as did everything else that year!)

Can you believe it's been ten years since this movie was released? Hard to believe. Watching it again recently, it didn't feel like it was ten years old, but that could account that it is a period piece and therefore there are no pop culture references to painfully date the film. But I didn't feel like any of the effects were outdated and it still seemed like a fresh, fun movie. When I first heard they were making a movie based on the Disneyland ride, I thought it was the stupidest idea...just like it was a stupid idea to make a movie based off Battleship (and that one really was, although I never saw it) or a movie based on a videogame (why even bother?)

I had been on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disney World when I was nine, but honestly, I don't remember anything about it except the line was l------ooooooooooooooooo------n-------g and there was an animatronic dog with a key in its mouth, which they pay homage to in the movie. There's really no story to the're just in a boat looking at a bunch of animatronic pirates. My other history with Pirate of the Caribbean was that I had the Disneyland Nintendo (hehe) game where you go around and have to find all six keys to unlock the Magic Kingdom. One of the ways to get a key is you have to beat the Pirates of the Caribbean and it is the hardest thing ever! You can't kill the pirates until the second round and until then you just have to jump over them to avoid them and it's nearly impossible to jump over them and not touch them and if you do touch them, you die! And don't get me started on jumping over these huge pits which are too long to attempt to jump so it's easy to die that way! My friend and I played this one summer afternoon when we were probably 11/12 and we beat Space Mountain, we beat the Haunted Mansion, we beat Thunder Railroad, we got ALL of the damn keys except for the frickin' Pirates of the Caribbean, so we just decided we would tell everyone that we beat the game even though we didn't and made chocolate milkshakes to celebrate. So yeah, ever since I had that game, I've had nothing but bad memories of Pirates of the Caribbean and wasn't expecting anything from the movie.

He is so much prettier than she is! 
But nevertheless, I went to see it. I went to see it because everyone was raving about it, and let's be real:  Orlando Bloom is not the worst person to look at. He is just so pretty! I could stare at him all day! I saw him in recent photos and he's still quite nice to stare, I mean, look at. So I saw it and really enjoyed it, so much, in fact that I saw it a second time before it left the theaters and bought the DVD. I saw the second one (Dead Man's Chest) on DVD, the third one (At World's End) in the theater, and have not seen the fourth one (On Stranger Tides). I was bored to tears watching the second and third one (I thought the second one was a fluke and the third one would surely be better....wrong!) and therefore I have no desire to see the fourth one. I think they are making a fifth one though they should just stop already. To anybody who has never watched the Pirate movies, I would tell them just to watch the first movie and pretend that the sequels don't exist. I understand why there are sequels...the first movie was a big hit and it made lots of movies and it's easy to continue and explore the characters, but I feel the first one wraps up all the characters nicely that you're not left wondering about loose ends.

Pirates of the Caribbean is to Johnny Depp as Pulp Fiction is to John Travolta. This was the movie that made Depp a STAH again and he was nominated for an Oscar, then he went on to star in Finding Neverland which he was also nominated for an Oscar, then he was nominated for an Oscar for Sweeney Todd. I remember how everyone was raving about his Jack Sparrow performance. I was a little surprised he got nominated for an Oscar because it's a comedic performance and the Academy tends to turn their noses away from those, but it was one of the many things that made the 2004 Oscars so interesting.

Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley) has a gold pendant that can reverse the curse of the pirate Balboa (Geoffrey Rush) and his crew. She is oblivious to what the pendant can do and first obtained it when she was a young girl and took it from a young boy who was found floating in the sea and was rescued by her father and his men, including Norrington who looked to be about 30 when she was 12 and will eventually ask for her hand in marriage when she is 18. The age gap is a bit icky but surprisingly he looks like he hasn't aged a day in those six years! The young boy is Will Turner who grows up to be a black smith (and played by Orlando Bloom). Elizabeth takes the pendant from him because she doesn't want the men on her father's boat to find out he has any relations to pirates because there was a skull and crossbones on it.

Balboa and his men kidnap Elizabeth because she has the pendant and think she is the offspring of William "Bootsraps" Turner who is Will's father. They need the pendant and the blood of Bootstrap's child to offset the curse: when the moon is uncovered they are pirate skeletons (skeleton pirates?) and the only way to return to their human form is to return the pendant to a treasure chest along with the blood. Since Elizabeth is not the right kin, it does not work.

The movie is a bit on the long side, but doesn't feel nearly as long as its predecessors. It's got everything you would expect from a pirate movie: swashbuckling, sword fighting (wait, are those the same?), great pirate costumes, a monkey, a desert island in the middle of the Caribbean, treasure, and of course you can't forget the rum!

I'm still quite impressed with the effects. I love the scene where Elizabeth is on the cursed Black Pearl ship after she gave herself up under the condition of parlay and Balboa has revealed his secret to her. It was fun seeing Knightly react to the pirates when she saw them in their creepy skeleton form. And I love it when Balboa, in his skeleton form, drinks something and the liquid goes through his throat and just pours out of his ribs. Really brilliant. Geoffrey Rush is lucky he didn't have to be in the sequels since his character is killed off. Yes, I really do hate the sequels that much! I probably won't be writing about them!

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