When the bulk of the Monty Python cast teams up with Cheech and Chong to create a pirate movie – and then tosses in a David Bowie cameo just for good measure – the results are sure to be anything but dull. As to whether it’s actually good, well, that’s another question. Yellowbeard straddles that difficult line between genius and awkward, and I can’t quite determine which side of that line it spends most of its time. But while I don’t know that Yellowbeard is actually a good movie, I do know that I enjoyed it, which is all the really matters.
The film follows the exploits of Yellowbeard the pirate, escaping prison after 20 years of incarceration. He is essentially the human embodiment of the Muppets’ character Animal, as he glares out from a face that’s all teeth and wild hair, and spends his time killing, raping (to which the women only seem to marginally object), and – if there’s still time – seeking his long lost treasure. To do so he begrudgingly enlists the aid of his son, who he’d conceived the night before his arrest 20 years prior, as well as the additional aid of Dr. Gilpen and Lord Percy Lambourn (played by Peter Cook, who portrays the clueless drunk with astounding genius.) They’re pursued by the British Navy and government agents (particularly a Blind Pew, a sightless spy with preternatural hearing.) Continue reading
It’s a gross over-generalization, but sometimes it seems there are only two opinions regarding the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean movies. If you’re a critic, you hate it. If you’re a movie goer, you love it. And that’s that.
As in all things, the truth lies somewhere in between. I won’t rehash my thoughts on the second flick, Dead Man’s Chest. Suffice to say I enjoyed it – more or less. But it wasn’t remotely in the same league as Curse of the Black Pearl, and was burdened with many flaws that could have been easily avoided.
So on to At World’s End. No surprise, it picks up shortly after Dead Man’s Chest left off – Jack’s lost to the world, Norrington is an Admiral for the East India Company, and Turner, Swann, and friends are on a trek to rescue Jack from Davy Jones’ Locker. The opening scene, featuring Lord Beckett’s efforts to purge the caribbean of pirates via mass executions, is troubling and haunting. And it’s also surprisingly brutal, which brings up a point I’d like to address: Kids will see this flick. I know it’s PG-13, and I know that all the commercials highlight this fact and suggest it may not be suitable for the youngins. But in this way Disney is being completely disingenious. They can tout that this isn’t a kid’s flick all they want, but when they turn around and sell Jack Sparrow action figures, Jack Sparrow pajamas, Jack Sparrow bubble bath (I’m not kidding) and so on – don’t try and tell me they don’t intend for kids to see this movie. Continue reading
I must confess that I never saw this movie as a kid. Or if I did, I don’t remember it. As such I’ve no sense of nostalgia or childhood fondness attached to it. If you do, that’s fine – we love what we love, and we don’t need to justify it. But having seen it for the first time as an adult, I just don’t think it was all that great. Jim Hawkins was much too young to believably outsmart everyone, and his pudgy baby-face only made it all the more silly to watch. Long John was a giant, one-legged grease ball, more goofy than anything else. And the pirates, with their peculiar jaunt and super curly hairstyles, were just plain silly. I suppose the story was more-or-less loyal to the book, but it all had that dated and muted feel that is so common amongst older Disney movies.
In a word, “eh.”
So I’ve been asked when I would get around to reviewing Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean. To be honest, I haven’t bothered because I really don’t think I can contribute much to what’s already been said. Most reviews have been glowing, and I agree with them. Those that have found nits to pick, I think, are just trying to be contrary. If you haven’t seen it then do so. Now.
OK, fine. While I’m here I suppose I should say a little about this movie that I haven’t seen elsewhere. Much that’s been said elsewhere is worth repeating – Jack Sparrow is fantastic. Elizabeth Swann is a wonderful actress and sooo very hot. Will Turner, well, I’m not all swoony about Orlando Bloom, but the character he’s meant to portray is a hotheaded blacksmith, and he portrays him quite well. But the one under-rated character in all this is Commodore Norrington. By all rights, this character should have been the butt of the movie. He’s a pompous authority figure who dresses like a dandy and manages to lose his captive (twice,) lose his ship, and lose the girl – yet through it all he remains honorable and comes across as the noblest man of the whole lot. I think this is an incredible achievement by both the writers and the actor. And it’s details like this that make this a remarkably splendid film.