July 11, 2003 -- Now in theaters: Pirates of the Caribbean and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl Shiver my timbers and buckle my swash, there is treasure to be found at a theater near you — Pirates of the Caribbean.
OK, Johnny Depp wears a little too much eye shadow. But that's the only thing I'll criticize about this performance. What an amazing comic actor.
Depp told one interviewer that pirates were the rock stars of their time, so he based his pirate on Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and you can see it in every frame. He plays Captain Jack Sparrow rolling, he plays him stoned. Dazed and dazzled, he never knows what's going to happen next and neither do you.
As much as Depp throws his lines away that's how much his nemesis Geoffrey Rush, overacts. It's sheer delight.
The film's title comes from the Disneyland ride and, cleverly, they use some of the ride's backgrounds as background in the film. The ride, though, has no story. The problem with the E-ticket script — from the same writers who did Shrek — too much story. There's the haunted ship saga, the pirate's treasure search and a love story with the governor's daughter.
It plays long but it all works because everyone has so much fun. And Johnny Depp does better than Captain Kidd and Blackbeard and Long John Silver all put together — he steals a $130 million movie. Grade: A-
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen isn't just one more summer action movie. This is every action movie this summer lumped together in one big … lump.
As Allan Quatermain, Sean Connery leads a team of superheroes like the X-Men — a little too much like the X-Men.
There's an invisible man, bullet-speed effects a la The Matrix and a guy whose rage turns him into a huge and uncontrollable computer-generated character like the incredible Hulk.
You can even find Nemo in this movie — not the fish, Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
The gimmick here is that these super heroes are fictional characters turned real. Unfortunately, not nearly real enough.
The premise of the film: In 1899, these Extraordinary Gentlemen stave off a plot that would embroil Europe in a massive world war. Watching action I'd seen before coming back like acid reflux gave me time to think about the premise. No matter how extraordinary these gentlemen are, world war did happen 15 years later.
Was postponing it a noble idea? There are game-players and historians who have built careers on rewriting just this kind of history. My immediate take — if World War I had begun in 1899, fewer people would have died (because Europe was less prepared). The communists would not have taken over Russia and the coincidences that allowed a Hitler to take power would, most likely, never have occurred.
When you have time to think these thoughts while you're watching $100 million+ explode on a screen, that's one more sign the movie doesn't work. Grade: C-