Pirates of the Carribean

July 9, 2003

Director –
Gore Verbinski

Major Actors –
Johnny Depp …. Jack Sparrow
Geoffrey Rush …. Barbossa
Orlando Bloom …. Will Turner
Keira Knightley …. Elizabeth Swann
Jack Davenport …. Norrington
Jonathan Pryce …. Governor Weatherby Swann
IMDB Information

Opening Note:
In case you hadn’t noticed, I like pirates, so unless this movie really blew a big one, my opinion on this movie was almost a forgone conclusion. Just a warning, so you can be aware of my bias in this regard.

Analysis –
Acting :
Orlando Bloom, in his third movie ever, did a very solid job as one of the protagonists. His quiet, humble blacksmithing ways, which you know are sure to win the girl in the end, aren’t outstanding or ground-breaking, but considering his only role previously was an elf, I thought he did very well. It’s obvious that he just needs some time to develop his own style, and he’ll do just fine. The fact that he did a decent job is made that much more meaningful considering who he had to share screen time with. Johnny Depp and Geoffry Rush each fill up the whole screen, and when both of them are on screen at the same time, you find it very hard to look away. They both did excellent jobs in their variations on the scurvy pirate, and their performances really carried the show. Depp’s mad-as-a-hatter Sparrow is, according to the way the movie turns out, the hero of the story, but I found myself rooting for Rush’s Barbossa throughout most of the movie. The only female lead, Keira Knightley, regrettably most of the movie finds herself trapped in typical heroine traps, and needs to be rescued at least twice during the run of the show. Her Swann is a passable female protagonist. She’s cute, and has a lovely voice and manner, but I just couldn’t make myself care about her character that much. (BTW: If you think she seems familiar, and find yourself wondering at her resemblence to Natalie Portman, you should, she was one of the attendents to the princess in Episode I.)

Writing :
For a movie aimed more or less in the direction of a family film, about pirates no less, the plot and dialogue are pretty good. All the way through most of the film, the writer keeps a sturdy hand on the rudder of the story, and only really gets mired down in some rocks at the end that might confuse those not paying a great deal of attention. The dialogue also tanks at end, with schlocky, uninteresting parting dialogue for most of the characters. This film, like several other action/adventures I could name, needed a better exiting moment. The entire last portion of the film seemed tacked on, resulting in the poor elements mentioned above. Up until the last, though, the writing is such that you won’t feel the need to look for a writer thrashing instrument.

Gore Verbinksi is a relatively new entry onto the directing stage, and as it turns out, I’ve seen almost all of his massive five movie career. The last film he made, The Ring, was a very different film than this one (but also very good), and a better comparison would be his work in 2001’s The Mexican (Julie Roberts and Brad Pitt, remember). In both, he manages to keep you interested in the film without really noticing his hand at the till. So-so editing and decent camera work leave me satisfied but not ecstatic.

Sets, Costumes, Special FX and Music:
This is the area where the movie really excels. As a summer “blockbuster”, these budgets are of course off the charts. There were very few locations to this film, and it gave the whole production a nicely “bottled” feel despite the fact that we’re on the high seas for much of the film. The english settlement of Port Royale was the most impressive accomplishment of the fx and set builders, I thought, as you really got a sense of a bustling english town throughout most of the beginning of the film. The costumes throughout were pretty spectacular, a must for a pirate film, and Depp’s Sparrow was perhaps the most well dressed pirate I have ever seen. Digital effects were used throughout the film, but perhaps not as extensively as in some other movies. The most extensive use of effects was seen in the animation of the pirate ghosts, and there the fx department did a pretty good job. The score, finally, was very well done. An ensemble cast of composers created a thrilling, piritanical score that made you yearn for the spray of sea salt on you face. The score was clearly the best part of the supporting pieces in the flm.

Movie Overall :
I went into the movie with high hopes, but low expectations, and was rewarded for that tactic. This movie is fun and for the most part family friendly (some scary parts if they’re not ghost fans), and avoids almost entirely the insulting pattoi of a lot of family films. I highly recommend this movie if you’re looking for something almost devoid of higher thought that won’t make you hate yourself in the morning. The monitoring board may have given the movie a PG-13, but I rate it Arrrrrrrrrrrr!

Personal Rating –
This movie is worth seeing for matinee price.

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