Review: Curse of Pirate Death

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
There are some things in this world I simply don’t understand, and Curse of Pirate Death is one of them. The title alone indicates the creators of this film had no intention of even trying – if anyone can come up with a title that better says, “Generic Low-Budget Pirate Slasher”, I’d like to hear it (but I wouldn’t much care to see it.)

This film is awful. Just bloody awful. The acting is atrocious, the writing worse, and the virtually identical heavy metal music during every action seen is outright bizarre. Ron Jeremy’s cameo is slightly amusing, in that it is almost entirely comprised of him wandering around the woods alone yelling, “hello, anybody out there?” but other than that this film is an all-out dud. Continue reading

Review: Yellowbeard

Rating: ★★★★☆
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

Review: Spongebob Squarepants the Movie

Rating: ★★★☆☆
In the 1990 movie Pretty Woman, Richard Gere said, “Peoples’ reactions to Spongebob Squarepants are very dramatic. Either they love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it but it will never be a part of their soul.”

Truer words were never spoken. But sadly, I have no way of telling you which category you’ll fall into. If you already love Spongebob, then see the movie. If you hate it, then you should probably stick to a steady diet of the television show until you learn to appreciate it – a feature length film will certainly send you off the deep end if you’re not yet ready for it.

So without delving into the plot – which doesn’t really matter as it’s mainly just entertaining nonsense – let me just state that I LOVE SPONGEBOB and I LOVE HIS MOVIE. And yeah, it even has pirates in it! Live action, smelly, pillaging and singing pirates. Live action pirates, AND a live action David Hasslehoff hydroplaning on his belly while Spongebob and Gary engage in mortal combat against a bounty hunter on his butt. Sound funny? See the movie. Sound painful? Stay at home.

Nothing more need be said.

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean – At World’s End

Rating: ★★★★☆
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

Review: Muppet Treasure Island

Rating: ★★★★☆
The Jim Henson Company is responsible for some of the greatest little gems in movie-making history, and Muppet Treasure Island fits well amongst those ranks. Being a slightly modified version of the literary work, we follow the adventures of Jim Hawkin and his pals as they seek treasure across the sea. Along the way, they run afoul of evil yet endearing pirates – most notable being Long John Silver, portrayed extraordinarily by Tim Curry. Jim and Long John are the only major characters played by real people, the rest being muppets. Included are many favorites (Kermit, Miss Piggy, Animal, the Swedish Chef, Gonzo, etc) and one or two new ones (Polly the Lobster, most notably.) Continue reading

Review: Blackbeard’s Ghost

Rating: ★★★★½
Everyone knows Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow, and everyone knows (whether they know it or not) Robert Newton’s Long John Silver. But somewhere between these two signature pirates Disney gave us a third, lesser known, scalliwagg who nontheless deserves a place amongst the notable breathren, that being Peter Ustinov’s Captain Blackbeard.

In the 1968 film Blackbeard’s Ghost, we’re introduced to a somewhat softer, more rotund variant of the dread captain than we’re given to expect, but one that’s still as rumswilling and swaggerly as any before or since. The plot, in essence, is the ghost of Blackbeard discovers that he can be seen by only one person, that being the new track coach of the local college. Together, they get on each others’ nerves while trying to find a way to save Blackbeard’s descendents (a troupe of little old ladies who’ve turned his ship into a touristy bed&breakfast) from a bank forclosure. All told, it’s really pretty typical 60’s Disney fair Continue reading

Review: The Adventures of Long John Silver

Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Robert Newton has his fans, and it’s no wonder. His portrayal of Long John Silver in Disney’s Treasure Island did more to define the role of a “pirate” than any character before or since. True, Jack Sparrow has made a tremendous impact, and may be seen to surpass Long John as the true pirate stereotype in the years to come. But for now, Robert Newton is still the king.

With this in mind, one might expect the television series “The Adventures of Long John Silver” – all six episodes starring Robert Newton in his signature role – to be a true classic gem. And for Newton’s fans, it may well be. Each episode prominently features Newton retackling his interpretation of Silver with every bit of gusto he can muster – and this makes these shows worth watching. But each episode also features dreadfully predictable writing, cliche plot points (Long John saves the orphan’s Christmas??? Crikey!), and many scenes that are downright painful (The not-so-attractive Miss Purity flirting heavily with an even less attractive one-eared pirate is difficult to bear, to say the least.) Continue reading

Review: Pirates of Treasure Island

Rating: ½☆☆☆☆
I really don’t know what to make of this one.

Some bad movies are just that – bad. They should be ignored, dismissed, or burned. They have no value and are a waste of your existence to even consider viewing. Other bad movies are an ironic piece of brilliance, enjoyable on levels that no “good” movie could ever hope to achieve. These movies are meant for a group of rowdy friends sharing rum. But this movie? It lies firmly within one of these categories, and I strongly suspect it’s the former.

Basically “Treasure Island”, but with gratuitous man-eating bugs. I say gratuitous because they’re barely used – this movie would be essentially unchanged if you removed them. But there they are, nonetheless – towering over Long John, and bellowing their maneating howls as they shudder in harmless CGI malevolence. Continue reading

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest

Rating: ★★★☆☆
I feel bad writing this review. It’s not that Deadman’s Chest was a bad movie – far from it. Much of it, in fact, was quite good. But it did have some dreadful flaws, and wasn’t remotely the masterpiece of Curse of the Black Pearl. Whereas Black Pearl seemed nearly perfect – the dialogue, timing, settings, and storyline all seemed spot-on. Deadman’s Chest showed many signs of being a not-quite final draft of a film.

The story begins shortly after the first movie ended. Will and Elizabeth’s wedding is cut short by the arrival of the East India Tea Company, and adventure ensues. Both find themselvse seperately pursuing the same goal – that being the meeting up with Jack Sparrow, and the retreival of his compass. But I don’t need to rehash the plot – you’ve already seen it. And if not, go see it. It’s worth it. Continue reading

Review: Pirates – A Joone Film (adults only)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Let’s just make one thing clear from the start – this is an adult film, albeit with all the truly naughty bits edited out to acheive an R rating. That’s not some sort exageration to make a point, it’s a fact – you can buy the unedited version online through many sources. This review, however, concerns the R version.

It’s important to recognize that this is an edited adult film, as without this knowledge you might be perplexed at how readily the characters get “snuggly” with each other, even in the most unlikely of circumstances (inside a burning barn, for example.) These scenes don’t get terribly graphic – I’ve seen much more explicit in any number of mainstream movies, although rarely in such frequency. Many of the scenes, in fact, are cut short before they’ve even properly begun. That said, this still isn’t a film to share with your 13 year old kids, as sexual context is there in abundance, as are brief images of writhing bodies, and more than a few naked breasts. Continue reading