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Sunday, July 09, 2006

The Pirate in Us All

It's official - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is a great movie. We took all the kids and went to the matinee showing today, and I really liked it. But maybe not for the reasons you might expect. Let me see if I can explain (without giving too much away).

First of all, we loved the first movie. We walked into that one with a sort of with a sort of 'grin and bear it' attitude - my sister and her then fiancee had asked us to go, and we felt like we had to take one for the team. It was definitely not something we would have gone to on our own - I mean, come on, it's a Disney ride, right? I walked out utterly stunned, thinking, 'This is the best pirate movie of all time - I WANT TO BE A PIRATE! ARGHHHH!' (picture my wife looking embarrassed and you'll have it to a tee).

So that was the first movie. If you didn't like that one, you won't like this one. Save yourself the money and don't bother going. BUT... if you liked the first one, then you simply must see this one too. Whether or not you will like it, though, may be a different story.

Put simply, this is a very different movie. One friend described it as 'darker' - that may be an apt description, but probably not in the way you'd expect. This movie feels different, slower. There are less memorable one liners. But then again, these are people we already know from the first movie, and so you simply can't have the same element of surprise (how do you top something like the opening scene in the first movie anyway, with Jack sailing his leaky boat into port? It can't be done, so we shouldn't be too critical when they don't try!).

That said, there are still some great twists - the three-way sword fight was brilliant (nuff said). There is lots of the same comic relief that kept the first one from taking itself too seriously. The special effects are good, not overdone (or creepy wierd). With all that said, I found myself kind of 'waiting' for the movie to take off. I also found myself wondering 'Is this good enough that we're going to buy it when it comes out on video?'

And then, all those concerns were answered (affirmatively) in the last 10 minutes of the movie. This is where it is utterly brilliant. The first movie is a pirate movie - it's about a pirate named Jack Sparrow. This second movie is a philosophical expose, dressed up as a pirate movie - it's about the pirate in all of us.

And here's where it is absolutely brilliant - you don't realize what's going on until the end of the movie. The movie only really makes sense in retrospect, when you look back and realize what's been going on. The question at hand is simple: what will you do to get what you want, the thing that you love most? Who are you willing to betray in order to get (or save) what is dearest to you. The movie is full of people doing just that - selling out their principles to get what they desire. Even Elizabeth - yes, dear, charming, sweet Elizabeth - reveals that she too has a dark side. And it is absolutely stunning and tragic to watch it play out.

So I come away from this movie thinking, "Wow. I need to see that again. Because what was going on there was much more than a simple pirate movie - it was asking real deep, meaningful questions about friendship and love, right and wrong, and where do we draw the line." In short, this is a movie about human nature, about how all of us are pirates deep within, and when that inner darkness comes out, it ain't always pretty.

I also came away thinking I can't wait to see the next one. It's been a long time since I've seen a good cliffhanger, and this is one of the best. It will be very, very interesting to see how they resolve this thing - they've asked some good questions. Now we need to see if they come up with good answers.

Ok, that's all I'll say for now. Hopefully this will whet your appetite to go see it for yourself. Marilyn was a tad disappointed; all three of my kids loved it (because after all, its still a rousing piratey affair); I loved it because of the deeper questions it raised. And the ending is absolutely stellar. Do yourself a favor and go check it out. Once you do, I'd love to hear what you think about it (but let's try to check any spoilers to a minimum - the element of surprise is essential here!).

Looking forward to hearing what others thought of it...


At 9:50 PM, July 09, 2006, Blogger rs said...

Rachel and I loved the first movie and were utterly disappointed with this one (other than a few scenes like the three way sword fight on the wheel).

The movie was great, but the ending was utterly disappointing. Talk about selling out for what was most desired - more cash. And so the cliff hanger ending.

I think they should have resolved this story like they did the first one. I would still go see a number 3 when they make it.

Anyway, that's our two cents. Great movie - terrible ending.

At 6:06 AM, July 10, 2006, Blogger Dan McGowan said...

RS - how were you "utterly disappointed" with Pirates 2 and yet, call it a "great movie" in your last paragraph?

I've not seen it yet - but I plan to. It has been interesting to, once again, as is usually the case, find blog after blog after blog commenting on the pros and cons related to the "should Christians watch evil movies" theme... Here we go again - another debate! Another chance to get mad at each other and bring division - why? Over several thousand feet of celluloid! Now, THAT'S a good thing to fight about, eh?

Or is it, Aye?

At 7:08 AM, July 10, 2006, Blogger Christian said...

Ryan, it almost sounds like what you wanted was a more clear-cut story, with more clear-cut characters (eg. those who are clearly good, those who are clearly bad), and a nice clean tidy ending... in other words, a more typical Hollywood ending!

I realize I'm probably painting you into a box a little bit here ;-) but seriously, I think the thing that I liked most about the movie was that it _wasn't_ predictable, and it didn't follow the standard Hollywood schtick. And I thought the ending was the best part of the movie because that was where it all became clear for me...

(ps - I seem to recall that you didn't like Hero either? ;-)

At 6:37 PM, July 10, 2006, Anonymous Amy said...

The ending of this moview was definitely frustrating, and I need to see the movie again to comprehend the plot better. It was rather different from the first movie, but enjoyable.

At 8:45 PM, July 10, 2006, Blogger Master Aegidius said...

I haven't seen the movie yet,
so mate, at once do belay,
or my vengeance shall not abet,
unless my cutlass does esplay
your headless body vette.

* * * * *

Soooooooo; is the movie more in line with Josef Conrad, or is it more Brian Jacques?

At 5:06 AM, July 11, 2006, Blogger Karyn said...

We haven't seen the movie yet (life is moving too fast at the moment), so I tried not to read too much of you post at this point. HOWEVER, I must say that while I believe you have the desire to be piratey, I cannot possibly imagine anyone living in Montana actually being piratey. Can't see it!

Hope all is well with you guys.

At 5:37 AM, July 11, 2006, Blogger rs said...

Endings are huge for me in whether or not I like a movie overall. "Utterly disappointed" was how I felt when I left the theatre because the story was unresolved. And why? So that Disney could make some more money by setting me up for a third movie - which they could have just as easily put out anyway.

Christian, I loved the characters, the plot, the scenes and the art of the movie, but an unresolved storyline just pisses me off. So, that is how the movie can be great, but leave me utterly disappointed.

And, for the record, I liked Hero for what it was, the artistic filmography was cool, but I just didn't like it as much as you did.

At 7:14 AM, July 11, 2006, Blogger Dan McGowan said...

RS (and others) - I finally did see the movie... and I do understand what you mean about the ending not being resolved... but that's ONLY if you are unwilling to accept the "ending" we were given WITHOUT the obvious cliff-hanger... what I mean is (without giving anything away) we DO have "an ending" - though it's not one most would WANT... but there IS an ending... it could be "done" as is... and I say that even with the arrival of our final guest to the party... but, as you say, the movie biz is about making money - thus, the cliff-hanger. Now the question remains... are WE (the movie goers) "willing to sail to the ends of the sea..." for that sequel due out next summer? Aye, lads, there's the rub, eh?

SIDE NOTE - I love how we all end up talking like pirates because of this movie... LOL... where's my parrot!

At 9:03 AM, July 11, 2006, Blogger Christian said...

Great comments, one and all (especially yours, Dan - not only do I find myself wanting to TALK like a pirate, but I find myself READING everything with a piratey voice inside my head! :-)

Isn't it interesting how strongly (and differently) we all react to the ending - maybe that's the sign of a good ending, that it generates a really strong response, either pro or con (and in this case, I'll bet we all go see the 3rd one as soon as it comes out).

I still love the whole philosophical questions this movie raises - I'd love to hear whether anyone else picked up on those, or whether someone has some alternate theories about what this movie is trying to do (besides just make lots of money).

Here's a good question to ponder - who's the bad guy in these movies? Think about that for a sec... I don't think its quite as obvious as it might seem. Even Davy Jones is sympathetic (do you really want to see his heart get stabbed?) And perhaps here's the biggest question of them all - who is Elizabeth REALLY in love with? Hmmm....

Aye, how's that for fodder, matey?

At 9:43 AM, July 11, 2006, Blogger Rachel said...

Yes, that last question is what made the movie the most interesting for me--does Elizabeth really love Jack instead of her safe little beau? I will be very interested in seeing how they resolve that in the next one as it will be difficult to have her ditch Orlando and save the Hollywood style.

