Archive for July, 2010


Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

July 8, 2010

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

After seeing all three of the films on TV on my day off (5th of July), I decided it was time to review probably the greatest pirate film series of all times.  With enough excitement and humor to keep anyone entertained, Pirates of the Caribbean jumps off the screen.  Captain Jack Sparrow is one of the most memorable characters of the current generation of film.

The story revolves around Jack Sparrow, adeptly played by Johnny Depp, as a pirate who is trying to get back his ship, the Black Pearl, after his crew had mutinied him.  That is the very very basics of it.  It starts off with him trying to steal a ship so that he can run down his own ship.  He ends up being captured after he rescued Elizabeth Swan, daughter of the governor, who had fallen off of the ramparts of a fortress into the water because her corset was too tight.  When his pirate ship attacks the village, not to get back Captain Jack Sparrow but to find the owner of a piece of cursed gold, Elizabeth Swan is captured and Will Turner comes to Jack for help in getting her back.  Jack, has his own plans about regaining his ship, and he works those along with what Will wants into getting away from the colony and back out at see where they track down the Black Pearl, not without a fair number of difficulties.

Johnny Depp completely steals the show in this film.  His mannerisms and brilliant scheming in a confusing manner make this film.  If these films were considered “Oscar worthy” Depp could have easily won a best actor.  The supporting cast around him does a pretty solid job as well.  Keira Knightley looks beautiful in the role of Elizabeth Swan, and while it isn’t as good an acting performance from her as in Atonement or Pride and Prejudice, it is still an entertaining performance, and a great performance wasn’t needed, because it would be hard to compete against Jack Sparrow.  Orlando Bloom takes on the role of Will Turner.  I’m not that big a fan of Bloom’s acting, he seems more like a pretty face for the girls (which isn’t all that needed with Johnny Depp in the film) and that seems pretty common with most of his roles.  Bloom doesn’t detract from the film, he just isn’t nearly as talented as Depp or Knightley are.  Geoffrey Rush is the other big name in the film, and he takes on the role of Captain Barbossa, the man who led the mutiny against Jack Sparrow.  He really seems pirate like, whereas Sparrow is a character who is a little more out there, Rush plays Barbossa as a strong blood and guts pirate who only cares about gold and pillaging.  There are a number of other fun performances by some of the side characters, but it is simply too many to get into.  Besides Bloom who seems quite wooden (as normal) there aren’t many weak links in terms of acting.

Gore Verbinski does a great job with this film.  It feels like a fun period piece, it isn’t frumpy and he keeps the action going.  It helps when you get a performance like Depp’s, but he gets good performances out of the whole cast.  And visually he keeps the action going throughout the whole film.  Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio have to be commended as well for creating a very entertaining story, and while the next two films don’t live up to this standard, this one is one of the better purely entertaining films out there.

This film just comes together in nearly every facet.  The story is fun and entertaining, the direction is very good, and the performances are great and in some cases what legends are made of.  Thankfully the next two don’t disappoint (when viewed as a single film) and I look forward to seeing Depp back in the role of Jack Sparrow in 2011 as he searches for the Fountain of Youth.

Entertainment Grade: A+

Critical Grade: B+

Overall Grade: A


X-Men Origins – Wolverine

July 6, 2010

X-Men Origins – Wolverine

This is basically what I expected from an X-Men Origins film, a fun romp, not all that much in terms of plot and basically not all that much in terms of acting.  I wasn’t disappointed at all with that aspect, however, some mindless summer films are better than others, and this one was just alright with limited rewatchability save for the best character in X-Men, Gambit.

The story starts with with James and Victor (Wolverine and Sabertooth) fleeing the village in the Northwest Territory where they have lived and promising to take care of each other.  They make it through the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War thanks to their regenerative powers, but fall apart as Wolverine has try and keep Sabertooth in check.  They join up with a team of mutants led by the US Government and Major William Stryker.  The team takes on the brutal mentality of Sabertooth and Wolverine quits the team.  Time passes and Stryker comes to Wolverine for help as someone has been killing off members of the team, and Stryker gives Wolverine his adamantium shell.  Things don’t go as planned and Wolverine suspects more is going on then he has been told, he tracks down Gambit with some help and they end up going to a Three Mile Island facility where experiments are being performed on mutants.  Wolverine sets them free and then faces off with the help of Sabertooth against Deadpool.

The acting in this film is subpar, the performance by Hugh Jackman is entertaining enough to watch, but no one would mistake it for a good acting performance, and in a film that relies mainly on action, that isn’t the biggest deal, but the story is predictable enough that there needs to be something more than just action.  Ryan Reynolds gives a kind of annoying performance ad Deadpool.  Some of that is intentional, because prior to becoming Deadpool they quip about how he can never shut up.  The rest of the performances are pretty pedestrian.  Even Taylor Kitsch, who plays Gambit who is my favorite X-Men, gives an entertaining enough performance, but nothing that is all that memorable or well acted.  It is mainly just fun to see him on screen.

Visually they do well creating a lot of action scenes and a lot of impressive action scenes.  In terms of action you won’t be bored, but in terms of story this film is only a slight step up from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.  Gavin Hood the director wasn’t given a ton to work with, but he really doesn’t do anything special with the story or gets anything special from the talent to make this any better then a pretty below average superhero action film.  And while there is some depth to Wolverines character that could have been played on more, this is primarily glossed over, which is disappointing for as interesting a character as he is.  Skip Woods and David Benioff don’t really do anything to develop this story beyond the below average.

I like the X-men so this was disappointing (as disappointing as Gambit never showing up in the X-Men movies).  Jackman makes a good Wolverine, but he was given nothing to work with in terms of a story that could have had a lot of depth and emotion.  This film is probably one that should be skipped more often than watched, but it has a little bit of entertainment value.

Entertainment Grade: C+

Critical Grade: D

Overall Grade: C-