The Blue Rose Monthly Update for May 2017

What does it mean?

Twin Peaks' blue rose

What does it mean?!


#63 Nightcrawler (2014)
#64 Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
#65 Four Lions (2010)
#66 Blair Witch (2016)
#67 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)
#68 Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (2014)
#69 Alien: Covenant (2017)
#70 Twin Peaks (1990), aka Twin Peaks: Pilot (International Version)
#71 Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017), aka Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
#72 Underworld: Blood Wars 3D (2016)
#73 The Accountant (2016)
#74 A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
#75 New Tale of Zatoichi (1963), aka Shin Zatôichi monogatari
Nightcrawler

A Matter of Life and Death

.


  • 13 new films watched this month. That’s the same as April, though slightly down on the 2017 average (15.5, now exactly 15).
  • This is the 36th consecutive month where I watched 10 or more new films — that’s three solid years since a month with nine or fewer.
  • By the end of May last year I’d reached #101, the earliest I’d ever passed 100. This year I’m on track to do it in July, which would equal 2015 for second-earliest.
  • Does that indicate anything for my final total? Well… no. The last two years prove that conclusively. Looking at the end of June (i.e. the halfway point), in 2016 I’d reached #115, but, rather than make it to #230, I ended the year at #195. However, in 2015 I finished June at just #90, but, rather than stop at #180, I got all the way to #200.
  • Back to the here and now, I had a bit of a franchise frenzy this month: including my rewatchathon (see below), I watched two Prometheuses, two Underworlds, five Pirates of the Caribbeans, and made five feature-length trips to the world of Twin Peaks (the three films above and the opening double-bills of the new series, of course).
  • This month’s Blindspot film: the fantastic British fantasy romance A Matter of Life and Death, a film which, if anything, is underrated. It’s certainly in need of a UK and/or US Blu-ray release.
  • This month’s WDYMYHS film: Jake Gyllenhaal gives an incredible performance in neo-noir thriller Nightcrawler, which UK readers still have a few days left to catch on iPlayer.



The 24th Monthly Arbitrary Awards

Favourite Film of the Month
Not a bad month, but my shortlist of favourites quickly came down to two (see the posters accompanying the viewing list). For me, the edge goes to the aforementioned neo-noir starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler. You can read my full review here.

Least Favourite Film of the Month
This also quickly came down to two options, both of them ’90s franchise revivals that disappointed. I feel like it’s “more fool me” for expecting anything good from ID4-2, but I felt like the early buzz and behind-the-scenes pedigree of Blair Witch should have delivered. I’m still a bit excited for Adam Wingard doing Godzilla vs. Kong, though.

Worst Retitling of the Month
Salazar’s Revenge may be less evocative than Dead Men Tell No Tales (though, arguably, more relevant to the actual movie… but only a bit — that film’s busy with plots), but don’t worry, Pirates 5, you’re safe when this clanger’s about: the beautiful A Matter of Life and Death was bluntly renamed Stairway to Heaven in the US thanks to its main special effect. And you thought US cinema’s monomaniacal focus on effects movies was a recent thing.

Biggest Unanswered Question of the Month
How is Annie?!

The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and the new Pirates of the Caribbean may have both walked all over it at the box office, but it seems people were much more interested in what I had to say about Alien: Covenant. Guardians 2 did come second, but it was with precisely 25% as many views.



May turned out to be my best Rewatchathon month so far, nearly doubling the number of films I’ve revisited this year. As you can see, a lot of that was actually thanks to new movies that were coming out…

#9 Back to the Future (1985)
#10 Prometheus 3D (2012)
#11 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
#12 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)
#13 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
#14 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 3D (2011)
#15 Underworld Awakening 3D (2011)

Well, whatever works.

Anyway, I’m still not on track for where I should be (an average rate of 4.3 films per month means I should be at #22 by now), but I’m a lot closer than I was.


Inevitable disappointment in the general election. (Rest of the world: we’re having an election, did you know? Apparently you’ve not noticed. Nor should you, really.)

As for cinema, well, the big new films include that Tom Cruise Mummy movie and the new Transformers.

