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June 6, 2017 | by  | in Film |
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Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Dadda dum dum dadda dum dum dadda dum dum dada dada.

Easily the greatest high seas adventure movie ever made, the first Pirates film exploded in 2003 like a well timed gun powder cask. It combined real world heroics with supernatural antics, and seamlessly blended practical filmmaking with spectacular CGI. It also happens to be one of my favourite blockbusters. What makes this film great is elusive, principally because of Johnny Depp’s signature performance as the pirate who does not need an introduction. At his funniest he is hysterical, and when it comes to the action and stunt-work neither the character nor the filmmakers settle for anything less than outstanding.

To flesh out the narrative come Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. Although much of their chemistry is supreme Hollywood melodrama, the charm of the film overcomes this and Knightley in particular gives of plenty of energy and charisma. But beneath the star-studded ensemble is a the brilliant execution by director Gore Verbinski, who keeps the plot moving at a smooth and seamless pace wherein dialogue, characterisation and action set pieces all move as one. In classic Pirates fashion, many of the most dramatic and humorous lines come between clashes of swords.

Perhaps what makes this film so utterly watchable is the awe that the film itself seems to relish in, as there are so many true “holy shit” moments, and there’s also a sense of mystery to the whole world on display. With the edges of the map far from filled in, the possibilities are endless, as is the entertainment value.

 

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

God I wanted to love this film, but upon leaving the theatre I thought  “Hollywood can’t even be bothered filming a real fucking sunset anymore.” This comes towards the end of the film, but prior to that there were three entire convoluted acts filled with equally questionable content.

Although relatively short for a Pirates film, there is a sense that the 258 plot points are all being crammed by the handful in each scene with careless abandon. The dialogue is abrasively awful, especially from the two new principal characters. People encounter each other, leave, get captured, and it’s pretty much rinse and repeat for the next two hours. Characters whose motivations are plain and clear from the beginning get lengthy monologues of drivel so that the even the most inattentive viewer knows what’s going on. There were at least two sub plots added in the last twenty minutes that made me go, “Fuck you movie, just no.

The film actually looks worse than the first, which came out 14 years ago. There isn’t a single real ship to found, and the green screen is third rate. The action is lacklustre in comparison to any of the films before it, and no set pieces give even a hint of awe.

The chief culprit (aside from the directors who I also can’t be bothered searching on IMDb), is Johnny “Paycheck” Depp. Never has Jack Sparrow been more painfully unfunny or worn out. His character makes no change or progression throughout the entire film and his antics are actually just stupid. He’s no longer the best pirate anyone has ever seen; he’s just a drunk idiot who only escapes situations by sheer cinematic luck. His role was essentially that of a hollow decoration on an ugly, undercooked, mismatched, flavourless, uninspired, cake.

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