Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy

Gore Verbinski, 2003-2007
The first pirate films in history to actually make money are based on the tame kid's ride at Disneyland, another first. The three films grossed over 2 billion dollars, and actually cost over 600 million to make. They succeeded by being unabashed mindless adventure films with plenty of violence, special effects, and no sex, the perfect PG combination allowing them to provide daycare for parents hoping to raise kids typically immune to violence to prepare them for the adult world, where, as Tarentino said, "if you kiss a breast, it's a R rating, but if you slice it off, it's only PG."

(1) The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003 (7.7*)
[#233 in the IMDB top 250, rated 8.0 by 244k viewers]
The first film is named for the ship that is skippered by Johnny Depp in a drunken performance as Capt. Jack Sparrow, an engaging ne'er do well pirate with more makeup than an aging Keith Richards, who looks more like Cher than Depp. Ironically, he received a baffling Oscar® nomination for best actor. How cutthroat pirates are willing to follow a fairly effeminate buffoon of a pirate is never explained.

Olivier Bloom is only slightly more hetero as Will Turner, in love with Elizabeth Swann, played with vigorous anger by Keira Knightly, who somehow manages to keep from being mauled by shiploads of men as all battle the evil Dutch East India Trading Co, the first stock-based corporation in the world, which later went bankrupt in 1800. Here it replaces the British Empire, though seemingly run by British sailors, as the resident evil that has people cheering for the pirates. Geoffrey Rush shines as the former Black Pearl captain, intent on getting his ship back from Sparrow; to me, he actually steals the acting kudos for all three films.

26 awards, 73 nominations

(2) Dead Man's Chest, 2006 (8.2*)
[rated 7.3 by 155k viewers at IMDB]
Since these are really nothing but CGI based adventures for kids, I prefer the 2nd film due to two eye-popping sequences. Best in all the films is a swordfight with Depp and a company rep that begins on a water wheel, which rolls down the island hills and to the sea, while the two battle the entire time. Another involves the pirates being caught and bound in a giant net cage handing off a mountain cliff. The pirates rock it back and forth in order to grab land and pull themselves up. This also introduces us to Bill Nighy as Davy Jones, complete with a live beard of moving octopus tentacles, and a barnacle-encrusted crew.

30 awards (66 noms), 13 for special effects, including a special effects Oscar®. Two awards were for best film from MTV and People's Choice

(3) At Worlds End, 2007 (6.7*)
[rated 7.0 by 138k viewers]
The last film is the most disappointing, in spite of an eye-popping sequence at world's end where the ocean spills over into space, and two ships swirl downward into a giant vortex. This was a disappointing 'conclusion' to a story that had a promising beginning, a dreary slow-moving voyage to nowhere.
16 awards, 29 nominations

The three films totaled 72 awards out of 168 nominations, the lion's share for special effects and popular fan awards. In a hilarious dig at the series, on Family Guy, Peter Griffin wakes up and tells his family "I had the weirdest dream that I was on a pirate ship and the only one who wasn't gay was Oliver Bloom."


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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