I’ll pin my hopes on Blu-ray, then…

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017)

aka Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

2017 #71
Joachim Rønning & Espen Sandberg | 129 mins | cinema | 2.35:1 | USA / English | 12A / PG-13

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge

Dead men may tell no tales, but lucrative franchises never die, so Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean has taken to the high seas once again. Johnny Depp is back in the role that once netted him an Oscar nomination (remember that?), the drunken pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, this time teaming up with the child of some old friends (Brenton Thwaites) and a bright young astronomer (Kaya Scodelario) for another MacGuffin hunt adventure, while again being pursued by some cursed seafarer (Javier Bardem) and a member of the British Navy (David Wenham).

Yes, despite the unusually-long six-year gap since the previous film, and all the promotional talk of this being a fresh start for the series that tonally harks back to the standalone fun of the first movie, Salazar’s Revenge (or, if you prefer, Dead Men Tell No Tales) seems doomed to repeat bits and bobs from the series’ other instalments. It’s not a complete wash-out, however, because it at least executes some of those bits quite well. Sadly, other bits are beginning to look a little tired. Perhaps the best single adjective to describe the film’s attitude would be “muddled”. Beware, me hearties: spoilers follow.

It seems likely that Disney do want this to be a soft reboot of the franchise — a reboot to combat the increasingly poor critical receptions that greeted the previous sequels, but a soft one so that Depp’s popular turn can continue being a part of things. This revivalist plan presumably included looking back in time, beyond the last movie (the least popular one) to the series’ heyday. However, rather than just try to replicate the tone of the earlier movies, storyliners Jeff Nathanson and franchise veteran Terry Rossio have revived some of the old plots too. So we have a film that attempts to move forward with new young leads and a new villain, all hunting for a new MacGuffin, but with motivations bedded in plots that were ostensibly wrapped up a decade ago. They can’t even bring themselves to ignore the previous movie, despite its lack of popularity, continuing narrative threads from there as well. So much for “reboot”.

Cutthroat, without the island

And yet, despite that, its consistency with previous films is sometimes poor. For example, Salazar is freed because Jack gives away his magic compass — but didn’t he do that in film two and/or three, with no such ill effects? Also, why does the compass now suddenly have the power to make you face things you dread? And how does that even work, considering other characters have had it and given it away and never had such issues? Maybe they were just hoping viewers wouldn’t remember the ins-and-outs of the plots of previous movies… though, if that’s the case, why is the story based on them?

Unfortunately, its internal consistency isn’t much better. Like, why do ghost pirates own zombie sharks? How come Salazar can suddenly possess someone when it becomes necessary for the plot? That ability is never mentioned, it just turns up. When Carina’s navigating them to the map-island, how do they end up at a completely different place (before later just setting off again)? Maybe I missed something…

This abundance of niggles stems from the film being overstuffed with ideas that it doesn’t invest in fully — just like the last film, which it was supposed to have learnt lessons from! One of the things that made the original Pirates movie work was its relative simplicity, which kept the story focused and driving forward. The sequels all throw in too much random stuff — see my previous paragraph, which isn’t even the half of it: I haven’t mentioned the witch, or the ruby-powered star map, or the nonsensical post-credits scene.

Salazar, out for revenge

It probably doesn’t help, then, that Salazar’s Revenge is the shortest Pirates film (though it doesn’t feel like it). The dearth of screen time may be why both Bardem and Wenham are ultimately wasted as the villains — they’re not working together, so the time typically afforded to the antagonist ends up split between them. Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbossa is back too, as much a series regular as Captain Jack now. He gets an emotional storyline that surfaces out of the blue just before the last act. It’s a nice idea, but appears too late in the game to have time to develop properly.

