Monday, May 9, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean -- arrgh!!

In anticipation of the opening later this month of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 17, my daughter Annie put together a “Pirate Paaaarrr-ty”. She invited a bunch of friends to watch a marathon – the first three PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEANS, along with home baked pirate snacks and decorations. Even my Bob’s Big Boy got into the spirit.

The first installment was a hoot. Johnny Depp’s take on Captain Jack Sparrow was fun and unique – more of a “swishbuckler” than “swashbuckler”. Orlando Bloom was dashing, and it’s always entertaining to see Keira Knightley kidnapped. Sure, there’s a certain suspension of belief. I can’t believe Keira Knightley would be held captive by the pirates and not passed around like a joint. But that’s movie magic. I enjoyed the film in the theater and this weekend as well on DVD.

POTC 2 was an utter mess. Saw that in the theater and found it such a trainwreck I never bothered to see POTC 3. When 2 originally came out I reviewed it in my blog. Here’s the full review, but here’s just a sample:

But my big problem was this – what the fuck was going on?? There’s this ship of slime pirates, and then a map, and a bad guy from the last movie gets hired on the ship, and Keira Knightley is stowing away on another ship, and then some Voodoo lady who’s been eating licorice offers cryptic advice, and there’s a dice game that makes no sense, and Keira’s dress is floating in the water and that is supposed to mean something, and Orlando Bloom’s clothes never get dirty, and they capture a little monkey for some reason, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon visits Jack one night, and Jonathon Pryce complains about wearing a wig, and it’s real important Jack keeps a jar of dirt, and there’s a three-way sword fight between Jack, Orlando Bloom and the bad guy from the last movie where they’re all accusing each other of things more confusing than any BIG SLEEP plot point etc.

So I skipped the screening of POTC 2. But came back for some of 3, just out of curiosity. I had no earthly idea what was going on. Neither did the others in the room and they all had SEEN this movie at least once before.

The pirates are in a dead world and there are three Jack Sparrows and they sink the ship and hang underwater for several hours until it’s dawn, which rights the ships somehow and they’re back in the real world. There’s a Pirate national convention for some reason and everyone follows these rules that they make up as they go along. Geoffrey Rush, who was killed in the first one, inexplicably comes back in this one. And all he does is eat green apples. Keira Knightley goes from damsel in distress to kick-ass action hero and finally, king of the pirates. That's pretty impressive for someone who weighs 80 pounds.  There are Asian pirates, African pirates, living corpse pirates, and I think I saw some of Captain Hook’s men, too. Licorice voodoo woman grows to 50 feet and then explodes into a thousand coconuts for no reason at all. Just an utter mess.

The next sequel is the prequel we’re told. This time with no Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom, which tells me they’re the only two actors who asked to read a script first. But Keith Richards is back. He’s the only actor who can play a pirate without having to get into costume and make-up.

So I imagined a scene if I were asked to write PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 4. This is me and the studio executive.

ME: After three movies and practically nine hours, what pirate genre moment hasn’t been done?

STUDIO EXEC: It doesn’t matter.

ME: The franchise is already getting extremely repetitious.

STUDIO EXEC: It doesn’t matter.

ME: And what was once fresh is now just a series of clichés.
STUDIO EXEC: It doesn’t matter.

ME:  But you'll get terrible reviews.

STUDIO EXEC: It doesn't matter.

ME: No one can follow the story.

STUDIO EXEC: It doesn’t matter.

ME: If this next installment is the prequel, hasn’t the audience already been told everything that’s going to happen?

STUDIO EXEC: It doesn’t matter.

ME: And won’t the fans of the series feel cheated without Keira and Orlando?

STUDO EXEC: It doesn’t matter.

ME: I see you have a new director, Rob Marshall. Isn’t he known for staging musicals and big dance numbers not action?

STUDIO EXEC: It doesn’t matter.

ME: Well then, hell. What does matter?

STUDIO EXEC: We make $500 million and keep the lines long at Disneyland.  Nothing you've brought up will have any effect on that. 

ME:  Well, I'm an artist.  I have integrity.  I can't do this.

STUDIO EXEC:  Here's what I'd pay you.


ME: I can have the screenplay for you in two weeks.

STUDIO EXEC:  There might be even more sequels involved.

ME:  It doesn't matter.

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 4 – Opens May 20th.  Great Paaaaar-ty, Annie. Jack Sparrow would send many lily-livered scum down to Davy Jones Locker just for a bite of your cupcakes.

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