As for the ending, I agree with Ryan and am annoyed with the cliffhanger. And I suppose this is because I like Hollywood endings and I'm not ashamed of it. I don't go to the movies (especially one like Pirates) to be depressed or see real life. (This is the romantic, not necessarily the church-planter in me talking here) Granted, I enjoy catching glimpses of the human heart in movies when it is artfully done. But in the end, I want something tidy. I don't need a movie to tell me that life is difficult and unresolved. I'm still a sucker for the guy getting the girl and living happily ever after. 'sigh'

At 10:16 AM, July 11, 2006, Anonymous Amy said...

It's definitely not like anything by Joseph Conrad, that's for sure. You really can't compare Pirates of the Caribbean with, say, Heart of Darkness.

At 4:59 PM, July 11, 2006, Blogger Master Aegidius said...

Amy, that is exactly the novel that I was alluding to when I asked my question, since Christian refered to it as "dark" (very ambiguous).

So, more Brian Jacques then? Or maybe in between, like "Peter and the Star Catchers?"

At 5:05 PM, July 11, 2006, Blogger Christian said...

Aegidieus, let's put it like this - when I say "darker" I mean that its not a "happy ending where the good guy gets the girl" kind of movie (like the first one). Rather, its a much more introspective, "real" kind of movie where you see all the characters selling one another out to get what they want. There are no clear cut bad guys, and the good guys all have their faults (but they're still likable, which is something I liked about the movie - you can really relate to all of them, even Davy Jones).

So that's what I mean by "dark" - it's not scary or freaky or anything (Rebekah did just fine in the movie, and she was pretty freaked by Shelob in LOTR 3). That help?

At 6:21 AM, July 12, 2006, Blogger Dan McGowan said...

I dunno - I still think Kurt Russell should have played Jack Sparrow... (that's CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow!) I really liked him in "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes."

At 8:25 AM, July 12, 2006, Blogger Christian said...

Kurt Russell?!?!?
Instead of Johnny Depp?!?!?!?!?
What are you THINKING?!?!?!

Pull yourself together, before someone sees you like this and marches you right off the nearest plank.

"Whatever you do, don't do anything... stupid... Like that."

At 6:41 PM, July 12, 2006, Blogger Master Aegidius said...


At 7:42 AM, July 14, 2006, Blogger Dan McGowan said...

I was kidding about Kurt Russell... actually - I'd kind of like to see a few early Disney remakes with Depp in the title role... imagine HIM playing Burt the Chimney Sweep... opposite Wynona Rider as Mary Poppins... LOL! Stealing umbrellas... or how about Depp as The Shaggy Dog - or in those flubber films... and for those old enough to remember, we could get Depp and Leonardo DeCaprio to create some twisted version of "Spin and Marty."

At 6:49 AM, July 15, 2006, Anonymous AmyLav said...

I love analyzing the philosophy and worldview of movies and books. Thanks, Christian, you've given me a reason to go enjoy a good movie!

At 3:17 PM, July 15, 2006, Blogger Dan McGowan said...

As long as we are talking movies (and maybe this should become a new POST on this blog... hmm?) I have now seen the new Superman movie twice... and I guess it never really hit me before - the whole "sending his only son to save the planet" concept... maybe I'm the last one to figure that out! LOL... I felt that was a strong theme in this film - even to the point where the comment is made that Earth does not NEED a Savior... interesting...

At 10:55 AM, July 16, 2006, Anonymous Amy said...

Master Aegidius, I don't think Pirates of the Caribbean is like Brian Jacques' writing because the books I've read by him (the Redwall series) are too triumphant. They always leave you with naive faith in human (or rodent) kind. Pirates of the Caribbean attempts to raise questions about good and evil but it doesn't succeed nearly as well as Joseph Conrad does in Heart of Darkness. Conrad shows pretty clearly that we all have an evil heart, but all Pirates does is create ambiguity about what it means to be good. A lot of the characters in both Pirates movies have selfishness as their main fault, and they're all willing to kill people to get what they want. So the message I get from Pirates is that if the person is likeable, then it's ok for them to do whatever they want, and if they're not likeable, then it's wrong. Obviously, the likeability of the sinner isn't really the distinguishing factor between good and evil. So I like to just ignore whatever point they're trying to make and be entertained.

What the heck is "Peter and the Star Catchers"??


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