And how about the flashback showing Jack defeating Salazar, which seems to stop the film dead halfway through. Why not put that sequence at the start? Then cut straight to the existing opening scene of the naval ship accidentally sailing into the Devil’s Triangle. It’d work — the viewer thinking, “oh, the navy ship is going to sink, just like Salazar did all those years ago,” but then it doesn’t and Salazar attacks. (Hey, Hollywood — employ me!) Okay, fair enough, that structure would make it awkward to place Orlando Bloom’s opening cameo, but—

Oh, wait, that’s another thing! So, we know why Orlando Bloom only appears in bookend scenes and why Keira Knightley is reduced to a dialogue-less cameo — because Disney want this to be a fresh start with new stars — but it feels like, to do this particular story properly (trying to break the curse that’s imprisoning Bloom), they both should’ve been in it more. I mean, why isn’t the formerly strong and capable Elizabeth working with her son to free the love of her life? At least explain that, film, don’t just ignore it! Heck, tossing in even one line from Henry (“my mum’s given up hope, but I haven’t”) would’ve solved it.

A clever woman? What is the world coming to

As for the rest of the cast, Johnny Depp feels like he’s forgotten how to play Sparrow — it’s a pretty good imitation rather than the real thing. Kaya Scodelario plays Carina with an earnest intelligence, a trait which is exhibited dependably throughout the screenplay. That shouldn’t need to be worthy of note, but, for a female character, it is. Thwaites, on the other hand, is perfectly bland as Henry Turner, rarely even managing the enthusiasm or charming naivety suggested by that good line from the trailers (“I think I saw her ankles!”)

On the action-adventure front, there are some good set pieces, mainly early on — the bank robbery and the halted executions, particularly the spinning guillotine, are inventively handled. Sadly, later efforts are obscured by gloomy lighting and too much whizzing around of CGI — and, once again, the overabundance of out-of-nowhere ideas (why does the ship’s figurehead suddenly come to life?!) Geoff Zanelli’s score primarily recycles Hans Zimmer’s familiar themes, which I don’t mind too much because I like them. At least it does so in a less slapdash fashion than On Stranger Tides, where the music felt plonked on at random.

That's the second biggest pirate ship I've ever seen

So, I’ve moaned throughout this review, and here’s the main reason for that: there’s a decent action-adventure movie hidden in Salazar’s Revenge — probably not something that would equal the first Pirates, but a good effort — but all the times when plot necessities seem to have been filled with “invent something new!” rather than “make what we’ve got work”, plus all the little inconsistencies (both internally and with previous films), really get in the way. Maybe, now that all of the leftover business from previous films is well and truly resolved, and if this makes a lot of money, we’ll get a sixth film that finally does return to the joys of the first.

Hey, Disney: you own Lucasfilm now — how about Pirates of the Caribbean: The Secret of Monkey Island?

3 out of 5

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge is in some cinemas now. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is in the others.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

The 100 Films Guide to…

Captain Jack is back

Here’s the first in a sporadic new series of posts, inspired by my 100 Favourites entries, which I’ll be using to plug some of the gaps in my review archive. As a good starting example, this is the only Pirates of the Caribbean film I haven’t covered before.

Country: USA
Language: English
Runtime: 151 minutes
BBFC: 12A
MPAA: PG-13

Original Release: 6th July 2006 (UK & others)
US Release: 7th July 2006
Budget: $225 million
Worldwide Gross: $1.066 billion

Stars
Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands, Alice in Wonderland)
Orlando Bloom (The Lord of the Rings, Kingdom of Heaven)
Keira Knightley (Pride & Prejudice, The Imitation Game)
Bill Nighy (Love Actually, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)

Director
Gore Verbinski (The Ring, Rango)

Screenwriters
Ted Elliott (The Mask of Zorro, The Lone Ranger)
Terry Rossio (Shrek, Godzilla vs. Kong)

Based on
Pirates of the Caribbean, a theme park ride at Disneyland.


The Story
On their wedding day, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann are arrested for piracy. To secure a pardon, all they have to do is bring in Captain Jack Sparrow. Meanwhile, the aforementioned pirate captain is hunting for a key that he can use to unlock a chest that contains leverage he may be able to use to escape a debt to the horrifying Davy Jones…

Our Heroes
Jack Sparrow (or, as half the characters pronounce it, Jack Sparrah), the pirate captain who looks like a drunken fool but is actually in possession of a sharp mind. Also Will Turner, the swashbuckling ex-blacksmith determined to prevent the execution of himself and his beloved. That would be Elizabeth Swann, the governor’s daughter who is altogether more capable than would be expected of a woman from this era.

