Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Diversion 2.0 Thirty Day Movie Challenge -- Day 3

Day 3 – A Movie You Watch With Friends

When I was younger, I spent most of my time hanging out at my friends’ house, rather than them coming over to mine, a habit which persists even to this day. As such, any time folks come over to my apartment/room/whatever, I see it as a Big Deal. Even when it’s not actually a big deal, it’s a Big Deal to me. I like to have something on as background noise, if only to distract myself from the sensation of “OMG I’m playing host for these people!”, and today’s entry has been far and away the most successful out of movies I use for this purpose.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

I don’t think I personally know anyone who doesn’t like this movie. I mean, surely someone out there doesn’t care for the tale of Captain Jack Sparrow, and the film isn’t without its flaws, but out of all of the movies I own, this is the one I feel most confident that everyone will enjoy at any given moment.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, for those who somehow missed the initial entry to one of the most profitable new movie franchises of the past decade, is a swashbuckling, high-seas adventure about cursed gold, true love, and what happens when you mix rum, heat stroke, and David Bowie-levels of eyeliner. The plot chiefly concerns Elizabeth Swan (Kiera Knightly), daughter to the governor of Port Royal (Jonathan Pryce), and lowly blacksmith’s assistant Will Turner (Orlando Bloom, who somehow pulled off the Harrison Ford trick of avoiding exclusive identification for his work in one epic trilogy by following it immediately with another epic trilogy). Will and Elizabeth are in deep, goopy-eyed love with each other, but, what with British class struggles being what they are, they’re unable to truly make a connection. That is, until pirates raid Port Royal for a very specific piece of treasure, and kidnap Elizabeth for their own nefarious ends (though not so nefarious that they endanger the Disney reputation for family-appropriate content). Desperate to find Elizabeth, Will infiltrates the Port Royal prison for the help of a pirate who can help him track down the ship with black sails: the (quasi-)infamous Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp).

From there, Curse of the Black Pearl’s borderline-labyrinthine narrative really starts to pick up steam. Characters are introduced, histories are discussed, the cast troops from one end of the Caribbean to the other, and then back again, and many myriad extras die in true Bruckheimer-produced fashion. If I have one complaint about Curse of the Black Pearl, it’s the plot, which makes a great deal of effort to accomplish very little—its busyness is exhausting, and does little to help the momentum of the film.

Fortunately, Curse of the Black Pearl is often best-enjoyed on a moment-to-moment basis. Much of Depp’s modern popularity and awareness is often attributed to this movie, and he deserves every word of praise awarded to him for his performance; his speech pattern, small flourishes, and general sense that he could drunkenly keel over at any moment make him a delight to watch. The supporting characters add to the eclectic, colorful feel as well. Geoffrey Rush chews the scenery as Captain Barbosa, Sparrow’s mutinous former-second-in-command, charismatically playing the part of a traditional “Arrr matey”-style pirate; Mr. Gibbs (Kevin McNally) does something similar for the good guys, but to a lesser extent. Jack Davenport’s Commodore Norrington is relegated to the role of straight man for the rest of the characters, but even he appears to be having fun, wringing his character for wry, British sarcasm as best he can. Hell, even the two bumbling pirate lackeys, Pintel and Ragetti (Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook), who practically wear nametags that say “Hello, My Name is Comic Relief,” are well-characterized. The only two dull spots in the film are Knightly and Bloom, but only because of the soppy, romance-laden nature of their characters.

Curse of the Black Pearl is the perfect Summer Movie. Its deft blend of comedy, action, romance, and special effects all but guarantees that everyone will find at least one thing to be entertained by, and Jerry Bruckheimer’s uncanny sense of what audience members (who he often characterizes as “Mom and Pop in Oklahoma”) will respond to ensures that the whole thing goes down smoothly, even at its bloated two-and-a-half-hour runtime. The bright blues and gorgeous Caribbean settings make the film a treat to look at, especially in today’s orange-and-teal-saturated blockbuster landscape. Most importantly, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl is a heap of fun—it doesn’t take itself seriously, unlike its sequels, and everyone onset seems to be having a gas putting this project together. It’s escapist cinema as it was meant to be, and a staple for parties at my house.

1 comment: