Felt like writing about a fun movie, since I’ve been having a long week. Pirates of the Caribbean was one of the most surprising films I have ever seen. I was very apprehensive going in. It was based on an amusement park ride! And I remember thinking “This is going to be bad” after watching the trailer. I think it was one of those trailers that cram in all the cheapest jokes the movie had to offer. But I went because Johnny Depp is my favorite living actor and my college friends had an obsession with pirates. I was blown away by how funny it is and what a great ride (hee hee) this film is.
Depp really makes the film. It would probably be a completely forgettable movie with anyone else as Jack Sparrow. I can’t think of a better example of an actor completely losing himself in a role and having as much fun as possible. It really shows how craft can completely elevate a role. Depp makes choices as Jack Sparrow. Many of Jack Sparrow’s best, or at least most in character lines, were adlibbed by Depp and he had a lot of ideas about who this crazy cartoon of a pirate really was.
Depp is interesting because he was pretty much born to be a movie star. He’s handsome, he’s a bad boy, he’s talented, but he has spent most of his career rejecting his natural place on the A-list. He prefers playing oddballs, usually choosing roles that require make-up or hair pieces to disguise his looks. But then he goes and makes a Disney movie? Of course, he did it on his terms. Disney did hold him back a little, he originally wanted Sparrow to not have a nose, but Depp soon learned how to play their game. Knowing the studio would balk at him wanting gold teeth, he had a dentist implant more that he really wanted, so he could bargain with them and still get the amount of gold teeth he really wanted.
While the whole film could have just been Depp acting like a drunk pirate for two hours, he does have a strong supporting cast. He has not one, but two adversaries – undead pirate captain Barbosa and pirate hating naval man Norrington. Even though they are the mandatory love interests, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley have amazing chemistry with Depp and their relationships with him add to the film. Knightley’s Elizabeth is no damsel in distress, standing up to pirates and bucking against the life that’s expected of her. Also, both pirate crews are filled with colorful characters.
While this is a thoroughly enjoyable movie, it has had some unfortunate consequences. Since no one really expected this movie to be so good, there was no way the sequels could be anywhere near as fun. While they certainly made money, the sequels come off a bloated and formulaic. Johnny Depp’s still having a good time so he’s currently signed on to make Pirates 5 and 6. Also, I worries he’s suffering a plight common to underappreciated actors. After years of subtle, nuanced performances, he finally started to get serious praise when he went completely over the top, so now I worry there’s a little bit of Jack Sparrow in all his roles. That being said, I will always smile when I have the chance to say “Why is the rum gone?”