Last night, continuoboy
got together a rascally crew of scurvy dogs to go and see ye Pirates of the Caribbean
Yes, it's a movie based on a ride
. I've heard of movies based on video games, which I thought was the last straw and the final sink into Hollywood stupidity. But no, they made a movie based on a Disney ride.
And I have to admit, gosh, it was good.
True, it had the typical upper-class girl's father wants her to marry boring aristocrat but she's in love with our hero the humble blacksmith who has a secret about his pirate heritage plot.
But the humble blacksmith is played beautifully by Orlando Bloom, whose sincerity and comic timing are charming. And the damsel in question is played by a newcomer (I think), Keira Knightly, who has the requisite imperious beauty (a bit reminiscent of Ms. Winslet), combined with a very nice dose of comic acting. (She reminds me a bit of Robin Wright in The Princess Bride
: not the funniest thing by far and a little green, but with a lot of promise.) Geoffrey Rush does a nice turn as the evil pirate captain, who manages to make a purely evil character sympathetic (which is basically his claim to fame: reference the flawed yet somehow wonderful Quills
), and the supporting cast provides the perfect backdrop, the old exaggerated Disney Animatronics come to vivid life. This aspect of the film made me happy as well: much like in Disney World itself, the style was absolutely consistent. When you walk around Disney, there's not a bit of garbage out of place, not an anachronistic error to spoil the illusion. It's all a perfect (that is, sanitized, cartoonized and very, very safe) facsimile of whatever world they're trying to create. Similarly, in this movie, the supporting characters are all completely believeable in this fully realized world, and the main characters all play their roles slightly stylized: the kind of acting that wouldn't work in a conventional film, but is absolutely right here. Nobody is out of place with an accent (reference the uncommonly awful even for him Keanu Reeves in Bram Stoker's Dracula
), nobody plays it too "big" or worse, too small and out-of-period. The thing coheses
And then, of course, there's Johnny Depp.
I'm beginning to think there isn't anything this man can't do. They fill his head with beaded dreads and feathers, put a bunch of eyeliner and a braided, forked goatee on him, and then he weaves around, pointing daintily at things for emphasis, in some combination of drunkenness, madness, and his role as Hunter S. Thompson in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
. It's a walk in the park for him, to be sure, but he is hilarious
, and completely believeable. He's not exactly what you'd expect from a pirate, but that's the point. He's gorgeous, weird, sinuous, clever, quick-thinking and very very funny. It's really he that saved the movie for me.
Because admittedly, there's a little too much CGI (I won't reveal the really cool thing they do with it), a little too much traditional boring plot. It goes on a little longer than it should, and indulges in the same stereotypes that most Disney fare does: the heroine is plucky, but must still be saved by the man in the end (see The Little Mermaid
and others); the hero is a poor boy who makes good by becoming a renegade for a good cause (see Aladdin
But as our particular (read: queer) audience noted: a gay pirate is a bit unconventional. :)