Saturday, March 14, 2015


RELEASE DATE: Wednesday 9th July 2003

The "Pirates of the Caribbean" ride had been a crowd favourite since it opened at Disneyland in 1967. It was the last ride that Walt himself had overseen before he passed away. The concept of turning the ride into a full-scale live-action movie was met with a huge amount of skepticism across the board. Pirate movies had not proven profitable for a long time. But as we now know, Pirates of the Caribbean became a smash hit, raking in millions at the box office and spawning four sequels.
Its highly complicated plot involves a pair of would-be lovers - wealthy heiress Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightley) and penniless blacksmith Will Turner (Orlando Bloom, fresh off his role as "Legolas" in Lord of the Rings) - who get involved in a ship full of pirates led by the villainous Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush).

Twisting and turning his way through this story is the ship's original captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) who wants nothing more than to get his beloved ship - the Black Pearl - back.

SHENZI: It's become customary to say "it's so cute" after watching Disney movies.

IRVYNE: I'm not sure that phrase actually applies this time...

PASCAL: No no no. Orlando and Johnny "are so cute!"

HAKU: I like this movie! A'rrrr!

MALEFICENT: It's a brilliant film based on a pretty rubbish ride!

IRVYNE: Come on now, it's a good ride! Not exactly a-thrill-a-minute, but it's immersive. It's actually really clever when you look at how many little "scenes" from the ride they managed to squeeze into the movie.

ANNA: I don't understand how they could have killed Bootstrap Bill, since the curse on the coins means he couldn't die.

IRVYNE: That's right. Bootstrap Bill wasn't killed, he was sent to be a slave to Davy Jones. This all comes out in the second movie, Dead Man's Chest. Although, "Curse of the Black Pearl" was not created with sequels in mind. It was made as a purely stand-alone film. Then when it became ridiculously popular and it was turned into a trilogy, the writers had to effectively reverse-engineer everything that they'd written in the first one.

HAKU: It really does stand alone. None of the sequels have been as good.

IRVYNE: Fingers crossed for the fifth film, "Dead Men Tell No Tales," which is filming up in Queensland right now! But anyway, back to the first one.

SHENZI: I love how the pirates switch between human and skeleton in the moonlight. It's so clever!

IRVYNE: Yes. A compositor's nightmare!

HAKU: You can notice how they tried to keep the workload down as much as possible by mostly having the characters either in the moonlight or out of it. There's only a few shots with the main characters where you actually see them transition from one to the other.


IRVYNE: I also noticed during Jack and Barbossa's big sword fight that all of the skeleton-switches are pretty quick, and none of it is particularly close-up. So it's very clever, but it's done in a way that doesn't demand absolute perfection with every single pixel.

MALEFICENT: The special effects are so great. Even the tiniest details were looked at in every aspect. I also love the ship itself, the Black Pearl.
HAKU: We were saying during the movie, Geoffrey Rush was born to play Barbossa.

IRVYNE: He's brilliant! I met him once, after seeing him perform in "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum" in Melbourne. I don't often get star-struck, but he is one of my all-time idols and it was such an honour to meet him and get his autograph. He is the real deal.

PASCAL: Johnny Depp was born to play Jack Sparrow as well!

IRVYNE: Johnny is incredible. In Sparrow (a role which was originally planned to go to Matthew McConaughey) he created not just a character, but a cultural icon. I think he works better as a side-character than as a lead (like he is in "On Stranger Tides") but Captain Jack is endlessly entertaining.

MALEFICENT: Everyone loves Johnny Depp as Captain Jack, but I think Orlando Bloom is excellent as well.

RAPUNZEL: I'm not really much of a fan of Orlando Bloom. He always seems to play the same character.

SHENZI: The music is brilliant.

IRVYNE: Ah yes. Hans Zimmer is a genius.

MALEFICENT: It's an exciting score with themes that stick in your head and play on repeat forever! Hans Zimmer hit the nail on the head with this one.
PASCAL: And the fighting matches the music perfectly.

IRVYNE: I think it might be the other way around, actually! The music was made to match the fighting.

PASCAL: Whatever.

ANNA: There's really good choreography to the fights.

RAPUNZEL: The fight scenes are excellent. I usually get really bored in fight sequences, like in superhero movies, but there's a lot of humour incorporated into the fight scenes in Pirates. It makes it a lot easier to watch.

IRVYNE: I think that's director Gore Verbinski's strength, choreographing those entertaining battles. Think about the scene where Jack and Will first meet. That entire set is used at some point in the battle. It's fantastic.

PASCAL: I love the two dimwitted pirates (Pintel and Ragetti) who add a lot of laughs to the story. I also love the two dumb soldiers. They're like two different versions of the same characters.
IRVYNE: On a slightly negative note though, this must be... I dunno, the fourth or fifth time I've seen this, and every time I feel like it's half an hour too long.

PASCAL: Yeah, I got very dopey about three-quarters of the way through.

IRVYNE: It just feels like the script could really have been tightened up. Towards the end, the characters are all going back and forth between all these locations, which could easily have been made simpler. The whole thing could have been much snappier.

HAKU: There's too much exposition as well.

MALEFICENT: I don't think it's too long. The film has never dragged for me.

RAPUNZEL: It would be hard to decide what to cut out.

IRVYNE: That's the script editor's job!

HAKU: Perhaps they didn't need to have so many twists and turns with some characters double-crossing other characters. The plot could have just been simplified.

IRVYNE: Yeah. At any rate, I think all of the first three "Pirates" movies are too long, which is a shame, because - especially on repeat viewings - getting through them can be a bit of a slog. The series' writers, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, seem to love making these plots intricate and complicated to the point of absolute confusion on the audience's part. They'd apparently never heard of the "KISS" principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid! But then, their movies have grossed billions of dollars, so what would I know?

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