i haven't seen a good pirate film in, well, i'm not quite sure how long. the geena davis/renny harlan pirate film a few years back was funny, but it was pretty bad. there have been the usual 'space pirate' films and even pirate films dressed up as searches for atlantis that disney have pushed out, but frankly, i'd rather watch the geena davis film. that leaves only muppet treasure island as a pirate film with any value, and it indeed, does have much value--but lets face facts: when the muppets are leading the way in pirate films, it's not looking too good.
so imagine my reaction when i hear that the multi-talented johnny depp would be staring in a pirate film based off a theme park.
still, i was not swayed, and so i found myself in a cinema, wondering if the men and women who program trailers and cinema ads have a dark sense of humour in showing me, firstly, a film that has a supposed twelve year old boy trying to meet girls, followed by a commercial for women's hygienic pads. is there is subtle message? a bit of preteen programming about pregnancy and children? is this how parent control is weaving their sticky fingers into the minds of the young?
anyhow, back to the film. it opens with young elizabeth finding young william in the water, with a pirate medallion around his neck. cut forward, and we find that poor william (who makes swords and practices in his spare time, naturally) is in love with elizabeth, but because he's crawled out of a bung hole with nothing but a randy horn pipe--ha, yeah, sorry about that--he can't marry her. of course, she has the pirate medallion now, which is actually cursed aztech cold, and when it hits the water, it draws in all the cursed pirates, who kidnap her, thus beginning the adventure of william to rescue his love.
but who cares?
this film is about pirates, or, to be more precise, johnny depp as captain jack sparrow, the ragged, misunderstood, dazed genius of a pirate who is looking to get his ship, the black pearl, back from the cursed pirates. sure, there's that whole chaste love thing (and chaste it is indeed, for there is but one kiss), but frankly, when you have johnny sauntering up in his pirate glory, you just know that here, right here, is our hero, and why can't they do away with the rest of the plot?
depp is this film. without depp's jack sparrow, this would be a limp, ordinary thing. the plot isn't original in the least, and the characters, beyond sparrow, are stock pieces laid out across the narrative of the film to fulfill the 'arc' in the way that any novice writer would put them. yes, as the leader of the cursed pirates, geoffrey rush does his best to interject an element of the tragic into his character, and for the most part he succeeds, but he doesn't have much to do in the film outside one fine dinner scene where he explains the curse. perhaps if less screen time had been given to orlando bloom and keira knightly, he might have had a bit more--but seeing as this didn't happen, one can only say that this is a better role that the usual rush hollywood villain role, but considering some of the films he's been in, that's not saying much.
but there's depp, and the beautiful scenery, and excellent ships, and did i mention depp's cynical, sarcastic, strangely accented pirate who i can only assume, he created outside the script. if not, then the writers clearly had more talent than i believe, but seeing as depp's rounded, interesting character is quite the anomaly in the cast, one can safely assume the latter, i think.
still, this is a good film. it's got a brisk pace, a healthy lot of humour, a chunk of cash tossed into sets and design, and some fine action scenes. it's well worth your time and your cash.