Our Villains
The pirate-hating East India Company is represented by the scheming Cutler Beckett, who seeks to rid the seas of pirates. To do so, he intends to control Davy Jones, captain of the Flying Dutchman. A tentacled terror, Jones seeks primarily to add more damned souls to his crew — including one Jack Sparrow…

Best Supporting Character
Will Turner’s father, Bootstrap Bill, was condemned to the ocean’s depths, where he ended up committing himself to servitude on Davy Jones’ ship. Well, unless Will can find a way to set him free…

Memorable Quote
Elizabeth Swann: “There will come a time when you have a chance to do the right thing.”
Jack Sparrow: “I love those moments. I like to wave at them as they pass by.”

Memorable Scene
A large chunk of the climax is a set of interconnected sword fights that most famously include three men duelling each other inside a runaway waterwheel. And while that’s good, my favourite bit has always been Elizabeth, Pintel and Ragetti fighting off Davy Jones’ crew while sharing two swords (and a chest) between the three of them.

Truly Special Effect
Davy Jones is an incredible creation, the writing mass of CGI tentacles that make up his face conveying a slimy physicality that remains impressive even as some of the film’s other computer-generated effects begin to show their age.

Previously on…
Inspired by a Disney theme park ride, nobody expected much of Pirates of the Caribbean — or, as it was hastily subtitled once someone at Disney realised this could be the start of a franchise, The Curse of the Black Pearl. As that someone knew, it turned out to be something very special. Dead Man’s Chest retrofits it into being the first part of a trilogy.

Next time…
The aforementioned trilogy concludes with At World’s End, which was shot back-to-back with Dead Man’s Chest and so wraps up its many dangling plot threads. The series continued with standalone instalment On Stranger Tides, while this year’s Dead Men Tell No Tales, aka Salazar’s Revenge, looks as if it seeks to tie the whole shebang together.

Awards
1 Oscar (Visual Effects)
3 Oscar nominations (Art Direction, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing)
1 BAFTA (Special Visual Effects)
4 BAFTA nominations (Production Design, Costume Design, Sound, Make Up & Hair)
1 Saturn award (Special Effects)
4 Saturn nominations (Fantasy Film, Supporting Actor (Bill Nighy), Costume, Make-Up)
1 World Stunt Award (Best Fight — see “Memorable Scene”)

Verdict

The Pirates sequels have all come in for a lot of criticism ever since their first release. It was inevitable, really: the first is basically a perfect blockbuster action-adventure movie, something any follow-up would struggle to live up to. However, I think Dead Man’s Chest has improved with age. It lacks the freshness and elegant simplicity of its forebear, true, but it still has inventive sequences, memorable characters, impressive effects, and a generally fun tone, even as it’s setting up masses of mythology that will only be fully paid off in the next instalment. That also means it doesn’t quite function as a standalone adventure. But if you readjust your focus slightly, so that the film isn’t about beating Davy Jones, but instead about finding the chest and settling Jack’s debt to Jones, it’s more self-contained than it appears.

The fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, under whichever subtitle they’ve chosen for your country, is in cinemas from today.

100 Films @ 10: Most-Played Soundtracks

For today’s top ten I’ve opened up iTunes, sorted all my songs by play count, and seen which are my most-listened-to cues from film & TV soundtracks. I’m not a great musical connoisseur, really, so because of that and this just being a statistical most-played list, expect lots of exciting action music — especially as this includes plays from when I wrote a blockbuster-style screenplay for one of my university dissertations, so I listened to an awful lot of that kinda stuff then.

Couple of other points: These are all score cues rather than songs that are on soundtracks, because, well, that’s what I chose to do. However, I have included trailer music, but only when it was composed especially for the trailer — nothing from those generic “music for trailers”-type albums. Finally, I’ve ditched repeats from the same album, because I thought this would basically be the track list for Pirates of the Caribbean otherwise. Turns out that wouldn’t’ve been the case, and instead it removed a track from, of all things, Torchwood.

