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July 19th, 2003

Pirates of the Caribbean

Woo hoo! Last night I remembered that I had rolled some coins about a year ago and never cashed them in. So today I went down to the local evil movie theatre (evil evil chain) and shelled out 4 dollar bills and 4 rolls of pennies, and got to see Pirates of the Caribbean at long last.

I must admit that I liked it a lot. The film is no more intellectually stimulating than the old Disneyland ride upon which it's based, of course, but it's considerably more fun. I thought the visual and sound effects were excellent, and the stunts even more so. A few of the sword fights made me wiggle happily in my seat, since I love a good, well-choreographed, one-on-one sword fight with plenty of leaping around and suchlike. And there were some gorgeous landscapes (probably CGI'd), with all these huge craggy rocks towering over tiny bays, stuff like that. Very "piratey" looking.

The pirates were very piratey. One had a parrot on his shoulder. Another said, "Harrrr!" more than once when angry. "Davey Jones' Locker" was mentioned more than once. People were made to walk the plank. There were big barrels of rum, and people getting drunk. The song from the old Disneyland ride was even sung (though briefly) a couple of times: Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me...

Now for what everyone seem to talk about when they talk about this movie: Johnny Depp. He plays a pirate -- Captain Jack Sparrow -- who is acknowledged (even by the other characters in the movie) to be extremely eccentric and probably even a bit insane. I thought he was wonderful. I mean, I'm a bit of a Johnny Depp fan, anyway (who wouldn't be, after watching him in Edward Scissorhands?), but in this case he just seemed to be having so darn much fun! And it wasn't just Johnny Depp's acting, either, because the character was written to be hilariously funny and endearingly odd. All of my favorite lines in the movie were spoken either by him or about him. The other lead characters were mostly insipid, but he was vivid and bold as brass. If I was going to be one character in this movie, I would want to be Captain Jack Sparrow. I'd probably get stuck being the (admittedly not as wimpy as usual) heroine, but I would want to be Jack. Much more fun.

I grew up very near Disneyland, so I've probably been on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride 30 times or so. I enjoyed the familiarity of the film's many scenes straight out of the ride: the guys in prison trying to tempt the dog who has the key to the cell, the guy drinking rum balanced precariously atop a stack of barrels, the two ships firing on each other at close quarters, the piles of gold and gems, etc. I think they did a good job of turning a theme park ride into a movie, even if I don't understand the impetus behind the choice in the first place. Among the trailers before the movie, they showed an advertisement for another Disneyland-ride-turned-film: The Haunted Mansion. A bit ridiculous, if you ask me. Next thing you know, they're going to start advertising an "It's A Small World" movie. Sigh.

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