Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Risk of Sequels: A Heated, Biased Reflection on Pirates of the Carribean

                It seems today like just about every movie is only one part of a bigger project.  But should they be?  I’ve long felt that the prequel/sequel/quadruple sequel game is a dangerous one to play (I’m lookin at you Babe: Pig in the City) and it has tainted one of my favorite films of all time Pirates of the Caribbean:  The Curse of the Black Pearl.  Before we go into how disappointing it was to see the announcement of a fifth (as in just before 6) installment, let’s go back into the sands of times and reminisce on why POTC 1 was such a great film.
                I still remember how eerie the opening scene felt as Governor Swann, Lieutenant Norrington and sweet, sweet Elizabeth pulled a young Will Turner from the wreckage of a pirate attack.  The film was instantly gripping and held your attention the entire time, not unlike I would hold Kiera Knightley close to me for a lifetime if ever she decided it was I she loved and no one else.  The film had such a dynamic balance of thrilling action, witty humor and a love story we could all buy into.  For that entire summer people were either in love with Kiera Knightley, Orlando Bloom, Johnny Depp or that HUGE pirate that says “Say goodbye!” and then gets hit by a sign (those BICEPS).  And while the film focused on a curse that probably couldn’t actually happen (I’m not gonna say never), the whole Aztec-gold-Gods-are-super-mad-at-us story was just too awesome not to roll with!  If you've never found some treasure or relic in the woods and not wondered what curse it carries you’re a liar and we can’t hangout.  Also one of the greatest film scores of all times ever #jamstojamto.
                Great movie.  Introduced me to new emotions (Thanks, Kiera) and made me think HARD about being a full-time pirate (like the swashbuckling type, not the Captain Phillips type).  These are all good things.
                And then they made three more.  I’m gonna be real with you, I’ve seen each of the next three films 4-5 times each and still don’t really know what even happens.  THAT’S A BAD THING.  They flooded the market with all kinds of new characters, new curses, old blood debts to be paid and bad jokes.  Like, in POTC2 we discover that Jack has to join Davy Jones’ crew or get eaten by the kraken ‘cause Davy helped Jack get the Black Pearl back afloat (it’s OK if you didn't remember this).  HOW WAS THIS NOT EVEN TOUCHED UPON IN THE FIRST FILM?  Jack is always talking about how stoked he is to get his ship back, but just casually forgot he’s written his soul away?

                So Jack, how stoked are you to get your ship back?

                Pretty stoked mate!  Because a ship is freedom and stuff, you know?

                Oh Will Turner knows!  You’re probably gonna sail around for a long time, huh?

I mean probably just a year or so.  I actually have to go join up with another undead crew of the damned and be a servant for Davy Jones or he’ll feed me to his pet kraken.  That’s why I’m really gonna live it up this summer.

Oh...  I wish you would have mentioned something…


Also.  I know the whole basis of the film is supernatural stuff going down, but the fact that Captain Barbosa shows back up kind of removes any connection or investment you have in any of the characters.  I mean even if they die, there are probably multiple options to bring them back from the dead.  Call up the crazy lady who’s actually a hurricane, sail your ship as far as you can and turn it upside down, rip your own heart out and put it in a box-I’m sure you’ll be fine.   The first film worked because it’s like, those dudes can’t die, but now they can, and they will from here on out, so no more rough-housing.  It seems like the driving force behind the rest of the movies was just getting as much Johnny Depp on screen as possible, and turning out the biggest profit margins they could.
To sum it all up, great film, awful series.  Though I was excited to see all the sequels and there were a few cool moments (Keith Richards was an entertaining touch), it would have been better to just have a clean break after one.  But who knows, maybe Pirate of the Carribean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales will make the previous three installments worth it.  Although I’m already confused because there have been a significant number of tales told by dead men thus far in the series…
So.  Do you agree or are you wrong?  Comment below!