10
Suite from X2

from X-Men 2

I’ve written before of my fondness for John Ottman’s X-Men theme. As this was the only version of it for years, I listened to it plenty. I guess it’ll be supplanted by the version from X-Men: Apocalypse eventually, because the tracks on that album are less ‘cluttered’ with other bits of the score. (As the confusion about X2’s title continues, let me note this: the UK soundtrack album is called X-Men 2 and this track on it is called Suite from X2; the US soundtrack album is called X2 and this track on it is called Suite from X-Men 2.)

9
Wheel of Fortune

from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

From the second Pirates movie, this is the cue from the big sword fight climax — which, as you may remember, includes a runaway water wheel, hence the title. For all his production-line type methods, Hans Zimmer can deliver a very effective action cue.

8
Closing Credits: “Bolero”

from Moulin Rouge

As with much of the music in Baz Luhrmann’s musical, this is a track that suggests a lot of drama, even if it ‘only’ plays over the end credits. I can’t really explain why I like it so much, but I do. For whatever reason I listened to it every day on my way to work when I interned for a summer in New York, which (a) didn’t do its play count any harm, and (b) means I always associate it with riding the Subway, weirdly. As to who wrote it, I’ve got it down as being by the film’s composer, Craig Armstrong, but Wikipedia says Steve Sharples and Allmusic says Simon Standage, so I dunno.

7
This is Gallifrey: Our Childhood, Our Home

from Doctor Who: Series 3

Murray Gold has been composing all of Doctor Who’s music for over a decade now, which is quite an achievement, especially for a show that so regularly changes its style — week to week, in many respects. My favourite piece of his work is probably his theme for the 11th Doctor, created for series five, but I’ve most listened to this elegiac piece for the Doctor’s home planet from the series three finale.

6
Mind Heist

from the Inception trailer

Braaaam! Christopher Nolan’s film is perhaps most famous for defining trailer music for the next… well, it’s still kinda ongoing, isn’t it? Yet that recognisable cue used in the trailers isn’t actually from the film itself. Heck, it’s not even by the film’s composer, Hans Zimmer (him again!) The story behind it is a mite more complicated, but Zack Hemsey was one of the main people involved in the final trailer, and it was he who put out a track with his version of that work, so here it is.

5
The James Bond Theme

from the Casino Royale trailer

Monty Norman’s James Bond Theme has been re-worked countless times down the years, but this version struck me as soon as I first heard it for one key reason: voices. The final part of the track has the familiar tune accompanied by a choir, I believe for the first time, and it sounds fantastic. It was created by trailer music outfit Pfeifer Broz. Music specifically for the Casino Royale trailer, so you won’t find it on the soundtrack CD, but, of course, it’s still out there to be found…

4
Can You Dig It (Iron Man 3 Main Titles)

from Iron Man 3

Despite their continued success, there are criticisms regularly raised against Marvel’s shared universe movies. One is the weak villains. Another is the painfully generic music. That’s precisely why Brian Tyler’s title theme from the third Iron Man stands out so: it accompanies the ’70s-action-show-style credit sequence with a ’70s-action-show-style reworking of the film’s main theme (which I also quite like, but is much more standard “modern blockbuster music” in sound).

3
Drink Up Me Hearties

from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

More Zimmer Pirates. This is the final cue, accompanying the end credits of the film, and as such is something of a summation of the series’ music. It’s kind of the epitome of modern blockbuster scores, for good or ill.

2
The Chase

from Torchwood

More Murray Gold, here composing with his Doctor Who orchestrator, Ben Foster. This ticks many of the boxes I mentioned at the start: an action cue from my screenwriting playlist. Gold’s Whoniverse music has most often been in the style of modern blockbuster movies, because that’s the feel the show has gone for, but by distilling the essence of that style he has on occasion produced tracks that exceed its big-budget counterparts for effectiveness. This is one such occasion: as fast-paced action tracks go, this is often one of the fastest and actioniest.

