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Pirates of the Carribean

Last night, gnomi and I went with farwing to see the movie Pirates of the Carribean. (For farwing's take in the evening, see her post at http://www.livejournal.com/users/farwing/115403.html.

The movie was far better than it deserved to be, given the source material (a ride at Disneyland). Every character was layered, the story moved forward at a constant but logical pace, there was humor and seriousness in equal parts...and for the ladies, lots of eye candy.

All in all, an excellent film. What I wish League of Extraordinary Gentlemen had been, and that had far superiour source material.

Comments

It seems inconceivable that the "source material" is the ride. I think somebody wrote a kickass pirate movie, and then sold Disney on it by tying it into the ride.

I mean, when was the last time somebody managed to make a good swashbuckling movie? The Gerard Depardieu "Cyrano" is the last one I remember, and that was 1990.
"Brotherhood of the Wolf" does not qualify, I think.
It's entirely possible that the writers came up with the idea of the film first, and then sold it to Disney by tying it into the ride, as you said. However, a few things lead me to believe that that isn't the case.

First of all, the screenplay would fall into a different category in the Oscars depending on whether it was "Original" or "Adapted." Now, I honestly have no idea if the writers would even dream of such a possibility, but it seems to me that if this film were an original idea, they'd want to make sure to get all the credit for that originality they possibly could.

Secondly, the movie is extremely evocative of the ride. I went on the ride many many years ago, and I'm sure it's changed a lot since. But one thing that remains vivid in my mind (if my memory isn't playing tricks on me) is the skeleton pirates. The fact that the cursed pirates look like skeletons in the moonlight, and that when they fight they move very much like the animatronics, leads me to suspect that the film really and truly was inspired by the ride.

I suspect though that the people who would know the truth ain't talking.

One thing that this movie leads me to hope for is Wiliam Goldman's pirate screenplay finally being produced. In his book Which Lie Did I tell? he talks about how he wrote this screenplay and he describes the plot, but that no one would produce it because "everyone knew" that pirate movies die at the box office (such as Cutthroat Island). Perhaps now Hollywood will realize that it's only crappy pirate movies that die at the box office.
Neither of your arguments seem persuasive to me. For one, I suspect if anyone was told, "okay, we'll do it, but only if you tell people it was inspired by the ride," most anyone would agree to the lesser Oscar category. And surely the visual design of the pirates was settled on *after* the funding decision.

I suppose it's *possible* Disney just got really lucky with a screenwriter who came up with a good script on a commissioned job, but it seems much more likely the other way.

Well, according to this webpage:

http://www.tnmc.org/batcave/piratesofthecaribbean.shtml

It looks as if someone at Disney did in fact come up with the idea of basing a movie on the thrill ride, but then Bruckheimer rejected their original idea and developed a film more to his liking. The relevant statement is

Reportedly Disney went to Bruckheimer with their script, he said yes and then promptly threw the script in the trash. From there he went on to make the pirate movie he wanted to make and ignored the increasingly desperate pleas to keep it a respectable Disney product.

So if that review is to be believed, it looks like the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Disney wanted to make a movie based on their ride, and then Bruckheimer adapted his own ideas so that it could tie into the ride.
Michael, I didn't know you had a Livejournal! Would that I might have known sooner, rather than later.

By the way, this is Andy Crump.

A few comments on Pirates and League:

Rarely do I watch a film and say to myself, " This movie would have been nothing without such and such actor." The only film in recent memory that I actually felt this way about is Gangs of New York, which, without Daniel Day-Lewis, would have had a few nice operatic sequences, but nothing more.

Pirates is what I label the summer's Gangs; without Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush, the movie would have been fine, but nothing all that exciting. Depp upstages everyone in the film, even Rush, with his portrayal of Jack Sparrow. Though Rush still steals a lot of scenes on his own; both actors relish in their respective roles. It's clear they're both having a grand old time being pirates, and that helps a lot, but really it's Depp's half-drunken slurring and stumbling and his expressions and mannerisms that make this film worth seeing. More than worth seeing, I'd say. This isn't to say that there's nothing else worth paying attention to in the film; the duels and battle sequences are great fun. But simply put, watching Depp and Rush do that voodoo that they do is the biggest delight in the film and nothing else Pirates has to offer really measures up to these two great actors peddling their wares.

League does have better source material, and that's sad, because in the end Pirates makes for a far superior film. The premise of League is very cool, one of the most original I've read in years, and with a cast of characters that good you'd expect the director and his crew to do something right. 'Twas not to be so.

League wasn't terrible through and through; the main problems lie in the villain and Tom Sawyer.

Plenty of reasons and excuses for the inclusion of Sawyer have been thrown out into the open. The most well-known and most idiotic is that Sawyer needs to provide a token American so that US audiences don't feel outnumbered and unrepresented amidst a cast filled with legends such as Nemo, Jekyll/Hyde, and Quatermain. The second is that Sawyer provides a sort of adopted son for Quatermain to teach, filling in the gap left by his late biological son. Sawyer therefore provides Quatermain with a way to cope and deal with his demons, but this weakens Quatermain's character, the hero who needs to learn how to be a hero again.

The token American is a joke; but if they REALLY felt like including a token American, why not use, say, the Headless Horseman? Now THERE'S an extraordinairy gentleman. Or at the very least, someone like Tom Swift or Horatio Alger.

Another problem with Sawyer is that he's far too real of a character. Yes, Nemo and Quatermain are both fully human and fully mortal but they're larger than life in their deeds and exploits. Sawyer, as a character, feels like he could truly exist. As for the other half of the League, made up of supernatural wonders, seeing Sawyer teamed with them makes about as much sense as putting Steve Erkel in the X-Men.

The Phantom only has two things going for him-- one, his plan, and two, his real identity. Everything else-- from his look to his acting-- exudes this sort of cartoony, fake, Saturday morning kid's programming villain. He's simply the most chimerical bad guy I've seen in a movie in years. Also, given his true identity, he puts himself out in the open far, far too much. The man behind the Phantom would instead sit in his lair, planning, scheming.

Etc, etc, etc. I don't mean to rant. I think I'm going to go have a nice peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

~Andy
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