At first I thought, “Really? Full Price Feature? That seems extreme.” Then, when I sat down to tell you, Constant Readers, about the film, well, I couldn’t find anything wrong with it. I had a great time and immediately want to see it again. That’s pretty much the definition of Full Price Feature, isn’t it? And yes, full price in this economy! It should also be noted that Gore Verbinski is officially my favorite director. His gift for amazing set pieces continues here, aided by his unique (and that of his cinematographer, Dariusz Wolski) eye for composition. Don’t scoff when you peruse his filmography; this man knows how to tell a story and how to show it. It’s 143 minutes long and it flies by!
A few movies have managed to be based on absolutely nothing, and make absolutely fantastic feature films. One very clear example is Clue, based on the Parker Brothers board game. Conversely, movies based on a long, deep oeuvre of material sometime manage to come out pretty much content-free…for example, Star Trek Nemesis. Thankfully, Pirates follows the Clue model. Yes, yes, I know the ride has a plot of some kind, almost impossible to follow what with the 36-year-old recording playing under the noise of the ride. Forget all that. You’ll get your sly nods to the ride without really depending on it at all. The movie is fun to watch and funny as well.
Orlando Bloom is sweet, lovelorn Will Turner, who loves lady fair Keira Knightley of old. Their lives were joined by fate and piracy, and it is fate and piracy (in the form of hilariously cocky Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow) that keeps them together. Watch for Jonathan Pryce as well. The triangle avoids most conventional narrative traps, thankfully, and the dynamics between the trio balance and tilt just so to keep you awake and amused. The film hearkens back to the pirate films of yore, when it wasn’t about dressing up a conventional action movie in gunner coats and a tricorn, but about adventure, really about pirates as a group. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. would have truly enjoyed watching this movie.
Depp reported in an interview that he was channeling Keith Richards in his performance, and I have to say, it works. He’s always a joy to watch and this film is no exception. Geoffrey Rush sheds his joyless Quills persona and camps it up as the captain of the Black Pearl, and my god, he’s fun again at last. Bloom and Depp are both terribly swoony boys, as most ladies with a pulse know, but they also have great onscreen chemistry and clearly are having great fun. When the cast has fun, we all have fun – and it doesn’t hurt that we have a fun story, super extra groovy cool evil pirates, and a zombie monkey! Who doesn’t love a zombie monkey?
And finally, ILM puts its best foot forward with a truly amazing climactic scene involving the damned pirates and the requisite cave of booty. It’s *fantastic* and I really can’t wait to see it again. I loved it.
MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 7/9/03
Time in minutes 143
Director Gore Verbinski
Studio Walt Disney Pictures