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Thursday, July 10, 2003  

I have already stated my high expectations for the film, and that the film exceeded all of them. It is easily one of the best summer-film of this, or any other summer in recent years. Most professional movie critics seem to agree, which makes me very happy. A lot has been said about Jphnny Depp's show-stealing performance, so I won't harp on that. Other than to say that I don't agree that he stole the show; Really he IS the show and the filmmakers knew it. The movie would be passable at best if it wasn't for his exceptionally charismatic performance. The only reason the movie can get away with 141 minute run-time is Depp.

The story is about what you would expect for a summer blockbuster. It has a few more convolutions that one would expect, but it also has a disappointingly, if predictably, neat and tidy ending. The dialog, with a few exceptions, is well written and incorporates a lot of pirate flavor which goes a long way to pulling you into the wold of the film. Depp has always used the rhythm of his delivery as one of his main tools, and Jack Sparrow takes this idea to the next level; speaking in a cadence as uneven and unusual as his drunken gait. Geoffrey Rush is his usual chameleon self, transforming into a bloodthirsty and mutinous captain. It is easy to see that he enjoyed playing the roll, and makes me wish the screenwriters had found room for one more scene for Rush to really sink his teeth into.

Visually the film is impressive, and captures the feel high-seas adventure like no movie has in a long time. Production design was top-notch, and I expect at least an nomination come oscar time. The ships are huge and detailed, and the port-cities the film visits are equally lush and meticulously dressed. The CG is very unobtrusive, and during the climactic showdown you can see how well integrated the CG is with the live action. The DP, Dariusz Wolski shot the film in a two-tone style that highlighted the gem-blue water and green islands, and candy-colored pirates adventuring in the bright Caribbean sun, while always playing with the gloom and decay the story's darker side. And the look he achieves is as unique and memorable as those he achieved on The Crow, Dark City, or Romeo is Bleeding. The action sequences are larger-than-life and shot with a fluid and dynamic camera that seems to imitate the swashbuckling antics of the characters on screen. This helps create fun atmosphere that subtly tells the audience that it is OK to laugh and shout during the action! When two undead pirates cross swords you know there is nothing at steak since they are both already dead, but still the slash and jump and perform, seemingly just for the joy of sword-fighting.

What about Orlando Bloom? He was hunky and heroic. He did the job of putting butts in seats, but was never really given the chance to show his acting chops. Which is probably for the best as I'm sure they wouldn't standup to Rush's or Depp's masterful turns in the film. He was a great casting decision though: he plays an excellent second fiddle. The big surprise was Keira Knightley who makes the best of being a prisoner for half the film and is easily one of the most mature 20-year-old actresses working today. She has a wonderful wont-go-down-without-a-fight attitude that plays very well next to Bloom's intrepid hero and Depp's devil-may-care Captain Jack. She even holds her own during the few moments that she shares a scene with Depp. Overall the film is a shining example of how a summer action-adventure should be done. And if your not cheering by the end, well then I'll eat an Octodog.

posted by JMV | 7/10/2003 03:54:00 PM
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