1
He’s a Pirate

from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

The creation of Pirates of the Caribbean’s soundtrack is a notorious clusterfuck of composers literally competing against each other to produce something for the Disney movie. Reports vary on what exactly went on, but I believe the long and the short of it is Klaus Badelt wrote the most music that was actually used and so got the credit on the CD. Presumably Hans Zimmer didn’t think the film would be all that big and didn’t care — he certainly took the credit for the sequels’ scores, though. Anyway, this recognisable main theme actually has its roots in another Zimmer score, Drop Zone, as you can hear here. Shocking self-plagiarism, ain’t it? Still, this improved version is the one everyone knows now, and it’s wound up my most-played soundtrack track.

Tomorrow: never-ending stories.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

100 Films’ 100 Favourites #70

Prepare to be blown out of the water.

Country: USA
Language: English
Runtime: 143 minutes
BBFC: 12A
MPAA: PG-13

Original Release: 9th July 2003 (USA)
UK Release: 8th August 2003
First Seen: cinema, August 2003

Stars
Johnny Depp (Edward Scissorhands, Finding Neverland)
Orlando Bloom (The Lord of the Rings, Troy)
Keira Knightley (Bend It Like Beckham, Pride & Prejudice)
Geoffrey Rush (Quills, The King’s Speech)

Director
Gore Verbinski (The Ring, The Lone Ranger)

Screenwriters
Ted Elliott (Aladdin, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides)
Terry Rossio (Small Soldiers, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest)

Story by
Ted Elliott (Treasure Planet, National Treasure: Book of Secrets)
Terry Rossio (The Mask of Zorro, The Lone Ranger)
Stuart Beattie (Collateral, 30 Days of Night)
Jay Wolpert (The Count of Monte Cristo)

Based on
Pirates of the Caribbean, a theme park ride at Disneyland.

The Story
When feared pirate ship the Black Pearl lays siege to the British outpost Port Royal and kidnaps the governor’s daughter, Elizabeth Swann, her childhood friend (and secret admirer) Will Turner teams up with notorious pirate Captain Jack Sparrow to rescue her. Jack has his own axe to grind with the crew of the Pearl, who are afflicted by a supernatural curse that they believe Elizabeth may be the key to breaking.

Our Heroes
Will Turner, a humble blacksmith and self-taught expert swordsman. Doesn’t like pirates, but is forced to team up with one. That would be self-proclaimed captain Jack Sparrow, who is apparently a bumbling buffoon prone to wild exaggeration about his exploits, but is actually strangely competent and honourable. Not to forget Elizabeth Swann, the governor’s daughter who is more strong-minded and capable than women of her time are supposed to be. Hates corsets, too.

Our Villains
Captain Barbossa (a villain of Rickman-esque likeability) and his undead pirate crew just want to lift their terrible curse, but, being pirates, tend to go about that mission with excessive violence.

Best Supporting Character
Two of Barbossa’s crew, Ragetti (Mackenzie Crook) and Pintel (Lee Arenberg), who make a comedy double act. Or maybe triple act, with Ragetti’s wooden eye.

Memorable Quote
“You best start believing in ghost stories, Miss Turner… you’re in one!” — Barbossa

Memorable Scene
Barbossa orders his crew to attack a British Navy ship from underwater. As the moon emerges from behind a cloud to reveal the true skeletal form of the undead crew, they march along the seabed to their target…

Memorable Music
Originally set to be scored by Alan Silvestri, who’d worked with director Gore Verbinski on a couple of previous movies, the composer fell out with producer Jerry Bruckheimer and it was decided to go with Hans Zimmer instead. Unfortunately Zimmer was busy, but he pointed them in the direction of newer composer Klaus Badelt, one of Zimmer’s mentees at his company Media Ventures. Presumably Badelt struggled, because Zimmer ended up drafting several of the score’s main themes in one night, and a team of additional composers (anywhere from seven to fifteen, depending which source you listen to) was brought in to help finish it off. (One of them, incidentally, was Ramin Djawadi, who has since gone on to be noticed for Game of Thrones.) The final score is credited to Badelt, but the soundtrack’s most famous cue — He’s a Pirate — is actually a development of a piece Zimmer wrote for forgotten Wesley Snipes action-thriller Drop Zone. You can’t really argue a score created like that has any artistic integrity, but it’s fun and exciting, and He’s a Pirate is a really, really good piratical action theme.

