Tuesday, August 12, 2003


I made a side trip last week to those places that Bong Revilla would always visit--but never seem to be able to close down--and got myself a couple of items that I knew would be worth my while: bootleg copies of The Princess Bride and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.

People who know about my fascination with the Lord of the Rings books and movies know that I am fascinated by Legolas Greenleaf, even as an illustration on the cover of the 1985 mass market paperback of The Two Towers. I wasn't surprised that people would take to Orlando Bloom, who was plucked from obscurity and thrust into heartthrob status by the films and his bow-plucking and horse-mounting skills as Legolas. It was because of him that I was excited to watch Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Bloom plays Will Turner, a straight-arrow [no pun intended] blacksmith-turned-hero when the pirates of the Black Pearl led by Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) take his beloved, Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley, whom I just watched on Bend It Like Beckham the night before), to undo a crew-wide curse. Will enlists the help of the pirate -and former Black Pearl captain- Jack Sparrow, er, *Captain* Jack Sparrow, memoraby played to the offbeat hilt by Johnny Depp. This turns into a fullblown adventure as the duo (namesakes of the two gay men in Will and Grace) dodge the Royal Navy, confront the cursed pirates, and uncover some secrets along the way.

Depp as Sparrow was an endearing cad, and while Rush was rightly gruff as Barbossa, he was more menacing in his undead persona. Bloom wasn't much a stone's throw away from the character of heroic Legolas but with a little more chip-on-the-shoulder and no blond wig. Knightley, meanwhile, could have added a little more spunk to her character but she was alright, nonetheless, for an 18-year-old... she's younger than my youngest sister for crying out loud! However, imho, there was little if any chemistry between Knightley's Elizabeth and Bloom's Will--suffice to say that there seemed to be more chemistry between Will and Jack. Underused were Jonathan Pryce, whom Filipinos will always know as The Engineer in Miss Saigon, in his role as Knightley's governor father, and Jack Davenport as the navy captain Norrington whom I remember from Talented Mr. Ripley, both of whom are talented thespians in their own right.

As I have never been on the Pirates of the Carribean thrill ride in Disneyland, I couldn't get the references to the ride, but what the heck. This movie was quite a ride on its own. Of course I've been pretty parched by way of good action-adventures the past few months: did I mention the last action-adventure-comedy I saw was Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life? Well PotC has a slightly longer title and much longer shelf life. The characters may be a tad stereotypical [even Depp's Sparrow, who is a stereotypical libidinous drunken rock star in the mold of Keith Richards] and the story a bit conventional, but it works. We aren't after the complex human relationships after all. The action scenes are lively, rugged, as befitting a pirate adventure, and the although the scenes are mostly at sea, the colors are still vivid (and so is Johnny Depp's kohl). There is much good old swashbuckling fun although I wouldn't bat for historical authenticity. But then, we don't watch pirate adventures for authenticity, do we? There's a good 15 minutes that could have been edited out, though, it wouldn't have mattered to the story--you be the judge of which 15 minutes those would be. Anyway, it's good, not-so-clean (first Disney movie to rate PG-13), totally entertaining, and not just all mindless, fun.

[Aside: I'd watch it again on the big screen, though. There are some particular scenes--did I say they involved skeletons?--that I would really like to see up close. Paging my movie buds! Other movies to watch in the cinema this weekend: Finding Nemo, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Order of importance: Finding Nemo first, then PotC then LXG.]

I'd forgotten that The Princess Bride had pirates too, particularly the legendary Dread Pirate Roberts. The Princess Bride is one of my favorite movies of all time. But I have to watch it again first so that the memory is fresh when I write about it. Who knows? Perhaps the dazzling effect it had on my idealistic 15-year-old brain will be different when applied to a cynical 27-year-old. Till then, or maybe earlier.

"So we're all men of our word really, except Elizabeth, who is, in fact, a woman."

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