Truly Special Effect
All of the CGI was strikingly photo-real at the time, the main showcase being the skeletal pirates, especially as they switched from being normal humans to skeletons (and back again) as they moved in and out of the moonlight. I guess it’s aged a little now, but, to be fair, it is 13 years old. Couple this with the even-better work featured in the sequels and it shows ILM are still at the forefront of the industry.

Making of
There’s always been something of a tonal similarity between the Pirates films and the Monkey Island series of computer games, which turned out to be more than coincidence when it eventually emerged that, just a couple of years before Pirates, screenwriter Ted Elliott had been working on a Monkey Island film for Steven Spielberg which never came to fruition. As if to compound the point, Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert revealed in 2004 that the original game was inspired by the novel On Stranger Tides, and in 2007 Disney bought the rights to the novel and used its title and bits of its plot for the fourth Pirates film.

Next time…
Initially followed by a pair of shot-back-to-back trilogy-forming sequels, their cumulative success turned it into a franchise: a fourth movie followed in 2011, with a fifth shot last year for release next summer. Also inspired a host of piratical TV series, and Disney to attempt various other ride adaptations and genre mash-ups (see: The Lone Ranger).

Awards
5 Oscar nominations (Actor (Johnny Depp), Makeup, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Visual Effects)
1 BAFTA (Make Up/Hair)
4 BAFTA nominations (Actor (Johnny Depp), Costume Design, Sound, Visual Effects)
1 Saturn Award (Costumes)
10 Saturn nominations (Fantasy Film, Actor (Johnny Depp), Supporting Actor (Geoffrey Rush), Supporting Actress (Keira Knightley), Director, Music, Make Up, Special Effects, DVD Special Edition, Genre Face of the Future (Keira Knightley))
2 MTV Movie Awards Mexico (Sexiest Hero (Orlando Bloom), Best Look (Johnny Depp))
1 World Stunt Award (Best Fight for the blacksmith shop sword fight)
Nominated for the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form

What the Critics Said
“it’s Johnny Depp’s inspired turn as Captain Jack Sparrow that really marks the spot. Depp, arguing that pirates were the rock stars of their day, models his entire performance on Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones: it’s there in every slurred vowel and every drug-fried wiggle of the head. There’s an endearing dignity to Sparrow’s hunger for fame. “You are, without doubt, the worst pirate I’ve heard of,” says one British officer. “Yes,” replies Jack, “but you have heard of me.” Gloriously over-the-top, this performance is pitched only as high as the film’s fun factor itself. In terms of physical precision and verbal delivery, it’s a masterclass in comedy acting.” — Alan Morrison, Empire

Score: 79%

What the Public Say
“manages the weird assignment of capturing the sensibility of a theme park boat ride inside a Spielbergian adventure romp. This is all the things popcorn movies should be: fun, energetic, simple enough to quickly grasp but full enough to not seem stupid, anchored by strong personalities among all the side characters (Geoffrey Rush’s florid villain is a great bit of acting in its own right, unfairly overshadowed by Depp), and a cohesive world with a sense of history and depth.” — Tim Brayton, Antagony & Ecstasy

Verdict

It seemed like such a terrible idea when it was first announced: films based on Disney theme park rides? What the hell were they thinking?! The other movies produced by this initiative turned out to be as terrible as everyone expected, but somehow Pirates of the Caribbean — which also had to contend with the fact that cinematic pirates were deeply unpopular after the studio-killing disaster of CutThroat Island eight years before — wasn’t. Not just “not bad”, either, but an exciting, humorous, creepy, fun movie. That the sequels haven’t lived up to it is disappointing, but the first still stands as a near-perfect example of big-budget swashbuckling entertainment — it’s basically the dictionary definition of a summer blockbuster.

#71 goes to show… you never can tell.